November 2022

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Dancing Her Art Out Autumn Klein Paints En Pointe

Atomic Veteran

988: Lifesaving Numbers

Edmond’s Cycle 66


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Well I missed most of this year’s riding season. I just wasn’t feeling up to it. I got in a few rides over to Pops, but mostly the motorcycle I always wanted sat idle in the garage. My preoccupation with motorcycles started with a trip to Europe when I was a kid. I was fascinated with all the scooters, motorbikes and mopeds zipping around villages - over there it was a way of life. I wanted one and finally in college, I got one, and another one, and then another one. Years later, when it was time for raising kids - I put on the brakes, only for my interest to come back faster and fancier. When the kids moved out, the Ducatis moved in. For me, it’s not about ownership, it’s about the experience I get when I slip on my helmet and flip down the visor. Everything else goes away. I’m not thinking about work, cancer or home improvement projects I need to get to. But sadly, because of my treatments I just wasn’t up for the experience this past season. Frankly, I was thinking this might be the end of a long relationship. I’ve been feeling the urge to sell. I’ve been through this before. Back when I was diagnosed, it didn’t look so good for me, so I sold the motorcycle I always wanted. But after a couple of stem-cell transplants and some chemo wizardry, I got to feeling better and started to secondguess the sale. So I searched, found and re-bought the same motorcycle I always wanted for a second time. Same year. Same make. Same model. I need to get through the next year of treatments, pause on my present thoughts of selling and just let the bike sit in the garage. If I can do that, I can avoid buying the motorcycle I always wanted - for a third time. Although it would make for a good story.

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Get Your Kicks at Edmond’s Cycle 66 Okie Grown Food Purees Atomic Veteran, Clifford Lewis Dancing Her Art Out Three Lifesaving Numbers: 988 Finding Success, Secondhand Thank You, Amelia Earhart, an All-Okie Film

Business

Dave Miller Publisher & Back40 Design President

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Oklahoma Railway Museum Summit Medical Center Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center

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In Other Words with Dave Louise Tucker Jones

Cover photography by Jana Carson ADVERTISING l 405-301-3926 l sales@edmondoutlook.com MAILED MONTHLY TO OVER 50,000 HOMES IN THE EDMOND AREA 1024 W Covell, Edmond, OK 73003 l 405-341-5599 l edmondoutlook.com l info@edmondoutlook.com NOVEMBER 2022 Volume 18, Number 11

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Edmond Outlook is a publication of Back40 Design, Inc.

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© 2022 Back40 Design, Inc.

PUBLISHER Dave Miller l PRODUCTION MANAGER Alison Miller l ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE /EDITOR Laura Beam l GRAPHIC DESIGN Anne Richardson PHOTOGRAPHY Marshall Hawkins sundancephotographyokc.com l DISTRIBUTION Edmond Outlook is delivered FREE by direct-mail to over 50,000 Edmond area homes. Articles and advertisements in the Outlook do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the magazine or Back40 Design. Back40 Design does not assume responsibility for statements made by advertisers or editorial contributors. The acceptance of advertising by the Outlook does not constitute endorsement of the products, services or information. We do not knowingly present any product or service that is fraudulent or misleading in nature. The Outlook assumes no responsibility for unsolicited materials.


Photos by Eriech Tapia

LOCALLOOK

Get Your Kicks at Edmond’s Cycle 66 By Maggie Murdock Nichols Around 800 cyclists will embark this month on Oklahoma’s portion of Route 66, otherwise known as “the most rideable stretch of Mother Road”. This ride and its route represent a major milestone for Oklahoma tourism – cyclotourism to be exact. A Ride on the Rise November 2026 will mark the 100th anniversary of Route 66, but Oklahoma cyclists and citizens need not wait to celebrate. Recently named an official United States Bike Route, riders can now enjoy a safe, smooth and scenic ride on Oklahoma’s stretch of Route 66. Bonnie Winslow and Kevin Musset, past presidents of Bike Oklahoma, were instrumental in the 10-year process designating the stretch as a U.S. Bike Route. Both emphasize its importance to our state. “Cyclotourism is an economic driver on the rise,” Bonnie said. “The official bike route designation will bring more cyclists to the area and Edmond’s Cycle 66 is a big draw.” Setting a New Course Cycle 66 will hold its second annual ride on November 6th. There are courses for riders of all experience levels with a 66, 33, and 10-mile ride. The ride expects 800 cyclists, a significant jump from the 500 cyclists who participated last year. Race director, Jason Duncan explained changes to this year’s route. “We want to provide a different experience,” he said. “This revised 66-mile route puts the hilliest part of the course at the beginning instead of the end and also allows cyclists to ride on the Route 66 tarmac.” 8

