Tag: reflection

Legacy of Grief

Written by Mark Drinkard

Video by Mark Drinkard

Boxes of medical equipment fill Mandy McAllister’s small, quaintly decorated home in Brainerd. There was no preparation for her mother’s diagnosis of metastatic cancer or for her eventual stay in hospice care. 

As the machines, slings, and medicine become more necessary the answers become all the more grim. Ushering a loved one through their final days is a task no one is truly ready for, but through family and communication, the McAllister’s stayed together.

“In a matter of two or three days, she went from being pretty healthy—going to garden club, going to church, hanging out with family—to having conversations about going into hospice care,” says Mandy McAllister.

McAllister, an administrative specialist at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, was the primary caretaker for her mother, Susan Reggin, while in hospice care. She was flooded with guilt, grief, and unfamiliar medical responsibilities all at the same time, so she greatly appreciated the support and validation of her family.

Her son, Jacob Paige, speaks on the family’s close connection that only grew stronger through these hardships. 

“We communicated as frequently and as in-depth as normal,” says Jacob. “Knowing that it doesn’t matter what’s going to happen, and it doesn’t matter if the cancer is going to get better or worse, we’re still the same people. If she’s got eight months to live or two weeks to live, we are still on the same level all the way through, and that just creates a smooth transition.”

Mandy McAllister listens to the audio story about her mother and reflects on the wonderful times they shared. Photo by Mark Drinkard.

Although death is never an easy confrontation, the McAllisters have felt eternally grateful for their limited, but cherished time with Susan. Mandy’s mother and family were forced to face mortality in a slowed and intimate state.

“This could be the last time I really hug her. Is this going to be the last time she remembers who we are? Is this the last birthday? Is this the last ‘X’—whatever it is,” Mandy said. 

Susan Reggin served as a clergywoman for over 30 years. Her philosopher’s brain and her dedication to others was passed down to her family. 

“I adored my mom, so everything about me that’s good, I would attribute to my mom,”  says Mandy, “I think she gave me tools and a model for how to work with other people. We all carry her around in our hearts.”

Mandy reminisced on those quiet moments, sitting at her mother’s bedside reading old poems and laughing through fading memories. 

She smiled thinking about her niece and mother playing with stuffed animals, forgetting about the future. It’s those moments that stay with family till the end. It’s the seconds of quiet, vital peace in the midst of the storm, that they look back on and wish to relive.

Mark Drinkard and Mandy McAllister discuss her mother’s life and final months in hospice care.

Meet The Storyteller

Mark Drinkard has 3 years of experience in student media. From those experiences, he has gained skills as a videographer and video editor. He has used his knowledge of creative tools such as Adobe Premiere, Photoshop, and Audition to make and produce videos and audio projects. He is also adept in his knowledge of lighting, audio recording, and audio editing. Mark Drinkard currently lives in Chattanooga TN as he attends college. Photography is a passion of his and the rural landscapes offer a great backdrop to find and make photos. His goal is to provide a voice to everyone and use his skills to tell the stories of the voiceless. For questions, collaboration or to hire Mark Drinakard, contact him at markdrinkard2@gmail or (865)407-3317

Reflecting on The New Normal

Written by Meagan Alford

The world is now over a year out from the devastation of COVID-19, the novel Coronavirus that swept through the Earth in 2020, touching and changing every hemisphere. Though we are moving and looking on to a newer normal, our world is still recovering from the ways that COVID-19 has impacted our lives, and there is an opportunity to reflect, and to begin to make sense of the chaos around us, and how students have found new ways to cope.  

From virtual graduations to missed concerts and weddings, there is no person left untouched by COVID-19 a year later. Video by Nessa Parrish
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Making Meaning Out of Struggle

Written by Elise Steele

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the city has seen drastic changes in protocol and culture, but the light is at the end of the tunnel as vaccines and routine testing have rolled into the community. Video by Logan Stapleton
Photo by Stephanie Swart

One at a time, students roll up their sleeves and take a deep breath to receive their COVID-19 vaccination shot from the UTC Health Department, a process most of the community found inconceivable a year ago when the University first shut down for the pandemic.

Continue reading “Making Meaning Out of Struggle”