Archive for Heatwole Family

A Week Later

I was given this beautiful rose at the end of the Memorial Service. Today, one week later, it has hung its head.

Last week at this very moment we were laying mother to rest in a cemetery with friends and family gathered around. It was a sobering moment; quiet, respectful, sad, reflective and yet full of hope that we would see her again one day. Her plot is on a slight hill facing east with the Massanutten Mountain range in the background. My brother Ed spoke about mother’s beautiful garden and how a seed is planted to be resurrected. The grand and greatgrandchildren gathered together and sang, “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine”.

The memorial service followed; songs of worship flowed from our hearts; “A Wonderful Savior is Jesus My Lord, Sweet Peace, the Gift of God’s Love and In the Sweet By and By”. There were loving tributes and a message based on her favorite verse, Ephesians 3:20, by another brother, Rich.

I have had a lot of thoughts and emotions this week. I wonder what is she doing? What is she experiencing? What is heaven like? I was mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted. The care for mother took it’s toil but we were so blessed to be able to do it. We did what we wanted to do. One part of me grieves our loss and the other part is so glad and relieved she is free from suffering.

Like the rose at the beginning of the blog, her time had come. She had lived her appointed time and lived it well. I gently lifted the head of the wilted rose and its beauty is still there, lingering on.

My Tribute to Mother (read at the service)

In May, just before mother became bedfast, I convinced her to let me take her for a ride in her wheelchair outside on the driveway. It was a beautiful day; the sun was shining, and the crabapple and cherry trees were in full bloom and the mockingbird was flurrying about. Mother had been resisting the idea of the wheelchair tucked in the corner of the living room, so I called it her chariot.  As we walked, I mentioned to her that Elijah was in a chariot when he went to heaven. She thought a moment and said, “What will you do if I go now?” I said, “I will watch you go and then pick up your coat.” She smiled and said, “That is a good answer.”

I thought what a wonderful way that would be to go.  She didn’t leave me there staring at the sky, but I have thought about it many times.  Mothers’ chariot has now come and gone, and I didn’t get to see her go, so there was no coat to pick up, but her legacy lingers on.

Mother specifically asked that we not talk about all the things that she has done in life, so I want to talk a little about her character; the things she has left us that are far more important than earthly treasures or things she accomplished.  Proverbs 31 talks about a virtuous woman; her characteristics and what she does. But tucked in verse 25 at the end of the chapter it says, “Strength and dignity (or honor) are her clothing. She will rejoice in time to come.”

Words that describe mother are gracious hostess, serving heart, kind, loyal friend and peaceful. She liked things neat, clean and in order. Mother was a quiet woman, never raising her voice.  She spoke with authority, love and respect. When mother spoke, we listened, and we respected her. We knew mother and daddy were a team and we knew better than to try and pit one against the other.  Mother always respected and stood by daddy and her church, doing her best to walk along side and support whatever it was that was happening.  Mother was not an upfront person and mostly served behind the scenes. For over 20 years, she supported daddy in his ministry as a pastor’s wife at Morning View Mennonite Church, encouraging and praying.  She was a gracious hostess and exceptional cook, and many were blessed to sit around her dining room table. Remember her cinnamon buns, doughnuts, hot homemade bread and rolls, dandelion salad, cookie and candy trays at Christmas, homemade potato chips, ginger snaps, pork cake, buckwheat pancakes, and Graham Cracker Fluff?

She knew who liked what and exactly how much to cook for her tribe of 60 plus. It was amazing how she could make the food for a large group come out exactly right, down to the last lima bean. Daddy did not like leftovers.

 One of her few acts of defiance-it may have been her only, was one Christmas some of the moms were complaining about the luscious homemade cookie and candy tray mother had out for the taking before the evening meal that was spoiling the little children’s appetite.  Mother picked the tray up, marched into the living room and as she announced, “I will put it out if I want to,” she stumbled, and cookie and candies went flying across the room. That made an extremely funny, and memorable memory we have all remembered-as it was so unlike her!

Mother made many quilts and baby quilts that were gifted to each of us children and grandchildren. She made many comforters for Christian Aid Ministries. When the granddaddaughters were young, mother made cute dresses for them at Christmas time. They would all line up and have their picture taken with her.

Mother was a disciplined, faithful follower of Jesus. She knew and loved the Word. Mother truly represented a woman of strength and honor. Many of you have mentioned her kind and gracious spirit.  Like the writer of Proverbs said, “Strength and dignity (honor) are her clothing -or the mantle she leaves behind. Her time has now come to rejoice

A few other links:

Graveside Service

Memorial Service

The Empty Chair

There daddy sits, all day long just looking out the window at whatever there is to see. He has a good view from the window. It is very entertaining to watch all that is happening at his son’s place and their grandchildren riding the four-wheeler, mowing the lawn, working in the garden, and all the comings and goings. He can see the Massanutten Mountain Range in the distance and the rolling farmland in between. He watches the deer grazing on the far hillside. But Daddy has dementia and it is hard for him to process all that is happening. The chair of his beloved wife of 70 years is empty. Never again will mother sit in that chair; her days on earth are drawing to a close.

