Constance Alexander: ‘Tis the season to celebrate simple gifts, the ones we cherish most

From the North Pole to South, coast to coast, and border to border, 2017 has had its ups and downs. Violence blazes in far reaches of the globe, and millions can be vaporized with the flick of a finger. Voices worldwide are raised in dissent and disharmony. Hardly a joyful noise, the result is cacophony. Closer to home, debates about a library addition, a payroll tax, and the state pension fiasco have...

Constance Alexander: From fit to spry in the blink of an eye — but assuring you, Paul McCartney lives

Two good habits, maybe three, are all I can boast: Wearing a seat belt, not smoking, and maintaining a regular regimen of jogging. Since these practices are part of my routine, I don’t think about them much. Up until last Friday, in fact, I considered myself reasonably fit. But now that has changed. Please let me explain. It was an annual wellness visit, and I was chatting with the health care professional...

Constance Alexander: ‘Kennedy Comes to Kentucky’ exhibit explores JFK’s visit to western part of state

The trees were almost bare and mornings had slipped into a seasonal chill, but that day was warm and sunny, a sweet burst of sweater weather in late November. At lunchtime, we walked outside, chatting with friends about the upcoming weekend, the senior play, and festivities leading up to the annual homecoming football game on Thanksgiving. When the bell rang, it was on to Mr. Abrahamson’s U.S. History...

Constance Alexander: Celebrating many happy Thanksgiving memories, past, present and future

I remember the year my sister dropped the turkey on the kitchen floor, as she was transferring it from roasting pan to platter. We invoked the 3-second rule and swore each other to secrecy, so my mother never found out. Whew! Making the gravy was always my least favorite part of the traditional meal preparation. No matter how careful you were to stir properly, lumps of flour lurked at the bottom of...

Alexander sworn in as new president of Kentucky Historical Society Governing Board

Constance Alexander, a writer and business consultant from Murray, was recently sworn in as president of the governing board of the Kentucky Historical Society (KHS). After she took the oath of office, as administered by Judge Phillip J. Shepherd, at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History in Frankfort, she outlined her goals for the coming year emphasizing the connections between poetry and...

Constance Alexander: ‘Music Alive’ program offers hope to Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers alike

More than 5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s, and more than 15 million are providing unpaid care for them. Total up the cost, and it is estimated that the 18.2 billion hours of unpaid care and assistance to those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia contribute a whopping $230.1 billion to the nation. If those numbers are not enough to get your attention, get a load of this: •...

Constance Alexander: When it comes to end-of-life decisions, it’s important for patients to have control

When my mother hit her mid-80s, she told me – in no uncertain terms – that if she was diagnosed with cancer, that was it. She did not want to live out her last days suffering through debilitating treatment. “Enough’s enough,” she said in a determined, no-nonsense tone. Mother never had to make that choice, but if she had, I hope my family could have been as resilient and supportive as the...

Constance Alexander: Sexual harassment, assault are rampant, but “Me too” starts with one voice

When I posted a “Me Too” invitation on my Facebook page last week, the replies about women’s experiences with sexual harassment, assault, and rape were overwhelming. From Main Street to Madison Avenue, the voices are legion. Most had been taught that girls are meant to be seen and not heard. That is why one of my responders, only 10 at the time, was shocked and confused when a stranger put his...

Constance Alexander: Marshall County native Gilliard Ross provides vivid images of Murray’s past

According to the nursery rhyme that begins, “Monday’s child is fair of face,” the baby born on Friday is “loving and giving.” And while Mother Goose’s predictions have been wrong countless times, she was absolutely right when it came to Gillard Ross, born in Marshall County Ky., nearly one hundred years ago on Friday, April 12, 1918. Better known to people in Calloway County as Popeye,...

Calloway County community reading event to focus on Jackson’s classic short story “The Lottery”

According to American transcendentalist philosopher and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” When those minds form groups blindly devoted to “the way we’ve always done it,” it can lead to rituals that have lost their meaning and actually harm passive participants, according to Murray poet and writer Constance Alexander. On Thursday, October...

