des moines, Faith and Values, Iowa, People

HOT SHEET: Six lessons from Grandma Lois, 1927 to 2020

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, sergeant of the watch, Drake Neighborhood Station, Des Moines, Iowa.

ITEM ONE: Show up. That’s the first lesson of the life of my grandmother, Lois Newcomb. Her lawn chair planted in the grass beside bleachers at uncounted softball and baseball games of her grandchildren and she cheered from the stands during football and basketball seasons. She told you how good a job you did even if you struck out and dropped a ball in the outfield. Going to the games was fun for her, but it reassured her seven grandchildren and even more great-grandchildren that you mattered to her and she was always cheering for you.

ITEM TWO: Eat well. Grandma Lois loved to host holiday gatherings at her home, and later, at her apartment at Valley View Village. We all squeezed into her living room and ate turkey, mountains of mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans and her special “burn and serve” dinner rolls that she never quite got out of the oven at the right time. Families sometimes fracture as children grow to adults and move away or hard feelings develop of misunderstandings and slights. But for three or four hours on a holiday, our bellies were full, the laughs came easy and often because we were welcome, warm and safe at Grandma’s house.

ITEM THREE: Love first and always. Grandma Lois lived 92 years. She grew up in Granger during the Great Depression in World War II. She lived before television to an age with supercomputers that fit into a pocket. Her husband died at 45 and she found herself a single working mother. Through her own family, she lived through what would have seemed unthinkable in the 1930s – divorce, teen pregnancies, mixed-race grandchildren and great grandchildren, LGBTQ+ grandchildren and so much more. She even learned about the struggles of a sad and angry teenage boy who came to live with her eldest daughter, Joyce Rogers, and her husband, Bob Rogers. All the changes in the world she saw through her family and she met them all same way – with love.

ITEM FOUR: Keep the faith. Grandma Lois loved church. She sang in the choir. She reveled in the fellowship. She worshipped at the now-defunct Calvary Baptist Church in Des Moines and later at the chapel at Valley View Village. She seldom missed a Sunday. She lived faith the way Jesus taught his followers. She was slow to anger. She forgave easily. She loved her neighbors like they were her own family. Her family came at faith from many different perspectives. She seldom evangelized, but she welcomed you by her side at church and quoted the Bible on occasion. She lived her faith with quiet dignity. She was not the kind of person who needed to tell you she was a Christian. One could tell by the way she lived her life. As Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

ITEM FIVE: Hugs. Grandma Lois never ended a visit without a hug and kiss from her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren — which often came with a whispered “I love you” in your ear. The typist regrets he often treated such affections as perfunctory when life’s other distractions tugged at his attention. For today, he would trade just about anything for one more hug and kiss from Grandma.

ITEM SIX: Lois Newcomb died shortly after 7 p.m., Monday, at Iowa Methodist Medical Center. She was 92 years old. God blessed her with her own mind and body until the final days. She went to the hospital Saturday. The day before she rode the exercise bike. Fluid built up in her tissues. Her heart failed. Her children surrounded her in the final moments. Had she been well enough, she would have given them all a hug and a kiss and whispered “I love you” in their ears.

ITEM LAST: Hot Sheet asks its loyal readers to remember your elders, many of whom are physically cut off from their family and loved ones due to COVID-19 quarantine restrictions. Make a call, by phone or Zoom, or send an email or even a letter. Maybe you can’t be there in person but find a way to show up and express your love and accept the love your elders have for you. This is the true marrow of life. Mark those moments, because the reality of life is one day all you will have is memories.

Grandma Lois Newcomb and her grandson, Daniel P. Finney. The photo is blurry because it’s seen through tears.

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way telling stories about his city, state and nation. No more metrics or Google trends, he writes stories about people and life ignored by the oligarchy.

ParagraphStacker.com is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I launch this new venture continuing the journalism you’ve demanded. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.

des moines, humor, Iowa, Media, News, Newspapers

HOT SHEET: Bears survive, Old Man Brady falters, Northwood volleyball poster provokes and prayers for Grandma Lois

ITEM ONE: Behold the power of reverse psychology: Hot Sheet predicted doom for the Chicago Bears vs. the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Ford’s Field. Hark! T’was but a ruse! They typist’s faux bad juju produced a dramatic come-from-behind win for the Monsters of the Midway led by none other than the much-maligned Mitchell Trubisky. Hope bursts for this big-and-tall Bears backer. The joy lasted for the time it took an autumn leaf to unmore itself from tree branch and flutter to the ground. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker is not fooled. These are the cruel tricks the Windy City’s pro football team plays on its devoted throngs. We know — oh how we know — just how rapid the taste of victory washes from our mouth with the foul and fetid flavor of the screw cap wine that is a Bears’ season. The losses shall come, maybe next week. The Hot Sheet shall burn its Trubisky Funko Pop! figure in effigy in hopes of repeating the good vibes that clearly comes from this gloomy smack.

