A legacy of Love

So ... when your lifelong sister-friend asks you to write a story for her booklet, even though you are not a writer and the idea gives you extreme anxiety, you do it right? Because it’s good to do things you are afraid of if they are helpful to you and to others, right? Here goes!
(And please remember, I’m a reader not a writer.)

All of those heartaches we all endure are tools in our tool chest, to help ourselves and others.

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Growing up in Valley Junction was, as are most people and things, equally wonderful and awful. When I was 18 months old I was very sick with Rubella (German Measles) and after surviving that my left eye turned in. My mom took me to Dr. Lambrecht, as she was told he was the best eye doctor. He prescribed glasses, until 6th grade when he clipped the muscle. In 8th grade he clipped a bit more, and it was actually in the correct place for a while. I later found out from the world renowned specialist in Iowa City that if he had covered my strong eye when I was a small child, I might not have lost the vision in my weak eye. I have always been very self-conscious about it, but was told from a very young age that we must count our blessings and be grateful for life and the capabilities that we have. Apparently, the outcome could have been far worse and my mom felt blessed I didn’t die or have any further complications. I do think it helped me to have more compassion and to (mostly) be kind to others, and accept differences. I certainly never called anyone “Clarence the Cross-Eyed Lion as I was called! Since I have no coordination (I’m beyond terrible at sports, with no depth perception) my passion was books and I am still to this day a bookworm to the nth degree. (My mom was too.) It has served me well in learning about others not like me, and I’ve always loved to travel in time and place from the comfort of my home through books! The teachers (and other staff) at Phenix Elementary were incredibly encouraging and supportive, and I believe that too was the basis for overcoming difficulties and heartaches that we all experience with life on Planet Earth.
The 1970s were a pretty wild time in our world and our community, and although I managed to graduate in 1976 with a decent GPA (due to lifelong reading : ) I wouldn’t say I was living up to my potential. It was party time and dancing at the disco was priority. As a dear (wise) friend once said: “I wasn’t necessarily the best version of myself in the 1970s!” I did make a lot of wonderful life-long sister-friends then, so there’s that (more about that later). In 1978 after a series of mishaps, I stumbled upon a great job at Penn-Dixie Industries at 13th & Railroad as Secretary to the Plant Manager. My mom was secretary to the Sales Manager and my middle brother was an electrician. Soon a friend introduced me to a mutual friend who worked there too – Steve Coleman. We met at a bar on 5th Street, of course, and proceeded to spend a lot of time and money there. “... and then God ...” has always been one of my favorite sayings, as well as “God loves a fool, and I are one!” so it’s no great surprise that we soon were married with 3 kids and a wonderful life, after many challenges and heartaches and setbacks that helped us to grow into the people we were meant to be (for the most part)! Laughter is also some of the best medicine, and we laugh a lot at ourselves and each other. We have been blessed beyond belief, which is not to see there weren’t days/months/years that were/are much more difficult than we’d like. All of those heartaches we all endure are tools in our tool chest, to help ourselves and others. Being grandparents now is the joy of our lives, and we also enjoy traveling and honeymooning which we were never able to do when we were young!
Another important factor in healing and living your best life, in addition to faith and family, is friends. My entire life I’ve been blessed with amazing friends, starting with Carolyn on 7th Street as toddlers. I don’t want to name names for fear of leaving anyone out, as I’ve more friends than I can count or remember, but I will include a few pics of forever sister-friends (as Rachelle requested : ) who have supported me through thin and thick. To be known and accepted and loved by them throughout life is truly a blessing beyond words ... Laughing and Dancing like no one is watching! I am thankful and blessed and hopefully can remember that during the dark times, because we all have dark times ... we just have to keep looking up and also looking around us for the love that is the light to keep us going. Thanks to Rachelle and all her family/supporters/helpers for the great celebration that is Taste of the Junction. We all benefit from celebrating what we want to see more of, and this celebration of our community and heritage is a beautiful thing!

Written by Marilyn Septer Coleman

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