All posts by Marie Coppola

About Marie Coppola

Marie Coppola

A long-time human resources administrator and paralegal (B.S. in Business Administration/ Psychology, Certified Paralegal), Marie writes to aid employees with positive career options and resources, and to assist in career development solutions for students and employees; counsels on resumes, securing employment, and being successful with promotable possibilities. Marie finds inspiration in her faith, which she enjoys passing on to others, and finds gratification in helping others wherever she can.

Got a question, need advice? Marie can be reached at mcopp@ymail.com

A Coincidence or a God Wink?

 

 

Some time ago I read a book entitled  “When God Winks at You” by SQuire Rushnell. It is a great, little 232-page book of short stories about famous and not-so-famous persons who experience what they believe are “special messages from God ~ a Godwink ~ to let them know that He’s there and that He’s listening”.  And maybe telling you something.

Sometimes it’s directed to a person and sometimes it’s through others.  We all experience these moments – a connection through someone or a chance occurrence that makes one think, “that was strange.” We can learn to recognize and appreciate them as messages – if we only keep our minds, eyes and heart open to them.

I experienced one.  A good friend who was going through a stressful time wasn’t  thinking clearly and felt that God wasn’t listening to her or giving her any paths to follow.  I told her about the Godwinks book – how it was comforting – and said I could get a copy for her.  She was agreeable.

Later that same day, I was going to a thrift shop to drop off some things.  When I got there, my eye spotted a necklace at the jewelry booth.  It was a rose replica of  the exact design, color  and material of a pin that my mother used to wear many years ago.  It was given to me after her death.  I had kept this special pin for many years and recently gave it to my sister because her middle name is Rose ~ the same as our mother’s name.  I looked at the necklace a long time and then put the necklace back on the display thinking that I would come back and buy it after my drop off.

When I was finished, I turned around and noticed a books for sale table and the first book I saw was “When God Winks at You”.  Thinking this was a Godwink as I had just mentioned it, I purchased it for my friend.  Behind me was the jewelry  booth  and I decided to look at the necklace again.  It was off the display where it had been hanging.   Feeling disappointed and turning to leave, for some reason, I looked down and there was the necklace at the tip of my shoe. I picked it up and marvelled that it was not only still there ~~ but right in front of me. I just stared at it.

 

The seller looked at me and asked if something was wrong.   I said, “This is just like the rose that my mother used to wear.”  She told me to enjoy it as a gift from her.

Feeling uplifted, I put the necklace on thinking  it wasn’t just a coincidence that I had ‘found’ it.   I stopped by my friend’s house to give her the book.  When she opened the door, she looked at me and my necklace and exclaimed, “That’s the necklace I donated to the school’s fund-raising project!!”   A double Godwink?

I never think about getting something in return when I give, but it always happens in some way. I gave my sister my mother’s rose and I got my mother’s rose back.   A coincidence or a Godwink?

Marie Coppola  © July 2017

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About Marie Coppola

Marie Coppola A long-time human resources administrator and paralegal (B.S. in Business Administration/ Psychology, Certified Paralegal), Marie writes to aid employees with positive career options and resources, and to assist in career development solutions for students and employees; counsels on resumes, securing employment, and being successful with promotable possibilities. Marie finds inspiration in her faith, which she enjoys passing on to others, and finds gratification in helping others wherever she can. Got a question, need advice? Marie can be reached at mcopp@ymail.com

Where are the Fathers?

 

 

According to the U.S. Census, fathers are fast disappearing from American homes and one in three children, or approximately 20 million live without one.

The census recorded the fact that 160,000 new families with children were added, the number of two-parent households decreased by 1.2 million and nearly five million live without a mother.

More than 20 million children live in a home without the physical presence of a father.  Millions more have dads who are physically present, but emotionally absent.  If it were classified as a disease, fatherlessness would be an epidemic worthy of attention as a national emergency.

This fatherlessness can be seen in our homes, schools, hospitals and prisons and especially in families. Back when families were more intact, many fathers protected, mentored, guided, supported, taught values, played sports, added humor, and helped in bringing up their child or children. Today, there are many fathers who, for a variety of reasons, are absent, either emotionally or by distance and play a small or no part in bringing up their child or children.