There are a lot of things happening in the house but daddy mostly tunes it out, choosing instead to sit in the dark and stare out the window. Is it emotionally safer for him?

He recalls the stories of the past, repeating them over and over. There was the time he was put in “jail” by his brother and sister. He was locked in the corn crib and forgotten. Lunch time came and when he didn’t show to eat, the offending siblings suddenly remembered when father asked where was Dwight. He laughs with glee when he recalls the dare between his brother Dewitt, and himself. Daddy went first, sticking his rear out from behind the shed. Dewitt aimed his BB gun and missed but when it was daddy’s turn to shoot he did not miss! There was a Sunday morning when numerous of the children were in the car waiting for their parents to go to church. The house sat on a hill and the driveway was fairly steep. Suddenly one of the children (he can never remember which one) put the car in neutral and the car started rolling down the hill. In a split second, all the children in the front seat magically were in the backseat. He has church stories, bull stories, farm stories, childhood stories and vividly remembers walking the two miles to downtown Bridgewater to school and back even when the weather conditions were harsh.

Daddy sees the empty chair and feels lost, lonely and sad. He wants mother to come to the table to eat and often sets a place for her. He wants her to drive him to church. Mother can no longer do those things. He misses her presence, companionship, cooking and care.

An empty chair is a sad reminder of a more pleasant time; a time when life was normal, happy, busy and satisfying. A time when they did everything together as a couple; worked, traveled, entertained guests, gardened, went to church, and prayed. It is a reminder of when he was in control of his house affairs and together they were a team. All of that has changed and he no longer knows how to connect the dots. Instead of being the provider for his wife he watches others be her caregiver. Instead of being able to make the decisions about what is happening, he helplessly watches “his role” managed by others. He lives in the day, but it alludes and befuddles his reasoning.

There are now a lot of empty chairs in the house; the stool at the sewing machine, mother’s chair at the kitchen table, the lazy boy by the lamp, her seat in the car, the front porch chair where together they enjoyed the day and watched the sun set in the evenings, her spot on the bench at church, and the lawn chair on the back porch where they shelled beans. These were mother’s special places.

Special empty chairs leave big gaping holes in the heart. In daddy’s words, “I am crying inside”. We pray for patience, compassion, sensitivity and wisdom. If you think of our family, please lift us and daddy to our Heavenly Father.

A Valentine’s Day to Treasure

Today was a very special day that almost didn’t happen, but it did. This is the third Sunday in a row that church has been canceled due to snow and/or ice. We had a family day planned and it was looking like the weather might not cooperate but we were able to pull it off. Obe, Jill and family came from Harrisonburg and brought my parents. Keith who lives nearby and his crew all made it.

My parents are getting older and mother is facing some health challenges. We and they wanted one more trip to Powhatan.

I fixed chicken pot pies and toss salad for lunch with apple salad and a tray of homemade cookies and candies for dessert. My dishwasher broke down this week and needs repair so I used paper plates (which I never do) to save on time washing dishes. I spruced up the table with my good set of glasses that go with my china. The casual with a touch of elegance made a fun and interesting table! One of the granddaughters noticed!

Our family
Gene and I with mother and daddy.
Mother with her daughter (me), granddaughter (Jill) and three great-granddaughters (Emily, Lauren & Karla)
Keith and his kids (Emily Lauren & Noah)
Obe, Jill Hostetter, Karla and Ryan
Four generations: Mother, Me (left), Jill and Karla
The Hertzler clan great-grandchildren

After lunch we had a taffy pull. This was a throw-back to the good ole days of the sixties. Taffy pulls made a great dating event for young couples. Mother used to make taffy for special occasions such as youth group socials or when a family of cousins came to visit. I thought mother would enjoy watching us enjoy her tradition. I used her recipe. The grandchildren had a good time, they had never pulled taffy. I apparently didn’t boil the syrup quite long enough even though it was the right temperature on the thermometer, the taffy was a little sticky. But we got ‘er done and had a good time laughing at the sticky globs sticking to our fingers. There is an art to making and pulling taffy and I didn’t quite have mother’s perfection!

Boiling the taffy- Lauren
Susan Johnson
Getting started-sticky mess!
Having fun!

Cheerfully doing dishes.

The day ended with a tour of Keith’s new house.

This picture perfectly sums up the day…..

