The Week in Photos: October 3, 2013

The visual report for the week of October 3, 2013:

Owna Butler, 94, of Grand Chain, recalls her past while enjoying the warm weather in Grand Chain on Saturday, September 28.  Butler has lived in Southern Illinois for her entire life, attending many of the area schools which are no longer in existence.  "Most of the people and places I know are gone," said Butler.  Butler enjoyed the festivities of Grand Chain Day, electing to tour the town on a horse-drawn carriage.  "I think some people have an understanding with the master upstair," said Butler, referring to her health and life's longevity. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Owna Butler, 94, of Grand Chain, recalls her past while enjoying the warm weather in Grand Chain on Saturday, September 28. Butler has lived in Southern Illinois for her entire life, attending many of the area schools which are no longer in existence. “Most of the people and places I know are gone,” said Butler. Butler enjoyed the festivities of Grand Chain Day, electing to tour the town on a horse-drawn carriage. “I think some people have an understanding with the master upstair,” said Butler, referring to her health and life’s longevity. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
A participant in the Grand Chain Day parade throws candy to children Saturday.  The parade features floats, antique farming equipment, and emergency response vehicles from the area.  Children and parents lined the streets for the chance to behold the many vehicles and collect sugary treats. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
A participant in the Grand Chain Day parade throws candy to children Saturday. The parade features floats, antique farming equipment, and emergency response vehicles from the area. Children and parents lined the streets for the chance to behold the many vehicles and collect sugary treats. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Children line up during the parade on Main Street in Grand Chain on Saturday, September 28. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Children line up during the parade on Main Street in Grand Chain on Saturday, September 28. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Kalyse Davis, 6, of Metropolis looks on in wonderment of a ball floating on a stream of air during Grand Chain Day. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Kalyse Davis, 6, of Metropolis looks on in wonderment of a ball floating on a stream of air during Grand Chain Day. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Children enjoy the bounce house Saturday during Grand Chain Day. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Children enjoy the bounce house Saturday during Grand Chain Day. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen

 

Nadia and Jennifer Bolinger, of Scott City, exit the Grand Chain Jail on Saturday, September 28 during the festivities of Grand Chain Day. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Nadia and Jennifer Bolinger, of Scott City, exit the Grand Chain Jail on Saturday, September 28 during the festivities of Grand Chain Day. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Cheryl Dunaway of the Glory Road Ramblers performs Saturday during Grand Chain Day. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Cheryl Dunaway of the Glory Road Ramblers performs Saturday during Grand Chain Day. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Tom Riston, owner of Tom's place, a popular restaurant in Tamms, clears wreckage from his business.  Tom's Place was the victim of a hit-and-run on September 21.  The Accident has forced his business to close indefinitely.  "If you can't cook you can't have a business," said Riston. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Tom Riston, owner of Tom’s place, a popular restaurant in Tamms, clears wreckage from his business. Tom’s Place was the victim of a hit-and-run on September 21. The Accident has forced his business to close indefinitely. “If you can’t cook you can’t have a business,” said Riston. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Bonnie Riston displays a photo of the fence which was damaged during the September 21 accident.  "We're really just glad nobody got hurt," said Riston. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Bonnie Riston displays a photo of the fence which was damaged during the September 21 accident. “We’re really just glad nobody got hurt,” said Riston. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Week in Photos: September 19, 2013

The visual report for the week of September 19, 2013:

Jermar Mayer plays basketball in the fading sunlight Monday in front of his home in Cairo.  Children from the neighborhood took turns slam dunking the basketball on their miniature hoop while cheering each other on. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen.
Jermar Mayer plays basketball in the fading sunlight Monday in front of his home in Cairo. Children from the neighborhood took turns slam dunking the basketball on their miniature hoop while cheering each other on. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen.
Brandon Webster, 11, describes the sacrifice many soldiers made during their tours of duty in the United States Armed Forces.  "Let us forever remember and never forget their sacrifices," said Webster.   The Cairo V.F.W. hall held a gathering for National P.O.W./M.I.A. Recognition Day.  The Gathering featured Mayor Tyrone Coleman as a guest speaker, the presentation of a flag to a veteran's granddaughter, and a potluck lunch.  The ceremony gave area veterans the chance to socialize with each other and honor their peers; remembering the deeds which have paved the way for America's enduring freedom. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Brandon Webster, 11, describes the sacrifice many soldiers made during their tours of duty in the United States Armed Forces. “Let us forever remember and never forget their sacrifices,” said Webster. The Cairo V.F.W. hall held a gathering for National P.O.W./M.I.A. Recognition Day. The Gathering featured Mayor Tyrone Coleman as a guest speaker, the presentation of a flag to a veteran’s granddaughter, and a potluck lunch. The ceremony gave area veterans the chance to socialize with each other and honor their peers; remembering the deeds which have paved the way for America’s enduring freedom. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Veterans ceremoniously fire rifles outside the Cairo V.F.W. hall as part of Prisoners of War and Missing in Action Recognition Day. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Veterans ceremoniously fire rifles outside the Cairo V.F.W. hall as part of Prisoners of War and Missing in Action Recognition Day. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Mayor Tyrone Coleman addresses the gathering at Cairo's V.F.W. hall.  "Let me remind you that freedom is not free," said Coleman.  Coleman expressed his gratitude and respect for those who have sacrificed to ensure or current standard of life. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Mayor Tyrone Coleman addresses the gathering at Cairo’s V.F.W. hall. “Let me remind you that freedom is not free,” said Coleman. Coleman expressed his gratitude and respect for those who have sacrificed to ensure or current standard of life. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
The P.O.W./M.I.A. Recognition ceremony at the Cairo V.F.W. featured the tradition among veterans of setting an unaccompanied table for one.  The table symbolized the fact that many members of American families are missing due to their involvement in conflicts throughout history. A single slice of lemon is displayed to remind people of the bitter fate that awaits many POWs and those missing in action. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
The P.O.W./M.I.A. Recognition ceremony at the Cairo V.F.W. featured the tradition among veterans of setting an unaccompanied table for one. The table symbolized the fact that many members of American families are missing due to their involvement in conflicts throughout history. A single slice of lemon is displayed to remind people of the bitter fate that awaits many POWs and those missing in action. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
The sky above Cairo is shown on Friday, September 20, 2013.  Friday brought heavy rains with a high of 78 degrees. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
The sky above Cairo is shown on Friday, September 20, 2013. Friday brought heavy rains with a high of 78 degrees. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen

 

 

 

 

The Week in Photos: July 25, 2013

The visual report from the week of July 25, 2013

Shaneka Cannon, right, leads her two children Kamari Mow, middle, and Karmond Mow in reading the Bible July 21 at the First Missionary Baptist Church in Cairo. -- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Shaneka Cannon, right, leads her two children Kamari Mow, middle, and Karmond Mow in reading the Bible July 21 at the First Missionary Baptist Church in Cairo. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Jarvis Woodson, left and Keyonte Graham formulate a rebuttal July 20 during the debate sponsored by the Dusable Museum of African American History and the Amistad Commission in the library in Cairo.--Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Jarvis Woodson, left and Keyonte Graham formulate a rebuttal July 20 during the debate sponsored by the Dusable Museum of African American History and the Amistad Commission in the library in Cairo.–Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
D’Erik Menz, left, Mack Hicks, middle and Monte Ellis- Mitchell consult their notes during a debate July 20 regarding why Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves. Menz’s team argued he did it for moral reasons while Woodson’s team said it was for political reasons. Everyone came out a winner at the event. For their participation, each of the debaters received $150 from the debate’s sponsor, The Dusable Museum of African American History in Chicago. -- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
D’Erik Menz, left, Mack Hicks, middle and Monte Ellis- Mitchell consult their notes during a debate July 20 regarding why Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves. Menz’s team argued he did it for moral reasons while Woodson’s team said it was for political reasons. Everyone came out a winner at the event. For their participation, each of the debaters received $150 from the debate’s sponsor, The Dusable Museum of African American History in Chicago. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Actor Runako Jahi, left, speaks with Preston Ewing July 20 after performing the poem “The Promise” before the Cairo Junior/Senior High School debate at the Cairo Library. During his performance Jahi played an African American soldier fighting for the Union Army in during the Civil War, a role he said he has played several times. Jahi said he has been acting for the last thirty years, predominantly on stage. Jahi currently works as the creative director for the ETA Creative Arts Foundation in Chicago. -- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Actor Runako Jahi, left, speaks with Preston Ewing July 20 after performing the poem “The Promise” before the Cairo Junior/Senior High School debate at the Cairo Library. During his performance Jahi played an African American soldier fighting for the Union Army in during the Civil War, a role he said he has played several times. Jahi said he has been acting for the last thirty years, predominantly on stage. Jahi currently works as the creative director for the ETA Creative Arts Foundation in Chicago. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen

Acting out history

July 20, Runako Jahi got to play a part close to his heart.

Actor Runako Jahi, left, speaks with Preston Ewing July 20 after performing the poem “The Promise” before the Cairo Junior/Senior High School debate at the Cairo Library. During his performance Jahi played an African American soldier fighting for the Union Army in during the Civil War, a role he said he has played several times. Jahi said he has been acting for the last thirty years, predominantly on stage. Jahi currently works as the creative director for the ETA Creative Arts Foundation in Chicago. -- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Actor Runako Jahi, left, speaks with Preston Ewing July 20 after performing the poem “The Promise” before the Cairo Junior/Senior High School debate at the Cairo Library. During his performance Jahi played an African American soldier fighting for the Union Army in during the Civil War, a role he said he has played several times. Jahi said he has been acting for the last thirty years, predominantly on stage. Jahi currently works as the creative director for the ETA Creative Arts Foundation in Chicago. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen

The Week in Photos: July 18, 2013

The visual report from the week of July 18, 2013.

Country Black, left, details his tires July 15 while his younger brother, Malik Reeves takes a break at The Wash in Cairo. Black said he and his brothers try to come out and clean his car once a week. He said the car was in need of some TLC after he and his brothers fished on the Ohio that afternoon. The crew gave the car a thorough cleaning, taking out all the mats to be scrubbed and vacuumed, wiped down and vacuumed the interior and gave the finish a good wash and polish.-- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Country Black, left, details his tires July 15 while his younger brother, Malik Reeves takes a break at The Wash in Cairo. Black said he and his brothers try to come out and clean his car once a week. He said the car was in need of some TLC after he and his brothers fished on the Ohio that afternoon. The crew gave the car a thorough cleaning, taking out all the mats to be scrubbed and vacuumed, wiped down and vacuumed the interior and gave the finish a good wash and polish.– Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Guy Sutton takes his water bottle to be filled July 15 at D Mart in Cairo. Sutton said he does not know his exact age but believes to be in his 90’s. Though he cannot remember how old he is, he does remember where he was born: Memphis. He said he came to Cairo after working for the railroad. Sutton now spends his days riding through town on his bike.  -- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Guy Sutton takes his water bottle to be filled July 15 at D Mart in Cairo. Sutton said he does not know his exact age but believes to be in his 90’s. Though he cannot remember how old he is, he does remember where he was born: Memphis. He said he came to Cairo after working for the railroad. Sutton now spends his days riding through town on his bike. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
D’Eric Menz, left, listens to Brian Brantner July 12 during the first practice for the debate sponsored by the Dusable Museum of African American History and the Amistad Commission in the library in Cairo. Brantner assembled a team of his best minds and best arguers to debate with students from Chicago on the subject of why African American soldiers would have chosen to fight for the Union Army after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. The teams will compete July 20 in the library. -- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
D’Eric Menz, left, listens to Brian Brantner July 12 during the first practice for the debate sponsored by the Dusable Museum of African American History and the Amistad Commission in the library in Cairo. Brantner assembled a team of his best minds and best arguers to debate with students from Chicago on the subject of why African American soldiers would have chosen to fight for the Union Army after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. The teams will compete July 20 in the library. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen

Keeping it clean

Country Black, left, details his tires July 15 while his younger brother, Malik Reeves takes a break at The Wash in Cairo. Black said he and his brothers try to come out and clean his car once a week. He said the car was in need of some TLC after he and his brothers fished on the Ohio that afternoon. The crew gave the car a thorough cleaning, taking out all the mats to be scrubbed and vacuumed, wiped down and vacuumed the interior and gave the finish a good wash and polish.-- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Country Black, left, details his tires July 15 while his younger brother, Malik Reeves takes a break at The Wash in Cairo. Black said he and his brothers try to come out and clean his car once a week. He said the car was in need of some TLC after he and his brothers fished on the Ohio that afternoon. The crew gave the car a thorough cleaning, taking out all the mats to be scrubbed and vacuumed, wiped down and vacuumed the interior and gave the finish a good wash and polish.– Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen

The man with the bike

Guy Sutton takes his water bottle to be filled July 15 at D Mart in Cairo. Sutton said he does not know his exact age but believes to be in his 90’s. Though he cannot remember how old he is, he does remember where he was born: Memphis. He said he came to Cairo after working for the railroad. Sutton now spends his days riding through town on his bike.  -- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Guy Sutton takes his water bottle to be filled July 15 at D Mart in Cairo. Sutton said he does not know his exact age but believes to be in his 90’s. Though he cannot remember how old he is, he does remember where he was born: Memphis. He said he came to Cairo after working for the railroad. Sutton now spends his days riding through town on his bike. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen

The Week in Photos: July 11, 2013

Vera Calhoun-Russell, 104, looks out the window from her bed May 1 in her home in Villa Ridge. Vera’s bed sits less than ten feet from the place she was born. She has lived most of her life in the house, which her father built, and has helped raise many foster children there. Now, in her advanced age, she is the one being taken care of. Her youngest daughter, Janice Russell-Couch lives  with and cares for her mother with the help of her husband, Allen Couch. Because of arthritis in her right knee, Russell has lost her mobility over the last 4 years. So, between Janice and Allen and part-time nursing care, they tend to all Vera’s needs. -- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Vera Calhoun-Russell, 104, looks out the window from her bed May 1 in her home in Villa Ridge. Vera’s bed sits less than ten feet from the place she was born. She has lived most of her life in the house, which her father built, and has helped raise many foster children there. Now, in her advanced age, she is the one being taken care of. Her youngest daughter, Janice Russell-Couch lives with and cares for her mother with the help of her husband, Allen Couch. Because of arthritis in her right knee, Russell has lost her mobility over the last 4 years. So, between Janice and Allen and part-time nursing care, they tend to all Vera’s needs. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Allen Couch, right, attempts to feed Vera Calhoun-Russell, his 104-year-old mother-in-law March 10 in Russell’s home in Villa Ridge. Allen said though he may only be related to Russell through marriage, he still enjoys taking care of her. “It gives me a good feeling inside that I can do for others,”he said. Allen provided similar care to his father for seven years from 1992-1999, so when he married Russell’s daughter, Janice, he was able to step right in and help with her daily routine. -- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Allen Couch, right, attempts to feed Vera Calhoun-Russell, his 104-year-old mother-in-law March 10 in Russell’s home in Villa Ridge. Allen said though he may only be related to Russell through marriage, he still enjoys taking care of her. “It gives me a good feeling inside that I can do for others,”he said. Allen provided similar care to his father for seven years from 1992-1999, so when he married Russell’s daughter, Janice, he was able to step right in and help with her daily routine. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Allen Couch, middle, and Janice Russell-Couch, left, load their trunk with groceries while 104-year-old Vera Calhoun Russell waits in the car March 30 at Wal-Mart in Sikeston, Mo. Despite her age and lack of mobility, Russell often goes on trips, both big and small, with her daughter Janice and son-in-law Allen, be it to the grocery store, visiting family out of state or even just for a drive. Janice said traveling has always been something Russell has enjoyed doing. Allen said she does well with knowing where she is when they travel and often reads the signs along the road. There is one sign Allen said she never misses and that is the golden arches of McDonald’s. -- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Allen Couch, middle, and Janice Russell-Couch, left, load their trunk with groceries while 104-year-old Vera Calhoun Russell waits in the car March 30 at Wal-Mart in Sikeston, Mo. Despite her age and lack of mobility, Russell often goes on trips, both big and small, with her daughter Janice and son-in-law Allen, be it to the grocery store, visiting family out of state or even just for a drive. Janice said traveling has always been something Russell has enjoyed doing. Allen said she does well with knowing where she is when they travel and often reads the signs along the road. There is one sign Allen said she never misses and that is the golden arches of McDonald’s. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Allen Couch, right, waits with Vera Calhoun-Russell June 19 at Cape Foot Clinic in Cape Girardeau, Mo. Allen said caring for his 104-year-old mother-in-law is a task he is honored to do. He said when he fell in love with his wife, Janice Russell-Couch, he knew he was there to be with her and help her care for her mother. “It’s like God said, ‘This is where you belong. You are needed there,’” Allen said. -- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Allen Couch, right, waits with Vera Calhoun-Russell June 19 at Cape Foot Clinic in Cape Girardeau, Mo. Allen said caring for his 104-year-old mother-in-law is a task he is honored to do. He said when he fell in love with his wife, Janice Russell-Couch, he knew he was there to be with her and help her care for her mother. “It’s like God said, ‘This is where you belong. You are needed there,’” Allen said. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Luke Mitchell readies barbecue to be sold July 4 in Tamms. Mitchell said he and the other firemen working the pit had been cooking pork butts and shoulders for 24 hours. He also said the pits they were using are more than 50-years-old. -- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Luke Mitchell readies barbecue to be sold July 4 in Tamms. Mitchell said he and the other firemen working the pit had been cooking pork butts and shoulders for 24 hours. He also said the pits they were using are more than 50-years-old. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen

Her Turn

Vera Calhoun-Russell, 104, looks out the window from her bed May 1 in her home in Villa Ridge. Vera’s bed sits less than ten feet from the place she was born. She has lived most of her life in the house, which her father built, and has helped raise many foster children there. Now, in her advanced age, she is the one being taken care of. Her youngest daughter, Janice Russell-Couch lives  with and cares for her mother with the help of her husband, Allen Couch. Because of arthritis in her right knee, Russell has lost her mobility over the last 4 years. So, between Janice and Allen and part-time nursing care, they tend to all Vera’s needs. -- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Vera Calhoun-Russell, 104, looks out the window from her bed May 1 in her home in Villa Ridge. Vera’s bed sits less than ten feet from the place she was born. She has lived most of her life in the house, which her father built, and has helped raise many foster children there. Now, in her advanced age, she is the one being taken care of. Her youngest daughter, Janice Russell-Couch lives with and cares for her mother with the help of her husband, Allen Couch. Because of arthritis in her right knee, Russell has lost her mobility over the last 4 years. So, between Janice and Allen and part-time nursing care, they tend to all Vera’s needs. See the bottom of the story for more photos. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen

 

Vera Calhoun-Russell sleeps soundly just ten feet from where she was born more than 100 years ago in a house her father built on a hill in Villa Ridge.

Despite losing her husband to World War II before having children of their own, Vera took in and cared for others for most of her adult life.

“We went to church every Sunday and there was no excuse about not going,” Vera’s youngest daughter, Janice Russell-Couch said. “She will tell you about the old days, when they come back to her memory.”

Born January 15, 1909 to parents Pearl and Ralph Calhoun, Vera was the seventh of eight children. She ended a 20-year teaching career she held in Chicago to return to Villa Ridge and help her parents take care of the house and family.  She has not left since.

“She says, ‘I have been here a long time,’ and I say, ‘Yes you have,’” Janice said of her 104-year-old mother. “She has her good days and her bad days.”

Signs of dementia began to set in around 2004, said Janice, adding that she had to learn to accept that her mother was not as strong or able as she once was.

“I always see it this way,” Janice said.  “She took care of me when I was little, so now it is my turn to make sure I take care of her.”

The room in which Vera stays is filled with family photos and artifacts. Hung above her head is a painted portrait of her father, Ralph Calhoun, who built the family home, and across the room is her high school diploma, presented to her June 16, 1923.  She often tells stories of the “old days,” of picking strawberries, raising children and preparing family meals.

“Mom was a fun person. She liked to do things. She liked to travel,” Janice said. “She always told us you had to work hard for your money.”

As an avid gardener and independent person, it was not easy for Vera to give up doing for herself.  Throughout her life, she took in and brought up more than ten children, some for only a few months or a few years, but others she raised through to adulthood.  Despite the change in their roles as caretakers, her daughter Janice still sees Vera as a caring mother who was firm but loving.

