Friday, February 3, 2017

Not sure where to even start today.

Positive stuff?  That would seem appropriate because Melissa's blog is B POSITIVE.

But for my own sanity, I think I'll start with the not so positive.  When I finish this, I'll need something to remind me that I DO have something to live for...

POLITICS

Not something to live for, for sure.  I wish I could just ignore everything that is going on.
If you happened to vote for the person who was elected, you might want to stop here, or just scroll down to the B POSITIVE stuff.  But I hope you are will to listen to the other side.

I do not consider myself "whiny".  It is NOT sour grapes.

I am truly terrified.  TRULY.  The things that I am most concerned about are (in no particular order):

Health Care (including Planned Parenthood/Abortion issue)
Education
Social Security/Medicare
Environment

I get the feeling that those aren't the same concerns of those who voted for the person who was elected.

His concerns are for white Christians.  Period.

Not once have I heard him say "I will work for everyone in this country."  He even had "Thank You rallies for the people who voted for him.  I am 60 years old and I don't remember an elected official EVER having "Thank You" rallies.

Now, to clarify.  I am white.  That's a plus for me this year (or the next four years, maybe).  I used to think I was a Christian, but lately I don't identify with the majority of people who call themselves Christians.  I believe in God and Jesus Christ, but I am having a problem with organized religion.
So I don't know WHAT that makes me.

Let's start with Health Care.
I have noticed that health care cost have risen...and have been for a long time (not just in the last 8 years).     When I was still working for the school system, they changed to a Health Savings Plan.
The good thing was, in the beginning, the school system put money in the savings plan the first couple of years - that helped cover co-payments and the deductible.  Here's what I find interesting.
You pay a premium to the Insurance Company,  and you pay the first (oh, that depends on your coverage) in our case, the first $2000 per individual, or $4000 per family.  The insurance company covers nothing until you reach your deductible.  With the Affordable Care Act (also known as ObamaCare - YES it is the same thing!) the insurance companies were responsible for  preventative health care - screenings, baseline physicals .
Even after two visits to the emergency room in one year (one for me, one for Donny) we never reached our deductible.    Each visit cost us $1000.    My personal opinion is health care should not be FOR PROFIT.  Any time you make something FOR PROFIT, the most important thing becomes making money.  I don't believe insurance companies have the patients best interest at heart.  If they are not making money on something, or if something is too expensive, they will question a doctor's request/orders.  It happened to Melissa.  Her doctor recommended a treatment that she needed, but told her that "her insurance company was going to fight her on this".  Her response was "Give it to me.  I'll deal with it later."  She was fighting for her life, but money was more important to the insurance company.

I am ready to just drop my health insurance and if I get sick, just hope that it's not anything serious.

Donny is ready to retire (he NEEDS to retire)...and we are waiting to see what's going to happen with insurance.  F*ck it.

We were both hoping that Medicare would be our insurance when we reach 65, now that is in question.  This new administration wants to privatize that too.  Another FOR PROFIT business opportunity for some billionaire.

And now I'm reading my pension (that I paid into for 25 years) is in jeopardy.

Oh, and the abortion issue.  For anyone out there who believes that YOU have the right to make that decision for anyone, I am offended.  Melissa was pregnant when she was diagnosed and her doctors told her she needed to decide whether or not she was going to terminate the pregnancy.  Her cancer was very aggressive and putting off treatment could affect the outcome.  She was 25 years old, and she WANTED the baby.  She CHOSE NOT to terminate.  It was HER choice.  (and I know now that she chose her babies life over HER life).  So I lost not only my grandson, I lost my daughter too.
Which would YOU choose??????
Melissa & I are (were) both anti-abortion, but PRO-choice.  And when recently I posted this on FB, a family friend immediately posted (not to me personally, but just on his wall) "You cannot be Catholic and Pro-choice".  Really?  Melissa went to a priest right after she had the ultra-sound to see how far along she was.  The priest said "Melissa, whatever you decide, God will understand".  A non-judgemental priest.  I didn't think there was one.  So, am I Catholic?  I guess not.
For those of you judging, all I can say is, the only one that can judge me is GOD.