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Though Cycle 66 is not a timed race, many cyclists made impressive time. The fastest riders averaged around 20 miles per hour, the average speed hovers around 14 to 15 miles per hour. Criterium Comes to Edmond New additions to this year’s race include a free kid’s one-mile ride and a Criterium race. The Criterium or “Crit” race is a short circuit route judged by time rather than distance. Cyclists will fly through the streets of downtown at speeds up to 30 miles per hour. Spectators can expect to see the fastest riders in the area participate in the Criterium, with some participants traveling across the country to attend. “I have been cycling since I was a child,” said Austin Crose. “My dad and brother are traveling from Minneapolis to ride in this race. We all jumped at the opportunity to participate together.” All Invited to Celebration 66 The best place to catch the action of Cycle 66 is at Celebration 66, held near the start and finish line in Downtown Edmond. Celebration 66 will welcome cyclists to the ride and cheer them in as they approach the finish line. There will be food, drinks, music and kid’s activities. Celebration 66 is free and the public is welcome. Registration for Cycle 66 will remain open until the rides begin. Broadway will be closed downtown; three lanes will be dedicated to the Crit race and one will be used for Cycle 66. Routes and registration information can be found on cycle66ok.com.


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FOODLOOK

(l-r) Kody Harris, Kylie Dixon, and Janna Harris

Okie Grown Food Purees For Health-Conscious People of All Ages By Laura Beam What happens when an IT specialist, events coordinator and chef become neighbors? A brilliant food puree business is born, of course! Think smoothies, minus any chemicals or additives, with delicious fruit, veggie and meat combos in convenient 4-ounce squeeze pouches. Uber-organic (right down to the packaging), locally-sourced, and naturally delicious, these powerful packets are a satisfying and nutritious find for anyone who is hungry, health-conscious or in a hurry. A Mission for Better Nutrition When Edmond resident Kylie Dixon began thinking about food for her 6-month-old child, she was surprised to find that “even ‘organic’ baby foods may contain preservatives, heavy metals and chemicals.” Knowing that her neighbor, Kody Harris, was a celebrated chef with numerous restaurants, and neighbor Janna Harris was an IT Specialist and renowned pastry chef, Kylie asked them to make baby food for her child. “I wasn’t really into it,” Kody admits. “Baby food seemed boring, but Kylie was very persistent.” After looking at products in stores, comparing ingredients and creating her own purees, Kody thought, “Maybe this could be a thing.” Packet Power Chefs Kody and Janna worked for a year sourcing all the local, organic ingredients possible and formulating recipes around what was abundant here, like sweet potatoes, root vegetables and apples. Although items like bananas, pineapples and mangos have to be purchased out of state, Okie Grown’s mission from the beginning has been hyper-local. In April this year, Okie Grown began selling their purees at the Arcadia Farmer’s Market, and are now also sold in Edmond, Tulsa and Piedmont. Online orders are quickly growing too, as people of all ages and nutritional needs are discovering 10