“Blessed and Beautiful”

Taffy Recipe

(From my mother, Fannie S. Heatwole. It is also in “Mennonite Country-Style Recipes” cookbook by Esther Shank, my aunt)

Mix together and let set to soak until soften: 1-1/2 tsp. unflavored gelatin and 1/4 c. cold water

Combine in saucepan: 2 c. sugar, 1 c. dark corn syrup and 1 c. milk and approx. 1-1/2 T. chunk of paraffin. Boil 15 minutes. Add the gelation mix and boil to 250 degrees (Firm Boil stage). Stir frequently. Remove from heat and pour into 2 well-buttered pie pans to cool until it is not to hot to handle with your hands. Butter your hands well and pull with partner. There is a nac to pulling and can be seen in the video clip below. Pull until the taffy turns white and very still. Stretch into long ropes and twist in cords. Snip with a large pair of kitchen shears into desired size pieces on a baking tray sprinkled with powdered sugar. Shake to coat and store in the refrigerator.

Yield: enough for two couples or four people.

Important note: Do NOT use hand lotion or soap on your hands the day of the taffy pull or you will ruin your taffy with the flavor of your lotion or soap. I learned that the hard way back in the day when I was dating a young man and ruined our taffy!

Heatwole Gathering-2019

The matriarch (Fannie) and patriarch (Dwight) of the family

Each fall the Dwight Heatwole family gathers to enjoy a day together. Rich and Marj planned the reunion this year and it was at Jim and Kendra Landis’ lovely, park-like homestead at the end of a steep, windy, one mile gravel road near the top of Second Mountain near Hinton, VA.  Jim and Kendra are welcoming, gracious hosts and they have plenty to keep young and older children well entertained; zip-line, sandbox, trails to hike, rocky mountain creek, woods, shooting range, trampoline, and for the “oldish” gang a peaceful, shady, picnic area with a pit fire for just sitting, visiting and eating.

Here are a few pictures from our day.

 

Cousins Kendra,  Jill and Karmen

Melanie and Marj

Krista, Maude and Evelyn

Heidi

Micah

Jake and Melanie

Micah, Krista and Maude

Rhonda

Calvin

Eileen and Crystal

Ed, Obe and Gene

Heidi and Rhonda

Rich and Phil

Eric and Jim

Bringing granddaddy a lazy boy chair to sit in.

Now that is special treatment!

The guys looking at Tractor Mac who had a little runaway accident several weeks ago. It went for a spin down the hill by itself and crashed into a very rocky creek and then caught fire. Jim is rebuilding it. Kendra’s blog tells the story… Tractor Mac Goes Solo.

Tractor Mac is in the tractor hospital!

 

Grandmother, Ev and Marj

Lincoln getting some help with the zip-line harness.

Kendra has the prettiest flowers on her deck.

The next several pictures are of the other special fun event of the day-shooting skeets.


It was a fun day, enjoyed by all.

Celebrating Mother’s 90th Birthday

Happy birthday, Mother. It was fun celebrating with you on Sunday. Here are a few pictures of the day for you to enjoy.

We celebrated mother’s birthday at our annual Showalter (Mother’s side of the family) Christmas luncheon.

 

Mark Showalter Jr & Dorothy…Mother’s brother

Rhoda Wenger…Mother’s Sister

George Brenneman Jr. ….Mother’s first cousin

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We had lots of good food. This is the beautiful dessert table.

I can see someone was in the tray of truffles….before we even started to eat!!!

You know Robert and Lois Wenger are in house when a huge platter of delicious,  freshly made, melt-in-your mouth, homemade doughnuts arrive! I broke one in half-you know, thinking I would be “good”. That was gone before I could get back to the table so I went right back and got the other half. No diet for today!

 

We had two beautiful cakes….

Creation by Rhonda Borntrager.

A masterpeice by Eric Blosser.

A few thoughts about “Home” by Pat Hertzler.

Some old pictures.

Two special songs dedicated to mother by Micah Heatwole, Marj & Rich Heatwole, Phil & Evelyn Borntrager.

Words and prayer of blessing over Mother by Ed and Eileen Heatwole.

The great-grandchildren singing “Happy Birthday”.

Aren’t they aging well?

Home

by Pat Hertzler

Happy birthday Mother. 90 years. Wow!

I was talking to mother last week and she said, “I can’t believe I am ninety.” We talked a little bit about how blessed she and daddy were to be this age and to be as healthy as they are. And yes, they need more help than they used to, but they are still independent and doing amazingly well.

As I thought about a few words to share today, I centered on the word “Home”.

When I think of home, I think of three stages in life.

  1. The home we are born into-one you did not choose.
  2. The home we choose to make.
  3. And our final eternal home.

The word “home” can conjure many different feelings and emotions for folks. Hopefully for you, your thoughts of home bring back good memories.

I think all of us here today in this room are benefits of the home mother, along with all her siblings, were born into; the family of Mark and Amanda Showalter.