Children need both parents’ influence for a balanced upbringing. They usually receive nurturing and care-taking from their mothers.  Fathers can supply discipline, authority, companionship and be an example as a role model. Role models are important for both boys and girls. Boys look to their dads as the type of man they want to be when they grow up; girls look to their dads as models of a possible future mate. Fathers’ praise, unconditional love, encouragement, support, and guidance are as important to children as the fostering acts a mother supplies.

Research has concluded that the father/child relationship is more important than once believed. With a baby, a father is usually more physical at playing games than the mother and makes a playful and joyful contribution to a baby’s life. As small infants and children, they can receive assurance and empathy from a dad when mom is not available or busy with something else. School age children benefit from the caretaking of dads who help with their care in transporting them to school and activities, helping them with homework, or teaching them responsibility. Many fathers join in sports activities with both boys and girls through softball, baseball, football, soccer and form a lasting team tie with their kids.

Children who have both parents who express these characteristics are blessed, indeed. Sometimes, they may have grandparents, step parents, or guardians who also exhibit traditional and loving nurturing.  Studies show that a father who exhibits love, kindness and faith values to his children – in turn foster those values that their children will emulate with their own family and children.

And sometimes, there are children, who, for various reasons, may be absent a father. He may have died, or separated away from the family, or simply is out of the picture. There can be a family member or male friend who can pitch hit for an absent father and help fill the void a father leaves. An absent father in a family could make his child at a higher risk of drug abuse, smoking, alcohol abuse and other risk-seeking behaviors. Other problems with absent fathers can be unhealthy relationships with others, poor grades in school, and problems in social relationships.

At some point in our lives, all of our fathers will leave us. For those of you who mourn a lost father, for whatever reason, take heart. We still have a Heavenly Father, Who will never leave nor abandon us.

Recently I heard a great quote by Sigmund Freud: “I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.”  God bless ALL fathers this Father’s Day – may your love and caring for your children bless and reward you with love returned.

June 8, 2017  Marie Coppola


When a Spouse Dies

The good news is that folks are living longer.    As of the end of last year, overall average life expectancy has increased to 78.8 years.  For men, it is age 76 and for women, it is age 81.  But the gap between women and men has narrowed to less than 4 years.

The potential lifespans of men and women are more similar now than at any time since the early 1950s, when the life expectancy of women was just over 70, and men could expect to live only to their late 60s.

Life expectancy has continued to rise as all generations enjoy unprecedented wealth, better nutrition, healthier lifestyles and advancing medical science.  

What happens when one of them dies?   Does the surviving spouse stay in their home or go live with family or relatives?  

There are many retired senior couples here in the south.   Many of them live productive and social lives as well as staying active in work, church and community activities.   What do they do when they become ‘single’ again?   Also, some seniors are faced with the double stress of caring for both children and ageing relatives, as well as providing for their family financially.  Losing a spouse is a double-edged sword – highly emotional – yet financial issues have to be addressed.  Some rush to sell their home, change financial accounts or have to decide to stay where they are or relocate.

The experts give this advice:  1)  Don’t rush into anything you may regret later 2) Any long-term decisions or major changes should not be made until at least six (6) months after your spouse’s death.  3) Seek a financial expert’s advice instead of relying on relatives’ or friends’ advice.   They may not be up-to-date on regulations, tax laws and more.  4) Update your own legacy plans (preferably with a finance expert). 

A common concern of widows & widowers is who will care for them if they become ill or infirm.  Have insurance or funds for long-term care?  Move in with adult children?  Or live in a nursing home?  Some local people have moved to another state to be with family; some of these situations work and others feel like they are chauffeur, cook and baby sitter.   They miss the friends & activities they had to give up.   Some move back.  Other experts advise: 1) don’t put your house on the market; 2) don’t give away money to your children or charity; 3) don’t agree to move in with a child.  These things may make sense, but it isn’t good to make rash decisions.  Especially since the most challenging aspect of your ‘single’ life is the emotional aspect.  The death of a spouse is one of the most devastating events of a person’s life.  Harder still If one did not play an active role in the household finances.  

My own advice: Try to not make any major decisions for six months to a year.  Try to stay busy with regular outlets of social, church & community work.  Try to relax and get together socially with friends regularly.   Try joining a support group.  Try staying with your children as a test run before you make a concrete decision to move there.  Seek and lean on your faith.  Would you stay where you are or would you move?

