Tag Archives: Gordon Parks





Dear Mom,

When we were together recently, you snuggled in the Halloween sweatshirt given to you by your granddaughter Molly and your great-grandchildren, Grace and Gannon. You wore a scarf to keep your ears warm, and I tucked you into Dad’s old wheelchair and covered you with a bright green afghan. We took an afternoon walk along a path where “Leaves covered pavement like soggy cereal.” (Patricia Cornwell wrote that in her novel, THE BODY FARM, and the simile perfectly described our walk in southeast Kansas.) To quote Gordon Parks, renowned writer and photographer who grew up in Fort Scott, the day proved that “…Half past autumn has arrived.”

Gone were the Halloween cookies, replaced by bread for the ducks that waddled up to greet us. There was a chill in the air. While it was still afternoon, the evening gloom began to creep in.  We returned to your apartment, ready to eat a hot meal together in the living room where every ceiling light, table and floor lamp had been turned on to keep the early darkness at bay.


Outside was a mixture of post-summer/pre-winter. I remember how you always used to smile at the signs of autumn, welcoming the dependable sequence of changes in nature and life. Your genuine appreciation for fall taught me to appreciate it as well…to view it as a time to slow the pace of life, and to watch, listen and learn the quiet lessons.

Thank you for teaching me that there is a time, a place, and a purpose for every stage in life…and it’s all good.   I love you, Mom.  Marylin

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1



Filed under autumn lessons, Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, making a difference, memories for great-grandchildren

31st Annual Gordon Parks Photography Contest

The 31st Annual Gordon Parks Photography Contest is now accepting entries through July 2, 2012. For information and to see past winners:    www.gordonparkscenter.

The Annual Gordon Parks Celebration is slated for October 5-6, 2012 in Fort Scott, Kans


Filed under Gordon Parks Photography



Remember the rides we used to take, Mom?  I’d arrive from Colorado and you and I would “go drivin’” somewhere.  We’d go south, almost to Pittsburg, turn and go east to eat at Chicken Annie’s, and then carry home the leftovers.  You said if we got lost, we wouldn’t starve.

Another favorite drive was east to Nevada, Missouri, to visit the beautiful red brick and white trimmed buildings on the campus of Cottey College.  We’d have tea and talk about the projects of our PEO chapters that contributed to many of Cottey’s programs.

On other drives we visited local nurseries, and you walked among the rows of flowers and plants, identifying most of them by name.  One day, as we returned via back roads after an outing, you pointed toward a grove of pecan trees and reminded me of the times we carried sack lunches and went pecan gathering with friends.

That was years ago.  Now, if we take a ride, we stay in Ft. Scott.  A few months ago, when the weather was nice, we drove by Ft. Scott Community College. You remembered when the college was much smaller, and for awhile your writing group met in the lobby of one of the dorms.  Later, we took our usual drive to the cemetery, stopping by Dad’s gravesite and headstone.  When we drove away, just around the bend was a large polished marker, and you asked if we knew who was buried there.

I reminded you that it was not a grave, but a life marker for Gordon Parks, author of THE LEARNING TREE, the book (and movie) based on his life growing up in Ft. Scott.  As I read aloud his message of “Homecoming,” you listened.  Then you surprised me by remembering our drive around the community college, saying, “Didn’t we see something else about him?”

As I reminded you of our drive that day, I realized the many connections.  The message in the marker was connected to the art and writing and photography on display at the Gordon Parks Center for Culture and Diversity, which showed how his influence connected with people and places well beyond his Kansas roots. Parks inspired many people all over the world, including CNNs Anderson Cooper, who called Parks his hero, the man responsible for his spark about reporting.  You smiled when I told you that, asking if that Cooper was related to our neighbors.  I said I didn’t think so, but you did know the executive director of the Gordon Parks Center,Jill Warford, the daughter of your dear friend from church, Beth Warford Robinson.  And the Gordon Parks Center is housed in the Danny and Willa Ellis Fine Arts Center, and Danny and Willa were close friends with you and Dad.  Their daughter, my friend in junior high and high school, died in 1997 of breast cancer, and in her memory the Kathy Ellis Academic Hall was built.

Mom, you always said that our lives connect with everyone else’s lives, so what we did…or didn’t do, made a difference.  Like throwing rocks in a pond, we had to be careful of how hard and where we threw them, because they wouldn’t just sink to the bottom.  They made ripples, which made more ripples…

Thanks, Mom, for leaving a lifetime of ripples that make the world a better place.

Love, Marylin


Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, friends, importance of doing good things, lessons about life, memories for grandchildren


Yesterday I received great 2012 news, a message from Pamela Zimmer awarding me the Versatile Blogger Award.  Along with receiving the award came the responsibility of writing 7 things about myself that haven’t been covered in my blog.

Here they are:

1) I grew up in Fort Scott, formerly a fort established in 1842 in the southeastern part of what was Bloody Kansas.  It is the location of the #1 National Cemetery, the home town of author/photographer Gordon Parks, and the current home of many exceptional and wonderful people, including my mom (who is the inspiration of my blog, “Things I Want to Tell My Mother.”)

2) I moved to Colorado Springs, and for 30 years I taught high school English, literature, speech and creative writing (and for part of the time coached debate and Mock Trial). Despite a handful of impossible students, parents and administrators along the way, I wouldn’t have traded this for any other career.

3) Because of this blog, I’ve met talented, insightful, surprising and creative bloggers from all over the country, plus Canada and Finland.

4) My published writing credits–short stories, articles, essays, memoir pieces and a play, ranging from mainstream to religious to horror to children’s to True Confessions–may make me seem like I have multiple personalities.  Actually…

5) I have a short attention span for writing topics, and I love trying a variety of genres.

6) I am proud to belong to Colorado Authors League, SCBWI, National League of American Pen Women, and the lesser known but equally important and inspiring Wednesday Wonder Writers (which also includes Thursday now).

7) My favorite “other” name is Mor-Mor (Swedish for mother’s mother), especially when it’s accompanied with hugs and kisses from our grandchildren.

The tradition of the Versatile Blogger Award is to list other blogs that deserve this award.  As it turns out, some of my favorites have already received this recognition: pamelazimmer.wordpress.com; lesliehobson.wordpress.com; susanwritesprecise.com; nineteenfortyeight.wordpress.com.

Here are four more great blogs that deserve The Versatile Blogger Award:

http://tomstronach.blogspot.com (of Essex UK)





Filed under memories for grandchildren, The Versatile Blogger Award, writing