A Good Man Gone Too Soon

At the beginning of the week, I saw that Sherrie Davis Ebersole, a member of the Sterling High School girls’ first State Championship Basketball Team (1977), posted on facebook a Chicago Tribune article which announced Bruce Scheidegger’s untimely death due to a car accident. Across the Midwest and beyond, we mourn the loss of a beloved former  coach, athletic director, husband, father and son.

Even though Bruce’s career took him to the big city, he never lost his small town ways. He took those same values along when he left Sterling for the athletic director position at Carl Sandburg High School in Orland Park, where he continued to be respected for his honesty, fairplay and integrity.

He may have left Sterling, but he remained in our hearts.

I met Bruce when my dad introduced him to me as the new Sterling High School girls’ basketball coach (1998-2007). During my visits to the States over Christmas holidays, I went to the Dixon Tournament  to watch the girls play. Seeing Bruce coach his daughters reminded me of when my dad coached my sister and me. I admired the way Bruce spoke to the media,  interacted with his players, and called time out just at the right time.

Kind, upbeat, sincere. He remembered names and faces.Whenever we were back in town, he invited my Franco-American daughter to practice with the team. When she played for the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, he followed her career.

He once told me his family originally came from Switzerland. Years later, when I visited Kleine Scheidegg, 6,762 ft, the mountain pass between the Eiger and Lauberhorn peaks in the Swiss Alps, I wanted to send him a postcard of his ancestral village. He was the kind of person you never forget.

Kleine Scheidegg, Wengen -Switzerland

Kleine Scheidegg, Wengen -Switzerland

I did not know him well, but I know well where he came from – a tight-knit family from a small Northwestern Illinois town. He graduated from Chadwick a year after I graduated from Sterling. He attended University of Illinois; I went to Illinois State.  He played baseball; I played basketball. We both loved coaching. Whether he was coaching at Prophetstown, Dixon, Sterling or Carl Sandburg, he advocated for all student/athletes, especially girls.

Bruce was truly the kind of AD that looked out for coaches, including old ones. How many big school ADs would take the time to write a letter to an 80-year-old-coach (my dad) to commemorate his birthday?Read more

Confession of Social Media Phobia to Facebook Friends

I confess I am a fraud. My fancy, dancy website…didn’t touch it. Don’t understand a thing about the technological aspect of social media. Nada! As my live-in techie, aka Frenchman, develops more skill at troubleshooting problems, the less adept I become.

soul sisters

soul sisters

I am able to log onto facebook only because my Frenchman set an automatic entry; I can’t remember any passwords. [div]When my home page pops up and I see the little bubble space under update status with the the question, « How are you feeling, Pat ? » I honestly thought the whole world was worried about my health status.

I would write back, « Not so good today- sore throat, backache, migraine, thanks for asking,» until my daughter, complained, « Mom stop facebooking about how you feel, no one cares. I don’t care and I am a doctor! That question pops up automatically everytime.»

Ditto for the grey comment box with my mug shot – I thought it meant that I was supposed to comment on every posting on the running page.

Actually facebook terrifies me because I understand so little about it. I am not sure how it works, where it goes and who sees it. As a writer I am used to exposing my ideas, but people know stuff about me that I’d rather forget. Like my birthday.

But friends, that is not why I have never answered your request to add birthday to your calendar. The real reason I haven’t responded is  because I don’t know how.

college pals

college pals

Sorry, if I haven’t accepted your offers to play games. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like you, it just means I don’t like games (unless they include a ball.) If I am honest, I’ll admit I don’t know how to play online games. So I won’t be joining the other 41 million enjoying FarmVille, Lucky Slots or Zynga Slingo.

FB’s popularity is a bit superficial like the old autograph hounds we carried in 6th grade where you run around begging everyone to sign your stuffed dog or little book of blank pages. For what? Or the high school yearbook signing – I’ll sign yours if you sign mine.Read more

Clubs Lift Our Spirits In Support

From the beginning of time, women have found strength in groups. I have never been much of a joiner; the only club I ever wanted to belong to was the ol’ boys club….just kidding. No, seriously though, once I longed to be included in – the exclusively male S Club, a group of Sterling High School boys, who owned the coveted Varsity letter S proudly worn on letter jackets. Fueled by Title IX, they finally allowed girls to join.

