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In Memory Of

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By:  Linda White-Francis

We used to sit on my big front porch and talk.  The summers were long and boring and there wasn’t much to do, so we’d amuse ourselves with Monopoly or Clue.  “Thank God for Parker Brother’s and Milton Bradley,” we’d say!

We were a pair, he with his large Roman nose and I with my misdirected, crossed eye.  Strange we didn’t compare the two imperfections. They existed, the butt of many a rude joke we politely ignored.

Never a thread of romance: a friendly arrangement.  Our lives touched much too briefly before the insurgence of adolescence corrupted the mellow contentment of childhood. 

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What is it about manhood and womanhood that pit one against the other, in the passion of impending idiocy?

Life had been so predictable.  Laughter and tolerance sat with us, we learned to like and see one another in a homogeneous blend of intangibility.

Up stepped “grown-up-itis”!  He, with his whittled-down nose, and, I with my straightened-out eye;  we were a pair. Congenial, courteous, transmuted, and trite, never an item; our time of undisturbed frivolity gone! Futility: faces in a mirrored hourglass.

Why must friendship become the complexity society places upon those unsuspecting sexual opposites?  Or does it? Does sexuality come to torment the predictability of nature? Separating friends with its cunning waves of heat? Why does it get in the way, disguising itself as a more intriguing occupation?

At last, we parted company.  I didn’t care, nor did he.  Life was moving ahead uncontrollably; he with his, I with mine.  His newly found popularity and my deceptive delusion with the arts had won.  We didn’t see each other, our paths rarely crossed; contiguous compatriots, one might have called us.  Sadly, just acquaintances!

As the years became decades of compromising deeds, we lost to the solemnities of change. He went his way.  I went mine: our lives as opposite as our gender.

The many times I thought of him, as the news of his illness trickled through the grapevine. My lack of compassion blinded by my own timidity still hurts. How could I have stood so idly out of sight, afraid to show what friends are meant to be?

I heard he died.  A coward’s shroud kept me safely out of reach.  And I cry dry tears wishing I had kept in touch.  Such a small thing to do.  What’s a little MS between friends?

We had been so much more than the passing springs, and just the boy next door.  And as the bitter winds of winter thrash out their cold injustice, I’ll be thinking of my childhood “boy-friend” as he sleeps in the eternal arms of God.

In memory of Bob Schell, Columbus, Ohio

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a debilitating autoimmune disease that attacks the central nervous system notably the spinal cord, causing substantial nerve damage. Every year in the United States, an astounding 200,000 people, generally between the ages of 20-50 (mostly females) will be diagnosed with MS. Women are three times as likely to be diagnosed with MS than men. At this time, there are one million cases in the United States and over 2.8 million cases worldwide. There is no cure for MS, but fortunately, treatment for the condition can be greatly managed.  MS can be a lifelong struggle or may last several years and miraculously disappear. Unfortunately, it is common for it to reappear again later. For those suffering from this disability, it is a life-changing blow that can sometimes break the spirit as well as the body.  So it is important for those suffering the ravages of this disease to take advantage of all of the treatments and medical help available because it is not a hopeless diagnosis if one keeps themselves aware of all the help out there just waiting to be utilized. 

One helpful treatment for MS patients is exercise.  Contact your local YMCA for active programs such as lower impact Yoga, Tai Chi, water exercise, etc., given free of charge to those suffering the effects of MS. These exercises can help alleviate some mobility problems and help to promote safer activity and improve functional core strength, fitness, balance, stability endurance, and range of motion.

For those with MS and living in the Hernando County area who may be interested in the programs the YMCA has to offer, please contact Amber Slusser, Branch Executive Director of the YMCA of Suncoast-Hernando County at 352-688-9622.    “We also offer a specialty program called Enhance Fitness.  This class is an evidence-based program that works with individuals over a period of 12 weeks. Summer Cruff is the Community Health Integrated Program Director, and oversees this program at our branches.” Slusser said.  Cruff can be reached for more in-depth information at 352-573-0034. 

The YMCA has been a community-centered organization for nearly 170 years and is located in 10,000 neighborhoods across the USA.  It is the leading non-profit organization in the US committed to helping people to learn, grow, and thrive, and is focused on youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.  “Our vision is engaging and impacting our community through connection, quality service and the friendliest, most supportive staff,” Slusser concluded.

The YMCA is open Monday-Thursday 5:30 AM-9 PM; Friday,5:30 AM-9 PM; Saturday,8AM-4:30 PM; Sunday,11AM-4:30 PM.  The address for the YMCA in Spring Hill is: 1300 Mariner Blvd., Spring Hill, Florida, 34609.  

For other helpful information concerning MS contact: www.ymcasuncoast.org or the MS foundation at: msfocusmagazine.org, or Atlas of MS, Nationalmssociety.org


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