Tag Archives: Abilene KS


Colorado sunrise. (Pictures by Marylin Warner)

Colorado sunrise. (Picture by Jim Warner)

Kansas sunset.

Kansas Sunset   (Picture by Marylin Warner)                             

Years ago, when my dad was in the final stages of Alzheimer’s, during my visits Mom and I sometimes left him with his caregiver and promised to bring him a treat from wherever we went on our ride. It was always a difficult transition for Mom, leaving him behind, so on one visit I brought along a distraction, a CD of songs from Broadway’s most popular musicals.

As I drove along the swath of Ozarks terrain cutting through our part of Kansas, one of our favorites from FIDDLER ON THE ROOF began to play: “Sunrise, Sunset.”  During the refrain—“…sunrise, sunset, swiftly flow the days…seedlings turn over night to sun flowers, blossoming even as we gaze…”—the Kansas sun set in a blaze of orange and gold and red. I pulled off the highway and stopped to enjoy it.  In Colorado, the mountains are beautifully majestic, but they cut off the view of stunning sunsets.

As we watched the colors, I asked Mom which she enjoyed more, sunrise or sunset. Those of you who know my mother via my stories about her on this blog, what would you guess was her answer?  Before her dementia, on summer mornings she was up with the sunrise to work in her gardens before the heat, and she would pause to breathe deeply and welcome the beautiful possibilities of the day.  Also before the dementia, at sunset she’d watch the glow through her kitchen window or rest in her chair, tablet on her lap, and write lines of poetry or stories about the events and inspirations from the day.  So which do you think she enjoyed more, the sunrise or the sunset?

At my mother's assisted living ~ we know the driver of this car is partial to gorgeous sunsets!

At my mother’s assisted living ~ we know the driver of this car is partial to gorgeous sunsets!

Aubades are songs sung to the rising sun and poems written upon awakening at dawn. My mother kept a notebook of  her aubades, poems of early morning. But she was also a fan of Ann Landers, who wrote in one of her columns, “A happy marriage has the tranquility of a lovely sunset.” Based on my dad’s struggles with Alzheimer’s, I guessed Mom’s loyalty to their marriage would choose sunsets as her answer.

She thought for a while and then finally said that her favorite time of day was noon. If the sun was going to be out, it would be at noon, and she liked the energy it gave her to get done whatever had to be done.

Sunrise. Sunset. Noon.  As Abraham Lincoln wrote: “The best thing about the future is it comes one day at a time.”  And more recently, author of A CHILD CALLED ‘IT’, Dave Pelzer wrote: “At the end of the day you still have to face yourself.” 

Those were the lessons I learned from my mother’s answer that day: We take life one day at a time, and the best we can do is live that day the best we can.

Kansas farm land ~ I'm so sick of winter and I had to use this picture of warm, sunny days...

Kansas farm land ~ I’m so sick of winter, I had to use this picture of a warm, sunny day…

1921 ~ Mom with her brother in the sandbox on the farm, enjoying the sunny day.

1921 ~ Mom with her brother in the sandbox on the farm, enjoying the sunny day in Plattsburg, Missouri


Filed under Abilene Kansas, Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, memories for great-grandchildren, special quotations


Seven boys, in this house? Oh, boy!  (all photographs by Marylin Warner)

Seven boys, in this house? Oh, boy! (all photographs by Marylin Warner)

The Eisenhower family home and the Eisenhower Museum; the beginning of the story and the ending legacy.

The Eisenhower family home and the Eisenhower Museum; the beginning of the story and the ending legacy.

Thousands of predictions have already been made for 2014: call-in predictions on the radio and postings on the Internet; countless psychic, political, religious and medical predictions; many predictions of comedies, tragedies, and reversals of fortunes.

Instead of discussing the words that predict what events might happen in the future, I like to consider the words that have lasted, the words spoken and written in the past but are again relevant and helpful. I think of these as the words that have echoes that live beyond the time they were written.

For instance, President “Ike” Eisenhower and his wife Mamie lost their first son, Doud, at the age of three after an attack of scarlet fever.  “There is no tragedy in life like the death of a child,” President Eisenhower wrote. “Things never get back to the way they were.”  These words endure; they have echoes that still ring true with parents everywhere. Before my mother’s dementia, she had a heart for the Eisenhowers, and especially for Mamie, the First Lady who suffered the loss of her first child.

Abilene is one of my favorite Kansas towns.  In addition to charming shops and traditions, friendly and talented people, and the amazing Brown’s Park with hiking areas, streams, a Frisbee Golf course and a superb campground, Abilene is also the site of the Eisenhower family home.  Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) was the third of seven Eisenhower sons, and he graduated from Abilene High School.  The rest of his life is history.

He went on to become a 5-Star General in the U.S. Army during WWII and the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe.  As America’s 34th President, he launched the Interstate Highway System, sent federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas to enforce desegregation of public schools, and implemented desegregation of the Armed Forces.  And yet, when he died, he was not buried in Arlington National Cemetery as many expected, but brought home to be buried in Abilene, KS.  Ike, Mamie and their first son are buried together in the chapel located on the grounds featuring the Eisenhower Museum, the Presidential Library, and the relocated original Eisenhower family home.  It’s an impressive area, a rich legacy of American history.

Which of President Eisenhower’s words echo true in 2014?

“Don’t join the book burners. Do not think you are going to conceal thoughts by concealing evidence that they ever existed.”

“Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.”

“The problem in defense is how far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without.”

