July 26, 2011

Disability Doesn’t Mean Disabled: Two Role Models




     After becoming legally blind, Janice Greer worked for a time as a typesetter and later sewed costumes for her children’s high school plays, according to her daughter Aimee Coleman and son Thomas Greer. Although both will miss their mother, who died from cancer on April 12, 2011, they will cherish the memories of her being a role model.*

     Reading this Janice Greer’s obituary reminded me of two important people I’ve known on this journey called life.


     One result of my parent’s divorce was that I was separated from my father’s family. I didn’t meet my paternal aunt, Nyllis Gardner, until I was well into adulthood. When I met her, was wheelchair bound and bedridden, and her hands were grossly distorted from arthritis. Yet she managed to hand stitch Barbie doll clothes for her church bizarre. She also made needlework items on plastic canvas. 

Nyllis Gardner's hand-stitched Barbie Doll clothes

     Watching her work made me realize what a struggle it was for her to create the many (more…)

October 13, 2010

October 13, 2010: The San Jose Mine Rescue



     As I write this post, the following is occurring:

    The 25th miner to be rescued, Renan Avalos, 29, is on his way up. Renan’s younger brother Florencio was the first miner to be brought to the surface just after midnight on Wednesday. He decided to come to work in the San Jose mine four months ago.

     I interrupt my writing to view Renan Avalos’ reunion with his wife. The BBC commentator noted that there is amazing discipline among the press, who are unwilling to invade the privacy of the miner’s reunions, yet who know the whole world is participating in the event unfolding at the San Jose Mine in Chile.

     For me, it’s been a day of distractions characterized by an inability to focus. Partially, it’s that this day follows five hectic days. Two days were absorbed by Fort Ligonier (PA) Days: photographing its ninety–minute parade, manning our Beanery Writers Group table, and enjoying festival concert. On Sunday my husband Monte and I traveled to Harrisburg for a conference on poverty, which ended mid-afternoon on Monday. Leaving the conference, we headed to Minersville, where I finally met two fourth cousins—Bob and Allen Borinsky—who filled me in on some family history. We left Minersville, ate in Pottsville, and found a motel room a little further on. Tuesday morning we took side routes—not the interstate—back to Laurel Mountain Borough, arriving in time to attend Mellow Mike, where I was guided some writers in practice writing about structures.

     It seems coincidental that Lawrence Borinsky, the grandfather of Bob and Allen, died in a mining accident in Minersville. He was 27 years old. He left behind a two year old son, William a.k.a. Vince, the father of the two brothers.

     So perhaps my restlessness is due to tiredness.

    Or perhaps it’s due to the fact that the date is the thirteenth—even though it’s Wednesday, not Friday.

    However, a large part of the distraction is a deep-seated need to participate in a global celebration—good news, for a change—surpassing that which happened at the Quecreek Mines in July, 2002 (QUECREEK MINE DISASTER: A 21st Century Historical Site in Somerset County, PA).  Then, nine miners were rescued—a miracle. Although I lived about twenty miles from the site, I watched in New Jersey, where I was visiting my sister, Kitty.

      Today, thirty-three miners are being rescued. Is one rescue scene more miraculous than the other? Not really…but as the world (more…)

April 2, 2008


Filed under: COMMENTARY — carolyncholland @ 2:53 am
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While reading a list of 20th century heroes that included the Kennedys, Princess Diana, Anne Franks and Rosa Parks I wondered: Who were the heroes in my life?

Initially I had difficulty answering that question, but deeper probing of my past pulled up the image of a woman whose name and appearance are lost in the recesses of my mind. However, (more…)

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