ENVIRONMENT
I read recently that the rate of cancer deaths have fallen.  I believe that it's because of regulations that prevent pollution.  Regulations that keep us (and our children/grandchildren) safe.
But this administration isn't concerned about keeping us safe.  It's all about money. You don't make money paying for regulations.  So get rid of them.

I am really concerned for my grandsons.

EDUCATION
I went to Parochial school from second grade through ninth grade.  I got a great education there.
My parents taught us right from wrong, good morals and values.  My parents paid for that education when we went to parochial school.

I went to public school (inner city at that!) and got a great education.  While I chose not to go on to college, I did get a (full-time) job right out of high school.  From my inner city public school, many of my classmates went on to college - teachers, businessmen, nurses,  DOCTORS.  Successful professionals.
And believe it or not, successful professionals STILL graduate from public schools (inner city too).
My own children went to public schools, went on to college, graduated and are (were) productive citizens.

A lot of my friends went through public school and are successful, productive citizens (as did my friends from private schools).

Now we have a person nominated for Education Secretary who can't agree that ALL SCHOOLS that receive federal money should be held EQUALLY ACCOUNTABLE.  All she would say was "they should be accountable."  So public schools are held to higher standards.  The standards change (almost yearly lately) - They are working with a moving target.  No wonder they can't hit the target.
But schools that receive vouchers or Charter Schools (FOR PROFIT) aren't held to the same standards.  And while I can't argue with the success of Private Schools, I can argue that they too are held to different standards.  A student can be kicked out of a private school for a multitude of reasons.  That same student's option then is Public Schools.  Public Schools don't have that option. They serve ALL children.

I do believe that all children CAN succeed.  There are three parts to the equation.
TEACHER/STUDENT/PARENT.    Chances of succeeding are not great if one of the pieces is missing.    I was an educator for 26 years (as a paraprofessional).  Students who have all parts of the puzzle have a better chance of succeeding.  Kids that live in poorer districts can succeed,  but sometimes have roadblocks that deter them.   I think we could start by educating parents about how to help their children succeed.  Of course you will always find an educator that isn't doing their job, like in ANY other profession.
Do yourself a favor.  Visit a public school sometime and see exactly what teachers do.  You might be surprised.
On a daily basis, teachers serve anywhere from 15-30 students (or more in middle and high school) All different personalities, different levels academically, different backgrounds, different races, different experiences.   And their job is to make sure that they are all on the same page and can pass the same test and, oh yes, deal with behavior problems as well.

In Ohio, the majority of Charter Schools have not worked.  Once again, they are more concerned about making money than educating students.  Educating children SHOULD NOT be a FOR PROFIT venture.

If you have children in public schools, more importantly, if you have children with special needs, education is about to change if Betsy DeVos is approved.

I need to stop there.  My blood pressure is going up...

POLICE/GUNS
I am sitting here with the news on while I type.
EVERY story so far has been about gun violence.
This has got to stop.

We have several friends who are police officers.  I would trust any one of them with my life.  I trust them to protect our city.  I trust them to make good decisions (just as I trust teachers to make good decisions with my children).

So I'm struggling this month after my family has been personally affected by gun violence.  And the police are involved.  The prosecutor has determined that the police were justified in their decision.
I am disheartened that this country has gotten to the place where everyone feels like they need a gun to protect themselves.  Do you know that if a police officer comes to your house and you present a gun, they are justified to shoot to kill?   Should they take into consideration the situation?  I believe so.  Centerville Police officers did just that.  Yesterday.   A 15 year old POINTED a gun at officers, they shot him 3 times, injuring him.  He will survive.     Would a situation where someone is despondent not call for the same action?  I have lost an entire family.  I feel justified asking that question.

Why do we even need a Police Department?  If everyone has their own gun and everyone wants to protect themselves, why?  Why do we need laws?  Why aren't we just all on our own?
Why do we need to pay taxes?  Why don't we just buy our own books, pay for our own school, pave our own roads?  Why do we need Social Security.  Make those people WORK.