Granddaddy Showalter was an enterprising, successful business man. He started a feed mill on the farm and later moved it down the road by the railroad tracks in Broadway. He established Broadway Metal Works, was instrumental in starting Virginia Mennonite Retirement Home and was very active in church work. (example: Stephens City). How many of you worked in one of these businesses through the years? Before I was married, I worked at Virginia Mennonite Retirement  Home-in food services. Mother remembers that Granddaddy-or her daddy-was a very busy man and he and grandmother were very dependent on their children for labor. Grandmother was a supportive wife and mother.

Mother had to stay out of school two years to help on their farm which put her behind at EMHS and in the class of a handsome young man by the name of Dwight Heatwole.

Daddy and Mother, after dating several years, decided to get married and create their own home. This was a home they could chose to create. Richard, Evelyn, Ed and I are privileged to call them mother and daddy.

For us kids, it was a place of security, belonging and comfort. Mother and daddy worked hard and instilled in us a strong work ethic, honesty and obedience. These things are still important to me today.

When I think about our home, several things stand out in my memory. I will focus mostly on mother.

  • She kept a neat, clean house. She was not a perfectionist, but things had their place and order. Dishes were always done, beds always made (and yes, us kids made our own), laundry was always folded and put away as soon as it was completed. At bedtime, toys, books, sewing or whatever we were doing was put in its place. We went to bed with a picked-up house.
  • Mother operated on a schedule-daddy had a lot of influence in that:
    • Monday and Wednesday: Laundry
    • Meals were at a specific time. Daddy seldom was late.
    • Bedtime.
    • Saturdays we cleaned and polished our shoes.
    • Spring-cleaning, fall cleaning.
    • Arrived at church ½ hour or more early. We were never late.
  • Mother was diligent in teaching us (particularly Evelyn and I) life skills: cooking, sewing, canning, mending, making bread, gardening, butchering and the list could go on and on.
  • Mother taught Evelyn and I extra creative things of homemaking such as how to crochet, quilt, make curtains, potato chips, doughnuts and candy.
  • We learned a work ethic. There was time to play but also a time to work and work we did.
  • Mother was active in church, teaching Sunday School and she and daddy were youth leaders for years.
  • Mother loved to entertain guests and we often had Sunday company. Some of her specialty dessert dishes were cinnamon buns, chocolate ice-cream pie, caramel custard, pies, and Graham Cracker Fluff.
  • I remember mother reading to us kids at bedtime in the winter. She would sit in her rocking chair, send one of us to the basement for apples which she could core, and then read while we enjoyed our treat. Incidentally, as a general rule, we did not eat between meals. But there was candy,  particularly chocolate candy in our home.

I asked mother recently what she thinks about now that she is 90. Without hesitation she said, “Heaven.” There was a pause and then she said, “the things of this earth are growing strangely dim.” She’s not there yet, just dreaming of that wonderful homegoing, and in the meantime, we are celebrating birthdays. Happy 90th birthday, Mother. Thank you for a life well-lived, well-shared, and well-managed. But thank you most of all for a life centered on Jesus.

Heatwole Gathering-2017

For those interested in our family, this post features pictures from our family get-together this weekend at Sparking Springs. This year Phil and Ev Borntrager were in charge. We had church together this morning, followed by good food and fellowship. Each family prepared something to share for the service.

Phil Borntager leading us in singing

Phil & Ev Borntrager reading scripture. (Ev was wearing a bear on her head to create interest for a later children’s event)

Melanie Neiss leading her family (following picture) in blessing us with special music.

Jake Niess with children; Kyra, Taya and Lucas.

Kendra Landis with her children; Blake, Austin and Macey singing Psalms 100, a song they created to help learn the Psalm.

(Girl in red just wanted to sit on Kendra’s lap)

Heidi Nolt with three of her children; Grace, Julianna and David saying some verses.

 Kerwin and Rhonda Borntrager with their children; Ana, Josiah,   Leah and Katie singing a song.

Mother (Fannie Heatwole) sharing some verses that are special to her.

Pat Hertzler had a children’s lesson on “Kindness”.

 

Gene, the pharmacist, giving a “kindness prescription” and two cards with the following verses to each child.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

“Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as Christ forgave you”. Ephsians 4:32

Evelyn played some games that we as kids played when we were young: Dentist, Button button who has the button, Smelling with yardstick, Treasure hunt and New Orleans-Here I Come.

“Dentist”

“Button, button, who has the button”

Then off they went on a treasure hunt….

Then Phil read a bear story to the children and they all went out on a bear hunt.

It wasn’t long until the excited explorers came back with the bear in tow….

 

Daddy (Dwight Heatwole)

Micah Heatwole

Ed Heatwole

Phil Borntrager, Gene Hertzler and Micah Heatwole

Calvin Nolt

Kerwin Borntrager

Marj Heatwole

Crystal and Eric Blosser

Eileen Heatwole

Kendra Landis

Jim Landis

Mom and daughter sharing a moment; Melanie Kniss and Marj Heatwole

 Jill Hostetter, Ryan and Karla

Heidi Nolt and Nathan

Pat Hertzler singing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” to Maude Heatwole…over and over and over…it was great fun and she was my friend for a long time!