Marie Coppola  July 26, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2474859/Life-expectancy-gap-men-women-narrows-years.html#ixzz4iqmgix6p
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Caution: Prescription Drugs Can Kill You

Prescription drugs can help sufferers of medical problems by alleviating their symptoms of chronic pain. But the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has come out and advised that addiction to prescription painkillers has become an undisclosed epidemic — and it kills thousands of Americans each year.

This alarming news which include morphine and codeine has actually tripled.   Deaths from overdoses used to occur from illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine but now prescription painkillers have taken the lead. There are as many reported deaths in country areas as there are in cities. Over 100,000 Americans a year are taken to emergency rooms with overdose issues.

Americans are abusing painkillers and they are not hard to obtain. As Americans get more sedentary and have obesity problems, they are experiencing more back pain and damage to their joints and are in chronic pain. They seek out something to dull the pain and turn to painkillers. Doctors are prescribing relief from pain in the form of pain pills to about five percent of Americans in a months’ time. Use of pain pills can cause a feeling of well being and patients on them tend to abuse them and depend on even after the original pain they were taking them for – has disappeared. Patients mistakenly feel that because a doctor has prescribed these pills, that they are ‘safe’ to take and don’t realize the danger when they increase the dosages on their own.

When the prescription refill expires, users go to other or new doctors for new prescriptions, or ask friends or family members to share theirs or go on the internet to find them or can even find them on the street. Although some states have databases which track who takes what drugs, they do not yet share that information with other states. People will cross state lines to get the drugs they can’t get in their own state.

Problems begin when a person in pain does not find relief in the prescribed amount. They take extra pills to overcome that pain and become psychologically dependent or addicted to the higher amount. In the prescribed amount, the pills are safe to take, but higher doses can cause a person to stop breathing. An even bigger problem to one’s health and can be fatal to the user is when they combine this higher dosages with other drugs they may be taking or taking them with alcohol – both of which increase the risk of overdose and death.

Doctors are advising that persons with chronic pain combine an anti-inflammatory drug and/or muscle relaxant and other methods such as patches or injections. The focus should be on being functional without increase in dosages and pain management awareness that they may always have some level of pain.

From 2000 to 2014 nearly half a million Americans died from drug overdoses. Opioid overdose deaths, including both opioid pain relievers and heroin, hit record levels in 2014, with an alarming 14 percent increase in just one year, according to data published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Report.

The most commonly prescribed opioid pain relievers, those classified as natural or semi-synthetic opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, continue to be involved in more overdose deaths than any other opioid type. These deaths increased by 9 percent (813 more deaths in 2014 than 2013).  Increases in prescription opioid pain reliever and heroin deaths are the biggest driver of the drug overdose epidemic. Deaths from heroin increased in continuing a sharp rise that has seen heroin overdoses triple sincel 2010. Deaths involving illicitly made fentanyl, a potent opioid often added to or sold as heroin, also are on the upswing.

“The increasing number of deaths from opioid overdose is alarming,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “The opioid epidemic is devastating American families and communities. To curb these trends and save lives, we must help prevent addiction and provide support and treatment to those who suffer from opioid use disorders. This report also shows how important it is that law enforcement intensify efforts to reduce the availability of heroin, illegal fentanyl, and other illegal opioids.”

Here are the facts:  Drug overdose deaths are up in both men and women, in non-Hispanic whites and blacks, and in adults of nearly all ages. Rates of drug overdose deaths were highest among five states: West Virginia, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Kentucky, and Ohio.The findings show that two distinct but intertwined trends are driving America’s overdose epidemic: a 15-year increase in deaths from prescription opioid pain reliever overdoses as a result of misuse and abuse, and a recent surge in illicit drug overdoses driven mainly by heroin.

