Thursday, November 14, 2013

A TRIBUTE TO MY FRIEND, MAY KINCHELOE

May Kincheloe
August 20, 1920---June 10, 2013

           Did you ever meet someone with whom you felt a kinship right away? Well, I did. Her name was May Kincheloe. Little did I realize that autumn evening in 1975 the influence this woman would have in my life.

          Soon after we moved to Twin Falls, ID, we applied to be foster parents. A social worker named Erma Shropshire asked May to give me a ride to a foster parents’ meeting. After the meeting, May and I sat in her car in front of my house and talked for over an hour.
        I can’t really say what it was that made me feel close to this woman I had just met; but I felt comfortable with her and felt I could talk about anything. Maybe it was because she was the same age as my oldest sister or maybe it was our mutual love of children. Whatever it was, it was the beginning of a wonderful friendship that lasted more than three decades.
           When I met her, May and her husband, Harvie, had reared their three children who were all married with their own children. As empty-nesters, May and Harvie became foster parents and they had a small in-home daycare as well.
          As I became acquainted with her,
I learned that May was injured in a sand hill cave-in as a girl and the doctors told her she wouldn’t be able to have children. After she married Harvie, she prayed that God to give her children if she’d be a good mother. God blessed May and Harvie with three children, sons Jim and Bob and daughter Jessie. May was so grateful to God for allowing her to be a mother and she said it was her duty to nurture as many children as she could in gratitude for that blessing.

          When Wayne was placed with them as a very young foster child, the social worker told May and Harvie not to expect him to achieve much. The doctor who delivered him thought he had little or no brain because his mother used drugs and alcohol throughout the pregnancy.

           May was up for this challenge. Within a couple of weeks, she had Wayne putting together simple jigsaw puzzles. She worked with him every day and he responded well to her nurturing. Against the odds, Wayne did indeed learn and he amazed the doctor who thought he had little or no brain. May insisted Wayne be challenged to learn everything he possibly could.

          May and Harvie agonized about whether it was a good thing to adopt Domingo and Wayne, both special needs foster children who were placed with them. They were concerned that it wouldn’t be fair to these boys to have such old parents. At the time, May was in her mid-fifties and Harvie was a little older. After a few weeks of struggling with the issue, they decided these boys needed parents who would give them the time and attention they needed. Therefore, they adopted the two boys. They were willing to give those boys the time and energy they needed and a stable home with parents who loved them.

          When they decided that Domingo and Wayne needed to experience an airplane ride, May took them on a flight from Twin Falls to Boise while Harvie drove to Boise to bring them home. They were willing to sacrifice to see that these boys had opportunities to grow and learn new things. They bought an old used camper to take the boys camping and they enjoyed many family outings in that old camper.  

          When Wayne started school, May insisted that they place him in a regular classroom. She did not want him placed in a special education class. She believed a special education teacher would have low expectations for Wayne and that he would learn little. All through his schooling, she insisted his teachers challenge him and expect him to learn. She saw him through school and saw him graduate from high school and successfully work in a rehabilitation workshop for challenged individuals.

          When we adopted our children, May became their foster grandmother. She made time to do grandmotherly things with them even though she had plenty to do with her daycare and with Domingo and Wayne to care for. She always found time for what she felt was important.

          I learned many things from May about working with children that helped me with my own children. She was my friend, a surrogate mother, an older sister, and a mentor. We  laughed together. We cried together. We talked about anything and everything. We even went to see Fried Green Tomatoes and Thelma and Louise together.  

          The last time I saw May was about four years ago. I was visiting in Twin Falls and I visited her in the memory care facility where she was living because dementia had ravaged her mind. Although she wasn’t able to converse much, I believe she did recognize me that day. She kept patting my arm and kept saying to the caregiver, “My friend, my friend.” 

          Although I had prayed a couple of years for May to be released from the bonds of this earth and her dementia, it has been hard for me to say goodbye to my special friend. It has helped me to think of how happy she must be in heaven where her memory is restored and she is praising God around the throne with all the Saints. 
           Goodbye, My Friend! You left your footprints on my heart.

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