Conklin: Newspapers, mail pile up at door


The first thing I saw when I walked in our front door, was a stack of 15 days of newspapers. Right beside it, was a stack of 15 days of mail. For the past 15 days, I had not been on a computer, or cooking meals, or doing any of my usual things that keep me busy all day, every day.

We had just gotten home from our daughter’s house in Florida, and had been living in 70-degree weather. You remember, when you can walk outside, day or night, without coats and gloves on? We stood outside at 10 p.m. looking at the stars.

During the nights we were there, when there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, we could see more constellations than I remember ever seeing in my whole adult life. That’s an advantage of living away from city lights. Cathy has motion lights, so when they go off, there is complete darkness. What a beautiful starlit sky it was.

Cathy has a Daddy-Do list each spring when we go to see her. I like to be there before it gets too hot. George fixed her wooden gate, fences, and hinges. Then he removed the weather-damaged boards from the north and south ends of her workshop, and replaced them with all new boards. He also fixed a tire on the wagon that goes behind her riding lawnmower.

Did you ever see something, somewhere, that looked like it could classify as “Modern Art?” You know, those paintings that don’t look like a picture of anything you can identify. For several years now, while visiting Cathy, I have been noticing a lot of brush marks on a wall in her workshop.

I have been thinking it could pass for modern art. I think it came from them testing colors of paint, or cleaning out their brushes, or something like that. Anyway, on our last day there, while Cathy was at work, we put a 36” x 36” handmade frame around it. We added a small branch from a tree at the upper left hand corner, and added the words: “To Cathy from Mom and Dad, 3-20-17” in the bottom right hand corner, where there just happened to be a splash of white. We flew back to Ohio without telling her it was out there, so she would find what we had done, after we were gone.

We are home now and playing catch-up. My first newspapers to read were the Delaware Gazette. An interesting thing I read, and re-read, was on a full 1/2 page of March 18, with nine pictures of “Mike” Tilden. We were in Willis High School at the same time, although 2 years apart.

When I saw those pictures, I knew in a second it was “Mikie.” That’s what I remember calling her. And a wonderful memory flashed through my brain that I knew I would never forget. It was of Mikie and the kids she babysat with. On a summer day that may have been the year of 2000, she and six little children came in the court house.

The children were all the same size and looked to be about three years old. I went out in the hall, and there they all sat on the bench that was across from my office. They were sitting side by side, lined up filling the entire bench. In the first second I saw them, I thought they looked like a painting by Norman Rockwell for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. They all had smiling faces, bright eyes, combed hair, and were wearing sandals or anklets and tennis shoes, and were all wearing shorts.

She was telling them to sit on the bench and not move, while she ran in the office for just 1/2 a minute. I told her I would stay with them while she was gone. I have always wished I would have had a camera to take their picture! They were radiating with health and happiness.

When “Mikie” came back, they all got in a line and waved “Goodbye” as they held hands walking out the door. Those children would be about 20 years old by now.

How great it would have been to have a picture of them then, and another picture of the same kids all grown up now, sitting on that same bench at the old Court House. This story is in memory of one of the liveliest students Willis High School ever had, Dolores Jean “Mike” Tilden.

15 days is a long time for me to be gone from home. Usually by the time we get back, Ohio has turned to spring with blossoms on some of the trees. Nothing had changed much by March 21. (Except for the time changing while we were gone.)

I was forever finding clocks that needed to be moved up an hour. Most of the newspapers are now out in the recycle tub, checks have been written for all the necessary bills, and we have a new supply of food in the house. As everyone always says, “It’s nice to go away, but always good to be back home.” That’s for sure.

Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.

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