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the benefits of these healthy purees. “At the Arcadia Farmer’s Market, we learned about an entirely different world of people with eating issues, like those dealing with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, strokes or chemotherapy,” Janna remarks. “It’s uplifting to provide food for them.” Main Squeeze There’s something so satisfying about the silky smooth purees in chilled pouches that you can slurp on, a little at a time, taking in all the flavors. The Berry A’ Peeling is a tart and sweet blend of organic strawberry, banana, broccoli, prune and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). The Peachy-Blues is another fruity fare and the Pineapple of My Eye is a surprisingly hearty combo incorporating mango, kale and prune. If you need an immunity boost, the Well Baby packs a powerful punch of organic strawberry, blueberry, rutabaga and pineapple, plus flax seed, prune, turmeric, agave, elderberry, coconut and EVOO. Even if you’re feeling fine, this thicker puree hits all the robust, fresh tastes you crave, complete with a slight chew. So good! No need to give up meat if you’re eating on the go. The Gobble-Gobble is a Thanksgiving feast in a packet, with organic turkey and bone broth, cranberry, sweet potato, cinnamon and clove. Add a side of Best Spuddies–a sensational, pie-like sweet potato combo. Or try the Bok-Bok, made with pasture-raised chicken fed on non-GMO grain and no corn. Seasonal puree newcomers like roasted butternut squash and pumpkin spice are making their debut this month too. Okie Grown Food Purees take the guesswork out of eating organic, and make healthy eating a fun and flavorful convenience. Just as their slogan says, “Okie Grown is just real, good food.” Visit okiegrownfoods.com for product locations or to order online. Delivery is also available.


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FEATURELOOK

Clifford Lewis

, 1961

(l-r) Tammy Ross, Regent, Cordelia Steen Chapter, NSDAR, Clifford Lewis , and Colonel James Wilhite (Ret.), Ambassador of the Oklahoma Military Heritage Foundation and Hall of Fame.

Clifford Lewis: Atomic Veteran By Amy Dee Stephens

Few people have witnessed the explosion of an atomic allowed to mention his role in nuclear testing, having sworn bomb, but Clifford Lewis distinctly remembers seeing the an oath of secrecy to the government, an oath which was “explosion of color with a mushroom cloud.” It was 1962, not rescinded until 1996. and he was part of Operation Dominic, a series of top-secret Like many people with radiation exposure, Lewis has dealt tests conducted by the U.S. military. with cancer. “I don’t know if it was from radiation or not, but “I watched them drop the bomb out in the Pacific Ocean in any case, it hasn’t got to me yet.” To help other veterans while I was at Johnston Island, west of Hawaii,” Lewis said. “It who need health resources, Lewis is the Oklahoma State was quite a sight.” Commander for the National Association of Atomic Veterans, Numerous times, he was chosen to be present during and he also serves as an advocate for other atomic veterans. detonations, although he and his fellow men were unclear Lewis, a member of the Muscogeeabout the operation’s details. “Each He swore an oath of secrecy Creek Nation, has lived in Edmond time they put us on the center of an to the government that wasn't since the 1970s. He recalls when it was island, we had to bend over and put rescinded until 1996 two-lane roads and it “cost a dime to our head between our legs. They gave make a phone call between Edmond and Oklahoma City.” us dark goggles and earplugs. There was a countdown, a bomb detonated above, and there was a bright flash. It was When asked to describe his life lessons, he quoted a survival scary.” phrase, “Follow waters and do your best.” He added, “I go to Lewis and his buddy joined the Air Force after realizing church regularly. I don’t smoke or drink. I exercise and try to they were about to get drafted as the Vietnam War began stay healthy, and I mind my own business.” escalating. “We figured that by joining, there was a better In October 2022, the 85-year-old was honored with the chance of getting special training we could use when we first-ever Who’s Who of Oklahoma Veterans medallion, got out. In my case, it worked,” Lewis said. “I was assigned presented by Col. James Wilhite of the Oklahoma Military as a Crash Rescue and Recovery Firefighter, so when I was Heritage Foundation. Lewis also received a Quilt of Valor discharged after four years and one month, I took a chance from the Cordelia Steen Chapter of the Daughters of the and applied with the Oklahoma City Fire Department. They American Revolution, and was presented with a flag of the hired me, and I stayed for 27 years.” Muscogee-Creek Nation by Principal Chief, David Hill and For the next 15 years, Lewis served as an arson Second Chief, Del Beavers. Lewis was humbled. investigator. Since retirement, Lewis has remained active “I enjoyed serving my country,” Lewis said. “Serving in the with the Oklahoma State Firefighters Association, serving as military let me meet people and see things I would never past-president and currently publishing the organization’s newsletter. During most of his firefighting career, he was not have gotten to see otherwise.” Like a nuclear explosion. 12

