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Reflecting on a busy summer weekend

August 11, 2008 - Betsy Bethel
— What draws leather-clad bikers, aging hippies, local politicians, college students, families with young children, a mix of local black and white residents of all walks of life, and visitors from Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, California, Illinois, Florida, Maryland, and a dozen other states -- all to one place on the second weekend of August every year? The Heritage Music BluesFest in Wheeling. I love it for the diversity, the music, the food and the fellowship. Congratulations to Bruce Wheeler and his family and crew on their success!

— The Ohio County Relay for Life continues to grow — a bittersweet reality. I haven't been there for about four years because of commitments to the bagpipe band, but this year I made a point to be in town to play "Amazing Grace" during the moving luminaria ceremony Friday night. I was stunned and saddened by the number of bags lining Good Lake — so many that in some places they were doubled up.

Is it me or does it seem that for all the time that has passed and the money that has been raised, there is extremely little progress in beating this evil disease? May God strengthen the afflicted and comfort those who grieve.

— Friends and family are what it's all about. On Friday, my good friend saved us by babysitting Emma at the last minute while Dave went to watch the Steelers game at a friend's and I went to the Relay for Life. On Saturday, a good portion of my extended family gathered at our house for a long overdue reunion. I forgot how much I like these people! On Sunday, dear friends who moved to Maryland earlier this year returned for a brief visit; and, I got to catch up with another friend who moved to New Jersey (in town for the BluesFest). On Friday AND Sunday, I spent some time with a Wheeling friend whom I never see because we're both so busy; it just happened that our calendars collided at the Relay and the BluesFest!

Is it any wonder that so many people become depressed in the winter months? We are kept apart by our children's sports and extracurricular activities, by the uncertainty of the road conditions, by cold days and long, dark nights. At 35, I — who am not and never was a fan of summer's heat — finally understand why people move to the warmer climes. Sunshine brings people together. Sunshine brings freedom.

"I'm gonna soak up the sun

Gonna tell everyone

To lighten up"

-- Sheryl Crow


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