More than six out of 10 drug overdose deaths involved opioids, including opioid pain relievers and heroin. The largest increase in opioid overdose deaths involved synthetic opioids (not including methadone), which were involved in 5,500 deaths in 2014, nearly twice as many as the year before. Many of these overdoses are believed to involve illicitly-made fentanyl, a short-acting opioid. In addition, heroin-related death rates increased 26 percent from 2013–2014, totaling 10,574 deaths in 2014. Past misuse of prescription opioids is the strongest risk factor for heroin initiation and use—especially among people who became dependent upon or abused prescription opioids in the past year. The increased availability of heroin, its relatively low price (compared to prescription opioids), and high purity appear to be major drivers of the upward trend in heroin use, overdoses, and deaths.

How to stop the epidemic:  The new findings point to four ways to prevent overdose deaths:

Limit initiation into opioid misuse and addiction. Opioid pain reliever prescribing has quadrupled since 1999. Providing health care professionals with additional tools and information—including safer guidelines for prescribing these drugs—can help them make more informed prescribing decisions.

Expand access to evidence-based substance use disorder treatment—including Medication-Assisted Treatment—for people who suffer from opioid use disorder.

Protect people with opioid use disorder by expanding access and use of naloxone—a critical drug that can reverse the symptoms of an opioid overdose and save lives.

State and local public health agencies, medical examiners and coroners, and law enforcement agencies must work together to improve detection of and response to illicit opioid overdose outbreaks to address this emerging threat to public health and safety.

CDC works with states, communities, and prescribers to prevent opioid misuse and overdose by tracking and monitoring the epidemic and helping states scale up effective programs. CDC also improves patient safety by equipping health care providers with data, tools, and guidance so they can make informed treatment decisions. Learn more at www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose.

It’s Not Trump Against the Media……

…it’s the Media against conservatives and their representative – President Donald J. Trump.

The liberal progressives were winning in their campaign to help Obama bring about the “fundamental transformation” (Obama’s words) in America.   The media helped him by negatively reporting our basic rights to religious freedom and freedom of speech.  They almost had us.  We could not express our religious objection to same sex marriage, or objections to liberal teachings of our educational programs – elementary to college inundated with liberal teachers.  If we objected to transgender showers & bathrooms, WE were the wrong thinkers.   If we objected to having teen-age girls getting abortions through school without knowledge of this to their parents, WE were the wrong thinkers.  THEY were in control and kept us quiet with their labels and news reporting that WE were wrong – not THEM.    They think they are right in desecrating the highest office in the land and protecting outrageous liberal news stations with their poison remarks.

Our schools wouldn’t let our kids recognize Jesus in assignments but had classes on Muslim teachings and even prayer rooms for their faith but Christians were not allowed the same – they couldn’t pray with their coach at a football game.   WE were homophobic, Islam phobic -WE couldn’t say anything or we were hate-filled but late night comics could insult conservatives.

Along comes Donald Trump who didn’t agree with this one-sided battering.   He battered back.  And HE became WE.  The people who were intent in controlling our culture, lives, children, history, and even wanted to ‘change religion to accept abortion’ (Hillary’s words.)   Obama helped our future adults get things free and get high on legalized pot.  Give them free cell phones and free everything so ‘they vote us in so we can collect more votes against family values, faith values and increase infanticide and cop hate & then take away their guns.’    THEIR values  – not ours.   Americans were troubled and disgusted with their actions

Does anyone wonder why we voted Trump in for President?  Do I have to tell you why?  Then you must be one of these insensitive bullies who want it their way or else.   They want to control Trump’s words, actions, thoughts and Presidency.   He is President of the United States.   THEY are biased news journalists, lofty & value-less celebrities.  They are fueled by the hatred they accuse of us.     They want control of our lives to the extent they will let anyone come into our country even if they chant “Death to America”.   Do we need Donald J. Trump to protect us against these people who for the past 8 years have done everything wrong to protect us and not build America up but to tear us down from our traditions?   You bet we need DJ Trump – God bless him.

We have voted – we have spoken – what the Dems/media/liberals/progressives are doing is un-American and destructive.   Good will succeed over evil.

The Green Suit

Father Patrick Tonry, a priest of forty years in the Diocese of Columbus, Ohio, has served as a pastor, military chaplain, prison chaplain, spiritual director, and editorialist.   I received “The Green Suit” recently which was written by him and have permission to share this St. Patrick’s Reminiscence with our Irish brothers & sisters and those who have the Irish spirit.

As a young boy, there was one day I looked forward to with as much anticipation as Christmas.  No, it was not my birthday; the day I eagerly awaited was March 17th.