ITEM TWO: Tom Brady looked very much like a man too old to be playing pro football in his debut for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at New Orleans. He threw two interceptions — one a pick-six — and generally looked out of sync and frustrated. Brady threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, but he managed to complete two of three passes to his pal Rob Gronkowski, whom Brady coerced out of retirement. The typist admits fondness for Brady, who at 43, is two years younger than the ol’ Paragraph Stacker and still playing pro football. One gets to be the typist’s age and one starts to have fondness for middle-aged people pushing the sun up into the sky one more time. Hot Sheet isn’t ready to shovel the dirt on Old Man Brady just yet. Childhood hero Joe Montana had two productive seasons in 1993 and 1994 for the Kansas City Chiefs after leaving his longtime home with the San Francisco 49ers. Of course Old Man Joe was six years younger than Old Man Brady.

ITEM THREE: The Northwood-Kensett High School volleyball team created a poster of the girls’ volleyball team posing with local police under the headline “Back the Blue: Whatever It Takes.” The posters were made in August and sold as a way to raise money for the school’s post-prom, reports the Mason City Globe-Gazette. However, some argued the poster was in poor taste given the recent national unrest over police killings of Blacks and systemic racism. A taste of the backlash comes from this Twitter post: “First of all, I am appalled by the ignorance people have for the current environment of the US and second, wtf??” The photographer who took the photo decided not to sell the poster, then changed her mind and offered to obscure or digitally remove any players who didn’t want to be in the poster, per the Globe-Gazette. The poster was not created with district supervision, the Northwood-Kensett superintendent said in a statement. Stripped of context, the typist supposes someone could twist the meaning of the poster to be something more sinister than high school kids posing with their local cops. In context, “Back the Blue” refers to the school colors, which are blue, white and red, as well as the “blue” referring to law enforcement in general, though the cops in the poster are wearing khaki uniforms. “Whatever It Takes” is a longtime slogan of the volleyball team. I suppose in the twisted minds of radicals, this statement could be construed as endorsement of police violence, but the mental gymnastics it takes to get that point are so exhausting one wonders how tortured a mind must be to reach such a conclusion. Hot Sheet rejects the extremist notion that any support of police is akin to racism. It is entirely possible to support both Black Lives Matter and police. The “all-or-nothing” approach to any idea is a pathway to madness and self-destruction. If kids want to have their picture taken with local cops for post-prom, the ol’ Paragraph Stacker chooses to read that as community spirit unless proven otherwise.

ITEM FOUR: Former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad is quitting as U.S. Ambassador to China after three years, reports CNN. The Leland, Iowa, native was one of President Donald Trump’s first ambassadorial appointees. The New York Times writes: Branstad “found himself on the front lines of President Trump’s trade war and, by this year, a downward spiral of tensions that, to many, has heralded a new era of Cold War-like confrontation between the world’s two largest economies.” The Times goes on to note Branstad visited 26 of 34 provinces, including a visit to Tibet. Hot Sheet was never a big Branstad backer, but felt some sympathy for his fellow Iowan thrust into the madness of Trump’s erratic and irresponsible foreign policy. When Branstad took the gig, the typist was glad to be rid of him as Iowa governor. Still, the ol’ Paragraph Stacker remembers Branstad with some fondness. In decades earlier, we both had tickets to Drake University women’s basketball games and more than once stood in line for popcorn together. Hot Sheet doubts one can run into the former governor of New York in line for snacks at a women’s basketball game.

ITEM LAST: Hot Sheet asks for prayers and well wishes for the typist’s grandmother, Lois Newcomb, who is in the hospital with excessive water in her tissues and a heart ailment. Grandma Lois is the mother of the ol’ Paragraph Stacker’s Mom 2.0, Joyce Rogers, the kindly east Des Moines hairdresser who raised him after his first set of parents died. Lois is 93, a kind and accepting soul, who has seen a lot of social changes play out in her own family. She made special effort to welcome yours truly into the family nearly 30 years ago. For years, Parents 2.0 and the typist ate Wednesday dinner at Lois’ house. And until she moved to assisted living a year ago, Lois made sure to make oyster soup once a year for the typist, Aunt Janice and herself as we were the only three in the family who enjoyed the stuff. At present, Lois is resting and due to COVID-19, visiting is kaput.

OK, let’s close the book on this one. Go forth this week, my friends. Remember to drop a donation if you can. And, as always, behave and be kind.

Daniel P. Finney has a Runza on his hat and you should, too.

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way poking fun at the passing parade.

ParagraphStacker.com is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I launch this new venture continuing the journalism you’ve demanded. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.