“When you love somebody and help somebody that can’t take care of themselves, that’s just a blessing,” Janice said, adding,  “One day you are going to be blessed for helping them.”

In 2000, Vera learned of her daughter’s husband-to-be, Allen Couch.

“She wanted to make sure Allen would take care of me,” Janice said.

The two married in 2005 and for Janice the role of caretaker now took on a new meaning: co-caretaker. When they met, Janice was finishing a master’s degree in education, working as a Pre-K teacher for Meridian School District and took care of her mother on her own.  After they married, Allen took on many of the tasks Janice previously juggled to complete.

“Most of the things I have done in my life were basically for me,” Allen said.  “But, when I began to care for other people, I found that this is what I am good at doing.”

Allen said it was love that drew him to Janice; however, her situation was one he identified with and his affection for her grew out of her passion and commitment to helping her mother.

“It’s like God said, ‘This is where you belong. You are needed there,’” he said.  “I accepted it very easily.”

Allen said he has grown to love and care for Vera as his own mother, whom he lost soon after he and Janice began dating.  No stranger to the difficulties of caring for an elderly parent, Allen said he brought solace to Janice’s hectic life.

“It was easier for me because I [did] this kind of live-in and health aid for other people … and then, dealing with my mom and my dad.”Allen said.  He he understood what she was going through.

Today, the couple continues to care for Vera but recently she qualified for 30 hours a week of in-home care through Shawnee Development Council and Medicare, allowing them to pursue activities previously difficult to maintain.  While Allen often spends time with family in Tennessee and Janice maintains an active role in church and work, one always remains available for Vera.

Janice said her mother often says something in preparing her for the inevitable.

“She will say, ‘I’m not going to be here long with you, my days are numbered,’” Janice said. “I think about it. I know one day she is not going to be here.”

At 104 years old, Vera’s regular check ups provide her with a clean bill of health each time.  While she lost much of her mobility four years ago and spends most of her days in bed, other than arthritis in her knees, she has no other chronic medical problems.

Allen said spending time with Vera has helped him put his own life into perspective.

“We don’t realize how blessed we are that we are able to get up and walk out of the house and come back in and fix our food and go to the bathroom when we want to,” Allen said.  “So she really makes you think about how blessed and how thankful we should be.”

A typical day in the Russell-Couch household starts before the sun rises. Prayers are said and breakfast is made. Allen and Janice help bathe and dress Vera before her home care workers arrive by 9 a.m. When Allen is at home, he will often stay on to help the nurses throughout the day while Janice is working or running errands.  For many, providing such intimate care for an in-law would be difficult, said Allen, adding he finds it an honor to be able to tend to her.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,” Allen said, quoting a Bible verse from the book of Ephesians. He said prayer is a big part of Vera’s life, too.

“Sometimes she will be in pain and she will say, ‘I’m praying that God will come here and take this away from me,’” Allen said. “I think that is what [keeps] her here today, her faithfulness and trust in God taking care of her.”He said Vera enjoys hearing him read from the Bible and hearing his prayers. “One thing that she does remember …  is who God is.”

Janice recalls those Sundays when she and her family would walk from their house to the nearby Methodist church, which now sits on her family’s property. She would sit in the pew, her and her siblings in handmade dress clothes, listening to the sermon as one big family.

“She talks about how good God has been to her,” Janice said, not wanting to dwell on Vera’s next step.

“It will be a difficult thing whenever it happens,” Allen said, though he trusts in God to do what is best.

“God knows what he is doing,” he said.

–Isaac Smith can be reached at (618)-734-4242

Keeping it low and slow

Luke Mitchell readies barbecue to be sold July 4 in Tamms. Mitchell said he and the other firemen working the pit had been cooking pork butts and shoulders for 24 hours. He also said the pits they were using are more than 50-years-old. -- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Luke Mitchell readies barbecue to be sold July 4 in Tamms. Mitchell said he and the other firemen working the pit had been cooking pork butts and shoulders for 24 hours. He also said the pits they were using are more than 50-years-old. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen