People, purses, paper

News | January 5, 2018

The first hunches came from her mom. Patty Maiden felt like her pregnancy with Alison was different than her first daughter, Emily. When Ali was born, she aspirated and the doctors whisked her away. They noticed some things that were out of the ordinary. And then Ali got really sick. Tests determined Ali had a very rare chromosomal abnormality. Some thought Ali wouldn’t live for very long at all.

Thankfully, oh so thankfully, that baby survived. And thrived. And loved. And was loved. Ali Maiden did die young – at just 24 years old – but the life she lived? A gift.

Purses, $20 bills, and mail trucks
You would be hard-pressed to find Ali Maiden without a purse. She had lots and lots of purses, and almost always had one hanging from her arm. A photo from her first day of kindergarten shows her with a purse and money in hand. Her favorite purses seemed to be the least-expensive and most interesting – a $1.38 purse from Goodwill comes to mind.

Her favorite money – $20 bills. And if a $20 bill had a 9 in the serial number? Celebration.

Ali went into meeting someone new with the assumption that they would like her. Ali communicated with her own version of sign language. She also had an electronic communication device. With the combination of the two, she’d always have questions to ask new people she encountered. Big burly guys waiting in line at Gordmans? Questions. Sweating it out at the Y? Questions. Sitting at a restaurant? Questions.

“If only the whole world thought that way,” Patty said of her daughter. It made for some interesting encounters, Emily said of her sister.

Emily eventually became a caretaker for Ali, through the agency Ali received services from.They visited all sorts of people and places together. Paul at the Bettendorf library saved up $20 bills for Ali to look through to find 9s in the serial numbers. The staff at Gordmans saved up paper because they knew Ali loved to come in and sort through it all. Ali loved going to the YMCA, but she also loved trying as hard as possible to get out of walking her laps around the track – strongly indicating she needed a drink of water or a bathroom break.

She did not like being outside. She liked food because it gave her something to put ketchup on.

“Having Ali as a sister exposed me to people and experiences that I never would have had. I never felt cheated at all,” Emily said. Anyone who was Emily’s friend became Ali’s friend, including Emily’s now-husband Mike Reinholdt.

Ali’s caddy
As Ali neared high school graduation, the Maidens prepared for her moving into her own place. “Patty was ready, and Ali was ready, before dad was ready,” dad Gary said. Ali moved into an apartment in DeWitt, Iowa, with a roommate. On Sundays, Gary picked her up for church, lunch, and a drive to check out some of Ali’s favorite things – mail trucks at the post office and determining whether there were any tennis balls left behind at the courts at Bettendorf Middle School. Every fourth Sunday, Ali and her dad ushered at St. Paul.

“I served as Ali’s caddy,” Gary said.

The Maidens say life was not always easy with Ali. For example, she could not independently dress, bathe, use the restroom, or other similar tasks. Someone always needed to be with her. When times were particularly hard, the Maidens focused on separating Ali’s disability from Ali the person. “We were fortunate, during Ali’s life was the golden age of services,” Gary said, noting the recent shift in Iowa of the care of people with disabilities. “Services are going away, and it’s just wrong.”

In the months leading up to her death, Ali had a hard time fending off sickness. On a Sunday morning in January 2015, she ushered at church. By that following Thursday, she was gone.

“It was the worst night of my life,” Patty said.

On the family’s Sundays together, the docket included a trip to Hy-Vee. Ali stopped by the Starbucks inside the store to trade out $20 bills with 9s in the serial number, picked out the same greeting card to purchase, along with two packages of paper plates, and two Kit Kats. Her dad would then mail the greeting card to Ali, with a bit of money inside.

He still has the last greeting card she bought. Some of her purses still hang on the back of a chair in their home. Her Coin-U-Lator (a game with money) remains in a drawer in an upstairs bathroom. “She had a ton of personality,” Patty said. “We just really miss her.”

Ali’s gift
When Ali died at Genesis Medical Center – DeWitt in February 2015, her family chose to give the gift of healing to several people around the country. From that gift:
■ Sixty-four grafts of bone and connective tissue were completed, in California, Colorado, Illinois, and Missouri. The ages of the people helped range from an 11-year-old girl to an 80-year-old woman.
■ Three grafts of skin were completed, in Georgia and Michigan, including for a 20-year-old man and a 73-year-old man.