 “Whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the world must first come to pass in the heart of America.”

“We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security.”

“The purpose is clear. It is safety with solvency. The country is entitled to both.”

“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”

“There are a number of things wrong with Washington. One of them is that everyone is too far from home.”

President Eisenhower is home again, in a town of  7,000, with deep roots and a wealth of history and knowledge that is available to everyone.  And as my mother would say, “I like Ike!” And so do I. Visit Abilene, and you will, too.

Eisenhower Presidential Library. (My winter photographs do not do justice to the impressive and grounds.)

Eisenhower Presidential Library. (My winter photographs do not do justice to the impressive grounds.)

Inside the chapel.

Inside the chapel.

"The Chance For Peace"~ one of the inscriptions in the chapel.

“The Chance For Peace”~ one of the inscriptions in the chapel.

The Eisenhower Chapel, where Ike, Mamie, and their first son are buried.

The Eisenhower Chapel, where Ike, Mamie, and their first son are buried.


Filed under Abilene Kansas, Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, lessons for great-grandchildren


Cliff Dwellings, Canyonlands, Utah (all pictures by Jim and Marylin Warner)

Cliff Dwellings, Canyonlands, Utah (this picture by Jim Warner; all others by Marylin Warner)

Two-family birdhouse built on pergola.  Colorado Springs, CO

Two-family birdhouse built on pergola. Colorado Springs, CO

Dear Mom,

I was in either fifth or sixth grade when the teacher gave each of us a topic, a word that could have more than one meaning or interpretation. We were to look up the dictionary definition, and then we were to ask at least three people what the word meant to them. I was given the word HOME.

We were supposed to get a variety of answers. I remember asking a younger kid what HOME was to him, and he gave this very basic answer: It’s where they let you have a puppy even when your sister has a cat.  I remember wondering how I could make that work at our house.  I really wanted a kitten, but my brother David was allergic to cats, so I couldn’t have one…Hmm. How did that fit with a definition of HOME?

Dad had a definite philosophy about the importance of homes and hometowns: No matter where people live or how rich or poor they are, there’s something about their home or their town that they’re proud of. The secret to connecting with people is to find out what that something is, encourage them to talk about it…and really listen to what they say.

I remember trying to write that as one of my answers for the assignment, but it wasn’t until I was much older that I understood how important and on-target it really was.

I don’t remember what other answers I got for my assignment, Mom.  I do remember, though, one of the children’s poems you wrote. Of all your poetry, “HOMES” was—and still is—one of my favorites.


“HOMES” ~ by Mary Elizabeth Shepherd

The milk cow sleeps in the barn;

A house is a home for folks.

The little birds sleep in a nest in a tree,

In the pond the bull-frog croaks.

The milk cow wouldn’t like my bed;

And I couldn’t sleep in a nest.

The bull-frog doesn’t like the barn.

Each one thinks his home is the best.


You and Dad were actually giving me very similar answers about the importance of HOME.  I thank you both for the answers you provided in my life, and for the home you made for our family.

(P.S. Mom, you were right about the cat thing. You said that when I grew up and had my own home, I could have as many cats as I wanted. Our daughter Molly’s first cat was Abbra. And after Abbra it was Solomon and Calla Lilly. Now, in her own home, Molly’s children have Munchkin.  No cat allergies for us!)

Resting place for "Baby" in Abilene KS cemetery

Resting place, home for “Baby” in Abilene KS cemetery

Old Town log house, Abilene, KS

Old Town log house, Abilene, KS


Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, Different kinds of homes, lessons about life, memories for great-grandchildren, Things to be thankful for


TinMan & girlfriend IMG_2189

Goodbye Oz: The Tin Man has moved to Abilene, KS

Dear Mom,

In several polls to determine readers’ favorites from Dorothy’s traveling companions in THE WIZARD OF OZ, Tin Man is often in third place. Sometimes he even comes in fourth, behind Toto, her little dog.

But no matter. In this blog, this week, The Tin Man is our featured star. He’s in love! Really. We don’t know his girlfriend’s name, but you have to admit, they make a shiny couple. If we can’t quite see the attraction, we’ll chalk it up to love being blind. As Albert Einstein said, “You can’t blame gravity for falling in love.”

We can give the credit for the creation of Tin Man and Dotty (I named them that) to the staff of the Dickinson County Transfer Station near Abilene, Kansas. Their creation is not a monster made of body parts dug up in cemeteries like Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN, but a fun couple made of disposable electronics recycled into something new.

In THE WIZARD OF OZ, two of Tin Man’s lines make him my favorite character. The first is when he’s about to lose his friend Dorothy: “Now I know I’ve got a heart, ‘cause it’s breaking.” The other is his wisdom about the measure of love: “It’s not how much you love, but how much you are loved by others.”

That’s the quote I dedicate to you, Mom. You have always had a tremendous capacity to love others, to respect, accept, befriend and help them. And now, at 94 when your dementia, frailty and confusion limit the love you can offer others, the Karma of love has come full circle back to you. Can you feel the love, Mom? I hope so. It’s there.

grandma kiss Gannon

Mary Shepherd sharing love and hugs with great-grandson, Gannon.
(all photos by Marylin Warner)


Our nation dumps between 300-400 million electronic items per year, and less than 20% of that e-waste is recycled.  www.dosomething.org/actnow/tipsandtools/11-facts-about-e-waste

junk in landfill


Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, friends, importance of doing good things, making a difference, memories for grandchildren, memories for great-grandchildren