Kevin’s Peace of Mind
www.kevintharpe.com (770) 503-1022
The Last of the Steel Magnolias My Maw Maw’s Important Rules to Living
Every few months, a package arrives for me at the office. Every time the delivery person drops it off, it’s the same size and rectangular shape, and, without even opening the box, I know what will be inside and who sent it to me. Ever since I started my own law firm, my grandmother, Bertha Tharpe (known to me as “Maw Maw”) would send me a law book in the mail. The book might be related to my practice area of elder law and estate planning, or it might be on another important legal subject like civil procedure. Regardless of the subject matter, I’ve come to expect this great gift a couple times a year because, if history has taught me anything, once Maw Maw decided to do something, she’d find a way to deliver, even when she couldn’t be there to do it herself. Maw Maw was born and raised in the Atlanta area. She was married to the same man, my grandfather, Boyce Tharpe, for nearly 50 years. While neither of them ended up being lawyers, they were both fascinated by law. Maw Maw worked as the bookkeeper and executive secretary for a local law publishing company, Harrison and Co., and my grandfather worked as a clerk administrator for the U.S. District Court in Atlanta. Their affiliation and passion for law was very influential when I was pondering my own career path years later.
A few years after passing the bar exam (Maw Maw paid for the review course), I started my own firm. I remember Maw Maw smiling big as she entered my office for the first time. She saw that I had supplied a coffee area so clients could treat themselves to a “cup o’ joe” before meetings, but, when she saw the stack of paper cups next to the coffee maker, she wasn’t satisfied. Maw Maw firmly believed that coffee should only be served out of mugs, so she went down to Rich’s Department Store (where she did all her shopping) and bought me some nice china to keep in the office. Her insistence on coffee decorum was just one of the many basic but important rules Maw Maw lived by, and she passed them along to me. For example, she taught us that we always had to make our beds no matter what because you never know when company might come by. Even now, I have such a habit of making my bed that even when I stay at hotels, I make sure the bed is in order before I check out. MawMaw also firmly believed that sweet tea was the only type of iced tea worthy of being served and that Coca-Cola was the only soft drink anybody who’s anybody should drink. If you were going to drink Coca-Cola (and if you were at Maw Maw’s house, you did) you would drink it out of an 8-ounce bottle, not an aluminum can. Lastly, she believed every bad day could be turned around with a little hope and a warm chocolate chip cookie. As a kid, if I got in trouble withmy parents, skinnedmy knee ridingmy bike, or was upset about a bad grade in school, she’d tell me,“Honey, come on over. I have something for you.”When I arrived, there would always be a bottle of Coke and a couple of cookies sitting on the table, just waiting to cheer me up. While I’ll always remember Maw Maw’s simple rules to life, her best quality was her strength. In fact, I like to refer to her as “The Last of the Steel Magnolias” because she never took any of life’s
hardships sitting down. When her husband died when I was only 1 year old, she never felt like she needed to remarry. She continued to work and take care of herself all on her own. Later on, when she lost her youngest son and her granddaughter in a tragic train wreck, she faced it with perseverance, strength, and, of course, a couple of chocolate chip cookies, just like she’d always done. Every few months, I get to enjoy another gift from Maw Maw. In the summer of 1993, Maw Maw gave me her diamond engagement ring on my promise that I would give it only to Missy. I proposed to Missy with that ring in the fall of 1993, and Missy and I were married in May 1994. Maw Maw enjoyed seeing Missy wear that ring for another four years until her death in August 1998. Missy still wears that ring today as a part of her wedding ring set. She wears it exactly as it was when Maw Maw gave it to me and exactly the same as it was when Maw Maw was given it by my grandfather many, many years ago.
Thanks, Maw Maw, for still delivering on your promises every day.
-J. Kevin Tharpe
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HONORING THE CANINES OF 9/11 The 4-Legged Heroes of Ground Zero
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, thousands of New Yorkers took to the streets to clear rubble, offer supplies, and search for survivors. It was a powerful act of resilience in a deeply trying time, and while most of the individuals helping with the disaster stood on two feet, more than 300 canines also answered the call to service.
Some dogs that found deceased victims refused to eat or interact with other animals. Search and rescue dogs became increasingly stressed and depressed the longer they searched without any results, mirroring their handlers. It wasn’t uncommon for handlers to stage mock “findings” of survivors to keep the dogs’ spirits up.
Dogs of all breeds and backgrounds, including search and rescue dogs, police dogs, service dogs, and therapy dogs, were brought in to help find and care for survivors in the wake of the destruction. They worked tirelessly alongside rescue crews as they searched through the debris. Search and rescue dogs and their handlers worked 12–16-hour days, searching for survivors and victims. They worked through dangerous conditions: Many dogs burned their paws as they dug through hot rubble, and both handlers and canines inhaled toxic dust. The task was both physically and mentally exhausting for the dogs during their shifts.
Fortunately, the sacrifices these dogs and their handlers made did not go unnoticed. Many dog owners were inspired to earn their search and rescue certifications after the events of 9/11, promising to aid in future disasters and hopefully lessen the impact of such catastrophes. After 9/11, various researchers conducted many studies examining the effect this kind of work has on animals, both physically and mentally. Many of these studies wouldn’t be possible without the AKC Canine Health Foundation, so if you’re looking to give back this September, visit them at their website to see how you can help: AKCCHF.org .
