Editor’s note: Ruth Swaner of Smithfield offers some of his personal history and ideas in today’s edition of “My Way,” a new regular feature where readers share something about themselves and offer ideas about what they would do to improve Cache Valley and the world. To participate and learn the guidelines, contact managing editor Charles McCollum at cmccollum@hjnews.com.

I’ve had many wonderful and hard experiences. I am a widow now but have a great husband and four sons, the youngest being severely autistic. I graduated from Utah State University with a bachelor of fine arts degree. Little did I realize that years later I would discover a talent I didn’t know I had until one day a friend read my opened journal sitting on the kitchen table about my trial of raising my autistic son. She hounded me to get some of these pages published. To get her off my back, I submitted a story to the Deseret News. It was published, and the discovery of the talent led to a long, wonderful journey of publications in newspapers, magazines, including the Ensign, and three published books. Along that journey I became the state president of the League of Utah Writers. I will always cherish my days with the well-known ladies and men who wrote and published nationally as well as statewise. I will never forget Alice Morrey Bailey, Dora Flack, Wanda Blisedale, Maxine Jennings, and more. I became a talented interviewer and believed that everyone had a story to tell. All of this happened because I wrote in my journal about my beloved son Michael. He hasn’t spoken a word since birth, but he handed me a new gift I didn’t know I had.

I grew up with my two grandmothers living with us. I don’t know how my mother did it all. She took care of my dad, my grandmothers, and me, all while serving in leadership responsibilities in our church. My grandmothers became my best friends. I loved sitting by them and hearing their pioneer stories. Consequently, I grew up adoring the elderly. They have so much wisdom, faith, and pure integrity. This great love for seniors led to opportunities to serve them. Currently I am the director of the Smithfield Senior Lunch and programs. I adore each and everyone of the seniors. I have to keep reminding myself that I am a senior myself.

What would I do to make Cache Valley a better place? Reach out to the elderly. For one day in Cache Valley, go visit the beloved elderly in our community. You know there is something about the human touch and hearing the human voice which is so meaningful to my generation (or anyone who needs it). Texting is not my generation. Hearing a voice over the phone is so meaningful. It makes me happy. I long for those who are close to me to try and put yourselves in my shoes. Don’t take it for granted that I should always text you, especially if I try to call you and you don’t respond. There’s something special about visiting over the phone and hearing your voice. We are becoming a people of abstracts where only using your finger to talk will suffice. One does not become emotionally involved, risk to say something which can be heard by human ears. Saying “I love you” to human ears ... is that so hard? Just as letter writing is becoming extinct, so is the good old phone call or better still a visit, a human-to-human touch.