March 17th held special meaning in the Tonry household.   It was St. Patrick’s Day, my parents’ wedding anniversary and the day they immigrated to the United States.  My parents were married in 1927, in Ireland on St. Patrick’s day.  Immediately after their wedding ceremony, they boarded a ship and sailed to the U.S. to begin their married life in a new country.

If the 17th of March fell dring the wk week, my father would take the day off work.  We kids had the day off, as did all the children who attended Catholic schools in Brooklyn and New York City.  To properly honor both my parent’s wedding anniversary and the Feast of St. Patrick, we went to early morning Mass as a family.

My parents, my two older brothers and my little sister would dress in their Sunday best.  As the youngest son, I was given a special honor. I wore the color of the day    I had a beautiful emerald green suit with a matching tie. It was a source of pride for me that i was the only one in the family who had a green suit.  Naturally, I was only permitted to wear this suit on St. Patrick’s Day.

After celebrating Mass, we would go back home and eat a big breakfast.  This special breakfast would keep us fueled for what seemed to me the longest journey ever:   the train and bus rides into New York City for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

The train and buses were filled with families going into the city to watch the parade.  We would line up along Fifth Avenue and wait for the parade to begin.  It was thrilling.  I was awe-struck by the high school marching bands.  The sound of the drum lines would set my heart racing.  It was a beautiful sight to see the Irish dances come down the street, dancing in unison.

Some years, we would shiver because it would be so cold.  Yet, we stayed and watched the parade through the rain, wind, snow and sunshine.  We never left the parade until the flag of my mother’s and father’s country in Ireland passed.

Right after the parade, our family went to a small restaurant to have dinner.   My parents did not have much money, and they saved a little each month so the entire family could eat out on this day.  In fact, St. Patrick’s Day was the only time we would ever eat out.  We always had dinner at home.

….These traditions in a family ceate meaning that makes family occasions more memorable.

The reason St. Patrick was special to my parents was because he gave his life in service to God and the people of Ireland.  His story begins in the early 400’s.  Patrick was the son of a Roman official and at the age of 16, he was kidnapped and taken to pagan Ireland.  He lived in slavery for six years working as a shepherd.  During his enslavement. Patrick turned to God for comfort and companionship.  Patrick escaped, returned home and entered the priesthood.  Years later, he returned to Ireland as Bishop, his love of the Irish people drawing him back.  He traveled throughout the island, overcoming opposition from hostile chieftains and pagan Druids and converting most of Ireland to the faith.

…Today everyone can be like St. Patrick. a living reflection of the Gospel.   May the love of St. Patrick be with you and may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Father Patrick Tonry, SM  February 2017

 

 

Friends & Family Can Reduce Dementia

 

Living in a retirement demographic area, I often hear others lamenting they are losing their memories, or their keys, have problems remembering people’s names, etc.  Dementia is jokingly mentioned, but many seniors do worry it can happen.   Our family doctor says  if you put the milk in the cupboard by mistake and then retrieve it – you’re OK; but if you think it’s OK to be in there, you may want to see your doctor.   He also states that we all have a 50-50 chance of experiencing dementia unrelated to family history or even if you have one parent who had dementia.

Recently I attended two meetings on dementia that were fact-filled.  Dementia is an umbrella term for a range of conditions that affect one’s cognitive abilities in ways that affect daily life.  The three subtypes of Dementia are mainly:   1. Alzheimer’s Disease ( Plaques and tangles form inside the brain causing chemical deficiencies).  It is believed that this can start to have an effect on the memory center   2. Vascular Dementia (decreased blood flow the brain and different from Alzheimer’s in that it is caused by damaged blood vessels in the brain, commonly caused by strokes).   Approximately 20% of all dementia cases are vascular, making it the second most common type. Risk factors include a history of heart attacks, strokes – especially multiple strokes, diabetes, or high blood pressure.   3. Dementia with Lewy Bodies – This is the third most common form of dementia and is caused by build-ups of a certain type of protein in the brain. These deposits are called Lewy bodies and they effect a person’s perception, behavior, and thinking. Lewy bodies are often found in Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s patients, making this form of dementia harder to diagnose.

