Volume 12, No. 6
In Fond Memory of Dave Marks – Jane Boswell
Our dear friend and homeschool advocate, Dave Marks passed away on August 6 after a long struggle with leukemia.
Each of us that has relied on his books, or has practiced the common-sense wisdom gleaned from his articles, or has had the privilege to hear him speak at conferences all over the United States will miss him.
I first met Dave at one of the earliest homeschool conferences I coordinated in the Detroit, Michigan area. At that time,“Family Times” was a very tiny, typewritten hand-out of sorts. I’d just finished passing it out to interested exhibitors when suddenly, a man’s voice shouted after me as I walked away from the exhibit area, “Who wrote this piece here??” he demanded. I turned to see Dave, striding briskly toward me, waving the newsletter above his head. My first thought, “Uh oh, now what?... Swallowing hard, I stammered, “I did, is something wrong?” Then his face softened into a charming smile and he calmly said, “Oh no, this is very good - really good!” More relieved than you can imagine, but embarassed all the same, I quickly thanked him and then turned away before he saw my cheeks flushed hot and red. I’m sure he must have considered me very rude.
After regaining some composure, I returned to apologize, and politely looked at his Writing Strands books. (Which I later bought for my own children.) Soon, we were engaged in lengthy discussion. Within minutes I knew exactly where he stood on “the essentials of reading, critical thinking and writing and the less-than-useful place for grammar in the great scheme of all things dealing with the writing process.” Always full of questions, I remember him asking me what I thought parents needed most to help them teach their children writing. (Of course, he was asking every parent this question.) I suggested that he needed to write another book to help parents evaluate their child’s writing. He thought that might be a good idea and though it took him longer than I liked, he did write it. (Evaluating Writing)
When “Family Times” went to tabloid format and began a nation-wide circulation around 1991, I asked Dave if he would “write something” for it - and he did and that just sort of continued. We never had a formal agreement and he always supported us with paid advertising and much needed encouragement.
If you’ve ever read his columns or books, you’ll see how greatly he valued an honest character, integrity, courage, and determination. If he didn’t like something, he’d say so. You always knew where you stood with Dave. Honesty and trustworthiness were important to him and he wanted to pass those traits on to the younger generation. He did this in a unique way through many of his creative writing lessons and especially in his “Dragonslaying is for Dreamers” trilogy of novels.
Although he loved a well crafted plot, working diligently to teach wordsmithing to students, he understood that at the heart of teaching – mentoring – is the passing on of life’s important values. He taught it, he wrote it into everything he published and he lived it.
This year, while he was battling leukemia, Dave sent me articles for publication almost weekly until early summer. And I will publish them per his request. They are some of his best. He has entrusted his work to his wife, Lea and a family that he cherished. He would always speak proudly of his son, Corey, and his achievements as a poet, writer and teacher. Dave wrote poems too, did you know? He wrote and published a small book of poems which he dedicated to his grand daughter and sent me a copy earlier this year.
I took the liberty of selecting one for you to read. He and his wife Lea moved to Grand Marais, one of the most northernmost towns in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Their house faced beautiful Lake Superior. He loved it there and his book of poetry, Snapshots of the North, are his vivid word pictures of this intensely beautiful and wild area of our country.
Leaving the rumors of wars,
Corporate scams and
Stock market swings
Was a dream.
No longer would we be witness to
The world of competition.
Now we sit at the table
And watch through the glass door
The carnival on the deck
And between our house
And the beach.
As the sky’s dark line on the water
Following the bank,
Crosses our property,
Lean, gray and intense,
Long nose leading close-set eyes
This morning it was tracked
By a fox,
Red, bushy tail hanging down and
Black nose held to the ground.
Two red squirrels fight
Over the bird feeder,
And both protect those riches
Fram a small, pillaging chipmunk
Who steals the nuts and seeds
And stuffs its cheeks till they bulge
Like the pillowcase sack of a burglar.
A male hummingbird
Guards the red sugar-water feeder
From two females.
He’s at his station
Vigilant and vibrating
Every day, all day.
Blue jays drive the smaller birds away.
But all scatter
When an eagle,
Following the shoreline,
Casts its shadow across the deck.
We moved to the big lake
And still live with that dream.
by Dave Marks, 1930 - 2004
Actually, there are a few things that we CAN do. First of all, we can remove a few items from our "to-do" list. If the pantry is empty and the kitchen floor is dirty, choose to do the shopping instead of the cleaning (the floor can wait, but empty tummies cannot). If you're in the middle of ironing and your husband calls and wants to meet you and the kiddies for lunch, take him up on it (this is the stuff that memories are made of - ironing will always be there). In other words, we don't have to do it "all" every single day.
Secondly, we can make ourselves AS MUCH of a priority as everything else we do. If you know that giving all five of your children a bath will deplete your hot water supply for the evening, bathe only the dirtiest ones so that you can enjoy a bubble bath after they're all in bed (no, the Health Department won't come knocking at your door). If you know that you are going to need some "down time" in the afternoon after a busy morning, don't promise your children a trip to the park. Allow yourself to be AS IMPORTANT as everyone else in your family.
Thirdly - and this one's a biggie - enlist your husband's help. I know, I know...this is often more easily said than done. Most husbands don't eagerly skip through the door each evening, grab a fresh apron, and exclaim, "Hello, Darling! I'm ready to dig right in! You go paint your nails while I finish dinner, bathe the children, and re-hang the curtains in the living room." (I'd be rather frightened if mine did that.) Still, it's important for us to let our husbands know what we need, and to ask them in simple, direct questions that aren't demanding, authoritative, or manipulative:
"Will you please feed the baby her carrots while I finish supper?"
"I need you to tuck the children in tonight so that I can get an early start on these invitations."
"Can we please go out to dinner tonight? I'm too tired to cook."
Men won't respond to nagging, barking, whining, or yelling. (I should know...I've tried them all.) They also don't need to hear a long list of reasons WHY you feel they should be helping: "I am with the children twenty-four hours a day and I do everything. I cook, I clean, I wipe their stinky bottoms. I walk the dog and wash the windows and bake cookies for the neighbor's grandmother and you're never even here when I do all these things. The children aren't even going to RECOGNIZE you if you don't start getting involved with them, so I need you to get in there and BE A DAD."
Nope, that's not going to work for you.
Gently and directly tell him what your needs are. Give him a chance to get comfortable doing the things that you normally do. And don't expect him to do them exactly the way you do - he won't. And if you try to correct him, chances are he won't be willing to do it for you the next time. And if, after following all these recommendations, you are STILL feeling tired - pat yourself on the back. You're a full-time mom (and some of you are pursuing a career at home as well!), and feeling tired is, somehow, a mark of your success. If you weren't expending so much energy, you wouldn't feel so tired - and you probably wouldn't be a very good mom, either. When our children are grown and we once again have the leisure to nod off in the afternoons, we may actually miss that constant demand on our attention.
Until the phone rings and our grown daughter asks if we can watch her toddler for a few hours. "Not today," we politely say. "I'm taking a nap."
Copyright © 2002 - 2004, Jill Schafer Boehme All rights reserved. Used with permission. Originally published at Suite101.com.
About the author: .
Jill Schafer Boehme, homeschooling mother of four, is the author of MY LIMA BEANS ARE ALLERGIC TO MY SPOON, humorous and encouraging stories for the stay-at-home mom, and editor of MOMMY! The Internet Lifeline for At-home Moms, a free E-zine filled with laughter and encouragement for women who are at home with their children. To read the current issue of MOMMY! visit:
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