Monday, January 5, 2015

End of the Year Thoughts

Dale Payne listened to Kiera Volz as she told him about her day after school his Huntingburg home March 20. Dale, who has known Kiera since she was born, has helped raise her since July 2010 and became her legal guardian in October 2011.

Dale gently put on Kiera's shoes as she slept before school Feb. 28. Dale, who works for the City of Huntingburg's Department of Parks and Recreation, usually dresses Kiera in his recliner while she continues sleeping, because of the early hour.
Dale leaned in to watch Kiera walk into the women's restroom during a Southridge boys basketball game at Memorial Gym in Huntingburg Jan. 31.
After her Drug Court graduation ceremony, Tara Volz, right, hugged her daughter Kiera with Dale and Kayley Payne, 15, left, at the Dubois County Courthouse April 7. Sober for more than two years now, Tara hopes to continue improving so she can become more involved in Kiera's life.

The photograph: Dale Payne of Huntingburg lifted Kiera Volz, 6, during the Celebrating Fathers event at League Stadium in Huntingburg on June 13. Dale, who has known Kiera since she was born, has helped raise her since July 2010 and became her legal guardian in Oct. 2011.

Comments: Really, I could pick any photo from Dale and Kiera’s story and the reason why it is one of my favorite stories from 2014 would remain the same. Sometimes it isn’t about a particular picture, but rather what the person in the photo represents. Dale is a maintenance foreman for the Huntingburg Parks and Recreation Department and is raising a young girl who wasn’t his own child. Dale’s personality and mannerisms reminded me of my dad, John Mummey. He passed away unexpectedly in February while I was working on this story. I saw so many similar personality traits between Dale and Kiera that reminded me of how my dad raised me. He was a big burly guy, a bit rough around the edges, and certainly not the type you’d expect to be raising a little girl. My mom worked mornings which left my dad to get me ready for school. You can imagine how watching Dale carefully getting a still-sleeping Kiera dressed for school could bring back memories, memories of how my dad had learned to do pig tails and pony tails only to have me carefully inspect his handiwork and demand a redo. Of course he’d always oblige. On dark, blustery winter mornings in Iowa as he’d warm up the truck to take me to school, he’d scrape smiley faces into the frost on the car’s windshield, then mimic those faces as he’d peer in the windows trying to distract me from the cold. Even Kiera’s cat Lollipop, which Dale did not care for, reminded me of how my dad brought my own cat, Dusty J. Tiger, into my second-grade class for show and tell. Looming over my classmates, my father, who stood more than 6 feet tall, reached into his coat pocket and pulled out the tiniest of kittens. He seemed larger than life at the time. At least he was to me. And I suppose that was the story I wanted to tell about Dale and Kiera — how important a father figure is in a young child’s life. How children, no matter how small, will carry those memories, no matter how small, with them for the rest of their lives. I know I will.

 The photograph: With hands clasped tight, Jean Powell of Huntingburg prayed with surprise visitors, the Spize Girlz from Salem United Church of Christ in Huntingburg, at her home April 6. Each month, the Spize Girlz visit homebound individuals in the community to offer friendship and fellowship.

Comments: I started working on a series of short stories about how people in the community help homebound individuals. Though no one else’s fault but my own, the story has been put on hold. But I enjoyed this assignment so much, and spending time with these ladies was such a joy, I couldn’t help but share this photo. The Spize Girlz’ visit, dress up in funny costumes, sing songs and pray with those they are visiting. Watching them perform is a hoot, but more than that, it’s uplifting and tenderhearted. On this day in particular, we first got stuck in an elevator at Stork’s Place. There were eight of us dressed up in costume stuck in an elevator. It was quite the sight. Once we finally got out, we were ready to go back on our mission of brightening people’s day. This moment is with Jean, who lost her husband, Jack, in February after 70 years of marriage. The outreach, the touch, the holding of hands and the prayer, all of it was so moving. It brought me to tears watching these ladies and the care they brought forth to Jean. To me, this photo shows strength. To me, this photo says, “Hey you’re not alone, we are here for you.” It was quite the roller coaster ride of emotions to experience in one afternoon. I’m lucky to be part of a community where people care so much about one another. I’m even luckier that I’m allowed to bear witness to these moments.

1 comment:

Cheryl Vahl said...

Precious stories of human compassion and grace