The National Institute for Aging estimates about 7 percent of people over 65 will have some form of dementia.   What can one do, if anything, to protect oneself from risk factors?  You can affect your risk by how social you are, your exercise habits and your heart and diabetes management.

Although ‘seniors’ store vast information over the years, they sometimes need extra time to remember where they stored that info in their brain.   Like an over-programmed-filled computer that ‘searches’ for info and takes extra time to find it, so do our brains.  What a relief to remember albeit slower!

Some suggestions on how to reduce your risk factor:

  • Spend at least one day a week with younger people, especially grandkids,  even if it is on Skype video or the telephone.  Stay social with friends and family.
  • Walk, hike or swim (150 minutes of moderate exercise – weekly).
  • Treat depression; talk to your doctor; depression is linked to higher dementia risk.  And sometimes depression can appear to be dementia.
  • Cook and eat heart healthy.  Strive for a diet low in saturated fat, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist to go over your medications with you to see if any are at a risk for contributing to dementia or lacking in some vitamins.
  • Take some courses or classes.   It can stimulate your brain and/or socially meet new people.
  • Volunteer your time to a cause or interest you support.

Staying connected to friends and family is key and one of the most important ways to avoid dementia.  The risk of dementia is higher if one is lonely or isolated.  Millions of people 50 and older (about 1 in 5) live alone and are at risk of isolation.  The fastest growing type of household is individuals living alone.  And many of those over 50, have no one to talk to about important matters.

Try to stay socially active; If you are homebound and/or can’t get around easily, learn to text on a cell phone or video chat or even social media chat, ie, Facebook. Twitter.   In a busy world, a hello by text, especially to the teens & young adults in our lives, wlll ensure a faster return quicker than a return phone call.   If you are not up-to-date in technology in computers or cell phones, there are FREE courses to learn about them.   And a good brain exercise.

Being socially active, getting regular exercise (physically and mentally) and managing chronic conditions (diabetes, heart disease) are all plusses to reduce your chances of dementia.

 

 

 

 

 

The Bear Facts if You Encounter One

Black bears, the largest land mammals of South Carolina, once roamed the entire state. As human populations increase and development encroaches on their territories, there is more the likelihood of bear & human encounters.

Black bears are excellent climbers and good swimmers.     Bears prefer large expanses of forestry containing hardwoods, shrubs, blackberries, and pokeberries.  Wetlands such as swamps and bays also provide good habitat.   However, black bears are adaptable.  As long as they can find adequate food sources and have suitable den sites, black bears can be found in a variety of habitats..  They will feed on whatever is readily available.

Their natural diet consists of berries, nuts and plant matter (over 80 percent) as well as insects and meat (less than 20 percent). Bears use their incredible sense of smell to find alternative food sources such as garbage, bird feeders, outdoor pet food, agricultural crops, etc., which can result in them becoming nuisance bears. A shortage of natural food sources and lack of rainfall can cause home ranges to vary greatly. Black bears will travel large distances to find adequate food sources. In addition, juvenile bears, especially the males, must disperse to find new home territories. Dispersing juvenile bears have been sighted in many counties in South Carolina. These bears are usually transient and do not stay in the area for long.

Male black bears are generally larger than females. An average adult male can weigh between 150 – 350 pounds while the female averages between 100 -250 pounds. However, when food is plentiful, older bears have been documented at weights above 400-500 pounds. The largest black bear recorded in South Carolina was 609 pounds.  Their average life expectancy is 18 years in the wild.

Tammy Wactor, wildlife biologist with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, said there is an estimated 800-1,000 black bears across South Carolina, with most found in the more heavily forested and mountainous Upstate region, and a smaller population of 300-400 bears in the coastal areas (as of July 11, 2015).

Bears emerge fron their dens and come out looking for food in the spring ~ the peak of their breeding season is June, July, sometimes early August. They are most active at this time of year, and that, combined with habitat depletion, makes it more likely for humans to encounter them, and vice versa, said Kayla Brantley, a state bear biologist based in Horry County.

A state Department of Natural Resources official said it’s not a surprise that a bear was spotted crossing a street near homes just north of Myrtle Beach.

Black bears are not generally aggressive even when confronted by humans. However, due to their size, they need to be respected. No injuries or deaths have been attributed to black bears in South Carolina.