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FEATURELOOK

Dancing Her Art Out

OKC Ballet Dancer Paints En Pointe By Taylor Bollinger

Photo by Shevaun Williams

Photo by Jana Carson

It all starts with a blank canvas, paint and pointe shoes. What happens next has captivated 3.1M followers on TikTok, 125K on Instagram and countless patrons of the Oklahoma City Ballet. They all want to see what Autumn Klein will create next. When Autumn’s parents enrolled their tip-toeing two-year-old in ballet as an outlet for her energy, they never predicted it would become her passion, profession, and one-of-a-kind painting process. While Autumn’s already-famous artwork took form just this year, her dance dates back much farther. “When I was 9 years old, I saw the Houston Ballet perform Dracula and I was hooked,” Autumn said. She later auditioned and joined the Houston Ballet before moving to Edmond and joining the Oklahoma City Ballet in 2012. The inspiration to paint en pointe struck during the pandemic. “I thought of it over the lockdown,” Autumn explained, “The idea continued brewing until May of this year.” For her first piece, Autumn dipped a tentative toe in random colors and danced across the canvas to her own choreography. She had an audience in an instant. “I was shocked by the response,” she said. “People were asking for prints of that first piece. So I decided to pursue this form of painting for real.” Armed with new canvases, carefully selected paints and choreography from her role as Carabosse in Sleeping Beauty, Autumn danced until an entire ballet piece was reflected across the canvas. Her artwork has been featured on Buzzfeed, and opened the door for Autumn to dance alongside one of ballet’s big names. “One of the most fun experiences I’ve had so far was to paint Swan Lake with New York City Ballet dancer, Tiler Peck,” Autumn said. Their beautiful collaboration can be seen on Autumn’s Instagram. Not only has the process mesmerized millions, it is making a measurable difference in the world. In addition to selling original works and their prints, Autumn donates much of her work and is currently creating a piece to benefit a homeless shelter in Houston, Texas. “I was also able to make a piece for the Osage Ballet to use as an auction item,” Autumn said. “I love that it will ultimately help tell the story of the Osage people through ballet.” Autumn hopes her work will inspire others to appreciate ballet and the stories it can tell. “I want to keep painting to tell all the big stories of ballet that people often don’t know exist,” she said. “I push myself in the studio every day to become better. I love the journey and I want to keep exploring it.” While she remains passionate about dance, Autumn describes her artwork as an even deeper form of creative expression. “In the dance world, I am usually following careful instructions and choreography,” Autumn explained. “But with my artwork, I have total creative freedom. I am in charge of the ideas and execution - it is all coming from me.” Reflecting on her transformation from a toddler in a tutu into a TikTok star, Autumn says she can’t wait to see where it will take her next. “My advice is to take chances,” Autumn said. “Success is a marathon, so don’t get hung up on where you are today. Keep pushing, and you’ll go farther than you expect.” Keep up with Autumn’s creativity on TikTok @autumnsklein and Instagram @thepointepainter. You can also visit her website autumnsklein.com, or catch her performing with the Oklahoma City Ballet. 16

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LOCALLOOK FEATURELOOK

Three Lifesaving Numbers: 988 By Taylor Bollinger Lauren never struggled with mental health until the birth of her son. Looking back on the depths of her postpartum depression, she says a lifeline would have been a “game changer”. Though Kristen appeared outwardly strong following the loss of her mother, she was experiencing night terrors, feelings of purposelessness and a loss of hope. She knew she needed help, but wasn’t sure where to turn. After her divorce, J’Shawna found herself wondering if her family and friends would be okay without her. She wishes she could’ve found support for these feelings of worthlessness sooner. These are three among the thousands of stories that make the 988 Mental Health Hotline a life-changing resource for Oklahomans. Now, expert help for mental health crises are only three digits away. Oklahoma’s 988 Mental Health Lifeline is staffed round-the-clock by trained mental health professionals. The 99.8% answer rate ensures that the nearly 3,400 Oklahomans who call each month have immediate access to the support they need. “Unlike the national suicide hotline, Oklahoma’s 988 Mental Health Lifeline is completely staffed by Oklahomans with degrees in the field of mental health,” said Heath Hayes, chief communications officer for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. For up to 91% of callers, it’s as simple as a single call. But the lifeline’s three-pronged approach extends far beyond the phone, with mobile crisis response, integration with law enforcement and alternative transportation for those needing care. 18