Then we learned “I’m squishing up a baby bumble bee. Won’t my mama be so proud of me, I’m squishing up a baby bumble bee….”

“Ouch, he stung me….”

Ryan Hostetter and Marj Heatwole

Gene Hertzler, Obe Hostetter, Kerwin & Phil Borntrager, Dad Heatwole and Rhonda Borntrager

 

Nathan Nolt

Grace Nolt

And the uninvited guest who garnished some attention of the photographers in the family….

A Most Delightful Afternoon

I have these cousins, well actually we are my third and a half cousins, who are very special and this afternoon I was invited to join them for a visit at their ladies annual sewing retreat as they are in the Gum Springs (my) area this year. Every year they choose a different state and location.

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Back: Emily, June, Me-Pat, Julia, Polly

Front: Coleen, Margaret, Barbara

The eight gals, who I refer to as the Heatwole sisters, along with their mother who is 91, get together once a year for ten days to sew.  Yes, sew. They gather from Georgia, Texas, Delaware and Virginia with their sewing machines, irons, tables, sewing projects and set up shop at a “retreat area” to visit, laugh, reminiscence, sew, quilt and even check out a few of the local eateries and thrift stores.  Their sister, Sheila from Alabama, was not with them this year and sister-in-law, Cheryl, from Harrisonburg, came later in the week. Through out the week various daughters and granddaughters come for varying lengths of time.

Margaret, the matriarch, is very industrious for her age. She can still sew up a storm and this week was busy making potholders. Margaret’s artistic eye has been passed on to her daughters who are professional quilter designers and fabric artists.  She has painted china, many pictures and even a mural on a wall in her house. And I was impressed with her use of technology. This lady may walk with a cane but she knows how to use her ipad!

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 She showed me how she made these beautiful, soft potholders. Tucked in between the layers of cloth and batting was a heat resistant sheet. She sewed lines across the pads maybe half an inch apart and then took scissors and cut the top layer of material the entire length.  After they were washed and dried the raw edges were soft and fuzzy.

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June was working on finishing a Dresden Plate quilt that came from her husband’s side of the family in the late 1800’s. All the pieces were hand stitched together and in excellent condition. What a treasure to preserve this piece of family history.

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Another of June’s handiwork: Hummingbird wall hanging.

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I was really partial to this quilted wall hanging by June. I love photographing sunsets and this quilt was almost as pretty as the real thing!

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I thought these three wall hangings by June were exquisite-and no, she will not sell them!!!!  The design pieces were laid on a background piece and stitched with a million stitches!!! There were rows and rows of machine stitches going horizontal and vertical as close together as you could stitch. The texture of these quilts begs to be lovingly touched.

Coleen is one year older than me and she was my pal when our families got together. Here she is pictured with her mother, showing the lovely pillow covers she was working on for each of her children. The brightly colored pieces of velveteen were stunning and each square was framed with fancy embroidery stitching giving it an elegant finish.img_2369

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Another project of Coleen was a series of small quilts using her dad’s (on left) and father-in-law’s (on right) shirts. She plans to also do one using scraps from her mother and mother-in-law’s dresses.

Julia is an “artistic quilter” and loves to recreate a quilt from a photograph or design an abstract quilt such as the sun rays in the picture below. She is a blogger (Life As a Quilter) and has received wide-spread recognition for her handiwork.

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One of Julia’s traditional quilts she is working on.

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A quilt Julia is making for one of her grandsons.

Just an interesting note for the Powhatan folks…. Julia supplied the cotton seed planted in the historical garden at the courthouse a year or so ago. She and her husband raise cotton in Georgia and I wrote to her asking how we could get ahold of a few seeds. She generously gave us some!

Polly and I both share someone very special. She is grandma to little Jase (my great-nephew)  that I occasionally write about who has SMA.  One of Polly’s creative works of art was a butterfly wall quilt. It is made with lots and lots of small rectangle pieces strategically laid side by side. She also is a blogger and her writings can be read at Pollythepatchworker.

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One of Polly’s projects begging to become something special.

Barbara is a quilt designer, author and teacher. She has a website, Delightful Piecing, where you can see her schedule, purchased her books and view her gallery of pictures. She was working on a beautiful soft, natural colored quilt for one of her children’s wedding.

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Emily was working on a “Moo Cow” quilt using multi-sized, multi-colored bits and pieces strategically laid together to form the picture. Each tiny piece of fabric had adhesive on the back and was carefully ironed into place when she had obtained the desired look.

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Another view of “Moo Cow”.

Katina, Coleen’s daughter, showing me her flannel quilt.

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Several other of the next generation gals were there-but I failed to get their names. One  was working on a leaf quilt with rich, rustic fall colors and another was working on a princess dress-up outfit for her daughter.