If you encounter one in your back yard like someone In the area of old Route 17 did recently when the bear was investigating their backyard cook-out (they left it and retreated into their home (and the bear had a gourmet meal).     If you find yourself in this situation, don’t corner the animal or make it feel threatened.   Stand your ground, and some say to raise your arms to appear larger.   Don’t run.  Slowly back up, keeping your eye on the bear (not eye contact)  and try to put more space between you and the bear.  Talk calmly so that it can identify you as human.   A good way to steer clear of any run-ins with a wild animal is to secure trash, take down any type of animal feeder at night and keep grills clean.

Marie Coppola  January 2017

Actions Have Reactions – An Epiphany

A visiting priest who is known for his wonderful homilies visited our church.  After he gave the homily, he requested that we didn’t come up to him after mass and tell him how wonderful his homilies are but to pass his words on to others.  Here is his story retold in my words.

Recently, just before Christmas, this priest experienced passing some kidney stones that put him in the hospital for surgery.  While he was recuperating, a hospital volunteer came by with a sealed Christmas card for him.  As he put it, “She was older than Moses, and yet there she was close to holiday time, giving out Christmas cards to patients she did not know.”  The priest placed the card on the table next to his bed without opening it.  A day or so later, he developed a fever and the only relief he felt, was to reach over to the table, pick up the enveloped card and fan himself with it.   He thought about the volunteer and how her action to be kind resulted in a reaction of gratitude and thanks from him.

He then spoke on how actions have reactions and sometimes, how no actions have reactions, too.   He asked us, “Have you done any actions lately that resulted in reactions?”

His homily on that Sunday was the celebration of the Epiphany (of the Lord).  The word ‘epiphany’ comes from the Greek word ‘epiphainen, a verb that means “to shine upon”; “to manifest'”; or “to make known”, and was connected to the visit of the Magi also known as the Three Wise Men.  It was a fulfillment of prophet Simeon’s prophecy that Jesus would be a light of revelation to the Gentiles – to shine as the Light of the World.  The homily told a story of actions to reactions – the birth of Jesus, the visit of the Magi, the threat (action) of Herod to first-borns, and the flight (reaction) to Egypt to escape it.

We were asked again if we had done any actions recently that resulted in reactions.  He suggested we might imitate the volunteer who doesn’t know that she is spoken of at every mass to many parishioners or that her action resulted in the reaction of comfort to an ailing patient.

What could we do to mirror her actons of giving and sharing?  Can we manufacture good reactions?  Can we forgive someone we are at odds with?  Could we send a letter of forgiveness to someone with whom we are angry and/or stopped talking to?

Could we make amends for some miscommunication or a bad attitude? Can we have our own ‘epiphany’ over some matter that we saw only our side on?  Can a ‘light of revelation’ be found in the actions of others and our reaction to them?  Can we cause a chain reaction of kindness through our actions?  We might gather balm for others as well as for ourselves if we see matters in another “Light”.

Have you had an epiphany over anything lately?  Or about God?  If not, think about special feelings or events in your life and see if there is a revelation or ephiphany that you missed.

I recalled one as he spoke.  Once I had a dream in which God told me He was sending me a gift.  It was a very pleasant dream and shortly after, I received two gifts on the same day which could only be from God.  I wondered if one of them was the gift of my dream.   Off and on,  I wondered about this.

But which one was my ‘dream gift’?  They were equally wonderful.   One day, much later, I had an epiphany.  They were both from God as are many other blessings He has bestowed upon me,  Everything He sends me is a gift.  And in His Wisdom, I felt He sent me two together and knew I would ponder and wonder about it.  It took awhile, but I got it.  All good things come frm God and all are His Gifts and I gve gratitude not just for one ~ but for all.

Actions have reactions.  And no actions have reactions.   Pass along an action that someone will react in happiness ~especially if it will be a surprise.  It will be balm for both of you.

I told the priest after mass that my reaction to his action of homily would be to create this article and pass on his words.  I also told him his homilies were wonderful.

{C} Marie Coppola January 2017

A Christmas Legacy

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It was a white day that year when I, at the tender age of seven, sat waiting expectantly for her to arrive –those wonderful white days when the snow has not yet fallen but the promise is there. At any moment you will see those crystal flakes and know that it is finally Christmas at last for what is Christmas without snow?

