His Turn II: An Artist Discovers More

Do you have photo albums un-touched in years? Is there a box of pictures stashed away that hasn’t seen the light of day in ages? What treasures may be hidden in your attic or basement?

After our Big Move August 9, more of Cliff’s artwork has come to light, pieces squirreled away, forgotten for decades.

On the July 6, 2016 blog post, I hinted that Cliff the Artist would be discovering more goodies. What I said then:

He has also found lurking in drawers, pencil drawings of college classmates and professors in the classroom, sketches of unsuspecting diners in restaurants. (To be revealed)

The Revelation

Cliff found a treasure trove of surprises in an armoire’s shallow shelf with other large art pieces, in niches below that, in a handmade folding portfolio, and in a cabinet with glass shelves.

An antique mahogany cabinet brought forth more surprises.

Photographs and artwork like these:




Sketches in college classroom

Cliff and Barry Beitzel, both divinity students in college, studied Greek together. Cliff became an artist/educator and Barry, a Hebrew scholar and author of important biblical literature including The New Moody Atlas of the Bible.


Sketches in restaurants

In the style of Honoré Daumier who honored ordinary folks like in his oil painting Third Class Carriage, Cliff caught images of unsuspecting diners in Waffle Houses and restaurants of similar ilk:





A Family Heirloom, the House on Anchor Road: Cliff presented the painting of our homestead to my dad, Ray Longenecker, 1983



His Admission

Without prompting from me, Cliff wrote this memo to himself recently, feeling exhilarated about finding his long-lost “friends”



Time Moves On

Yes, time moves on. More than thirty-seven years have passed since this calendar with Cliff’s pastiche drawing circulated for the new year.



Your Turn

Maybe it’s time to check through memories marinating on your shelves, incubating in boxes. No telling what treasures you’ll find.



Bonus: Two good websites to help you mine stories from photographs:

Shirley Showalter’s Magical Memoir Moments: photos and writing prompts to bring out the storyteller in you

Dawn Roode’s blog on using digital photos to trigger writing life stories

Any I missed? Please add others in the comments column. Thank you!



Coming next: Aunt Ruthie Longenecker ~ Her Life in Pictures



The Million Dollar Baby: Ian’s Miracle Birth

Since my mother’s death in July, I have written several posts of her home-going including A Grief Observed: Missing Mother and Crossing the Bar.

This time I’m focusing on a birth, our grandson Ian’s miraculous birth seven years ago this week. According to the doctor’s calculations, he was scheduled to arrive on January 9, his Grandpa Beaman’s birthday. Instead he made his appearance on his mother Sarah’s birthday, October 5.

All births are miraculous, really, the tiny embryo maturing into a marvelous baby with millions of synapses making connections within the brain, a sense of rhythm and an ability to breathe and suckle at the same time. One study mentioned that babies can pick out the gender of other babies even when they are cross-dressed, something adults cannot do.

But Ian’s birth at 26 weeks gestation weighing a mere 2 pounds, 5 ounces meant many un-connected synapses and a severely undeveloped breathing apparatus. For weeks it was touch-and-go, and we weren’t certain that we would be bringing him home from the NIC Unit at Wolfson Children’s Hospital. Aside from the frightening awareness that Ian had a hole in his heart, we were introduced to a whole new vocabulary of problems: bradycardia, retinopathy, hip dysplasia. Translation: Slow, interrupted heartbeat requiring a nose cannula, undeveloped blood vessels in retina, and an immature hip ball and sock requiring a harness to hold legs in a frog-like fashion. Here is his photo-story:

Ian_02_NIC Unit_112707

Hello, world!
Hello, world!

My journal records that on November 29, 2007 Ian weighs 4 pounds, 3 ounces and is taking three bottles a day. He is also employing the services of a speech therapist and an occupational therapist along with physical therapy.

How would a speech therapist help a premature baby who can’t speak or an occupational therapist assist a child whose main job was trying to survive? Speech therapy facilitated the transition from tube feeding to bottle feeding and the occupational therapy improved the range of motion inhibited by hip dysplasia.

"Did you finally bring me home?" asks Ian.
“Did you finally bring me home?” asks Ian.

After a 14-week stay in the hospital, Ian is brought home. Glory, hallelujah! Though still on a breathing apparatus, he resumes a more normal life with his family, under the watchful eye of his brother.

"Ian, here's my advice," says Dr. Curtis.
“Ian, here’s my advice,” says Dr. Curtis.

Praise God – At age seven, Ian is now at the 98 percentile in height and weight for his age and is taking an advanced course of study in first grade at his school. There are delays in behavioral development though, possibly attributable to his prematurity. But who can be sure whether it’s prematurity or personality.


*  *  *

I wrote a letter to each of my grand-children before their first birthday and sent it to their home address so it would have a post-mark. In Ian’s case, I waited until the one-year mark to write and send his letter. Call it a welcome-to-the-world, a blessing from Grandma/NaNa in writing. Here is a copy of the letter he received:



Ian has not opened this letter yet though he is able to read. In fact, none of the grand-children have opened and read their letters and I’m wondering at what age they should be read. It seems the opening and reading calls for some special occasion. What do you think? I welcome your suggestions!

For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful . . . .

Psalm 139: 13, 14   NIRV

Your advice on letter reading welcome. Other comments or suggestions from your own experience. You will always get a reply from me and maybe from other readers. Thank you!

“Every child is a story yet to be told.”   Sesame Street