Sunday, November 23, 2003

Alive & well

Personal issues frequently touch on universal themes

Debra Kendrick

Sometimes writing a column is risky business. Not everyone, after all, is going to agree with me, or understand a thing from the same perspective in which it was written. Much of my mail in recent weeks, however, reminds me my readership is perceptive and diverse indeed. In keeping with the upcoming holiday, I am thankful for you, my readers. Here's what some of you have to say.

• From Richard A. Wuest, Bond Hill:

Once again you have cut to the heart of a very important issue (Caregivers could use some help themselves, Nov. 2.)

I am a 60-year-old male and am responsible for the primary care of my mother who became ill and disabled two years ago. Although I do this willingly and with love, the daily routine of dressing, preparing meals, and just providing general care is exactly as you described. I would give anything for just one "day off" to do something for myself.

I hope a lot of people read this column."

• From Aurelia Theissen, Fort Mitchell:

Thanks so much for being the voice of the voiceless. (Voices of voiceless deserve to be heard, Oct. 26.)

I, too, have been appalled and astonished by this case. This woman (Terri Schiavo) deserves life and dignity. At the very least, death by starvation is prolonged and painful. We would all die without food and water. They are no more "extra care" for Terri than they are for me every day. Thank you for standing up for her.

• From Joel Homan, Cincinnati:

I always like what you have to say because you challenge people to look at others around us without paying attention to physical characteristics such as skin color or physical abilities.

Remove the word disability from your last paragraph (Words distort view of disabled, Nov. 16) and you have stated a good rule for living with all people. That is what I like about your column - you talk about getting along with people. You just happen to relate it more to disabilities, but I know many who are severely restricted in life because of hate and anger. Keep writing. People are listening."

• From Thom M. Shuman, Pastor, Greenhills Community Presbyterian Church:

Thank you so much for your excellent article on the power words have to convey acceptance or rejection, inclusion or exclusion. (Words distort power of disabled, Nov. 16).

One of the great ironies of ministry is that those who have been trained to "preach the Word" often do not realize the power of the words we use. I went through the typical class on pastoral care, learning all the right phrases to use and say in a hospital setting. But when I went through major surgery and was in the hospital for 10 days, I came out with a new awareness. That experience completely challenged all that I learned and, I hope, challenged me to provide better pastoral care to my parishioners in the hospital.

Similarly, having a child with multiple mental and developmental disabilities has given me a different insight and, I hope again, a better sensitivity towards all of God's children.

In many ways, Teddy has been the preacher/teacher to me and to my congregation about the needs, the joys, but especially the gifts that persons with disabilities have to offer to all of us.

One of the things I am trying to do as a pastor is to ask folks when I encounter them, as Jesus did, "What do you want me to do for you?"

Contact Deborah Kendrick by phone: 673-4474; fax: 321-6430; e-mail:

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