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Her arrival heralded Christmas in the same fashion, and finally she is there — arms laden with bursting packages as she enters, embracing us and exclaiming. “Oh my, how you’ve grown!”  I felt that Santa himself could not have made a more dramatic entrance.   We tore open her seemingly never-ending supply of gifts as she watched us, her lauighter filling the room, and her joy was made complete in the simple mindfulness of our supreme happiness.

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We felt that way at Christmastime, but other times as well. It seemed as though the spirit of Christmas was around us even in the middle of summer.  As we walked into her kitchen, still warm from the baking ham, her table perpetually set for arriving guests, we felt almost heady from her constant attention and devotion from this woman we called grandmother.

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We took secret delight in her endless ministrations.   The food — oh!  At every visit there was a feast, for that is how she showed her love.  Then, with the gifts — gifts from the heart, for she knew each of us so well — and once again Christmas was upon us with all of its magic and surprise, even in July.

Every year, every Christmas was the same, although after I married and moved away, I didn’t see her as often as I would have wished.  Still, we celebrated whenever we could.  Those moments were treasured, for we knew that our time together on this earth was short.  She never gave in to the sickness that ravaged her body — she was always there, hands serving her children, her grandchildren, and now, her great grandchild.  On her final visit, I saw in my son what I felt so long ago — his eyes shining while she held him, swollen with the sickness, and told him stories and gave him candy kisses and singing “Candy Kisses Wrapped in Paper” as she did every Christmas.   I felt the years melt away and I was taken back to when I was seven, and the magic was there in the warmth of the day.

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She passed away near Christmas time, and my heartache was much more acute that we would have to mourn her during this special time of the year.  On Christmas Eve, we buried her and as loved ones gathered around her for the last time, I put my hand over my swollen body and grieved that my littlest son, yet unborn, would never meet his great-grandmother and enjoy the magic that she brought  to Christmas.  I believe that in order to pacify my sadness,  I entertained the notion  that God himself — after watching her minister so fervently to her dear friends and family — finally proclaimed during Heaven’s busy Advent season, “We need her up here at once to assist us!”  And so, during the season she went, and there she is – still serving the angels with unceasing devotion.

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But to those of us here on earth, there was loss amidst the season.

Time passes, another Christmas draws near, and I am in the kitchen preparing for the arrival of guests.  I am caught up in my baking and our home is warm and filled with sounds of laughter.  My husband tells me to sit, but I have so much to do and I am enjoying the love I am sharing with my family and friends. I usher the kids into the kitchen, for they have been asking to bake cookies, and so we do — cookies topped with candy kisses.  We sing her song, “Candy Kisses Wrapped in Paper” and I tell them stories about their great grandmother and those early Christmas memories.   I feel her presence near, and I am at once amazed at the timelessness of love.

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While we are grieving we cannot fully grasp how deeply one person’s life touches and affects ours.  It is only later on, in our thoughts and in our actions, that we come to know how this person’s spirit lives inside us.  When a loved one lives in your heart, they are truly alive, for the love you share is the love you learned from them, and they are there in the love.

I smile at my boys then, confident that my youngest will know her – my grandmother — for a legacy never dies.  Rather, it is passed on from one generation to the next in each act of kindness and with every gesture of devotion.  She is there — I see her hands in mine as I serve my family;  I hear her voice as I sing her songs; I see through her eyes as I watch my sons open their gifts, their faces shining brightly with the excitement of my youth.  She is here in every act of charity and love that I have learned from her.

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And so, Christmas will always be.

Sharon Cece December 26, 2002 Cleveland Post

(Candy kisses wrapped in paper)

Candy kisses wrapped in paper mean more to you than any of mine
Candy kisses wrapped in paper you’d rather have ’em any old time

You don’t mean it when you whisper those sweet love words in my ear
Candy kisses wrapped in paper mean more to you than mine do dear

(Oh candy kisses wrapped in paper mean more to you than any of mine
Candy kisses wrapped in paper)

Once my heart was filled with gladness now there’s sadness only tears
Candy kisses wrapped in paper mean more to you than mine do dear
Mean more to you than mine do dear
(Candy kisses)