“Alison’s donation has enhanced the lives of those who received her gift,” wrote Julie Farren, donor family care specialist with the Iowa Donor Network. The letter arrived in February, two years after Ali’s death. It took some time for the Maidens to open it and read it. “It is our hope that each recipient will experience freedom from pain, greater mobility, and the opportunity to live a more active life.”

Twosday, featuring Ali and Emily
In a series of Facebook posts on Tuesdays that Gary Maiden calls Twosdays (for his two daughters), he remembers favorite moments and photos of life with Ali and Emily.

Alison finally leaves the NICU and gets about six feet out the door before Emily is all over her. We go home and Em wants to hold Ali NOW! (Note that Patty still wears her coat and scarf.) Twenty-three days is a long while to have a new sister but mostly just to look at through glass. They made up for lost time!

Our girls’ birthdays have always been big deals, so big that they were dubbed Emipalooza and Alipalooza.

It was established previously that Alison was not fond of grass. She cared even less for sand, so this shot of her in the turtle sandbox is quite rare. She only looks mildly miffed. We commemorate this moment during the Christmas season with the turtle sandbox ornament.

A shot of the two cool sisters, Alison and Emily, on the weekend of Em’s graduation from Wartburg College.

3 Comments on “People, purses, paper”

  • marci barnhart

    January 12, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    I loved having Ali at SNL. She ALWAYS added a spark of joy to those around her.

  • Deb Lamp

    January 12, 2018 at 8:24 am

    She touched so many people, I loved ushering as she touched so many.
    We never stop missing those we love, we learn how to go on.
    Such a lovely story.

  • Rich &Karen Holtz

    January 11, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    We were not aware of Ali’s death . We are so sorryforyourloss, ankeepyour wholefamilyin prayer. God’s peace to all!

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Daniel 12:1-3

The Time of the End

1“Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.2“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.3“Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Psalm 16

1Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You.

2I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord;

I have no good besides You.”

3As for the saints who are in the earth,

They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.

4The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied;

I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood,

Nor will I take their names upon my lips.

5The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;

You support my lot.

6The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;

Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.

7I will bless the LORD who has counseled me;

Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.

8I have set the LORD continually before me;

Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

9Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;

My flesh also will dwell securely.

10For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;

Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.

11You will make known to me the path of life;

In Your presence is fullness of joy;

In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

Hebrews 10:11-25

11Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;12but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD,13waiting from that time onward UNTIL HISENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET.14For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.15And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying,





He then says,



18Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.

A New and Living Way

19Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,20by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh,21and since we have a great priest over the house of God,22let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;24and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,25not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Christ or Judgment

Mark 13:1-8

Things to Come

1As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples *said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!”2And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.”

3As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately,4“Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?”5And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.6“Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and will mislead many.7“When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end.8“For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

Daniel 7:9-14

9“I kept looking

Until thrones were set up,

And the Ancient of Days took His seat;

His vesture was like white snow

And the hair of His head like pure wool.

His throne was ablaze with flames,

Its wheels were a burning fire.

10“A river of fire was flowing

And coming out from before Him;

Thousands upon thousands were attending Him,

And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him;

The court sat,

And the books were opened.

11“Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire.12“As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time.

The Son of Man Presented

13“I kept looking in the night visions,

And behold, with the clouds of heaven

One like a Son of Man was coming,

And He came up to the Ancient of Days

And was presented before Him.

14“And to Him was given dominion,

Glory and a kingdom,

That all the peoples, nations and men of every language

Might serve Him.

His dominion is an everlasting dominion

Which will not pass away;

And His kingdom is one

Which will not be destroyed.

The Vision Interpreted

Psalm 93

1The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty;

The LORD has clothed and girded Himself with strength;

Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.

2Your throne is established from of old;

You are from everlasting.

3The floods have lifted up, O LORD,

The floods have lifted up their voice,

The floods lift up their pounding waves.

4More than the sounds of many waters,

Than the mighty breakers of the sea,

The LORD on high is mighty.

5Your testimonies are fully confirmed;

Holiness befits Your house,

O LORD, forevermore.

Revelation 1:-4-8

John 18:33-37

33Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”34Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?”35Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?”36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”37Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”