Mom's stitches holds family together

Mom stitches generations together

My mom’s generation knew the value of women’s social circles. As the ultra clubber, she belongs to a half dozen groups that support one another through life’s transitions. From sorority to AAUW to the Methodist church’s Rebecca Circle, Mom has always been a do gooder. She works at FISH (a food pantry) and plays chimes at church. Her Piecemakers Quilt Club creates quilts for babies, children and military people in hospitals and also holds auctions with profits going to local charities.Read more

Schools and Violence – A Sad Reflection on Society

I don’t want to write about it; I don’t want to think about it…yet the pictures haunt me. Every parent holds dear images of watching little ones skip off to school or dropping the inert lump, our adolescents, at the gym door before practice. We have state of the art learning centers, sports fields, theaters and play grounds and yet, it is no longer safe for children to walk to school in America. Why?

I come from a family of teachers-my grandparents were teachers, my dad taught high school, my mom taught kindergarten in Sterling, my baby sister 1st grade in a Minneapolis suburb, my middle sister teaches in Yorkville, one French sister-in-law 2nd grade in a village school at Honfleur, the other in middle school in Rouen France. My son is in teacher training working with at-risk kids in St. Paul after school program. Many of my former students have gone onto to teaching careers around the world. Our belief in education as a birthright is as natural as the right to breathe.

I teach at the world’s oldest and largest international school in Geneva where I work in a global

quiet walk to school

quiet walk to school

community representing 138 nationalities and 84 mother tongues. My century old school, tucked on a slope of open fields and vineyards, offers an exquisite view of Lake Geneva surrounded by the snow-peaked Alps. I teach in a classroom without walls. No fence surrounds the property, no security guards patrol the campus, and no backpacks are inspected at the door. Yet daily, students from all races and religious affiliations -Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Catholic, Mormon – sit down together to learn about one another’s beliefs and discuss ideas.

Everyday when I walk to school I gaze at the sun rising over the mountains with a prayer of gratitude on my lips that such a place still exists.Read more

French Wedding Is All About the Food

family with the groom

family with the groom

A French wedding is less about the pomp and ceremony and more about the food, especially in Normandy, the northeastern region of France that offers land and seas finest fare.

A cold, grey weekend in December, we attended my nephew Ben and Lea’s wedding at the mayor’s office in Le Havre, an industrial city dominated by oil refineries and shipping docks. Bombed and destroyed during WWII, it was rebuilt in a Stalinistic style of cement cubes. The civil ceremony held at the Hotel de Ville was a bit carnivalesque especially since a display of Christmas toys and giant ferries wheel added color to the somber architect of town hall. At the imposing entryway, a petite, meticulously coiffed blond woman, mother of the bride, greeted us with air kisses and ushered us up the red carpeted stairs where people waited around like at a bus stop. At precisely 14:25, another wedding party exited one door of a main hall and we entered.

My handsome nephew, Ben, dressed in a tux, stood at the front and guests filled the seating area. Then the wedding march played for 25 seconds, while bride’s stepfather walked her to the altar. Lea wore a white ivory wedding dress with a bodice and long trail. I marveled that the balconette stayed in place throughout the festivity, though obviously she was more well endowed than I.

IMG_3879

newweds with their cake

The mayor’s assistant conducted the ceremony in a friendly, fast food style service. After citing constitutional acts, she announced that Ben and Lea were joining in matrimony for the republic. During the ring exchange, she invited the proud, « paparrazzi » parents behind the pulpit to snap photos. Then she announced that they would repeat their vows on the top of the Ferris wheel, which at first I thought was a joke. The witnesses, a young blonde women in a black dress with an oval opening revealing a tattooed spine and a slender punk haired young man in black suit, stepped forward to sign the official papers. In less than 10 minutes, we were whisked out of the room and the next wedding party wave entered.Read more

Shaker Heights Band Gets Down

Shaker Heights – only place in the USA where as many fans come to see the high school marching band as well as the football team

Football was my first love, but I’ll be the first to admit America can be a bit over the top when it comes to ball games. It’s nice to know there is one place on the planet where the drawing card is not just the football team itself, but the band playing in the halftime performance.

The Shaker Heights school system in the Greater Cleveland area emphasizes the arts and education, and is the rare place where spectators attend the ritual fall weekend game to admire both the band and the ball club.Read more