Sunday, September 27, 2015

Think when you PINK

 Well, here we are again...closing in on October.  Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  While I am thankful that there is a whole month dedicated to bringing awareness to breast cancer, it is a difficult month.  Another reminder that my daughter did not survive this dreadful disease.

Andrew plays football in Springboro for the Wee Panthers.  I like what they are doing.  Instead of just handing out pink "stuff" for the kids to wear this month, they are having a Think When You PINK walk.  Both the Wee Football and Cheerleaders will organize at the high school football field and do two laps - the first a quiet lap in reflection of those fighting the disease and those who lost the battle, and a second lap in celebration of the hope.  They have chosen to bring awareness to these kids of WHY we wear pink in October.  Why you see PINK everywhere you go in October.  Andrew & Max understand...we talk about it all of the time.  I really like this idea.  We donated pink FORT bracelets to Andrew's team and coaches.

And before I forget,  THANK YOU Laura (Lulu - high school friend of Melissa's) for sharing Melissa's story and selling FORT bracelets at the Wee Firebirds games today.  We will LOVE seeing kids in Kettering wearing their bracelets!

While I am all for bringing awareness to breast cancer...I think the majority of women know that they should do regular breast checks and when to start getting mammograms.  A lot of money goes into bringing awareness to breast cancer.  They've done a good job of that.   It's time to start funneling some money to research for METASTATIC Breast Cancer.  Women (& men) do not die of cancer of the breast.  If breast cancer is caught early, you can survive breast cancer.  My mother in law is one of those survivors!!!  You WILL die of breast cancer if it metastasizes to other organs.  THAT is where the research needs to be.  How can we treat metastatic disease so those who are diagnosed can LIVE with the disease.    When Melissa was diagnosed, the cancer was in 9 of 19 lymph nodes.  It was on it's way to spreading to other organs....

Off my soapbox.

I worked with Andrew & Max today making signs to carry at the Think when you PINK event.

These were the practice signs...

Max's sign ^

Andrew's sign ^

Had a busy weekend with the boys - 

a couple of games of checkers...

a visit to Windmill Farm

a hayride...

a couple of pumpkins...

they are growing!  This is becoming a tradition!

I think Andrew will be taller than me next year...and he's only in second grade!

Kept them busy - and made mommy & daddy happy!

Funny story - at Andrew's football game yesterday, Max was sitting next to Mere's brother,
Brad.  The cheerleaders were throwing wrapped candy, and of course Max got some each time they threw it up in the stands.  Here is the conversation between Max & Uncle Brad...

Uncle Brad: "Max.  Did you have lunch today?"

Max: "No."

Uncle Brad:  "Why are you eating so much candy?"

Max:  "Because I didn't have any lunch."


Just to clear things up,  according to Mere, he DID have lunch.  Max tends to forget things occasionally.  And to be honest, he just didn't see what was wrong with eating candy for lunch.
Oh to be six again.

And Andrew.

When he woke up this morning, as soon as he opened his eyes he said "Pamma.  Aunt Fort was in my dream last night.  She gave me a hug and a kiss and she told me she loved me.  Then she disappeared into thin air."

Interesting thing, I heard Andrew laughing out loud in his sleep.  He wasn't awake.  He was asleep.  And laughing.  Wonder if Aunt Fort was tickling him before she hugged him?  

It was a good weekend for the beginning of a tough month.  

Wear your pink, and don't forget, THINK WHEN YOU PINK!

Sunday, September 20, 2015


Sitting here on a beautiful Sunday morning.  Just finished reading the paper, waiting for Donny to get home from the softball tournament.  He's been in Dalton, Ga. since Wednesday.  Talked to him every day...he's really enjoying it.  They did really well, played their last game this morning.  Lost in the semi-finals.  Found out after the game he was selected to be on the All-American team.  He had 21 hits in 4 games, only 5 outs in nine games.  So proud of him.  And so happy that he finally did something like this.  He has never taken a trip with a bunch of guys like this.  I have taken multiple trips with friends in the past.  He really needed this.

So why this post today?  I don't think many people read this any more, so it's a safe place for me to go.

Might be difficult for some to understand, especially since it's coming up on seven years.  I feel like I am spiraling downward.  It's like this every fall...Melissa's favorite season. Used to be mine too.  But now all I do is dread what is coming.  Starting with the leaves changing colors...who would think that would bring on such sadness.  Never used to.  Now it's just a reminder of what used to be.  I remember how much Melissa loved the falls scents.  She had so many fall candles burning in her house I was afraid she would burn it down!  And the colors.  The browns, golds, reds...she loved decorating in the fall.  I mean, look at the picture on this blog, she LOVED LOVED LOVED the fall.  And all I can do is sit here with tears streaming down my face trying to appreciate this wonderful season.

Then we have October.  The 19th would be John Patrick (JP's) 12th birthday.  And we'll celebrate that, but without him.  Again.  The 30th is my sister Sue's birthday.  She would be 55.  And I'll celebrate that too.  Without her.  And the fact that it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month...UGH.  The one good thing that happens in October? The Kelts remember Melissa with a Breast Cancer Fundraiser.  Oct 17 this year.  We always go (except for last year, first one we missed-we were in California) and will never miss another one

And then the holidays begin.  And I fall apart.

I am so good in the spring and summer.  This time of year suffocates me.

The last four days, home alone.  I should have called someone and made plans to do SOMETHING.  But I have a hard time reaching out.  Really?  I have a hard time talking to anyone about how I am feeling.   I realize how hard it is for the people I love and who love me to see me like this.  So I put on a smile, and everything is ok.  Not really.

Started a clean eating program - good for a week.  Thanks to Mere & Nick.  It's helping.  And started a Yoga class last week.  Love that too.

Just in a funk and needed to get it out...have you ever gone a few days and not physically talked to someone?  Facebook does that to you. It's not good for you.

So, for today, I'm trying to motivate myself to take my 4 mile walk...then maybe pick up the kids and do something fun.  Get my mind off...what?  Melissa?  I don't know.

If only for a while, I'll do something that makes me smile.

It's the best I can do.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Call me when you get home...

Just saw this post on Facebook.  It was one of those Minion posters.  It said "I'm one of those "call when you get home so I know you're safe" kind of person.

This story is a little long to post there, so here I am.

When Melissa moved out, any time she would come home to visit, when she was getting ready to leave I would say "call when you get home so I know you got there ok.", especially if she was alone. She was pretty good about calling especially after she moved to Cincinnati.  (I guess I didn't worry as much about Nick -  thought he was big enough to take care of himself!)

Fast forward to January 2009.

A couple of weeks after she passed away, we got a call from Judy and Bob (my cousin and her husband).  They called to tell us about a dream their daughter in law had the morning Melissa passed away.  Melissa was in her dream - she introduced herself to Candy - they had only met one time at our family reunion at Dick & Beck's.  Must have been around 1999-2000.  She asked Candy to "tell my mom and dad I'm ok".

We always told Melissa to call when she got home.  Well, we got the ULTIMATE call when she got home.  She wanted us to know she was ok.

She always was good about letting us know she was okay, and we really needed THAT call!

Missing those phone calls and visits more every day...
in D.C. for the Cherry Blossom Festival

last fall Oktoberfest in Cincinnati with the Naked Cowboy.
No idea what was coming in a couple of weeks...

Miss you so much Melissa....

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Missing my little girl...

Seems a little silly, I think.  The "headline" leads you to believe that I'm missing my little girl today.  But really, it's EVERY day.  Some days it just hits me harder that she's really gone.

Like yesterday.  Donny wanted to go shopping at Kohls.  I didn't really need anything but went anyway.  He went his way, I went mine.  Picked a few things out to try on and headed to the dressing room.

While I was trying on the few things in my cart, I could hear a mom and her daughter.  "What do you think?"  "How does this look?"  "What about this color?"  "Your dad said we could only spend so much..."

And here I was.  Wondering if the color looked right.  Wondering how it looked.  Wondering what Melissa would think.

The last time I went shopping with Melissa was my last birthday with her.  August of 2008.  I was looking at jewelry and was trying on a ring.  Costume jewelry, but it kind of looked like an engagement ring.  She said "Do you want it for your birthday?"  "Sure!"  So she bought it for me, and said "you know this means we're engaged now!"  And I was ok with that.  We was SO nice to have my daughter with me...and Mere was with us too.  I also remember that she wasn't feeling well.  Even then.  I knew something was wrong.  As we walked around the store, she kept sitting down.  She was getting tired easily.  I think even then her breathing wasn't right.  Damn cancer.

At the Compassionate Friends conference in Dallas in July, they had a session Thursday night for "Daughterless Mothers".  I had someone recently tell me they were a daughterless mother too, because they didn't have a daughter.  Didn't "birth" a daughter.  There is a big difference.  Never having had a daughter, you unfortunately wouldn't know that kind of relationship.  So there's no reason to compare.  There were 12 mothers in this session.    Several lost their daughters to "no known cause".  One lost her daughter, her only child.  Another mom accidentally ran over her daughter...she still has 3 sons.  It was an interesting sharing session.  We all got to tell our stories and our experiences since we lost our only daughters.   Somehow it is helpful knowing you are not alone.

However, every daughter has had a mother.  Not all have good relationships, but most of my friends do (or did) have good relationships with their mothers.  In fact, the bereaved mothers I know who have lost their mothers?  For some of them, that loss was the next greatest loss.   Their mother was their best friend.  When they became adults they became friends too.  They went shopping together, lunches.  Dinners.  Advice.  Someone who loved you unconditionally.

My mom loved me unconditionally.  I know that.  But I never had any of that other mother/daughter stuff.  After my brother Steve died, my mom changed.  It was right about the time my mom and I were becoming friends.   She was lost in a world of grief.  I never understood that.  She didn't go shopping with me for my wedding dress.  She didn't help with my wedding planning.  She would send my dad with me if I needed help.  Even years later, I would ask my mom if she wanted to go shopping or go to lunch.  Always "no".  Not until she had dementia and I took her to get her nails done once, did we go to lunch together.  She was a prisoner in my car.  I just told her "we're going to lunch."  She couldn't say no.

I never understood, but I KNEW that I wanted a relationship with my daughter that I never had with my own mom.  And we did.  Shopping together.  I'd driving to Cincinnati to meet her for lunch when she was working at UC.  She invited me to do things with her friends.

Then I lost her.  And I understood why my mom did what she did.  She couldn't focus.  She was grieving.  And when she could focus, it went to my sister Sue who needed her.  Sue and Mom had that relationship that I wanted.  But I had Donny.  And I guess it was too overwhelming for my mom to focus on more than one of us.  I understand that now.

So when I lost my mom, I didn't feel that great sense of loss that a lot of my friends feel when their mom's die.  I loved my mom and I know she loved me.  But the depth of your relationship has a lot to do with how you grieve that loss.  My life was pretty much the same after my mom died.

But Melissa?  The depth of our relationship was eternal.  I will never stop missing her.  And little things like hearing a mom and daughter in a dressing room bring the emotions to the surface.
It's the same way at Christmas time.  I used to love shopping.  Now all I see in the malls are mothers and daughters laughing and loving and enjoying each others company.

I don't even know how to dress myself anymore.  Melissa was not the fashion expert, but she knew what was in style (even if she didn't wear it!) and she would tell me if what I was wearing was ok. Even if it wasn't verbally...she had this look that told me.  Sometimes just a roll of her eyes.  How I miss that...

This rant is not to lessen the relationship that I have with my son.  If you have a son(s), then you know that those relationships are different.  I have a great relationship with Nick.  But he has his wife.  And her family now.  It's just different.

I am blessed that I have a wonderful husband who knows exactly what I am feeling when it comes to Melissa.  He is right there too.  He misses her like I miss her.

I have a great son and daughter in law.  And grandsons.  I NEVER forget that.

 I will NEVER forget my daughter and I will forever miss what I had with her.  I want her back.  I want my old life back.

But I work every day to enjoy what I do have.  My husband, son, grandsons.  Great friends.

Some days just bring it all back to me.  And I have to get through those days too.

And of course, I can never end a post without pictures of Andrew & Max.  She would be so in love with them.  They love their Aunt Fort.  I wish they could have known her like we do.

Max & Andrew at the Dragons game

Andrew.  Farmer boy.

Max.  Ditto.

Racing on the big slide.  


Love you Melissa.  Missing you terribly today.  And always. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Another busy summer, or July I guess.

Seems like we squeeze so much fun into the summer months to prepare us for hibernating in the winter.  With the winters we've had lately, we're starting to rethink the vacation timing!  Although we don't like to miss the basketball in the winter.  Oh the problems of getting older...

The trip to San Antonio/Dallas was a great start to our vacations.  Home from Dallas for three days, then we left for a short cruise with our friends Mange & Mary.  Fourth summer in a row to go on a cruise with them.  All we could squeeze in this time was a four day, two port cruise.  Key West & Cozumel, Mexico.

Our view of Miami from the ship.
Ready to relax...waiting on his boat drink!
Great view as the ship was leaving the port.

First stop...KEY WEST!

Mary & I were shopping, Mange & Donny were trying out Margaritas!

Mange & Mary

Didn't know the original Margaritaville was in Key West!  Great margaritas there!

Three stops for Mange.

Donny & Jimmy Buffett

This was the original Jimmy Buffett Bar.  Those are dollar bills and bras hanging from the ceiling!

Me & Donny and some other couple

...some fun on the ship...

formal night

this is becoming a tradition for us!

my favorite.  Carnival Cosmo.  I think it's Donny's favorite now too. 

We were laying on the deck and this butterfly came out of nowhere and landed right by Donny. We had a visitor!!!!

Donny and his vacation pose...ever since Siesta Key...

They had a Dr. Seuss breakfast for kids - just stopped in to take some pictures!

Cat in the Hat ice sculpture

My favorite frozen drink.  Just remember it had coconut & pineapple...and rum.  Yum.

Adult pool was a little crowded.  Donny & Mange are right in the middle of it...

We must have been feeling pretty good here...or Mange said something funny...

next stop...COZUMEL...

Right off the ship in the shops.  This was a real person.  Pretty cool!

This one was a little scary.  I don't need any curses put on me...

Remember Animal House?  Donny & Mange LIVED it at Wilmington College.  

My new boots

Just off the ship in Cozumel - that's our ship in the background

Paradise Beach pool

Loved this beach - it was like a forest of palm trees!

Donny's beach pose...again.

MISSING:  Two amigos.  One was taking the photo, not sure where the other was!

This was a restaurant right off the ship.  Another Mexican Restaurant. Mexico and all they have are Mexican restaurants.  DUH.  

Had a relaxing five days, but were exhausted when we got home.  Traveling does that to you.  Fortunately I was able to sleep in after we got home.  Donny?  Not so lucky.  He was back to reality the next day.  We ALWAYS have a great time with Mange & Mary.  Already planning something for next summer!

Compassionate Friends

Our July meeting is always a picnic/balloon release.  This might have been the biggest turnout since we've been going.  So many good friends and a lot of great food.  

We attached small cards to the balloons this time instead of writing on the balloons.  The cards reflected the sun the higher they got - looked like stars sparkling! It was really beautiful.

I kind of see a heart shape in the balloons.  I see hearts everywhere anymore.  
From Melissa, I'm sure.  Always makes me smile. 


This trip was a little bittersweet for me.  The last time we were at Ohio University was for Melissa's graduation...15 years ago.  

Scott & Sandi Franz's oldest son, Taylor is going to Med School there.  Saturday was the White Coat Ceremony.  We didn't make it to the ceremony, so when we got there we did a little tour...trying to find Melissa's old haunts & homes.  I didn't think I would remember how to find her places, but it all came back.  Just like it was yesterday...

First of all, we picked up a passanger on the way to OU.  Didn't know it until we got out of the car at the hotel (we stayed at the OU Inn).  I'm guessing Melissa wanted us to know for sure that she would be with us that weekend...

This was our passenger.  We saw it fly by while we were on the road, had no idea it attached itself to the car!  

OU Inn

Melissa's sophmore year she lived in the Convocation Center (basketball arena) with Annie & Karen

Her junior year, she lived at 28 Montrose with seven other girls. She had the biggest bedroom, top right.  This house hasn't changed at all!

She lived here on E Carpenter St. her senior year with Pat, Corey & Shawn. I have a picture somewhere of her & I sitting on the porch...this was an emotional stop for me...

The only place we didn't visit was the dorm she lived in her first year - Jefferson Hall.  Didn't want to walk down the hill and then back UP the hill.  I've heard some pretty funny stories about Melissa and Jeff Hall and that hill.  I need to write them down so I don't forget.  Can I get some help here?

Souvlaki's greek resataurant.  She loved this place AND worked here.  Unfortunately, it was recently closed by the Health Department.  I'll bet it was back then too.  I heard those stories too.

The Cats Eye.  The rugby bar.  Her favorite.

Thought she would like this picture.

and now the real reason we were there...celebrating Taylors White Coat Ceremony!

Kristi & Clarke

I think this was at PawPurrs

Shelly, Taylor & Emily & little beers.

Drinking from the Fort Memorial Cup.  Or the 'stand in' cup.  Trout took the real one home for safekeeping!

Taylor taking his drink!

Donny &  (almost) Dr. Taylor Franz

Scott Franz, the proud dad!

me & Emily (Emily and Melissa were good friends - she was one of Melissa's first teammates on her first soccer team!)

Me, Matt & Shelly.  Matt didn't know it, but after a few drinks I told him Melissa had a big crush on him (before he met Shelly!)  They had no idea.  Melissa was probably not happy that I told him...

Kristi & Clarke - they are cousins but more like siblings.  They look happy here.

Donny - being silly with Clarke - with the rainbow shots.

Somebody (MATT) ordered 32 shots at the end of the night.  He didn't remember doing that the next morning...

We got the handicapped room.  I have no idea why they need FIVE alarms.  We felt pretty safe.

GREAT weekend.  So glad we were invited and we went.  We always have a great time with the Franz family...(Melissa always said she was a Franz wannabe.  She was part of the family.  So are we. Love them!)

Me & Max

Andrew was spending the day with Mimi (his other grandma), so I got to spend the day with Max.  They love Boonshoft, so we went there.  Love spending one on one time with the kids when I get the chance!

Serving Pamma pizza!


and I saved the BEST for last.

My sign from Melissa on one of our flights home...

Thanks Fort.

Love you miss you.