BECAUSE.  I believe in the greater good.  What is best for all of us.  Its not all about ME.

I am about at the end of my rope.
My life in the last 8 years has been impacted by multiple deaths (of family and close friends)...
My family has been impacted by drug abuse,  gun violence, cancer.  Death.

I am tired.  I am tired of everything.  I am ready to quit.  The death of my son in law (and the death of my good friends daughter) has almost put me over the edge.

And that is why I saved this for last.  For the moment, I have to have something that makes me smile.  That gives me hope.  That makes me want to fight for my grandsons future.  I have to do SOMETHING (other than end it all).

the B POSITIVE part....

In December, (before everything happened) my good friend offered her condo in Florida for a week.  She knew that the first week of January was difficult for us.  She had no idea (at the time) how much we would need that.

We were the only ones on the beach.  For miles.

Because we were in the Panhandle, we could see sunrise AND sunset every day.  This is sunset.

Prettiest shells Ive ever found on a Florida beach.  And LOTS of hearts.  Melissa sends me hearts.

Donny is really into the Civil War and cannons.  This was at Fort Pickens.

This is me and Melissa.  A Fort within a Fort. :)

This is a real, live, armadillo. The only one I'd seen before this was a dead one on the side of the road!

Sunrise.  3 birds...Melissa, John, JP



We love you FORT, J MAC, JP

my three broken hearts... 

our place for a week.

Donny was the Incredible Shrinking Man. Relaxing.

Me relaxing.

Going back in time...if only.

The best Key Lime Pie in the country.

Fort kind of jumps out at us...this was a "Fort Tour"

This boat washed up on shore a week before we got there.  They have no idea where it came from.  No markings on the boat that will help them, either.

A storm at sea.

We brought a rose from Jody's funeral.  When we were in the Caribbean, a woman from the island we were on gave us (me and Mary, my friend who also lost a daughter) flowers to throw into the water for our daughters.  I did the same for Jody...

Sunrise.

A little work had to be done while we were there (some jackhammering.) Fun.

Sunset.

I sent this photo to a friend. She said "Is that a sunset or nuclear explosion?"  Hmmm...

Took this picture at our favorite restaurant.  I went to school with a Marlin Barr.

Took Andrew & his friend Trey to the Wright State women's game.  We had seats on the floor, they got to meet the mascot (Rowdy Raider) AND Chelsea.  She had her career high that night - 33 pts!


And as most of you know (if you've been here before) basketball is what gets us through the winters.
We follow the Firebirds faithfully.  (although we did miss two games the week we were in Florida). We also follow Chelsea (at Wright State) Makayla (at Ohio State) and Kathryn Westbeld (at Notre Dame)  We had made arrangements about a month ago to go to her game at ND on Jan 29.  Found out it was her 21st birthday.  We went up on Saturday and asked if she wanted to go to dinner - she was free so she did!  Had a great visit with her.  Her mom & dad should be proud.  She is an amazing young woman.    And we didn't buy her a drink, that was a posed picture.  She turned 21 the next day and we thought her mom and dad would want to buy her her "first" drink.  

me, Kathryn, Donny


Kathryn's youngest fan.  Adorable.

Just a note - she's been dealing with a foot injury and was in a boot when we took her out to dinner.  Said she wasn't even sure if she would be playing on Sunday.  Only if they needed her.  And they needed her.  She didn't get a lot of minutes, but when she was in, she made an impact.

They played last night at Virginia Tech (who won their first 15 games this season).  Another game she didn't start because of her foot, but ended up getting lots of playing time...and 17 points.  And a win.
I always message her after the game, asked how her foot was...her response "It's pretty sore at the moment."  She reminds me a lot of Melissa.  Never complains.  Just has that "I need to suck it up attitude."  Maybe that's what we like about her.  She's a lot like Melissa.

UD WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

I had the opportunity again this year to talk to the UD Women's basketball team about Melissa and breast cancer.  I really like the new coach (Shauna Green) - she's down to earth, friendly, caring.  And a good coach.  UD has won the last 9 games and are first in the A10.  
Got to pass out Fort bracelets/key chains and talk to a couple of the girls.  Went to the PINK Game and saw a great OT win.  
Following the Flyers again too.  



*************************
So where do I go from here?  I am depressed.  I am sad.  I am angry.  I am afraid.

But I'm still taking care of my dad, I love my husband & my son more than life itself, I want to see my grandsons grow up.  

A little sunshine would help and less time to the next election.  

Hope I can hold out until then.

Thank God for basketball....














Thursday, January 5, 2017

Gifts from Melissa...on her birthday

The gifts should be going to Melissa...not me.

But I am so thankful for these gifts.

Yesterday, John's parents went to his house.  His wife told them that there were several boxes in the basement with "Melissa" written on them.    We got the first round yesterday.

Second round today, Melissa's birthday.

Less than a year after Melissa passed away, I asked John if there was anything of Melissa's that he didn't want, we would like to have.  He sent us a box of her t-shirts.  I was so thankful.  I guess I just assumed that he gave away the rest.

I had no idea.

When his parents asked if we wanted the things that were in the basement, well, there was no question.  Treasures.  All treasures.  She was just like her mom.  She saved everything.  I did something right.  (we are not hoarders, just save things that are mostly sentimental.)

There are a couple boxes of pictures.  Lots of pictures.  A wedding keepsake book "Our First Year", you know, like a baby book where you write about your first year.  Every page is not complete, but there are a lot of things (that I'll share here) that I didn't know.  These are the things I am most thankful for...her writing.  

I have been wanting to ask John if I could make copies of JP's scrapbook that Melissa made, I didn't want to take it from him, I just wanted copies.  I have it now.

There is a bag (you know, the ones that comforters come in-I save those too.  Melissa inherited that), that is full of teddy bears...and the newspaper with JP's obituary. 

We haven't gone through everything yet, and there is more to come.  I need to take my time.  So we do what we have done for the last eight years.  We went to the girls basketball game.  We got out of the house, didn't think about everything that has gone on this week.  That's how we cope.

There is so much more.  

What i love about this...a picture of her and Nick in a frame with butterflies!!!!

One of her creations. 
The pink scarf she made (when she learned to crochet...it's about 6 ft long.  I'm wearing it right now...had to wrap it around 6 times...I have a picture of her wearing this. The frame is something I made for John a few Christmas's ago - all pics of him and Melissa. (I made the same thing for Donny and Nick - ea with pictures of them with Melissa). And the blue blanket...it was the blanket JP was wrapped in when he was born...

JP's scrapbook


the rugby ball signed for Fort. There was one for J Mac and one for us.  Now we have both.

and their wedding keepsake "Our First Year".

I know she would be ok with me sharing some of the things written in this.  Made me laugh...and boy to I need to laugh...



This is how each page is set up.

I'll share a couple of the pages...

Falling in Love

How we met - I know Haps was involved, I'm sure beer was there too - My first real memory was sitting at the Bar with John, Pauly & Lou at 2:00 a.m.  I asked if I could crash on the closest couch - 
JOHN WON!!!

First Impressions - Infectious laugh, sensible shoes, awesome sense of humor, highly intelligent

First Date Details - Julie & Kevin's wedding at the same place we're having our reception!!  I remember beer & beads, dancing and fun!!  (2nd date was the AF Museum the next day!!)

How We Spent Time Together - Mostly weekend long dates ( I was still living in Dayton). 
Haps, basically.

Favorite Places - Haps, Rugby games, Haps

Most Romantic Moment - When we "got lost" and ended up looking over the skyline of Cincinnati and we told each other "I love you" and John prefaced it by telling me it was a "Big MATZA BALL"

*****

Ok, you get the idea.  I'll share more later.  

What a treasure we have received.

I have to thank John's parents, and Lisa too.  All of these things could have been disposed of.  But she was gracious enough to make sure that we got them.  Thank you.

