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Celebrating his life

When death hits a family, how they react partly depends on culture and family tradition. In the last few years, I’ve attended a three-day long visitation followed by a formal presentation, a crying fest in someone’s backyard and a clubhouse party of eats and greets. The Swopes have chosen to celebrate Dad’s passing in much the same way as he lived his life: in quiet dignity.

Like all people, Dad could rant and rave when he was passionate about a topic. But he did so only in front of family and a few friends. I cannot honestly remember him telling someone off. When we were growing up, mom’s biggest threat was, “wait until your father gets home,” but nothing ever happened once that big event arrived. Dad never raised a hand to strike anyone in his life that I know of, and though I suspect he would have defended anyone he loved that was threatened, God spared him that necessity.genildad

I guess if I had to describe who Robert Swope was, I would use the words “respectful” and “respected.” He looked for the good in everyone to a level that caused him some pain in his life. But he also garnered respect himself because he was persistent in believing in the value of people and of his community. He believed in Edgerton—its school and its sports teams and its businesses. He believed in his country (though Democrats and Congress were two of the things he did rave about). He believed in his church and its ability to heal and support. He believed in his partner in marriage and loved her deeply. And he believed in the rest of his family—from the brother in Texas who he worried about even when he was in the middle of the fog of Alzheimers to his kids, whose names he could not remember at the end, but whose smiles and faces he would not forget. He knew who was family.

The world could use more people like my Dad: there are just too many people who believe in nothing or, even worse, believe they need to tell the rest of society how to live. He was an idealist, not a realist, but the world needs more people who haven’t been sullied by bitterness or ego.

I had the rare privilege of following my father around Edgerton a few summers as he “called upon” potential advertisers and editorial sources. I was still in college, and the experience has been one I’ve carried close to my heart ever since. What I saw as he talked to people was that, through his friendly attitude, his inquiries about their well-being and business, and his respect for their time, he had gained respect in turn.

There will be no grand speeches at Krill Funeral Home June 20 as we memorialize Bob Swope. Only the family members who loved him fiercely and some of the people in his hometown whose lives he touched. Dad would not want a fuss—he’d just want us all there.

Genilee Swope Parentedad and sondra

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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The intersection of small town and psychology

When people ask me who I am―not as in “what’s your name” or even “what do you do for living”―but more like: what is the essence of Genilee? I often say, “a small town gal.” That generates a lot of raised eyebrows and scratched heads. Although half the population of the U.S. lives in a municipal unit of less than 25,000, people from cities as big as where I live now—the DC area―do not understand what I mean. This is partly because many of those “units” in this area of the country are suburbs.Edgerton-sign-resized

But I was raised in what is traditionally thought of as Small Town USA complete with a main street, a gazebo and railroad tracks. The biggest controversy to hit my town (Edgerton, Ohio) when I was a newspaper reporter there was the moving of the town’s statue from the intersection of two busy state roads to the park.

I am proud of coming from the village of Edgerton, where I graduated in 1972 with a record whopping 70-plus classmates. And I offer condolences to those who did not have this upbringing. This is because one of the things I’ve decided is that small towns can be good for the psyche. How did I learn this wondrous fact? By having two best friends who decided to go into psychology.

Going through life with two friends in this field has presented some interesting challenges and discussion. These are two of the people I love the most—strong women with strong opinions, dedication to their field. But to have friends that have made psychology their passion requires getting past the point of feeling like you’re being analyzed. I did. And I listened as they discussed fascinating concepts and experts they’d studied and shared real-life stories about people with issues. All of these talks have showed me how very un-crazy I am, and I credit at least part of that sanity to a simple upbringing.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that there are plenty of people with psychological problems that live in small towns. But the few I remember from growing up in my area of the world were taken care of by their neighbors. The main difference I see in people who are city-raised as opposed to village-raised is tolerance. There’s a give and take to small towns that I don’t see in city people. I suspect this has to do with the simple reality that when you have fewer people surrounding you each day, it’s harder to just ignore someone who rubs you the wrong way. You learn better and quicker how to adjust. When you grow up amid thousands of people in a city, you can insult someone to their face, then never see them again. When the number of people in your school and your town is limited, I think you become more accountable for everyday actions and how they’ll affect your relationships going forward.

I know this is an idealistic view and that there are many other factors that affect my mental health, but when it comes to my hometown, I will fully admit to wearing rose-colored glasses. And if those glasses are not fashionable, I don’t care, and I know the people back home in Edgerton won’t care. They’ll accept me anyway.

 

Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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It’s a Community Thing …

Several significant events happened since mom wrote the last blog that illustrate the rewards of being an author:

I flipped up the front page of my hometown newspaper, The Edgerton Earth, to see a bottom page spread covering our Twist of Fate book series. People who know me really well understand why that’s such a thrill. When your roots are firmly entrenched in a small town, you measure much of what happens in your life against the values you grew up with … in my life (and mom and dad’s for that matter), many of those values came from close interaction with our neighbors, classmates, friends in Edgerton. It’s true what they say about small towns: everyone knows your business. But it’s also true that when Earth logopeople need help or support, there is usually some other resident in town who comes to their aid (Yep, there’s Verna again … and the many small things Doug and Becky Mavis did for classmate Steve come to mind.). I loved growing up in Edgerton, and it will always be part of who I am and part of my writing. Since dad was the editor of The Edgerton Earth for many years and mom was a columnist as well as business manager, the town’s paper is in my blood. Current editor Cindy Thiel did a great job of capturing what it’s been like to become a writing family.CLICK HERE TO SEE ARTICLE

Mom and I also met a week ago with the Scarlett Hatter’s book club in Woodbridge. Their candid comments and generous praise for the story were inspiring and eye-opening. I was heartened to hear that no one knew for sure who the villain was. And I was glad to get some feedback that will help us craft future stories. But even more

scarlett hatters

than that, the joie de vivre of that group of ladies, who meet frequently to give each other support and make each other laugh, is encouraging. Like living in a small town, they have found a community in each other, and they are lucky to have that shared bond.

Finally, Twist of Fate has become Spectacle Publishing Media Group’s number one seller! Thanks to our readers for making our dreams come true.

Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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