These pictures only represent a portion of their work this week.  There were quilts folded on chairs, laid out on the floor, stashed in bags and containers under the tables. Let me tell you, these Heatwole sisters know how to quilt and how to do it fun!

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Finished projects:

I snitched from their fb posts some pictures of the finished projects I have featured above. Their personal fb posts reflect many more projects and I suspect their blogs will have lots of pictures soon. Enjoy….!!!

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Heatwole Gathering-2016

This year our family gathering was at the home of Jim and Kendra Landis. They have a beautiful home site nestled on the edge of Shenandoah Mountain with National Forest all around. Jim is very creative and their place was better than a park with a zip line, playground, walking trails and picnic area.  The pictures and video clips will tell the story.

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My parents, siblings and spouses started Saturday morning with a delicious breakfast at the home of Rich and Marj.

Back: Ed & Eileen Heatwole, Marj & Rich Heatwole, Gene & Pat Hertzler

Front: Mother (Fannie Heatwole), Phil & Ev Borntrager and Daddy (Dwight Heatwole)

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Midmorning we begin to gather at the Landis home. The kids had a blast climbing on the monkey bars, swinging and sliding on the play set, and riding their bikes.

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The zip line was a favorite for kids and a few brave adults.  The “take off” perch was on a cliff behind the house.  There was an adult at the station to ensure all safety precautions were followed and the harnesses properly hooked to the cable.

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After putting on the harness,  you had the thrill of a 500 ft. zip across the lawn to the “landing station”. Two adults were there to receive/catch the “zippers” and help them unhook.

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Some of the smaller kids rode tango with another but each had their own harness

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Spectators!

Jase

I think most of us were anxious and excited to see little Jase. It has been awhile since we had an update on him. He is now 14 months old, cute as a button and a specimen of health.

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He had a heart warming smile that made you just want to snatch him up and cuddle on him. He had a strong preference for this parents and preferred you visit from a distance!

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No SMA baby ever dreamed of standing like this.  What does the future hold? No one knows. He is on an experimental drug for two years. Because he has participated in the program and shown huge results, he will be able to continue the drug.  Other kids his age have crawled and are toddling around.  So far he has not achieved that feat. He wants to crawl and rocks himself forward but can’t quite get his body into the right position. Is he just slow? We hope so. But standing on his mom’s lap he definitely has strength in his legs.  The movement in his arms is strong and there is nothing floppy about him. It is truly a miracle and gift from God that modern medicine has gotten this far.

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I had the privilege of holding him while his mom worked with lunch.  Let’s say “he tolerated” me with a whine!  But whenever I got too close after that he would watch me with those huge brown eyes and get that worried look on his face with a hint of a twinkle in his eyes.  What a charmer!!

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I could hardly get enough of the little fella!  He has no idea how unique and special he is.

The Lazy Boy Chair

Gene has had a rough summer with four surgeries (one on his shoulder and three for a kidney stone). He is still trying to get his strength and energy back.  He was struggling this weekend with extreme muscle soreness.

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He started out in his lawn chair but behind the scenes Jake and Jim were busy carrying a recliner from the house and up the hill to the picnic area. When the time came to move to the area for lunch,  Jim offered to carry our chairs and walked with him.

This video clip tells the story!

 

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This was really, really a very thoughtful and much appreciated prank!

A while later the sun popped through the leafy overhang and the guys immediately pulled out a patio umbrella for shade!!! How much more loved and special can you get? Jim and Jake’s mother-in-law wondered aloud if she would be this special and cared for when she was old! (The answer is on the video clip!)

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The Picnic Area

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A funny adornment-I guess just in case you are brave enough!!!

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The Faces of Us!

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The youngest of the clan.

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It was a fun, relaxing and absolutely perfect day with good food, fellowship and weather.

P.S. We missed the families of Keith, Jill, Brian, Jeannette, Aaron and Karmen. One of these couples was in Ireland on vacation and another is expecting their baby any day, any hour!

Heatwole Family Reunion-2015

Life has been busy and full this summer and I think all the big major events have now taken place!  This weekend was our Heatwole family gathering here in Powhatan. Each of us siblings (Me, Rich, Evelyn and Ed) take turns hosting. Every four years it is my turn.

My siblings/spouses and parents arrived on Friday evening. We enjoyed supper on the deck and as a side benefit watched six turkeys grazing in the field behind the house.

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On Saturday the rest of the gang arrived.  There were 40 present with several not able to attend. The kids had a great time playing in the wading pool and playing kick ball and  corn-hole. The adults were content to sit and talk and catch up on what is happening in our families and life. I didn’t get very many pictures this year.  (I’m not sure what happened to me-the camera buff that I am!)

 

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In trying to pump up the soccer ball with more air the needle broke off in the valve.   Obe tried his best but could not get it out.

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The “pirate” boy (Ryan Hostetter) collided with another boy a day or so early and took a hard blow to the eye.

 

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We had lots of good food including smoked beef brisket.

