Odds ‘n ends

  • On my summer to-do list, especially in this mid-term election year, is to spend a day in Madison. While there are many events and places to visit in Southeastern Wisconsin, the summer provides a better opportunity to venture farther. The first stop would be to re-visit the capitol – the last official tour I took was with a fourth grade class in the 70s. There are free summer tours Monday through Saturday at 9, 10 and 11 a.m., and 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m. (Sundays at 1, 2 and 3 p.m.), ending with the museum and sixth floor observation deck with a view of the city of Madison. No reservations are needed if less than 10 people. For those wishing to walk around the rotunda and other areas on their own, the building is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 4 pm. on weekends. Find a driver and fill a car or two or take along a couple of grandchildren. The Saturday morning farmers’ market on the Square is another fun event. Across the Square at the corner of State and West Mifflin streets is the interesting and well-outfitted Wisconsin Veteran’s Museum that we toured a couple of years ago and would highly recommend. It is also free with Monday through Saturday hours of 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday hours through September from noon to 4 p.m. Check their Web site for special events on Aug. 12 and 13.
  • Alzheimer’s annual Memory Walks to raise funds for better treatment and cures are coming up in September and October. More than $500,000 was raised in 2009 with more than 10,000 people participating.  Statistics show that 16 million Americans will develop the disease, including 10 million baby boomers, in the next 10 years. Waukesha County has been added as a walk site this year on Sept. 11 in Oconomowoc.  Check their Web site at for dates, programs and support groups.
  • A second Grandparents Retreat with grandchildren ages 10 to 12 will be held at TYME OUT Youth Center, Stone Bank on Aug. 8 and 9.  Go to their Web site at for information and registration form.
    – Joan King

A recent gathering of old friends provided a great link for socializing and recalling people and events stretching back to early high school days. One of the fellows remarked to my husband, “You’re what I would call a ‘connector’ person. You remember stories and incidents of the past that spark memories in others.”

“Connector person” was a new expression to me, but since that time many reminders of this have occurred. How we interact with others affects our daily lives and thus forms our opinions and the path we will pursue.

We bond to relatives by the family stories we tell. These stories identify the persons as well as the heritage we have in common. Some are sad, some tragic, some hilarious. We tend to remember the more dramatic but hearing many different versions provides a better overall understanding.

I remember a story of a cousin who was having a great time chasing the pet geese at an uncle’s farm when one gander turned around and chased him. The relatives laughed to see the gander tugging at the boy’s pants while he pulled the other way and someone finally rescued him before damage could be done. A lesson learned, but also a memory of family picnics where everyone brought a dish to pass, the women wore aprons and brought their own dish towels, the men played cards under a shade tree and the children explored or played games in the yard.

Everyone relates to events differently. Family get-togethers, high school reunions, birthday parties, anniversaries, even funerals are memorable when stories are shared and ties are realized. We all see through different eyes.

Even when genealogists insist on tracing the paper trail as more reliable than verbal information, they realize that many factors come into play in getting to the truth of a person, event or time period. In writing a history of her family, my mother skipped over any incidents that may have shown someone in a bad light. She wrote only of her best memories of her family. However, my older sister related many stories of hard times and unsavory character traits of relatives as she remembered them. Which version will live? Maybe it will be a mix of both.

We are not always concerned about the “truth” of a story. Sometimes, it is the storyteller we enjoy or the point he or she is trying to convey. We have only to look at someone relating a joke to realize that there are people who start an opening line and everyone springs to attention, but the next person may be a real dud at joke telling.

Stories have a prominent place in our lives, whether we realize it or not. We get through hard times with these links that give us hope. When an accident or a serious illness affects someone we love, we look to story ties to help us, to give us support. A former pastor encouraged people to have a funeral “wake,” a Mass, and a time for sharing for its therapeutic effects on the family and friends of the deceased. That response in kindness and faith brings us to a more peaceful acceptance of an event – today often referred to as “bringing closure.”

Basically that’s what all our technology does today – provides many ways for stories to be communicated, oftentimes to the extreme. The computer, radio and TV bombard us with stories wherever we turn. A danger in this is to lose sight of what is really important. Here is where a “connector” person can bring a dose of reality.

This is why we turn to daily prayer, attending Mass, reading the Bible or other spiritual books.

When we say the rosary, follow the readings at Mass and really listen to the homily, we are associating with our faith through the evangelists and Old Testament writers. We see Jesus, the apostles and our church history through the eyes of those who have gone before us. Their writings have a variety of appeal as we all have our favorite parts of the Bible. But their purpose remains focused on making us aware of God in our lives.

Where am I going with this? Slow down and listen for the links that will move you to a better life. Block out distractions. The “connector” persons in the Bible stories want us to see the world through Jesus’ eyes, to know that God is love and cares about each one of us. Who are the “connector” persons in your life?  Are you a connector for someone else?