We're Not in Kansas Anymore - a Column by Helen Baldwin

sky, bloom, silence, feathers, timeHelen 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.”

Adios, April! Hello, May(hem)!

April brought with it more than showers in the water department. Our son Matthew and his family visited our daughter and son-in-law, Katie and Paul, on Easter weekend. Besides the beach, they had access to a nearby swimming pool. As our granddaughter Clara, 6, dipped her toes into…

When the New Normal Registers

My optimistic crust cracked a bit when I opened the mailbox last week and spied an envelope from my late mother’s life insurance company. It could have been correspondence requesting additional information so they could “process this claim promptly,” or it could have been the proceeds from the claim.

Clearing Out, Memories, and an Easter Wish

Ahhh. Spring glory in the North Carolina mountains! Light snow covered the ground Sunday morning; by afternoon, honeybees bustled on yellow dandelion flowers, gathering precious pollen to feed bee babies in the hives. Honey, left, and Maple, watching the snow melt Sunday from their sunny spot. (Photo by Helen…

It Started With a Pink Slip

As my parents’ first child, I checked off the typical firstborn squares. I was conscientious, reliable, structured, cautious, and an achiever — in short, a perfectionist. My teachers knew I was responsible and that my folks expected me to do my best. I had no desire to disappoint. That…

The Art of Snagging Angel Wings

Is it possible that we might have a bit of input into how we snag our angel wings? It sort of seems like it. Near the end of my senior year of high school, my maternal grandfather underwent an experimental procedure to reduce tremors. It did not go…

Bound for Glory? All Aboard!

As I last wrote, my 89-year-old mother was admitted to the hospital after testing positive for COVID-19. “Oh no,” you might think. “That doesn’t sound good.” You’re right, it doesn’t. My mother, however, had high hopes for COVID-19. *** Our third baby, Jeffrey, burst into our arms…

Dead Skunks, Flashbacks, and COVID-19

Last Friday was a full moon, Friday the 13th kind of day, although officially it was neither. The stink bugs in the house and the dead skunk in the road summed it up perfectly. The day stank. But let me back up. The rental cabin my…

Eyes Opened and Eyes Closed

I spent a school year substituting in various special education classrooms in Fort Worth, Texas, before returning to school for teacher certification. I’d already worked with young children with developmental disabilities and loved their (usually) carefree and good-natured dispositions. My first assignment as a substitute teacher at…