Grandma and her sisters.

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

Throughout my life, I have encountered many models of resilience: people who demonstrated making “the best of a situation.” People who were somehow able to pick themselves up and keep moving, even when things were difficult. People who could see beyond the crisis or problem they were facing. Merriam-Webster defines resilience as “the ability to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.” It is something we learn from our own life experiences and by watching how important people in our lives react and behave.

Our reliable, day-to-day example is our mother. She is unflappable. Unstoppable. She sees situations and people in their best light. She is our Mary Poppins — always offering a “spoonful of sugar” to help with some bitter medicine. I can hear her voice when I feel discouraged or am trying to push through something hard.

Many of my former students were remarkably resilient, despite their circumstances; I imagine that family and friends also modeled persistence for them.

The more I learn about our family’s past, the more I realize how lucky we are that resilience became part of our legacy.

My maternal grandmother was raised in rural Kansas. When she was in elementary school, her mother died, leaving my grandmother and her five sisters with their father who was unable to care for them. The reason for this inability is unclear. What is clear, is that my grandmother and her sisters eventually moved to town where they were surrounded and loved by aunts, uncles, and cousins. The sisters — Ethel, Eula, Mabel, Maxine, Helen (my grandmother), and Agnes were taken in and raised by these families.

And the sisters eventually thrived.

Gever Tulley, writer, educator and speaker, pushes in on acquiring resilience. “Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.” For my grandmother and her sisters, this opportunity existed.

How fortunate that these supports were in place! How wonderful were these aunts and uncles! The love and compassion shown the sisters at this vulnerable time provided a haven and fostered their self-esteem. They survived a traumatic life event, and thankfully, they had the unfailing support of extended family.

And because they received uninterrupted love and care, they bounced back.

During their early adult years, the sisters relied on one another. They helped each other financially; when they had some extra money, they sent it to a sister. When one of them wanted to attend college or receive additional training, they helped by sharing housing or providing assistance of some kind.

They learned that life was good, that things would work out, that they could count on each other.
They learned perseverance.

Despite the loss of her mother and her original family structure, my grandmother was full of love and optimism. She learned frugality and how to make do with less, but she also believed in the future and the opportunities it would hold.

For most of us, there have been people in our lives who helped us with their words, generous acts, and examples.

I am thankful for these people who taught us resilience.

It’s a Fine Life.

Time marches on

Doctors David Schriemer and Lloyd Appell at the Vicksburg Historical Village.

David Schriemer’s feature, “Lloyd’s Standing Desk,” triggered in me a wide range of emotions, not only gratitude but also disbelief at how quickly the years have passed. It also reminds me of the importance of a family practice for our community’s health and well-being.

According to “Then and Now, 1911-2011,” a booklet the Family Doctors of Vicksburg compiled in 2011, a family practice has served this area for over a hundred years. This has certainly been valuable to my family. Not only have I been a life-long patient, but Lloyd (and eventually David) cared for my grandparents, parents, siblings, and children. How rare this continuation of care and the health benefits! How wonderful to experience the benefits of community and friendship with our practitioners!

When we started our family, we lived in rural Mattawan and took our little ones to a pediatric group in Kalamazoo. We were satisfied; they offered evening and weekend hours and had a large, accommodating staff.

But when we moved back to town in 1990, we switched our children’s care to the family practice. Lloyd had taken care of us as children. We went to school with his children. And David had just joined the group. It was a practical and logical switch.

The first time I took our little ones for an appointment, they rode their tricycles to their appointment since we lived just a few blocks away from the former office on Kalamazoo Avenue. I remember one of the girls had a mysterious rash, and when we saw David for the appointment, he asked Lloyd to step in to look at it, referring to Lloyd as “the rash king.”

Lloyd was always careful in his advice to me, an earnest, young parent. He was calm. Consistent. Kind. Eventually, I took our three-year-old little boy in. He had morphed into “mean guy,” which he often did when he was sick.

Lloyd entered and asked, “So what’s going on today?”

I responded, “PLEASE tell me he has an ear infection.” I was exhausted and, although I didn’t say it, I was also concerned that our little “mean guy’s” behavior was here to stay.

Lloyd put his hand on my shoulder. “Kathy, be thankful for ear infections right now. Children’s problems don’t go away, they just get more complicated.”

Yes, our son did have an ear infection. Pink medicine was prescribed, my sweet little boy eventually returned, and I always remembered those words.

How time marches on.

We eventually bought a home near the Appells and the newly established Schriemer residence, and our relationships developed and deepened as we shared many joys and sorrows over the decades.

Looking back, I am thankful for this care, friendship, and consistency. I am thankful for Lloyd and David’s commitment to South County: the countless hours they spent on the sidelines of athletic events, the sports physicals, the weekends on call. I am thankful for their continued service on local boards and agencies. These acts show honor and dedication.

Lloyd is an active, involved ninety-something, and David is now “the rash king” in the current practice. Of course he is!

But how can it be that he has begun a gradual transition to retirement?

Yes, how time marches on!

It’s a Fine Life.

Paul Schutter: His legacy

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

Teachers have always been important to young people and the communities they serve. Strong educators are vital to our country and the overall health of our democracy. There are many studies that show significant academic growth when students receive skilled, specific instruction in the classroom, and when teachers are clear in communicating what they want students to learn. Our school districts invest in training, helping classroom teachers learn, practice and implement important instructional methods which help students.

Academic growth and the techniques employed to foster student achievement are, of course, important. But exceptional teachers not only spur academic growth, they also leave an impact on their students, providing direction for their lives, positively affecting relationships, career choices, and even their character.

These teachers leave a legacy.

For many former Vicksburg High School students and athletes, one such person was Mr. Paul Schutter, former math teacher, track and football coach and long-time community member. Mr. Schutter passed away last month, and his family and friends are being reminded of the exemplary legacy of this kind, gentle man.

Mr. Schutter was a servant in his commitment to organizations and others. His funeral home page is filled with comments from former students, neighbors, co-workers, and lifelong friends. These comments emphatically speak of the words of encouragement he gave them and the excellence he firmly demanded both in the classroom and on the playing fields. They speak of his innovation and creativity as a teacher. They speak of his good, fun-loving nature.

There was never a doubt about the depth of his commitment and love for his family. He and Marilyn were married for over 65 years. They created a loving, stable home for their three children, a haven where their children’s friends always felt embraced. They eventually welcomed many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Mr. Schutter also lived a life of faith. He daily “walked the walk” of humility and compassion. He showed up. He spoke carefully. He lived with intention. He was a blessing to many people, and, in turn, he was blessed in his relationships with his family, friends, and community.

One of his granddaughters, Danielle, shared with me how amazed she was by all the kind words and stories about her grandpa. “He just had the best life. You couldn’t even write a story about a better life than my grandpa had.”

His example of a well-lived life is a gift for everyone he leaves behind, a comfort for all of us who loved him.

How lucky we were to know him. To cross paths with him in our lifetime. To witness his ready smile and twinkle in his eyes. To feel his strong handshake or firm hand on our shoulder. To receive his guidance when we needed it.

A quote by Colin Powell tells us that “Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty and persistence.” By all measures, Mr. Schutter’s long, fruitful life reflects success.

Thank you, Mr. Schutter, for the many lives you touched and your life of integrity.

Thank you for your legacy.

It’s a Fine Life