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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
Wednesday and Thursday, May 9 & 10 2001
Apparently Wednesday's Jonal was never delivered, so I'm redating it for both Wednesday and Thursday and sending it out again. Sorry if you get a duplicate. The only "different" thing in it was the addition of my photo of "Aunt Tommy," which is deleted for this second try. - JK 

"Surrogate" moms

Still trying to fill in the void of responses to our request for memories of mothers and/or mothering this week before Mother's Day...I think of several mother figures other than my "real" one over the years.

The first is my Aunt Tommy, the only member of her generation in my nuclear family still living. She and Mom were in high school together; Tommy married Mom's brother, and she was Mom's best friend all her life and was without dispute the favorite aunt of all four Kennedy nephews. She was also a school teacher from shortly after high school graduation until retirement age. In those days (early 1920s, when most Cambria County schools were just being started) it wasn't necessary to have a college degree to teach public elementary school, though she also took Normal School, then Teacher's College, and finally Penn State University courses throughout her working life.

Aunt Tommy was the favorite aunt, I daresay, of all her dozens of nieces and nephews, and I'd bet one of the favorite teachers of all her classes, because she had the rare trait of relating to children, as well as all people, as individuals whose opinions and interests counted to her, and she was always looking for ways to relate to them one on one.

Her family was the closest one to ours in terms of visiting back and forth for the better part of a day at least monthly and often more often while we were young. One of the best memories I have of my many contacts with Aunt Tommy was a visit with her and Uncle Les on their farm near Fallentimber when my own sons were about ages 10 and eight. I wondered how these California-born and raised boys would relate to this much-older couple and the woman I esteemed second only to my mother. Within a half hour of our arrival, I looked out the picture window and saw her with them at the pond a few yards away, helping them find frogs. Needless to say, she made as favorable an impression on them as any adult they'd known, and won two more nephews to her lifelong admiration club.

One of the traits that strikes me most profoundly about Aunt Tommy is her power of persuasion, or perhaps the right word is the less-used root, "suasion." Without ever feeling I was being manipulated, I've always felt and still do that she is one of the last people I'd ever want to let down or disappoint by bad behavior or performing under par. I spent a week at her house in the summer before entering sixth grade. She was taking a course at Penn State that summer learning crafts for her classes and led me through the creation of a couple of papier-mache puppets. Shortly after starting Mrs. Yobaggy's sixth-grade class, I offered to put on a puppet show for the Big Bend School assembly. Mrs. Yobaggy and Mrs. Taylor (who directed the assemblies) "ate it up," and under Aunt Tommy's indirect prodding launched my "show biz" career that lasted through high school. And I don't know that she even ever knew about that part of my life.

We Orthodox don't seem to wear carnations on Mother's Day as we did when I was growing up in the Belsano EUB Church, or maybe it's a fashion that has passed. But if I was to get a boutonniere for this Mother's Day, I'd get a white one for my real Mom, and a red one in honor of Aunt Tommy.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy


1. It is well documented that for every mile that you jog, you add one minute to your life. This enables you, at age 85, to spend an additional 5 months in a nursing home at $5,000 per month.

2. My grandmother started walking 5 miles a day when she was 60. She is now 97 and we don't know where she is.

3. The only reason I would take up jogging is so that I could hear heavy breathing again.

4. I joined a health club last year, spent about $400. Haven't lost a pound. Apparently you have to show up.

5. I have to exercise early in the morning before my brain figures out what I am doing.

6. I don't exercise at all. If God meant us to touch our toes, he would have put them further up our body.

7. I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.

8. I have flabby thighs, but fortunately my stomach covers them.

9. The advantage of exercising every day is that you die healthier.

10. If you are going to try cross country skiing, start with a small country.

11. And last, but not least, I don't jog - it makes the ice jump right out of my glass.

Sent by Mike Harrison

Love defined

"God could have said magic words to make the nails fall off
the cross, but He didn't. That's love." - Max - age 5

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen." - Bobby - age 5

"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate."
- Nikka - age 6

"There are two kinds of love. Our love. God's love. But God makes both kinds of them." - Jenny - age 4

Sent by Mike Harrison
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