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“Oklahoma is leading the charge for mental health crisis response,” Hayes said. “This is not to say that we invented all of it, but we took the best and combined it to create a system that we know is really working for those we serve.” Out of over 500 mobile responses, only five have required law enforcement involvement. “In other states, when someone experiences a mental health crisis and needs hospital care, they are cuffed, and put in the back of a police car for transport,” Hayes explained. “This can escalate a situation or even prevent individuals from seeking the help they need in the first place. Now, we have a better option.” 988’s so-called ‘closed loop process’ makes the crucial connection between callers and proper care and treatment. By next year, the lifeline expects an integrated system that allows lifeline workers to view provider calendars and schedule callers while they’re still on the phone. When asked about future goals for the lifeline, Hayes said, “We want more calls. Let’s double it. We want to talk to every Oklahoman before their challenge becomes a crisis.” For anyone needing help, 988 offers a sufficiently private and anonymous way to seek it. But even those who may not need help at this time are still encouraged to commit the three digits to memory, or use a number of free resources to make support more accessible to those around them. Social media shareables, outreach cards, posters and coloring sheets are available for download in both English and Spanish at 988oklahoma.com/resources. The website also includes powerful testimonials, frequently asked questions, and helpful information to help shift the stigma surrounding mental health. If you are facing a mental health challenge, call 988 today. Expert help is only three digits away.


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FEATURELOOK

Finding Success, Secondhand By Maggie Murdock Nichols Between the old, new, borrowed and blue, the ‘old’ was by far Lily’s favorite. The bride’s wedding was decked in decor from across the decades, all a result of her long standing love of thrift. From garage sales to thrift shops, Lilian Swindell (Lily) had long enjoyed finding treasures among the discarded items of strangers. Little did she know, her wedding day would launch this casual pastime into a career. The Thrill of the Hunt Lily’s love for second-hand shopping started in childhood. In addition to the thrill of the hunt, she soon noted many other benefits of the hobby. Among them are originality, ethics, and a positive impact on her environment and wallet. “Clothes don’t have to be new to look great, and I never have to worry about showing up in the same outfit as a friend,” Lily said. “Plus, I feel good about supporting local thrift stores or individuals rather than fast-fashion corporations.” Lily appreciates the ability to stay stylish on a budget. In addition to shopping for new-to-you items, Lily encourages everyone to give their shoes and clothing second life by donating to local thrift stores. More Than A Hobby A student at the University of Central Oklahoma, Lily sought a part time income that would help her balance bills with schoolwork, scholarships, and newly married life. When an Instagram video of her thrifty wedding gained over a million views, Lily realized her hobby had the potential to accomplish that goal. She began sharing unique finds – Prada shoes, Gucci glasses, Chanel shorts and more – on sale sites like Poshmark and eBay. Her socalled “side-gig” took off quickly. Along with the extra income, Lily says she enjoys giving pieces a second life rather than sending them to the trash. She is now using her platform to help her followers do the same. “I’ve found that people are interested in buying second hand, but often don’t know where to start,” Lily said. “To help solve this, I post purchasable items on Instagram as well as tips for thrifting and saving money as a newlywed.” Her vision for thrifting doesn’t stop there. Lily sells old, redesigned t-shirts and uses the proceeds to fund college scholarships for local high school students. The “Difference Maker” tees are available on Lily’s Instagram. For more about Lily’s vintage finds, follow her on Instagram at @lil.bit.of.my.closet 20

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BIZLOOK

Oklahoma Railway Museum By Maria Veres Trains aren’t everyday transportation in Oklahoma anymore, but they still fascinate us. The Oklahoma Railway Museum (ORM) is a perfect place to discover how railroads shaped our state’s history and even take a train ride of your own. Explore the Magic of Trains Admission to ORM is free and includes a close look at railway cars from several different eras. It’s a popular spot for school field trips, and rail cars can be reserved for parties and private events.