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Filling the wading pool with water.

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 Cheryl Yoder and Jase, the newest member of the family.

 

Let me tell you about Jase…..

Jase was born 4 weeks ago. Remember our journey two years ago with little Ariel who had SMA?  This is her little brother and he has been diagnosed with the same disease. This is devastating news not only for Jeremy and Cheryl but also for the whole family and a host of friends and loved ones who love and care for the Yoders.

Jeremy and Cheryl shared with the family where they are at in their journey with Jase and there is exciting developments in research to find a cure for SMA.  Forty years ago when our two children died, there was no research, no diagnostic test, no hope.  It was a death sentence with no survivors. Then came Truman in 2011 and Ariel in 2012.  At that time there was a blood test to reveal the dreaded diagnosis but still no exciting medical research to embrace.  I have been keeping a  journal as we get information on Jase’s journey.

Family Connections:  To those who are reading this and do not know the family connection…. Rich is my brother and his wife is Marj.  Cheryl is their daughter and Jase is Rich and Marj’s grandson.   The disease first showed up in our family when Gene and I lost 2 children with Werdnig-Hoffman disease, now called SMA: Karla in 1978 and Greg in 1982.   Gene has a sister who also had a child with the disease.  Years went by and then came little Truman, son of Micah and Krista Heatwole. Micah is Rich and Marj’s son.  The disease had once again reared it’s ugly head.  Jase.

Jeremy Yoders-July 2015

Jeremy and Cheryl, Max, Bo and Jase

 

July 16, 2015: Cheryl

He’s here! Jase Marius arrived yesterday – all 9 lb 9.5 oz of him! – arrived yesterday at 3:36pm. Jase means “healer”. Marius, a take off of Mark in honor of Jeremy’s Dad, means “manly”. So grateful for this gift!

Jase Yoder-birth July 16 2015

July 25, 2015

Richard called to tell us that the blood test has come back and little Jase has tested positive for SMA.

July 26, 2015

Richard & Marj sent the following note to family and friends: Jase’s blood test results came on Fri. His DNA shows the same gene abnormality as Ariel’s. He tests positive for SMA. This is an unexpected blow. Thanks for your prayers for us and ours.

August 4, 2015: Sharing our journey… from Cheryl

We’ve already introduced Jase Marius here. We’re enjoying him immensely!

We learned on Friday the 24th, half of Jase’s lifetime ago, that he is missing both copies of the SMN1 gene – just like Ariel – and is expected to be affected with SMA. In spite of fully knowing our “odds”, we were not prepared for this report. It was extremely disappointing to say the least. Many of you have been praying for our family. You carried us through the journey with Ariel and anticipated this baby (Jase) with us. Here we are in a vulnerable, heart-breaking position and find that we’re able to stand, over our heads in grace. God is with us. You can rejoice in answered prayer!

We maintain that now is the time to trust and to savor life for it is truly a gift. Look at these pictures – can you acknowledge with us that our God is beautiful and kind?

Yesterday we took Jase to the same neurologist who saw Ariel. I was not super excited about the appointment. Jase is not showing symptoms of SMA…”Why are we even going? Just to have him scrutinized and look for the problem we’re praying not to see?” But I did have some questions and it can be difficult to land an appointment, so when they had an opening yesterday we took it.

There’s a lot I could say, but to get more quickly to the point, Jeremy and I – and Jase, but he isn’t concerned one hoot about it. We left the appointment hearts throbbing with hope, kind of floored into silence, with big silly grins on our faces. We had just received really good news for Jase!

There is a lot of research going on right now regarding SMA. Up to this point it’s been, “We’re learning really exciting things, but there’s nothing we can do yet.” That was our experience with Ariel. But yesterday the doctor, for the first time in his career was able to say to someone, “There is a promising drug that is in clinical trials. There is a trial open right now. Your son looks like a perfect candidate.” That someone was us!

There is hope that this therapy could prevent the onset of SMA symptoms. There are no guarantees – this is a clinical trial. Eligible infants are those who have been diagnosed but are not yet symptomatic (which is uncommon). That’s Jase. So! We are extremely excited and grateful. We have blindly placed our hope in our strong God and it is exhilarating to feel like we very likely are beginning to glimpse His answer.

God’s fingerprints are all over the timing of test results, appointments, the clinical trial itself…. We rejoice and worship and continue to trust and pray. The medical people are in a flurry to get things moving so that Jase can enter the trial before he develops symptoms. My mommy heart has urged, “hurry, HURRY!” My heart that has been tucked pretty hard under the Father’s arm says, “He’s got this one. You don’t know how, but everything is going to be okay.”

We will probably be traveling to Chicago this week, yet, for initial screening and possibly the first treatment if everything clears. Probably. Possibly. If. That’s exactly how sure we are about what’s next. Please continue to pray. And be sure to direct all praise to God!

