Friday, July 15, 2016

Are We Going Overboard with Correctness?
When I was in elementary school we did not get a day off for Columbus' birthday.
Our teachers read us stories about Columbus and his journey that gave him the distinction of discovering America.  It was only years later that students were allowed this day as a holiday.  Some school systems still do not recognize it as a holiday.
My husband and I were sitting in a cafĂ© in a hotel in Durham last February and the local news was on the television. There was  an item from the Asheville City council.  The day before they had passed a regulation to change the name of Columbus Day to "Indigenous Day."

why are we so afraid of hurting someone's feelings, or giving someone an award they worked hard to attain?  Why is there no winner in children's sports?  Is it because everyone deserves a prize?  Would Johnny's emotional growth be stunted if he did not make the honor society and his friend did? There was an article in the paper after graduation in a high school in North Carolina concerning not allowing honor club members to wear the club logo on their graduation gowns. Another school system was considering doing away with honor clubs.  I wonder if the administrators making these unthinkable decisions did not work hard enough to qualify for these honors. Are we to make the classroom one where everyone is the same mediocre student with no goals or new ideas?  Competition should be encouraged.  Striving for the best one can do is what made this country the one people are willing to do whatever will get them within its borders. 

Most people over thirty-five have figured out that life is "no bed of roses" but it is better the more we strive to do our best.  I believe that social media tends to make us paranoid about so many things.  And we encourage this by baring our lives with fluff that isn't important. I don't really care what you ate for dinner unless you are planning to send me a fabulous new recipe.

You won't be around to make your child's decisions and protect him from this big cruel world forever. Give him some tools to ensure a stable lifestyle.  Encourage him to be around positive people.  Give him a thirst for learning by reading to him even before his is born. Give him opportunities in place of things. Give him respect and he will learn to respect you and others.
And please don't buy into the philosophy of changing the name of "National Ice Cream Day" to "Frozen Cream, Sugar, and Fat Day!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


MEMOIR MOMENTS AND WRITING TIPS: In the Blink of an Eye:           For most of us our lives are not humdrum or boring.  The ones of us who are retired wonder how we ever found time to work.  Of ...

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

In the Blink of an Eye

        For most of us our lives are not humdrum or boring.  The ones of us who are retired wonder how we ever found time to work.  Of course we didn't do all the "fun" things we are involved in now.  Some of us find ourselves going to the doctor or doctors more than we would like to do.  For months and perhaps years you keep those appointments and you are doing pretty well.  I had my primary care doctor to say to me recently, "if you were as good as you look on paper you would be a picture of health,"  So when a test shows something wrong and scans and MRIS are ordered we know we are probably in big trouble.
      In just a blink of an eye you are in deep trouble and wondering why things happen so fast.  I don't have an answer for that but I have the knowledge of how it affects the patient and the whole family.
Here is my story:
My husband's cancer had been kept under control for about eleven years with the uses of hormones.  Last fall he began to have problems and after each visit to the emergency room he felt better for a few days.  These visits became routine until his doctor decided to do more extensive tests.  The results were not good.  The cancer had metastasized into several vital organs and his bones. He was accepted into a study at Duke University Medical Center.  That was a good thing but it meant travelling four hours each way every two to three weeks.  In the meantime he developed severe back pain for which he took radiation treatments.  They were very painful and he was unfortunate to contract the shingles. I won't go into all the details but because he couldn't get down enough liquids and nourishment his electrolytes were in a shambles and he was dehydrated.  After five days in the hospital he was released to continue his treatments.  We, my husband and I, talked about Hospice Care.  He was back in the hospital the day after returning home.  We mentioned Hospice to a nurse and before we could blink he was signed up.  The following day the equipment was being brought into the house. In three days a bed was set up in my office and he was receiving wonderful care to ease his pain and make him comfortable.
In the blink of an eye our roles had changed.  My husband who had been my caregiver was now my patient  to care for.  I loved the role but my physical disabilities were still with me.  We decided to hire help for me and for my husband.  My daughter was there and she needed  more assistance.
In the blink of an eye our home had become more like a wing of a hospital.  There were walkers, wheelchair, A hospital bed, oxygen equipment and various other signs of illness.  The telephone and doorbell rang often.  In the blink of an eye our home had changed.  We had schedules to keep,  meals to serve the sick in bed, extra laundry to do, and dispositions to keep mellow.
In the blink of an eye our whole lifestyle had changed.  But we are thankful that Hospice  is here and that we have friends and family to give us support. We especially appreciate the many prayers offered for strength and peace.  We pray that when your 'blink' comes you will have the same support.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Detours In Our Lives

I grew up in a small village in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. Everyone knew everyone and also everyone's business.  For the most part it was a caring and good place to have grown up.  At the time I did not think anything about the clouds of pollution spewed into the air by the Radford Arsenal.  We had become used to our windows rattling every time they put off a test of powder(ammunition).  Our fathers brought home nice checks.  They had great benefits and everyone seemed glad to have the best paying jobs in the area, Although shiftwork changed the dynamics of the family m we managed to live a typical 50s life.  Most of our families escaped terrible disasters and life was good for the most part.