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The museum is also an actual working railroad, offering train rides two Saturdays a month from April through August. ORM opened in 2000 and recently began a multi-stage expansion that will include an event center, a roundhouse, and a turntable. “Our goal is to create a prototypical railway station,” says Museum Administrator Anne Murray. “When the turntable is finished, it will be the only working turntable in Oklahoma.” Oklahoma Railway Museum relies on many volunteers—from archive assistants and gift-shop clerks to rail car attendants. Adults and high school students needing service hours are always welcome to volunteer. The Polar Express™ and More The Polar Express™ returns to Oklahoma Railway Museum this month. A hit with kids and kids-at-heart, the event features live actors recreating scenes from the movie during a one-hour train ride. Santa makes a special appearance, and pajamas are encouraged!

The Polar Express™ event at ORM

The Polar Express™ runs on weekends beginning November 11th and every day from December 15th through 27th. The Polar Express™ is ORM’s biggest fundraiser every year; funds raised help with the ongoing museum expansion. ORM also hosts Halloween and Easter train rides and other events year round. Whether you want to relive memories of your own train rides or introduce the next generation to the delights of railroads, ORM offers something special for every guest. Oklahoma Railway Museum is located at 3400 NE Grand Boulevard. Learn more at oklahomarailwaymuseum.org.


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BIZLOOK

Summit Medical Center Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center By Maria Veres Whenever a wound or injury doesn’t heal in a timely manner, there’s a reason. With more than 50 years combined experience in wound care, the physicians at Summit Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center provide expert treatment for even the most complex cases. Compassionate, PatientFocused Care Each patient is unique, and the team at Summit takes extra time to understand the needs, concerns, and

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medical history of every person they treat. Communication is their top priority, and they encourage patients to call whenever they have questions. They also work closely with other health providers involved in a patient’s treatment. Your benefits are verified for wound care before your first appointment. For conditions that aren’t covered by insurance, the clinic also offers cash pay pricing. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy As part of its comprehensive approach to wound care, Summit provides hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Patients enter a clear, comfortable chamber where they receive 100% oxygen to aid the healing process. “The before-andafter results can be incredible,” says clinic director Amy Jacoby, R.N. Most patients receive wound care daily or weekly until they’re healed. Some injuries might only require a few sessions, while other conditions like diabetic ulcers take longer. Patients are screened to ensure they’re good candidates for hyperbaric therapy, and a physician is always at the clinic to supervise the treatments.

Summit Wound Care treats patients of all ages and accepts most insurance, including Medicare. You don’t need a referral, and most new patients can be seen within five business days. “I want people to know that they don’t have to live with an open wound,” says Amy. “There is a solution and we can help.” Summit Wound Care is affiliated with Summit Medical Center, a physicianowned facility in Edmond. Summit Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center is located at 1705 S. Renaissance Blvd, Suite 160, Edmond. You can contact them at 405-844-3420 or summitmedcenter.com/Wound-CareHyperbaric.


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ALOOKBACK

Missing Jay! By Louise Tucker Jones Forty-six years ago God sent me one of my greatest treasures—James Ryan Jones—better known as “Jay.” How could I know this baby boy with Down syndrome and a rare congenital heart disease would forever change my life and the world around me? My heart was and still is completely mesmerized by this sweet son and his unconditional love. Jay had a gentle spirit and happy personality and loved Jesus with all of his heart. He also saw angels, often talking with his guardian angel that stood by his door each night. And I’m certain Jay’s hospital room was filled with angels, both human and heavenly ones, as he fought courageously through surgery, cardiac arrest, ventilators, oxygen crashes and more.

