Wednesday, February 01, 2012

In The Bleak Midwinter, February 1, 2012

This is my family.
I found it, all on my own.
It's little, and broken,
but still good. 
Yeah, still good.
~from the movie "Lilo and Stitch"

Hello Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you from San Diego, California on the eve of Ground Hog Day! We have had unseasonably warm weather here, even for us. It may be bleak midwinter in some places, but temperatures near 80 degrees have been our lot in recent days. I know it has been quite a different story for some of you, as the following will attest.

Surgery for Cathrina Clark. Our love and warmest wishes go out to Jerry and Cathrina Clark. Just yesterday Cathrina had back surgery in Lubbock, Texas. Jerry tells me "the surgery went great. Many prayers were answered. She is in pain but in very good shape."

Cindy Shepard. Tomorrow, Feb. 2, is the birthday of Cindy Dillon Shepard, my brother Gary's wife. Cindy and Gary live in Western Washington, near the town of Oak Harbor. They have lived there since 2003 when Gary retired in San Diego and they moved to the great Northwest. After a fairly mild beginning to winter this year, they have recently seen lots of rain and wind and some ice and snow.

This has not been a healthy start to the new year for Cindy. A few weeks ago she was quite ill with Colitis, and was even hospitalized for a short time, requiring time off from her job. She has no sooner recovered and gone back to work, when she took a nasty fall on the ice and broke her arm and sprained her ankle. It was not a simple break, but a very painful one that will incapacitate her for some time. The doctor tells her she will be off work for at least a month, maybe two. In the midst of all that we wish her a speedy recovery and offer her Happy Birthday wishes!

The first picture shows Cindy with her husband Gary in a picture that was taken last summer at the Shepard Family Reunion in Anacortes, Washington. Some of the reunion attendees can be seen in the background, including Jerry, Darrell, Pat, Chris, Nicole, Linda, Logan and Maida.

Flashback 31 years for the second picture. It was taken in San Diego in 1981 at the home of grandma Nola Shannon Gower who is on the far left. In the middle are Gary and Cindy Shepard, with our son Nathan on her lap. That is me on the far right, back in the days of big hair and big glasses.

"Destiny of the Republic." I don't often review books in these blog posts, but I do want to recommend a book that I read recently. Many of us who have Shepard, Davis or Kilpatrick blood also have a connection to the Church of Christ or the Christian Church. One of the most famous people of this religious tradition was our 20th President, James Garfield, who was assassinated early in his presidency, 130 years ago. Garfield was not just a member of what was called the "Restoration Movement", he was an active minister, as well as the President of one of our church colleges, before his call to politics. He was also from Ohio, the home of many of our Davis and Shepard ancestors.

"Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President" (2011) by Candice Millard, tells the story of Garfield's murder, its effect on our nation, and the unique time in history when it occurred. It is an excellent work of non-fiction that is at the same time heartwarming, heartbreaking and eye opening. The author's scholarship is remarkable to go along with her ability to write a work of history that reads like an exciting mystery novel. You don't have to share Garfield's religious affiliation to appreciate this astounding American story. Anyone with a love of family, a heart for America, or even a slight interest in history will find this a memorable read. I heartily recommend it.
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