Friday, October 28, 2016

A Hardworking African-American Mother Inspires Us All


While Being A Parent
Author: Eddie Marie Durham
Published by: iUniverse LLC, Bloomington, Indiana, 2014


A Hardworking African-American Mother Inspires Us All
This is a book written by a hard-working, never-say-die, African-American mother of three boys. It is from the heart. She covers topics that many of us don’t discuss easily and she does it with almost childlike transparency. She believes in God. And she has had her shares of troubles. Anybody who has a sense of the woes of parenthood today needs to read this book. And while they’re at it, learn much about the modern African-American experience of life in America.
Let me say straight out that this is not a scholarly tome.  While she writes well, the book did not have the benefit of professional editing given the limited resources Eddie Marie Durham had –  what it got in that regard was a wonderful labor of love from a friend. So set that aside and don’t let it interfere with Eddie’s message – it just may help save your child and you.  Here is just a glimpse of what she shares.
As a trained educator, Eddie starts off with the premise of “you better know what you’re getting into if you’re thinking of becoming a parent.”  She was shocked when she learned about a group of young teens in her own school forming a pact to become ‘mothers’. In fact, much of the beginning of the book is intended to warn young women about having babies before “they really know what it’s all about.”  And she does so very capably.
Then she begins her specific lessons: Early she provides us with an educated view on discipline. It’s not a dirty word and it doesn’t always mean corporeal punishment. While she believes in spanking when totally necessary, she also recognizes that in today’s world where the social mores are against it, it is not appropriate for the most part.
Whatever she shares, she does it most frankly, especially on topics not easily talked about. One example is her husband’s earlier life and his son by another woman. And then there’s the experience she and her first son had with the Boy Scouts – heartbreaking, but handled well by Eddie.
What struck me while reading this book is the incredible similarity of hopes and cares or concerns and struggles and fears that this mother had with what many of us have experienced as parents.  Parenthood, at its foundation, is not bias to color.
She writes about the importance of two parents, a father and a mother in a child’s life, both of whom are partnering with God in the raising of that child. But Durham realizes that is not always possible.
Early in the book she lays out very clearly the importance of rules and quoting one of her devotional readings, she reminds us that the story behind the famous movie, Bonnie and Clyde, was indeed, “who raised Bonnie”. She then proceeds to share some gems she found with respect to rules – how to explain them; how to enforce; and what to avoid. She quotes one adolescent program director as follows: “When the responsibilities expected of children are significantly lower than the privileges allowed, that is a cause for concern.” Then shortly afterwards, she outlines her own mother’s unique set of 12 rules for her children as well as the reason(s) for each one. Well worth the book’s purchase for that alone. Lastly in this regard, Durham discusses the topic of homework and what it is meant to accomplish quoting considerable research on the topic.
She is not a big fan of television’s impact on children with respect to the reality of life. She shares how she dealt with her son’s sports accidents as well as her feelings about his first date. Handling the eldest son’s decision to move out was not easy. And then there were the serious illnesses that beset one of her son’s, then the wife of another, and then the author herself. Even the fact that her husband retired and hung around the house while she still worked and how that impacted the child-rearing, makes for an interesting read.  All excellently handled, providing for us a role model of what being a parent – even of grown-up adults is all about.
The author, a post-graduate educated elementary school teacher, now retired, resides in Texas. One of her passions throughout her career was to write poems, stories, and plays making difficult accounts more understandable to children of all ages, as well as a means of celebrating and remembering the event described. Durham often works these works into her writings as examples of what she as a parent was called to do sometimes.
We often hear of kids from tough lives succeeding because of what their mother was like – what she did, what she said at times, her sacrifices, how she showed her love even when things were tough and there was no money, and so on. Eddie Durham is one of those mothers – only she’s telling the story of her sons and how they got to be who they are. Personally, I consider myself fortunate to have come across Durham and her book.  I highly recommend it to all thinking of parenthood or those already in its throes.
·      Ken B. Godevenos, President, Accord Resolutions Services Inc., Toronto, Ontario, October 28, 2016. www.accordconsulting.com


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Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Historical Novel With Details Only A Doctor Can Provide

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The Dash of Dr. Todd: The Odyssey of a Frontier Doctor
Author: Howard E. Adkins, M.D.
Published by: Xlibris, Boise, Idaho, 2009