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One person Jay desperately missed in his life was his daddy who went to heaven eleven years ago. Jay threw kisses and sang to his daddy daily. And as I held my sweet son in my arms in the hospital, with his brother also beside him, and as I kissed Jay and brushed his soft hair away from his face, I believe God watched and wept then said, “Jay, this life is too hard for you. I’m sending my angels to carry you home.” And in a breath, Jay was in the arms of Jesus and his daddy. But blessed? Oh, I am so blessed to be the mother of such a precious gem, a hero to our family. He gave me bear hugs every morning and made me laugh daily. And when Jay and his brother, Aaron got together who knew what crazy things they might do. Life with Jay could be hilariously funny and lovingly sweet. And I miss him. More than I could ever put into words. I thank each of you for all the prayers you said for Jay and our family during his 48 days of hospitalization, 46 in ICU. Please continue. My heart is absolutely shattered. My home empty without Jay’s presence. My world upside down with

no path in this emotional wilderness. But oh, I wouldn’t have missed this life with Jay for the world. “Love you my sweet son! Love and miss you forever!” ABOUT THE AUTHOR Louise Tucker Jones is an award-winning author, inspirational speaker & founder of Wives With Heavenly Husbands, a support group for widows. LouiseTJ@cox.net or LouiseTuckerJones.com.


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FEATURELOOK

Thank You, Amelia Earhart, an All-Okie Film

Mertens began writing after a close friend died in a small plane crash. Friends asked him to write her eulogy, which released a torrent of emotions in him. He then began writing blogs that he describes as “dark emotional purges.” After taking a By Amy Dee Stephens five-day screenwriting workshop, Mertens realized that film writing was the creative passion missing Award-winning filmmaker, Al from his life. Mertens, has just wrapped up postWorking around his career as production on Thank You, Amelia an investment advisor, Mertens Earhart, a feature-length film made penned a “so-so” short screenplay, entirely by Oklahomans––perhaps in which a fan of his blogs, the the state’s first. “From cast to crew, it filmmaker Patrick George, saw was nothing but us Okies,” Mertens potential and said, “Let’s make said. “Our state had every ounce of this.” Mertens expected to sit on talent we needed. Mary Buss is our the sidelines and watch the shoot, incredible lead actress, our crew but instead, George invited him to included members who’ve worked direct. The essentially no-budget on a movie nominated for Best film, Sacrificios, did well at film Picture Oscar, and the score is by festivals, screened in Hollywood virtuoso Kyle Dillingham, in his first and was awarded at a Berlin film foray into composing for feature festival. film.” Mertens has since written The main setting was filmed in a numerous screenplays, three of historic house in Jones, Oklahoma. which achieved #1 bestseller status “It’s a gorgeous two-story house with on Amazon, and has written and a white picket fence. Inside is the directed other short films. He formerly smoke-filled room where expects his first full-length feature, political powers decided to move the the internationally award-winning state seal from Guthrie to Oklahoma Native Hearts, to be available by the City,” Mertens said. end of this year. Local audiences The film is about Myrtle, a may be able to catch Thank You, woman in her nineties who grew Amelia Earhart on the big screen in up when Amelia Earhart was the 2023 or 2024. He’s proud to have “girl power” role model. Because written, directed and produced the of health problems and a difficult film, along with tremendous help personality, Myrtle goes through a from his wife, Brandi. succession of caregivers, including “We’re the bottom-line production the latest, an equally headstrong staff, so I get exactly the piece of art young woman. What they learn from that I want,” Mertens said. “We’ve each other leaves them both forever got one life, and we can’t allow fear changed. Earhart’s legacy is present to keep us from pursuing creativity. throughout the film. Being an introvert hasn’t stopped The idea for the film occurred me from saying crazy things like, ‘I to Mertens after the passing of a need your pool for a movie scene.’ 107-year-old relative. “The year When people say, ‘I wish I could do she was born, the North Pole was what you do,’ I ask, ‘Why don’t you?’ discovered!” said Mertens. “I wish Filmmaker Al Mertens and his wife, Brandi We each decide what to fit into our I had talked to her more. She was Mertens, Production and Wardrobe Designer. lives. One of those things for me is a child during WWI and a mother the creative process of filmmaking.” during WWII. How did that shape her ideals? Do we demand tolerance, but not try to understand the To learn more, follow “Thank You, Amelia Earhart, feature perspective of people from a different time?” film” on Facebook.

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NOVEMBER 2022


NOVEMBER 2022

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