What Happened in Reed Springs? HOW A SMALL TOWNWENT BANKRUPT OVER A POTHOLE
In 2002, the quaint town of Reed Springs, Missouri, declared bankruptcy. The hard decision came after the town was forced to pay $100,000 to Sally Stewart, a woman who sued Reed Springs after she tripped over a pothole during a shopping trip. News of a greedy woman ruining a small village to make a quick buck sparked outrage across the country. But Stewart wasn’t the real villain of this story. A little digging into this case reveals a much deeper conspiracy. Stewart had been visiting Reed Springs in 1998 when she tripped on a pothole hidden beneath some overgrown grass on the sidewalk. But this was no small stumble. Stewart tore two ligaments in her ankle and
had to undergo surgery. To help pay for the medical bills, Stewart, who’d never sued anyone before, initially filed a personal injury lawsuit against the owners of the store in front of the pothole. However, the Missouri Court of Appeals determined the city of Reed Springs was liable for Stewart’s injuries. The court ordered Reed Springs to pay Stewart $100,000, over half the city’s annual budget. Despite the high price tag, in normal circumstances, this verdict wouldn’t have forced Reed Springs to declare bankruptcy because the town’s insurance would have covered the bill. Unfortunately, at the time of Stewart’s accident, the mayor of Reed Springs was a corrupt man named Joe Dan Dwyer. Dwyer left office while being investigated for insurance fraud, child pornography, statutory rape, witness bribery, and perjury, and he was later sentenced to seven years in federal prison. Among his many indiscretions, Dwyer also let the town’s insurance policy lapse. Reed Springs didn’t have insurance when Sally Stewart got hurt, which is why they had to write a check out of their own budget and ultimately declare bankruptcy. In this case, what started as a simple pothole accident quickly unveiled the lasting damage of an unscrupulous politician. Perhaps this case serves as reminder about why it’s important to vote in local elections.
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TAKE A BREAK
Have you ever wanted to experience the colors of a Boston fall while enjoying the peace and tranquility of the great outdoors? Autumn leaves are a universally appreciated sign of the changing seasons, and there’s no better place to see those vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds on display than in one of America’s national parks. So, if you’ve got some free time this autumn, here are some parks worth seeing. THE BEST NATIONAL PARKS TO VISIT THIS FALL While the maple, birch, and poplar trees of Acadia begin to change color in September, mid-October is the best time to witness autumn in full swing. The park is crisscrossed with unpaved trails that date back to a time of horse-drawn carriages, preserving an idyllic setting. If you want to see the colors in full effect, take a drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard, and watch the sun crest over the vibrant leaves. To fully experience fall in the Northeastern U.S., Acadia National Park is a must-see. Acadia National Park, Maine
CACIO E PEPE
Inspired by Bon Appétit
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina
6 oz pasta, ideally spaghetti or bucatini 3 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed and divided 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, ideally Parmigiano- Reggiano 1/3 cup finely grated pecorino cheese Kosher salt, for pasta water and to taste
Further south, the autumn colors of the Smoky Mountains are no less breathtaking than those in the Northeast. This park offers many scenic lookout points accessible by car, so don’t worry about hoofing it into the forest if that’s not your thing. Park wherever you like and watch the warm colors of ancient maples, oaks, and cedars change before your eyes.
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
1. In a large pot, bring 3 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook, stopping 2 minutes short of desired doneness. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. 2. In a large pan over medium heat, melt 2 tbsp butter. Add pepper and cook until toasted and aromatic, about 1 minute. Add reserved pasta water and bring to a simmer. 3. Transfer pasta and remaining butter to pan and reduce heat to low. Add Parmesan and cook until melted, tossing pasta throughout. Remove pan from heat and add pecorino, continuing to toss until cheese is melted and sauce coats pasta. 4. Transfer to bowls and serve.
While the West might typically be associated with evergreen pines, the deciduous trees of the relatively small Grand Teton National Park pack a colorful punch starting around the third week of September. It’s also breeding season for elk in the area, and their high, eerie whistles can be heard in the evenings. Popular destinations in the park include the Christian Pond Loop and String Lake. Just because the weather is cooling down doesn’t mean you have to abandon your favorite national parks until next summer. The natural beauty of America can be experienced at any time of the year, so start planning your next autumn outdoor excursion!
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(770) 503-1022 www.KevinTharpe.com 405 Broad St. Gainesville, GA 30501 INSIDE THIS ISSUE
The Last of the Steel Magnolias
Honoring the Canines of 9/11 A Surprising Reason for Bankruptcy
Cacio e Pepe The Vibrant Colors of America’s National Parks
Why Are So Many People Deciding Not to Retire?
FINDING FULFILLMENT IN YOUR GOLDEN YEARS Why More Adults Over 55 Continue toWork
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, upward of 40% of people aged 55 and older are continuing to work past the normal retirement age. There are a number of reasons why people are choosing to stay employed, with one of the biggest being a lack of retirement funds, but some are also using work to keep their minds and skills sharp. In fact, most of the jobs that the 55-plus crowd goes after keep them engaged with the community and help them lead more active lives.
ones. This balance is exactly what many older workers are looking for, especially those who are “part-time retired.”
More importantly, however, most older workers find these jobs fulfilling. They allow older folks to interact with the community and stay active, both of which, research suggests, are essential to healthy living as people age. For many, working past retirement, or not leaving the workforce entirely, can be a win-win-win: It’s a win for your bank account, a win for your health, and a win for the community.
The BLS categorized the jobs many older workers are currently pursuing:
Real estate appraisers/assessors
• Property/real estate/community association managers • Technical writers • Tax preparers • Construction/building inspectors • Crossing guards • Clergy These seven jobs are projected to grow between 8–14% over the next six years according to BLS data. They often pay well and don’t always require a full-time commitment. Many even offer flexible schedules, which can help older workers spend more time with peers or loved
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