 Image result for The Dash of Dr. Todd

Okay, I must admit two things: I hardly ever read novels. Secondly, when I embarked on the pages of this book, I really believed it wasn’t a novel. In fact, I thought that the author had researched the lead character, his great-grandfather, in a very thorough historical manner and was providing us with the details of his life to the best of his knowledge. And yes, throughout the reading of this great work, I did not for a moment doubt the fact that everything that Howard E. Adkins wrote could indeed have come to pass, just as he described it. It was only when preparing to write this review did I notice the page that said, “Other Novels by Howard E. Adkins”. Wow, talk about a personal surprise as a reader.
This is the story of a “dash” – the little mark that is inserted between the date of one’s birth and the date of one’s death on a tombstone. It is the dash of Daniel Locke Todd, M.D.  It starts off in the eastern part of the United States in 1825 and takes us excitedly around Cape Horn and on to Oregon, finally saying good-bye in Idaho City, Idaho in 1868. There the life, and the dash, of Dr. Todd ended.  But what a life and a dash it was.
Author Adkins is a pro at presenting us with a man’s thoughts, goals, struggles. He is even more of a master at helping us understand the limitations of our knowledge at any given time, especially when it comes to miracles of medical science. But I was amazed at how skillfully he described (writing for both medical and non-medically trained readers) just what could be done to help relieve suffering and pain, as well as how to ease one’s last days or hours of life, in the 1800’s, and in remote places at that.
I’ll let you discover all that for yourselves. What I want to share in this review is some of the hard questions of life that Adkins exposes us to through Dr. Todd. In fact, one of the main themes of the work is Todd’s life-long search for his own purpose.  Early we read his thoughts on possibly dying before he even had a chance to practice medicine, as the author shares them, “. . . if there is a God in the Heavens, surely he would not allow such vast tracts of knowledge to be crammed into my brain and then waste it all by letting that mind die and rot unused.”
And then there’s the truth that comes from one of his medical instructors after being defeated in the delivery of a baby whose position is a “transverse lie” (i.e. according to Wikipedia, the baby has his head to one of his mother's sides and the bottom across her abdomen at her other side. This is normal before 26 weeks, but by 29-30 weeks we expect babies to be head down, or at least breech). The doctor remarks, “There is a razor’s edge between a very normal birth and a disaster such as this. We, as doctors, are supposed to make a difference, make more of them normal, but we are not always successful. Your goal as a doctor, Todd, must be to do a better job than I have just done here.” Accepting that very fact is sometimes just as hard on doctors as it is on the patients and their families.
A good portion of the book is also about being lost at sea – not just in terms of bearings. And the author has taken great care to introduce us to the life of whalers and their work during that period. It’s a remarkable feat he has accomplished. Adkins’ account of the whaling industry’s history alone is well worth the time spent in reading this book.
At one point, as Dr. Todd deals with a suicidal patient’s intervention, he begins to describe the human mind to him and asks, “Does anybody you know have the knowledge and skill to build any sort of machine that complicated? What do you think, Elias?” Todd was really asking himself that very question.
The main character was also prone to thoughts of crime especially of people he considered to be vile and abusive towards others, even to the extent of plotting to take their lives for the honor of their victims.  In fact, when one of his intended targets dies by other means, and is given the briefest of funerals, Todd reflects on the deceased person’s just desserts, thinking his “demise was welcomed by many, accepted by some and mourned by nobody.” Is this what life is meant to be for some?
Watching over a dying patient, Todd reflects on the necessity that “throughout life (one) simply must breathe in and breathe out, one breath at a time, and wait to see what the next minute holds. . .. Just have faith and patience – faith and patience.” But he himself has neither.
The author tackles abortion in one long paragraph in a very unique way – from the perspective of a conscientious doctor struggling with the matter of predestination at the same time. Elsewhere we are treated to the anguish involved in a person’s inability to help another person when he/she believes that this is his/her very purpose in life.
As I had made these notes, I realized I had not even reached halfway through the story. From there on, I could not even stop long enough to make notes for later use.  Adkins had me entangled in the plot of Dr. Todd’s ‘dash’.  There was love, loss, failure, success, hardship, epidemics, hatred, poverty, hunger, sickness, fraud, and so much more. There was even murder before the dash reached its final resting place.
I must stop now because my wife wants the book and she’s waited long enough. And then her friend wants it. Highly recommended – even for those that don’t read novels.
·      Ken B. Godevenos, President, Accord Resolutions Services Inc., Toronto, Ontario, October 23, 2016. www.accordconsulting.com

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.