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Archive for December, 2009

92-Year-Old Takes the Ride of Her Life

92-Year-Old Takes the Ride of Her Life

A daring great-grandmother earns her wings



We’ve all been taught to respect our elders, but 92-year-old Jane Bockstruck
surely deserves our admiration, too.

Bockstruck, who lives in the western New Hampshire town of Swanzey, celebrated her most recent birthday by dropping 13,000 feet out of an airplane.

So, what made her do it?

“I don’t know what gave me the idea, but I thought, ‘I guess I’ll jump out of a plane.’ Then I stuck with the story and did it,” Bockstruck told The Associated Press after her 120-mph tandem free fall in Orange, Massachusetts. “But it’s scary. It’s scary mostly when you get up there getting ready to go out the door.”

After going out the door and making it safely to the ground, Bockstruck’s instructor, Paul Peckham Jr., decided that the daring great-grandmother deserved much more than just a certificate. So the former Air Force combat controller cut the parachutist wings he had sewn 30 years ago on his own helmet bag and gave them to his student.

“These silver wings represent courage, and you certainly displayed that today,” Peckham told her.

Said Bockstruck of the jump, which she accomplished in front of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren: “It was nice. It was quite windy and cold, but we had a lot of clothes on. Of course, if you’ve got somebody with you, it’s a little warmer. You know, two of us.”

Their outing lasted roughly 10 minutes. “She was asking, ‘Where’s the landing area?’ I pointed down to the airport,” Peckham said. “I pointed out the Quabbin Reservoir and Mount Monandnock and the Berkshire Mountains. She acknowledged they were there; she could see them.”

She started waving to her family between 4,000 and 5,000 feet.

Peckham said he has seen people much younger balk at the prospect of skydiving.

“She knew exactly what she was doing,” he said. “I’m sure she was nervous
and anxious and possibly a little afraid. She went ahead and did it. I call that courage.”


Nursing Moses: Moms step in after infant’s mother dies

Nursing Moses: Moms step in after infant’s mother dies

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

(CNN) — The day Charles Moses Martin Goodrich entered the world, a new community was conceived.

As the newborn breathed in life, his mother, Susan Goodrich, began to die. Less than 12 hours after having her son, the 46-year-old mother of four was gone. The cause was a rare amniotic fluid embolism.

It was January 2009, and shell-shocked widower Robbie Goodrich was forced to immediately think of the baby’s most basic need: milk.

For $5 an ounce, he could have purchased frozen donor breast milk, the kind of sustenance he knew his wife wanted for the boy. There was talk of tracking down a wet nurse. A friend left a message offering to breast-feed the newborn herself.

What evolved in the coming days still touches Goodrich. More than 20 mothers in Marquette, a city of 20,000 in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, volunteered to nurse baby Moses.

All these months later, they’re still at it.

“It’s been such an incredible outpouring of community love for this child of mine,” said Goodrich, a 44-year-old history professor at Northern Michigan University, where his late wife worked, too, teaching Spanish and Portuguese. “This has certainly stretched the parameters of what is public. I’ve had to open the door to complete strangers, inviting them into the most private, intimate part of my life.”

Carrie Fiocchi, 29, was first to breast-feed Moses. She’d received a call from a nurse midwife who belonged to her Unitarian Universalist church.

When she heard what had happened to the Goodrich family, both she and her husband, with whom she immediately shared the story, fell apart. They were first-time parents to a 6-week-old girl.

They’d realize later that they had met Robbie years before. But in that moment, they didn’t hesitate to help a stranger. The next morning, Fiocchi walked into Goodrich’s home, where grieving family members had gathered in preparation for Susan’s funeral, and took Moses into her arms.

“It was awkward and very sad and really wonderful at the same time,” said Fiocchi, who has nursed Moses at 9 a.m. every day since then, with daughter Siri in tow.

Her husband, Matt, has developed a friendship with Goodrich and tags along with his wife and daughter at
least once a week. He added, “Not being able to do anything myself, feeling kind of impotent, for me it was a matter of wanting to help and feeling privileged to be involved in any way.”

The inclination to volunteer similarly drove Kyra Fillmore, 31.

“Ever since I became a mother, I’ve felt a connection with other mothers,” said Fillmore, who has three children. “I was nervous. It was very emotional. I didn’t know what to expect. But I felt like I needed to do this for Susan, even though I didn’t know her.”

A handful of mothers did know Susan and loved her for her brilliance, wit and passionate spirit.

A former student of Susan’s from a decade earlier, Karla Niemi, 30, said that helping has brought her a sense of peace. And a former student of Robbie’s who then became a close friend of the couple’s, Sarah McDougall, 28, said that nursing Moses “gave me a way to be there for her and her family in a way I wouldn’t have known how to do otherwise.”

It turned out that finding volunteers was the easy part, said Nicoletta Fraire, 35, who considered Susan her closest friend in Marquette and organized the effort. And they’d checked with specialists to know that what they were doing was safe. The difficult part, Fraire said, was working out logistics, especially in the beginning.

Initially, there were seven women a day to juggle. Some of the moms had easy-to-remember set schedules, others had more staggered assignments, and then there were those on call. Many could travel to Moses, but some needed the baby to come to them. And donations for night feedings had to be gathered.

Over the months, some women moved away, weaned their own children or became pregnant. New eager-to-help moms cropped up. Toss in occasional sicknesses and vacations, and the feedings — which the group set out to continue for at least a year — became a carefully orchestrated dance.

A white board mapping out the choreographed schedule still stands in Goodrich’s dining room.

But making sure Moses was cared for, although complicated, was something Fraire wanted — even needed — to do.

“I didn’t see it as a hard job but mostly as something that’s helped me fill the void,” she said. “I did it for Susan. I know she would have done it for me.”

Not only have these women helped Moses, the steady flow of company — which often includes kids and husbands — has nurtured Goodrich, too. It has been a constant in his life and his home, where he’s also raising Julia, his and Susan’s 2½ -year-old daughter. Two older kids from Susan’s first marriage live nearby with their biological father.

“I don’t know if you can make this year any easier,” said Goodrich, who is emotionally still muddling through.
“But I have people there to share it with me. And you can imagine, they’re compassionate, empathetic people.”

Just as these moms have cuddled and nourished Moses, their own children feel embraced in the Goodrich home and often beeline to where the snacks are stored.
Husbands read to Julia while their wives nurse the baby, and Robbie bonds with families who’ve become an extension of his own.

Mothers who’ve stopped breast-feeding still check in and come by for regular visits. The group stays in touch on Facebook, by phone and over shared meals and walks. Friendships, outside the Goodrich household, have been
formed. They all gathered to celebrate when Moses ate his first solids.

“It’s a valuable gift for everyone involved,” said Tina Taylor, 39, who prolonged the nursing of her own youngest child so she could continue feeding Moses. “It’s taught us the importance of family, community and

Taylor and the more than two dozen other women who’ve nursed Moses know they cannot replace what was lost hours after he was born. But the father they’ve reached out to help says they’ve given his son something he could have never provided on his own.

“He’s a healthy, happy, well-adjusted boy,” he said, “who has always known a mother’s love.”

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