Constance Alexander: Cancer no longer a word that must be spoken in a whisper or with shame

When I was in fifth grade, my mother had cancer. The three older children in the family were already out of the house – two in college, and the oldest married with one little girl. Still at home, my sister Jeanne and I were left to tread the tides that churned up daily turmoil and intermittent confusion about what it meant for a family to contend with serious illness. After all these years, it is...

Constance Alexander: Early cancer detection, affordable health care matter to all women

She stood on the porch of her trailer, hugging herself against the autumn chill. The scarf coiled around her head, turban-like, was splashed with purple, fuchsia, and rivers of green. Her hands fluttered to straighten the scarf and check the swell of its silken knot, as I pulled into the gravel drive. “You found me,” she called. Her directions had listed a few landmarks on a winding country road...

Constance Alexander: It takes a tragedy to get the rest of us to learn our history about Puerto Rico

On a porch overlooking a landscape of lush, tropical vegetation, she sits in a graceful wrought iron rocking chair. The Kindle on her lap indicates that she may have been reading before the person with the camera called her name. “Marisel,” the voice might have beckoned. “Look here.” The picture is snapped before her smile fully blossoms. She is relaxed, comfortable and happy to be among family...

Constance Alexander: Accordion book project allows participants to share a few of their favorite things

No one mentioned raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens, but David confessed a preference for TV westerns, while Benjamin admitted football and bowling were among his favorite things. The other participants – Taylor, Bobby, Brian, Delbert, John, Margaret and Rita Ann – were also eager to talk about what they enjoyed as they prepared for a bookmaking workshop last week at Murray’s WATCH, Inc. A...

Constance Alexander: What Kentucky needs is more college graduates, commitment to lifelong learning

My parents believed girls were best suited to teaching or nursing, and boys to engineering. As a result, my oldest sister became a nurse, and my big brother went off to college as an engineering major. The remaining three Alexander girls majored in education, mostly at my mother’s insistence that women had to have something “to fall back on,” like in the game of Monopoly, a sort of “Get out...

Constance Alexander: In Country uses fiction and fact to make a connection between past, present

The first page of Bobbie Ann Mason’s novel, “In Country,” was my informal orientation to Kentucky. Samantha Hughes, the main character, was en route from the Bluegrass State to Washington DC with her grandmother and her Uncle Emmett to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Five lines down from the beginning, the word “Mamaw” jumped off the page. Then a few paragraphs down, Stuckey’s and...

Constance Alexander: Mosaic garden project helps ensure that adults with disabilities are not overlooked

Debi Henry Danielson places a box of 3 by 6-inch blocks on the table and says, “I can’t wait to start piecing it together.” Neither can her volunteers from Murray’s WATCH Inc., a local organization that assists adults with disabilities in becoming fully integrated into the community. They are working on pieces of a community mosaic — a garden of sorts — that will be on permanent...

Constance Alexander: Film inspired by Kentucky writer Wendell Berry commands us to “Look & See”

“Is there a way to go back?” was the first question posed by a member of the audience after a recent one-time screening at Paducah’s Maiden Alley Cinema of “Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry.” The provocative documentary featuring the renowned Kentucky writer, poet, teacher, farmer, and outspoken citizen of a lost landscape, begins with Berry’s lyrical narration of lines from...

Constance Alexander: Memorial honors unity, glory of one of the first African American regiments

At first, Robert Gould Shaw was reluctant to accept an appointment to lead the Massachusetts 54th Infantry, one of the first African American regiments in the Civil War. Often described as the pampered son of a wealthy abolitionist Boston family, Gould attended Harvard from 1856 to 1859. Instead of completing his studies, he traveled around Europe and, as young people are sometimes wont to wonder,...

Murray writer, KyForward columnist Alexander selected for Humanities Council roster

Constance Alexander, award-winning writer and civic journalist from Murray, is on the 2017-18 Kentucky Humanities Council Speakers Bureau. This is the seventh year Alexander has been tapped as a featured presenter, available to community groups in Kentucky. The booking fee for non-profit organizations is $175 with for-profits at $300. Alexander, who writes a weekly column that appears on KyForward,...