Saving Adams County’s power plants North Adams High School announces annual Science Fair Winners Board of Developmentally Disabled holds Jan. 11 swearing-in ceremony Peebles Elementary honors December Students of the Month Adams County villages receive Bike Racks and Fix-it Stations College Credit Plus Program available to high school students Wenstrup selected as Chairman of Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health 2017 Manchester Homecoming is ‘Super’ Lions put damper on Manchester Homecoming West Union athletes honored by OSSCA Senior Profile: Story Kremin Bickett, Runyan lead Lady Dragons to victory in Manchester Indians improve to 8-3 with Saturday night rout of Portsmouth West Farm Bureau scholarships available to HS seniors Wilbur named to the Wilmington College Dean’s List Opal Van Hoose Ruby Yazell Chris Volk North Adams High School holds annual Homecoming ceremonies Six workers injured in power plant explosion Commissioners hold proclamation ceremony for 4-H Week Senior Profile: Shyanne Tucker Coach Young Classic is Saturday at NAHS Helen Kerr Anna L DeMint The garden that got us through the winter months Virginia L Fricker JV Devils top Northwest 51-34 Senior Profile: Caitlin Young North Adams moves to 7-5 with 16-point Homecoming win over Northwest Held to a higher standard Claudia J Purtee Shaylee E Prewitt Questions still linger in Stuart explosion Richard Holsinger J Ruth Madden Frank E Swayne Robert Bechdolt Sara D Hatfield Barbara Goodwin Jeffrey Frederick Grace E Myers Johnny A Sullender Sr. Senator Joe Uecker sworn-in for second term Wenstrup sworn in for third term in House Ronald L Chochard Patrick P Clift Samuel W Freeland Senior Profile: Casey Mullenix Lady Dragons win ugly, taking Classic consolation game over Manchester, 48-45 Greyhounds roll by West Union to take Classic consolation game, 82-58 History made as Ward takes oath of office Peter A Bennington Tangela R King McDonald’s Classic crowns 2016 champions MVP Arey leads Peebles to McDonald’s Classic title, Indians outlast North Adams 82-76 in double overtime thriller Lady Devils get Classic three-peat, make it 10 of 11, 14 titles for Coach Davis Senior Profile: Raegan Dick Teaching students the power of giving Kids at Children’s Home gifted with shopping spree Marion Liming Dorothy Huff John R Murphy Michael L McAninch Rita Rogers Edward L Combs Ronald W Staggs Mary H Grooms Gladys Wilson Donald Barnhill Monda Van Vorren Deborah Spires Senior Profile: Andre Wolke Indians pull away in second half, get past Manchester 71-58 in Classic semis On home floor, Lady Indians move to Classic title game North Adams handles West Union, Devils move to Classic finals with 68-53 victory Lady Devils roll into Classic championship Beth E Rowley Leatrice Lewis Senior Profile: Justin Aldridge Mary Helterbridle Wanda Huffman PES Performing Arts entertains at Hometown Christmas Adams County Manor sends holiday wishes Peebles Lions Club hosts Christmas breakfast Elusive Elf on a Shelf makes a return visit to PES Santas in blue spread Christmas cheer in a very special way Senior Profile: Aubrey McFarland WUHS holds Hall of Fame induction ceremonies WUHS Academic Team has undefeated season Serving those who served their country From Pearl Harbor to ‘America’s Got Talent’, 93-year-old WWII vet is still going strong Yester Years brings a touch of old to the new Merry Christmas to you all North Adams Elementary announces Spelling Bee winners Peebles High School hosts Homecoming ceremonies Children in need receive gifts at PES Adams County Manor holds annual Door Decorating Contest WUHS celebrates with numerous Christmas activities Halftime lead quickly vanishes, Dragons fall to Northwest 73-62 in Saturday night non-conference match up

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