Jimmy Nelson Kathryn Boldman James E Downs Manchester grad enjoys a “Super” Experience Taking Adams County patriotism to the state capitol John P Sininger Jo Ann Hayslip Harvey U Schrock Eunice G. Burgess Senior Profile: Kaulen St Michael Cox Racing returns to Brushcreek on April 2 Southern Hills Athletic Conference holds Winter Sports Awards ceremony County provides multiple walking venues Adams County parks are tobacco-free Rhoads Memorial 5K Run/Walk is April 9 Peebles Elem. Staff of the Month Floyd E Maddy Raymond A Holt Derrick Poe Spencer E McFarland Mintie F Rogers Roberta Eylar Big Time Wrestling coming to NAHS Carl Tomlin CTC students help with storm clean-up Opening the door for high-tech jobs Jack R Slyger Thomas Stratton Jr Eastern Lady Warriors headed to Final Four Senior Profile: Logan Rogers Southern Hills Athletic Conference names 2016-17 All-Conference Basketball Teams Winchester PD continues assault on drugs Alonso joins Defender staff Sheriff to set up outpost in Manchester Johnson named OEDA Membership Chairperson Sherman E Young Ruth Jackman ‘Kitten Season’ comes to Ohio Manchester Council votes to disband PD Olde Wayside Inn under new management Two overdose on heroin Senior Profile: Ethan Parrett Adams/Brown Youth League holds postseason tourney Three nights of pain Furious rally falls short, Lady Devils again eliminated in Div. III district finals, 45-42 Oscar Moore Barbara J Finnegan Ohio Senate and House honor Miss Ohio USA Michael Eldridge Frances Towner Thelma R Williamson BREAKING NEWS: Manchester council votes to eliminate police department Before all dogs go to heaven Adaptive Bikes delivered in Adams County Adams County Junior Fair Market Hog Identification plans announced for 2017 Local couple takes ownership of two local businesses Jo Hanson to retire after nearly 50 years in banking Sierra Club, hero or villain? Greyhounds, Devils are runners-up in SHAC Tournaments Harold L Purdin Senior Profile: Jacob Wickerham 98-year old author publishes first book Early March storm packs destructive punch Jeeps rally in second half to end the Peebles season How about some post season awards? Thanks for all the great sports coverage PHS Principal hopes to expand students’ world view When spring becomes a promise Greg Lorenz Clay shoots the lights out, shoots down Greyhounds’ season Senior Profile: Savannah McFarland Devils put up a good fight, but fall to Portsmouth in sectional final, 50-43 Second half comeback sends Lady Devils to district finals for third straight year Butts honored by Southeast District Athletic Board North Adams Elementary holds Random Acts of Kindness Week Chester W Eyre BREAKING NEWS: March makes its entrance with force WUES kicks off Right to Read Week with guest readers WUHS students see Aronoff show on the life of Edgar Allan Poe Local high school seniors winners of Wendy’s Heisman Awards The emotions of a senior year Market Hog Clinic scheduled for March 4 Venture Hawks fall to Scioto County Senior Profile : Colton Thornburg Lady Dragons’ season ends with sectional loss to Lynchburg Devils advance in tourney with convincing win over West Union, will face Portsmouth for sectional title Wenstrup selected as Vice Chairman of House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee Adams County 4-H Shooting Sports to hold fund raiser Linda M Howland Nellie B Hayslip Russell E Bailey Gladys M Perdue Commissioners meet in Columbus with DP&L CEO Tom Raga Missing the Dirtrollers The farms that aren’t forgotten Flora Hilderbran Commissioners to meet with DP&L officials New state graduation requirements called a ‘train wreck’ Catching up with Keller Senior Profile: Justin Knechtly

Their walk to remember

My daughter Julia had childhood apraxia until she was about five years old, which made it very difficult for her to form sounds and syllables correctly in order to speak so that she could be understood. She was very intelligent and knew exactly what she wanted to say, but her speech disorder would not allow her to do so. This eventually led to tantrums and crying fits because she would get so frustrated that nobody understood her. She went to speech therapy, a special preschool class, and learned sign language to try to bridge the communication gap, but still, my little brown eyed girl often had tear-filled eyes.

During this same time, one of our dear family friends suffered from early onset Alzheimer’s. She was at the stage where she understood what you were talking about and could answer yes or no questions, but had much difficulty trying to verbally communicate beyond that. One warm summer day, I found myself with some free time with just Julia, so we decided to go pick up our friend and go for a walk around the path in our home town. Our path is just over a mile long, so I figured I could push Julia in the stroller and it wouldn’t take us too long to get around it.

We started off with our friend walking beside me and Julia swinging her chubby little legs from the seat of the stroller. Several minutes later, Julia reached up and grabbed our friend’s hand. I immediately saw her face brighten, and her expression change. The touch of my child’s hand was comfort to her soul. Julia turned and motioned to me that she wanted to get down out of the stroller. She had just turned three years old at the time, and I just knew her little legs would get tired, but I got her out and let her walk.

It took us an hour and a half to walk ¾ of a mile, but the view was spectacular. They were two peas in a pod. They walked hand in hand, but stopped every few steps to admire each pretty rock, to rescue every stray worm off the hot blacktop, to look at their reflections in every puddle, to chase every butterfly, to pick every flower. Neither one could verbally speak very well, but they spoke volumes to one another. They understood each other perfectly. They followed each other’s hand gestures as they pointed to fuzzy caterpillars, chalk drawings, and baby frogs. They watched each other’s sparkling eyes to communicate their delight at finding each new treasure. They saw happiness there. Patience. Contentment.

I’m certain they forgot I was even behind them, but as I watched this unfold in front of me, my heart smiled. Our friend had given my daughter something I couldn’t, understanding. She knew exactly what it was like to have great thoughts and ideas and not be able to express them. Each understood the frustration that the other was feeling when the world didn’t understand. Each gave the other permission to take as long as they needed to get the point across. Each laughed in the same language-pure, innocent, love-filled laughter that I wished I could put in my shirt pocket to pull out on days when I was sad or unsure of myself.

Such great teachers! To do an act as simple as to look into someone’s eyes when they are speaking lets them know that what they are saying is important. To give them time that is just theirs confirms that their thoughts and ideas are worth listening to. To give them time to express it in their own way, even if it feels long and labored, is a gift. In that moment, you see them for who they are and see past the labels the world may have put on them. In that moment, they are themselves. Not a child with a speech impediment. Not an adult with a debilitating disease. Not a teenager who feels misunderstood. Not an elderly person who cannot remember the words they are looking for. Not a frazzled, sleep-deprived parent. Not someone who is battling depression. For that moment, you have given them validation that what they are saying is important enough to exchange a few moments of your life to hear what they have to say. You might be the only person who gave them such an important gift that day.

Friends, may you find God’s blessings all around you this week. May you not be rushed. May you recognize God’s treasures in the form of funny-shaped clouds and colors of the sunset. May you be on both the giving and receiving ends of feeling important to another person. Those are the things that make life worth living. Live it well.

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Denae Jones

Contributing Columnist

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2016 People's Defender