 

August 5, 2015: A note from Marj

I’m assuming ya’ll have seen the latest developments concerning Jase on FB. We’re about to leave for church, but I wanted to let you know that Jeremy, Cheryl & Jase are flying to Chicago this evening. Jase’s first app’t is at 8:00 tomorrow morning. They’ll be doing a screening to make sure he meets all the qualifications for this experimental test. Jeremys were told to go prepared to stay until Tues. Max & Bo are at Jeremy’s folks in DE. Thank you so much for your interest and your prayers. We wonder what God is up to, what may come of this; what His plan is for our little Jase. It’s pretty exciting, and a bit surreal.

 

August 6, 2015: A note from Marj

I just got off the phone with Cheryl. They’ve had a big day, are weary and ready for a good night of sleep. But pleased and excited with Jase’s performance today. Like Jeremy said, “he passed his tests in flying colors.” They drew blood for a chemistry panel, checked his urine for whatever, did an EKG, an EMG (shock to his funny bone to test his response – which will frequently show SMA before any other symptoms. His strength is good, they see no manifestations of SMA, and unless something shows up in the blood panel tomorrow they plan to give him his first injection on Mon. They’ll return to Baltimore on Tues.

Just for interest sake, they were picked up at their home last pm. Rode in a shiny black Suburban to the airport. Plane left over an hour late so it was 11:00 when they arrived in Chicago. They were met by a man holding a placard with Cheryl’s name on, were escorted by him to another shiny black SUV to the motel. And were at the hospital for Jase’s appointment at 8:00 this morning. Now after the blood test tomorrow, far as they know, they’ve got the rest of the weekend to wait out (while test reports come back) in the big city. I guess it’s good they’re more used to that than I am. I think I’d be inclined to stay put in my room so I wouldn’t get lost!

Praise the Lord for whatever His plan is and how He is working it out. Thank Him for the strength that Jase has today, for this opportunity, for hope. Pray that they’ll all get a good night of sleep tonight.

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August 16: Pat

We do not know the future implications of the clinical testing for Jase.  This opportunity is brand new and Jase is the third infant in the world to be admitted into the program since the trial opened two weeks ago.  Jase will receive a series of 10 shots over the next 2-1/2 years. At this point Jase is symptom free even though blood test have revealed a grim diagnosis. Each healthy person has a SMA1 and SMA2 gene.  Jase is missing SMA1 and has 2 of SMA2. Our family carries the most acute form of the disease which means the symptoms start showing at or soon after birth and their life expectancy is only 1-2 years.  There are so many questions. Will God use this as a miracle cure or will it just prolong the evidence of symptoms? What happens at the end of the trial? What are the side effects? Can it really be possible that Jase could live a symptom free life? Why has this disease hit our family so many times? What is the genetic path in our family line?

Our family gathered around Rich, Marj and all their children and prayed for them. This is not just their burden, it affects us all. Micah and Krista are expecting in November and we stand with them as they wait and anticipate the birth of their little one. We value life.  We know that God is the creator of all life and we do not take health for granted. In the midst of great sorrow and disappointment we have found the peace, mercy and love in our Heavenly Father in whom we can trust.

Jase means healer.  We ask God for the desire of our heart, that He will heal little Jase. We know that good can come from all of our earthly struggles and trials. If Jase is not healed, we pray that his young life will at least help grant healing to thousands and thousands of other children in the future as the medical world searches for a cure.  We truly desire for God to receive glory and honor regardless of the outcome.

 

Links to my blog posts on Truman and Ariel

Heatwole Family Gathering-2014

Each year my extended family gets together for 1-2 day weekend-usually in the fall. Each of us siblings takes turns hosting the gathering. This year Ed and Eileen were the gracious hosts in their spacious house.  The cool, damp, misty weather kept the adults from sitting around the fire on their patio but the children still enjoyed playing outdoors.

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Scotch tape and sticks kept the children busy and creative for quite a while.

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Our train fanatic!

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Do you think she is taking a “selfie”?

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We had a pantry shower for the newlyweds-Aaron and Brittany- and grandmother gave them a quilt she had made.

She made each of the 13 grandchildren a quilt and Aaron, the youngest, was the last to receive his.

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Someone is cleaning up his spill!

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We had a catfish fry and homemade hush puppies for supper along with lots of other good food and homemade ice-cream (chocolate, grape-nut and butterfinger).

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True southern Alabama style hush puppies, made by Krista Heatwole,  ready to fry.

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 My siblings & spouses, along with my parents, met for breakfast on Sunday morning.

This has become a special time for us.

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Mother and Daddy (Dwight and Fannie Heatwole).

They had 4 children.

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Pat and Gene Hertzler

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Rich and Marj Heatwole

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Phil and Ev Borntrager

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Ed and Eileen Heatwole

Now we are a family with 13 grandchildren and 23 great-grand children.

Note: to those who couldn’t make it…you were missed and hope you enjoy the preview of the day.

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