Archive for Thursday, October 19, 2006

Eudora produces its own power women

October 19, 2006

A recent Newsweek cover featured "Powerful Women on How to Take Charge," including such celebrities as Queen Latifah and racecar driver Danica Patrick. Scanning the list of power women for the 21st century inspired me to compile a similar list of powerful women closer to home.

While they might not distinguish themselves in the obvious ways of the superstars heralded in the media, my list will hopefully take you to the heart of what really matters when strength and courage are needed.

By now most in Eudora know of the tragedy that was being played out in a room in St. Francis Hospital's critical care unit in Topeka and now in Lincoln, Neb. -- one that involves 18-year-old Joe White, who is the son of Rose House of Eudora.

Visiting with Rose a bit more than a week ago as she awaited further word on her son's condition that involves a serious brain injury sustained in a dreadful incident, I am struck by the courage and calm of a mother who is watching a parent's worst nightmare unfold.

Rose has been present in the hospital waiting room since the evening of the accident, the same room that was filled with banners written and hung by family and friends all praying for Joe's recovery. The notes conveying sympathy and caring that have come from so many well-wishers sustain Rose in her vigil, as does her family's bedrock belief in the power of prayer.

While not diminishing the support of Joe's father, Bob White, or his stepfather, Dave House, the bond that exists between mother and son will support Rose even if Joe's prognosis is less than complete health.

With her face drawn from stress, Rose greets the stream of calls with a cheerfulness that comes only from deep faith and belief that whatever comes will be handled with the same courage she showed the day we talked.

Facing the news of Joe's condition, she granted an interview with The Eudora News to tell how Joe was injured so the facts would be known -- hopefully causing other young people to reconsider any attempt to engage in the kind of stunt that landed her son in the hospital.

Rose captured a place on my list many years ago when she became a cancer survivor and her response to this latest challenge will ensure her a permanent place.

Another woman on my list is Mary Abel, the widow of George Abel, whose funeral was last week here in Eudora. George, a lifelong resident of Eudora and longtime farmer and stockman, was an outstanding role model for this children and grandchildren, casting a large and positive shadow on his family and community.

As I spoke to Mary while she stood near the casket at the visitation, I am again reminded of the strength and courage that has empowered her to live through the deaths of three children and now the life partner with whom she brought 12 children into the world. Her clear direction and attention to duty never wavered through long days of waiting when her son went missing for almost a year or when yet another son spent the final days of a long illness in her home where her mother was also dying. Through it all, she made dinner and shared family time with the rest of her family, which now extends to 34 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

There are others in Eudora who have lost their husbands at a very early age, among them Melissa Pittman whose husband taught school here and died of cancer several years ago. In addition to raising her family as a single mom, Melissa is a local developer, who with the family, continues to build homes in Eudora.

My list also includes Lori Fritzel, who has taken on the job of Eudora City Council member at a time when Eudora is exploding with growth and possibilities and experiencing the growing pains and stress that accompanies such growth.

Lastly, I include our City Administrator Cheryl Beatty, who after only a short time in her position has shown the kind of drive and determination needed to lead Eudora to reasonable and responsible growth. Cheryl not only sits with the city council, advising them on critical decisions, but can also be found in the trenches. We observed her at several community events helping register voters, which played a large part in the passage of the bond referendum for the much-needed pool and recreation center.

I have mentioned only a few women here whom I admire, but my list is long and continues to grow daily as I observe the power, strength and courage of these extraordinary women who live in our ordinary neighborhoods.

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