Helen Baldwin,  —

Helen partners with Randy, her “retired” husband of 46 years, in assorted endeavors: a rental cabin, carpet dry-cleaning business, and bees — lots of bees! — and all that goes with them, namely honey and beeswax products. Her favorite role is “MomMom” to Clara and James. Originally from Texas, Helen taught kindergarteners with orthopedic and multiple disabilities after a move to Columbia, South Carolina. A few years later, Helen, Randy, and their children, Matthew and Katie, moved close to the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. In the spring of 1997, they welcomed baby Jeffrey, a big surprise harboring an even bigger one — spinal muscular atrophy. Helen’s teaching expertise was called into action until their precious little guy snagged his wings at 5-1/2 months. She wrote a book, “The Jeffrey Journey,” about their special assignment and is delighted to continue sharing in her column, “We're Not in Kansas Anymore.”

Articles by Helen Baldwin

Jeffrey, Clara, and James: A Love Story

Our son Matthew and daughter-in-law Jill handed me a Mother’s Day card in 2015 with instructions to read it aloud. I didn’t pay attention, however, so my deafening squeals left my husband, Randy, perplexed until I blurted out that we were going to be grandparents. A…

May Baby, Special Delivery

I’m a May baby (actually, May senior citizen is a bit more accurate). I love having a May birthday. From wrapping up spring semesters before my birthday way back in college, to getting back to outdoor activities after winter confinement, and to my birthday falling on the heels…

The Coronaviruth

I didn’t intend to write another column about The Virus, at least not right after my last one, but it seemed appropriate to share a surprising revelation from after my baby was diagnosed with the deadliest form of spinal muscular atrophy.

Devastation, Disruption, Despair, and Daffodils

It seems fitting to address the current whammy threatening every single person on the planet. It’s unfortunate that it’s a menacing global health upheaval bringing us together in myriad ways. On the other hand, maybe that’s what it’s taken to counter the relentless political squabbling…

The Time I Would Have Given Back

It’s daylight saving time and we have given back the extra hour we snagged in the fall. I don’t like giving time back. Usually. Ahhh … time. It’s a given that when you’re having fun, time whizzes by. My six weeks studying in Europe…

On This and Every Other Day, I Am Proud to Be Rare

The first Rare Disease Day was celebrated in Europe in 2008. The United States participated the following year, and by 2019 more than 100 countries had joined in to highlight rare diseases. The special acknowledgment falls annually on the last day of February. This year, that’s…

My Introduction to Death and Beyond

My first experience with the death of someone close to me came shortly after my 16th birthday.  A good friend since elementary school, Candy had moved to another state with her parents and younger sister during high school. They returned to Fort Worth, Texas, in early…

Breathing Easy for 2 Special Boys

After the delivery of our baby Jeffrey, I failed to notice his abdominal breathing. My husband, Randy, possessed both an eagle eye and the presence of mind to ask the doctor and nurses about it. No one on duty seemed concerned, perhaps because Jeffrey had arrived two weeks…

Directives that Come Straight from the Angels

Our third baby, Jeffrey, was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) on a midsummer evening in 1997. The referral to a pediatric neurologist came that morning during what was to have been his 2-month “well” checkup. Oh, the irony. Not only was our beautiful baby…

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

I’ve been in awe of spectacular night skies for as long as I can remember. When our family moved to the mountains of North Carolina (close to the stunning Blue Ridge Parkway) at the end of 1995, we realized that we were privy to…