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John Dunlop brings to this most excruciating mile of the road informed science, the 41Ur4z3Us6Lgentlest spirit, and a deep conviction that God’s care does not flee the human person who finds himself or herself afflicted with dementia. Nor does mercy abandon those who care for the dementia sufferer. I imagine this last group accounts for most readers of this very fine and wisely titled guidebook for one of life’s darker passages.

The author has skin in this game, if such words can be used without offense in this context. His medical specialization brings him into the care of just such patients and of those who love them. And his family history makes it likely that Dunlop himself will one day sense the fog beginning to thicken.

The result is an exceedingly caring book.

I bought this not because my family had been touched, strictly speaking, by dementia. Rather, my late father’s decline in two nursing homes gradually tightened the horizons of his life and altered the man he had been in ways that are proximate enough to dementia to have made this book a prudent choice.

I ended up buying additional copies and giving them away. You may, too.

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We laid Dad to rest between these mountains two days ago.

Never have the words ‘laid to rest’ seemed so appropriate, so purposed, so fine. These last years of Dad’s life were restless. Now there is rest. Here. In this fine valley, between these mountains.

    *     *     *

I took Dad’s dented car—one of the used ‘Gray Goose’ erstwhile-flower-carrying Ford station wagons from the funeral home that made for great value—down to Nelson’s Express where he was working nights. I feared he’d murder me for backing it into a telephone pole down on Union Street so soon after getting my driver’s license. (more…)

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To download in PowerPoint the photographic montage from Dad’s viewing, click here:

Raymond Daniel Baer 1927-2018

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Raymond Daniel ‘Mim’ Baer passed away at the Stonebridge Health and Rehabilitation Center on April 17, 2018. He was 90 years old.

2018-04-18-0003Born October 29, 1927 to James Alvin Baer and Sallie Naomi Hoy Baer, Mim was a lifetime resident of Millersburg except for the six years he spent playing minor league baseball in Wisconsin, Kansas, Iowa, Arkansas, and other midwestern states for the Chicago White Sox organization.

From evening and weekend games played on sandlot fields in Dauphin and Northumberland counties for Millersburg ‘town teams’ to the innings he spent threading curve balls past up-and-coming big leaguers like Hank Aaron in Wisconsin and North Dakota, baseball was a lifelong passion that Mim successfully passed along to his children and grandchildren.

Mim served his community for many years as a member of the Millersburg Borough Council and for several years served as that body’s president. He was a member and lay leader of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and, later, of David’s Community Bible Church. His resolute but soft-spoken faith extended as well into the solid integrity that characterized his life at work, in the home, and among his fellow Christians in these two Millersburg churches, which were the spiritual home that Mim shared with his wife Dorothy and the family they raised.

After bringing his baseball bride back to Millersburg from northern Wisconsin, Mim drove truck for nearly forty years as an employee of Millersburg’s Nelson’s Express.

Raymond was preceded in death by his sister Catherine Potter and his brother Allen Baer. He is survived by his wife Dorothy, daughters Aimee McKone and Karen Baer, sons David and Jonathan Baer, seven grand-children, and six great-grandchildren. They join his friends in remembering him for reliability, a superb work ethic, frugality, respect, and the usually unspoken conviction that to let people down or otherwise fail to run out a ground ball was ‘bush league’ and simply unacceptable.

After years of suffering in the wake of a debilitating stroke, Mim now has his ‘stuff’ back and rejoices safely in the arms of Jesus.

Mim’s viewing and funeral will be held at David’s Community Bible Church on Saturday, April 21 at 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., respectively.

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A worthy contingent of the ‘Pennsylvania Hoys’ in due course made their way to the farmland of north central Indiana. The fertile soil might have put them in mind of Pennsylvania, though it spread north, south, east, and west as far as the eye could see rather than just to the edge of well-weathered mountains with odd names like ‘Mohantonga’.

The winters were in parts savage and benign similarly to those that had bedeviled life back in the Appalachian hills. Yet the names of the neighbors, some of them at any rate, were different. They were English names, like ‘Laturner’. Lydia Hay’s parents still clung to the older spelling of the family name. Born in Wells County, Indiana, Lydia had no memory of Pennsylvania hills. They were as alien to her experience as the Old Country village of Rohrbach, Pfalz, was to her parents, now a generation or two removed from Europe.

Lydia grew up to marry Jesse Franklin Laturner fifteen years after the old men had returned from Gettysburg and other oddly named killing fields. Jesse came into Lydia’s purview as the the son of the splendidly non-Germanic Henry and Nancy Wilcoxson Laturner. Five of their eight children were women.

Of these, three had multiple husbands. The sported names like Sechler, Vagus, McBride, Brand, Holcomb, and Crickmore.

They weren’t in Kansas anymore, these Laturner brides. Empires met, and kissed, in rural Indiana.

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