Thursday, October 20, 2016

I can remember getting my first library card. Like many little girls, I had purses I’d carry around with nothing of importance in them: maybe some lip balm, some ponytail holders or fruit roll-ups. My first library card was also my first step into being big. With it, besides being able to finally have something other than toys in my wallet, came great responsibility, as my parents taught me.

Whatever I checked out from the library had to be returned on time. If it wasn’t, I was responsible for paying the late fee. I remember paying a lot of late fees, scrounging through couch cushions and the corner of my closet for loose change to pay off my fines. I just never could get the hang of reading all the books (way too many than one kid can possibly get through) in a timely fashion.

So, from an early age, I guess you could say I have invested in our public library system. As a kid, I remember when the Grandview library moved from the west side of the highway to the brand new building on Booth Lane, where it still sits today.

As an adult, I’m still a library believer and lover, though I don’t step foot inside nearly as often as I used to. Being a newspaper girl who believes in print, I’m almost ashamed to admit that I read most of my novels on my Kindle. Several years ago, I discovered that I could request and download books straight onto my device through the public library at no charge. I was hooked.

As a mom, I knew the importance and rite of passage signing my son up for his first library card was. Along with a two-of-hearts from a deck of cards and zero-balance gift cards, the library card is
tucked away in Michael’s little wallet.

The library is not the same as it used to be. Along with a hardback and paperback, they now have to buy the eBook, and the audiobook, and the eAudiobook, and the large print format, and so on and so on. As technology changes, the cost to our public libraries continues to grow. I am in full support of Proposition L, if for no other reason that to see offered to my child the same (albeit upgraded and updated) library experiences I had growing up. I’ll be voting yes on November 9, in support of Mid-Continent Public Library’s plans for better facilities, services and materials at a cost of less than the price of one new book.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Last week, in the quiet stillness of her home, I held my grandma’s hand as she took her last breath. My grandma was my favorite person. She was there when I was born, undoubtedly one of the first to hold me and tell me she loved me. From the very beginning, we shared a special bond that only grandmothers and granddaughters share, especially those who have the same name.

My grandma Mary Ann was the one who taught me how to swim in the freezing cold water of the lake place in early summer…because grandma and I would never say the water was too cold. We’d sip on sun tea and watch the sunset with lightning bugs dancing around us and the sound of cicadas keeping me up way past my bedtime.

Grandma was my favorite shopping buddy. We would shop-’til-we dropped, and Grandma would spoil me with “regular-priced” goodies that kept me looking pretty cool. And Grandma always looked pretty cool herself. She had the best wardrobe and always looked so put together, no matter where she was going. With those big, brown eyes, gorgeous white hair and sweet demeanor, she turned heads wherever she went.

We attended numerous ballets, and saw many productions together. For a few years when I was little, we had a tradition of seeing The Nutcracker at Christmastime. We were frequent visitors of the Nelson-Atkins and expert ice cream connoisseurs, spending way too much time picking out our favorite flavor at Baskin Robins when we’d both always settle on the same thing we’d always get. We went to high tea dressed in our fanciest clothes, and we picked blueberries until we were purple from head to toe. She was kind, loving and would do anything for me.

Grandma was at every dance performance, every game, every school musical, every birthday celebration and every important day of my life. She was my biggest cheerleader and supporter. If I didn’t think I could do something or wouldn’t be very good at this or that, she had a way of convincing me otherwise.

She knew no stranger. She loved to talk, and anyone who was in her presence for any given amount of time would quickly become a friend. I definitely got the gift of gab from my grandma, and even when she couldn’t have a conversation with me any longer because of Alzheimer’s, I knew she loved listening to me talk to her when she’d smile in response or tell me I was pretty.

As I got older, my grandma was the one to send me postcards and care packages while I was away at school. When I became an adult, the birthday cards came in the mail and eventually, they would come a few days late until they stopped coming altogether. It is heartbreaking to watch someone you love so much, someone you have so many memories with, struggle to even remember your name – our name.

She loved with her whole heart and thought the world of her family. She was there when my baby boy was born, and she was so proud and happy to be a great-grandma. That little boy could do no wrong in her eyes…she even willingly held his hand as he gave her a tour of the backyard dog poop at my parent’s house when he was about two. It didn’t matter that they were looking at poop; what mattered to her was that little Michael was so excited to tell her all about it.

When I was a little girl, I remember my mom telling me that there was no one in this world who loved me like my grandma loved me. I never forgot that. She was there for my beginning and I was there for her end. We have a bond that surely will carry on, as I know she is still my cheerleader, still my supporter and still my best friend. I will cherish the memories I have of her, and I will do my best to live up to our name.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

“Government can be a force for good, just like the press. That was true 150 years ago when this organization began and it is especially true today, in this age where many have lost faith in their government and the process and also lost faith in the press. It hasn’t been that long ago that a Missourian from St. Joseph, journalist Walter Cronkite, was the most trusted man in America. That’s a goal that everybody in the press should constantly work to be in your communities for all of us. Trusting,” Governor Jay Nixon said as he addressed a room full of journalists at the 150th Annual Missouri Press Convention last Friday.

The work of journalists is more important now than ever, as is the opinion of journalists, along with the ability to recognize and celebrate the positive and the good news happening in our communities each and every day. As we celebrate National Newspaper Week this week, I’m reminded of my duty and my privilege to cover this community.

Through good times and bad, through ribbon cuttings and destructive fires, through it all, the community newspaper is there. For me, this industry is more than just a job. It’s my calling. I’m passionate about telling stories. This community is where I grew up, and it’s where my son now calls home. In my 33 years of life, I’ve seen tremendous change that is now amounting to progress, and I’m continuously excited for the future of this part of the world.

We wouldn’t be able to do this without you. Each week, we pour our hearts out on these pages. We tell the stories of your neighbors, your leaders, your friends and your colleagues. We believe in our duty to be fair and just, and we believe in the truth. We truly have our readers’ best interests at heart.
So, each week, as I attempt to scrub the ink from my knuckles and step out into this community, I am reminded of good ole’ Mr. Cronkite. Am I the most trusted person in Grandview and South Kansas City? If not, that is my goal. If nothing else is accomplished, I can at least attempt to be just that: trusting.