Then before we knew it we were adults with children.  Along with parenthood we faced many problems, some even tragic, such as the death of a child.  Thankfully we did not.  Our one big life changing event was our divorce after thirty-seven years. There are still wounds that will probably never heal.

Our parents on both sides have passed on.  They lived full lives but we all wish that we didn't have to see them suffer with cancer and other diseases at the end.  I wish they were still here to listen and give advice.

Now I have entered a time in my life where my dear sweet husband is coming to the end of his eighty-eight years. Most of my waking hours are given to his care.  I wish I could do more.  Hospice is an immense help.  If I were well it would be easier.  I want to do so much more but my body says, "no."  My emotions are up and down,  When I think about his suffering I feel selfish that I would want to keep him here in that state. When he is peacefully asleep under a narcotic's affect I want to say, "don't leave me.  I don't know what I will do without you.  Then I think of friends and acquaintances who have lost their husbands, some much younger  than mine.

Life will go on but I don't like this particular detour.  I am not alone.  Friends and family have been supportive.  I could not do without them. A huge thank you to all of you.  You know who you are.

And now I will close this post with a reminder to everyone.  Life is full of twists and turns, even detours but you can make the adjustment with faith and friends.

Thank you for reading this post.  I welcome comments.

Darlene Eichler,
Writer and Teacher

Saturday, April 23, 2016

                                       MEMOIR CLASS-PART II
The last spring class for Memoir Writing 101 took place on Wednesday, April 13, 2016
At least I had intended it to be just that but life takes funny turns. After I received some notes from students and listened to their crediting me for giving them the impetus and skills to begin to write I feel guilty that I won't continue with those few students who have not been with me for six, five, four, three years.  The majority of then have not finished their memoirs on paper,
they say most of it is in their heads.  I feel, in some respects I have let them down.  

So, I have decided to teach a shorter memoir class this fall.  As it looks now, I will take and hour's break after the Wednesday class of "Memoir To Fiction" and hold class from 1:00 to 2:30.  I hope this will fit into the students' schedules.

Remember everyone has a story and they need to learn to tell it well.

Have a wonderful summer,

Darlene Eichler                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Thursday, April 7, 2016

My Memoir Class

I am always talking or writing about my memoir class.  Not only are they great writers but they are compassionate, sympathetic and concerned about one another and their teacher.  In my experience of groups of similar backgrounds -same ethnic groups, live in the same locale, have many things in common, have few problems "getting along." (Unless of course they are family!) Just kidding!  This class negates that theory.  They are an eclectic group, several from New York City, others from Update New York, New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina,   Texas, Ireland, and England.  There are retired educators, nurses, business people, librarians, artists, social workers, therapists, and others.

I don't remember any disagreements,  although their experiences are so different.  Their writing tends to bond the group together as a family. They write for different purposes--some to record family history. Others write for healing, some for the pure pleasure of writing and a few as the first step to expand their writing into novels. No matter the reason they come every Wednesday morning from 10-12.  I am thankful. I believe I receive more than they do. Eachonevin their own way has given me courage and strength to fight the battle over Parkinson's and RA,  these two tough foes, add to that recent gallbladder surgery and I began to think I would have to give up teaching.  Then I remembered my mantra in my book "You Don't Look Sick. Get up, dress up, show up and never give up.  I'm giving it my best and I think  we will have another great session beginning on March 9, 2016.

Thanks to each of you for being there for me.


Darlene Eichler

Monday, January 4, 2016


Tucker, my thirteen year old grandson, noticed that some of the neighbors were taking down their Christmas decorations the day after Christmas Day.  His question was, "is Christmas really over.
My answer was quick and firm.  "No, Christmas is not over until Epiphany on January 6.  Having been a member of a liturgical church for most of my life I was quite aware of the celebration in the church.

I'm afraid the answer to his question in the secular world is, yes.  Some stores had Valentines and Easter bunnies out before the 25th arrived.  Even some of the clerks were complaining.

We spend so much time dreaming and planning for this Christian holiday.  How can the spirit leave so quickly on the 26th?  In most of us it does not go away on the 26th or January 6th.  The spirit of Christmas is love--love for family, friends and even our enemies. You say that is impossible to do.  I agree it is the hardest thing you will ever do.  I'm sure you notice how friendlier sales persons are during the season.  And most of us reciprocate.  Why is some of that great caring spirit lost on December 26th?

I remarked to one of my adult grandchildren how I had this feeling that I was still waiting on Christmas to come.  I feel that something hasn't arrived.  could it have ben the warm weather that threw us off?  Maybe it is the constant news of killings and tornadoes and devastation by wind and flooding?  I hope it comes to me soon--I don't like the feeling.

I wish all of my readers a healthy and peaceful New Year.  I promise to write more posts in 2016.