Monday, February 12, 2018

Valentine's Day Approaches, February 12, 2018

We do not find the meaning of life
by ourselves alone -
we find it with another.
~Thomas Merton

Happy Valentine's Day! This is the week of Valentine's Day, which is on Wednesday. It is a day to celebrate and honor love, whether you are a senior, a child, or anywhere in between. It seems to me that this makes Valentine's Day the perfect time to celebrate family love.

For most of us it was, and is, those familial relationships that have meant the most to us throughout our lives. In families we first received unconditional love, we learned about love, and we discovered the importance of extending love to others. It was also in family relationships that it became clear to us that loving those closest to us was gratifying and the pillar upon which all love is based. On the other hand, in families we also learned that love can be challenging and even heartbreaking. So on this week of Valentine's Day we celebrate family love, not just warm fuzzy feeling we get with our family, but the realistic, tough kind of love as well. 

Eugene, Gary, Maida Shepard, 1946
"Show Me The Love" Award for 2018. For the last several years on Valentine's Day I have selected one person in our family who receives a "Show Me The Love" Award. It is a member of our family whose life exemplifies family love in an extraordinary way. The more I learn about the history of our family, the more I marvel at the people from who we are descended. In many instances they are people who sacrificed a lot for their kin. They are people who gave up much to better their station in life and that of their children.

You can look back in the archives of this blog to the last several Valentine's Day posts that have referred to individuals who won the "Show Me The Love" Award. They were mostly people who lived before our time, but what we learned about them shows they were clearly deserving of this Award. This year, however, I want to select a person for this Award who is still with us: my mother Maida Gower Shepard. 

Maida Gower Shepard, at 93 years old, has lived in Anacortes, Washington for the past 40 years. She and her sister Vicki Gower Johnston of Chandler, Arizona are today the senior members of our family. Originally from Arkansas, mom moved with her family from Oklahoma to San Diego during World War II. There she met Eugene Shepard (1921-2003) and lived with him in San Diego for over 30 years. In San Diego they raised their 6 children. In 1978, their life changed dramatically when Eugene retired and they moved 1,500 miles to Skagit County, Washington.
Steve, Maida, Gary Shepard, 2018

The first picture (above) was taken in San Diego in 1946 and shows Mom with young husband Eugene and their first child Gary. The second picture shows Mom in the middle with me on the left and my brother Gary Shepard on the right. This picture was taken just last month at Mom's home on Wildwood Lane in Anacortes, Washington.

Mom has showed extraordinary love her whole life long. She learned that kind of extraordinary family love from her parents, especially her mother Nola Shannon Gower. Maida's home has been a place of welcome throughout her life, a place where she has shown how much family means to her. 

For the last 72 years Mom has had one or another child or grandchild living with her without a break. For over 7 decades her home had been a place of love and acceptance. Talk about loving dedication to her family! Even today, at 93, Mom has 4 family members living with her. Two years ago she was diagnosed with memory loss and is now in need of her family's assistance, rather than the other way around.

So with all the foregoing in mind, I suggest to you that Maida Shepard deserves the "Show Me The Love" Award for 2018. I cannot imagine another person more deserving.   

Paula Harrell Tuzzolino, 2015
Happy Birthday Paula. Last week on Feb 7 was the birthday of my cousin Paula Harrell Tuzzolino of Sun Lakes, Arizona. Paula is married to husband Frank, and together they are the primary caregivers for Paula's mother Vicki Gower Johnston. Best wishes for a very happy birthday to Paula!

This second picture shows Paula and was taken a few years ago in Oak Harbor, Washington at the home of her mom Vicki Gower Johnston.

Make it a happy Valentine's Day for the ones you love!
- - -
Steve Shepard

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