And speaking of John's parents...when they brought her things to the house yesterday, we went through a couple boxes, because they thought there might be some of John's things, which we did find.  Then John's dad pulled a frame out of one of the boxes, it was their Marriage License.
He said "Well.  Here it is.  It's official."  And the puzzle went off!!!!!!!!  (I've told the puzzle story many times here.  It's one of the signs we get from Melissa-one of the ways she communicates with us.)  The puzzle did not go off just once, but the entire time they were here.  They were here for about an hour before Donny got home from work, and when he got home, it continued.  It was like Melissa, John & JP all wanted to be in on the conversation.  It was truly incredible.  

What John and Melissa had was true love.  True love with a tragic ending.  

and before I end, I need to tell the story of the day you were born, Melissa.


...It was a balmy morning.  My contractions started around 4 a.m.  We left for the hospital around 5.
A little later in the morning it started snowing (and didn't stop for three days).  My labor was not bad, and did not last long.  You were born at 1:19 p.m. ( and I now have your birth certificate to prove it-or a copy that YOU had...along with your driver's license and UC ID's - always wondered what happened to those).  
Anyway, back in those days, we got to stay in the hospital for two or three days to rest before the REAL work began.  The day we took you home, our car (a Gremlin X) wouldn't start.  So Rick Kayser, your dad's best friend and college roommate picked up your dad and came to pick us up at the hospital.  I sat in the front seat, holding you (no car seats necessary in those days), Rick drove and your dad sat in the back seat.  A couple of weeks after we got you home, the Blizzard of '78 hit.  And we all survived.  

January 5, 1978 was the happiest day of my life. Little did I know that there was so much more happiness (and heartache) to come.  

I love you Melissa Marie Fortener McLaughlin "FORT".

Celebrate your birthday with your family in heaven, and we'll celebrate with the rest of your family (and some friends) at China Cottage.

Happy Birthday Pretty Girl!


















Monday, January 2, 2017

REFLECTIONS..life, death, friends-Eight Years Later

Usually the anticipation is much worse or much more exciting than the actual event.  Whatever the event happens to be.

In my case, the anticipation of going through another holiday without Melissa is grueling.  In the fall (her favorite season) the depression starts creeping in.  The smells, the sounds, everything about the fall reminds me of Melissa.  And Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Ugh.  Don't get me wrong, I'm glad we are making people aware of breast cancer...and I hope from  all the fundraising for breast cancer research they at least find something to make it a treatable disease (if not a cure!)

And then the holidays.  A couple of years ago, it did get a little easier.  I could put up a few decorations and listen to Christmas music.  I sent out Christmas cards.

This year has been harder than any in the last eight years.  My 60th birthday, our 40th anniversary, two things that Melissa would have been in charge of.  And anyone who knows me knows me knows the election put me over the edge.  I needed a break from Facebook (although I did go back today to post that I was updating the blog...seemed like I needed to today).  Too difficult to see COMPLETE families and all their happiness.

But I had no idea that this week, the one I dread the most, could get even worse.  I mean, what could be worse than only having memories of your beautiful daughter, and getting through the EIGHTH year without her?  Then two days later, what should be her 39th birthday?

God DOES give you more than you can handle.  I know that personally.

On Saturday, New Years Eve, I took the boys to a movie.  Our tradition is usually BW3, then they spend the night at our house.  Donny picked us up after the movie and when we got in the car I asked him if we were going right to BWs.  No, he said, I'm not sure you'll want to go.  Jennifer called.
One of my best friends from high school.  Her daughter Jody died unexpectedly.

This was from one of our Mother/Daughter weekends.  Karen, me, Jody & Melissa.


The only good thing is I know what to do in this situation.  I've had a lot of mentors (friends who have shown me how to do this).  I didn't go over that night, but did the next morning, then in the afternoon.  It helps me when I know I can help someone else.  In this case, I have a lot of experience.

So last night, I can't sleep.  I went to bed, but just couldn't get to sleep.  So I got up, came downstairs and sent Jennifer a text. It was 1:26 a.m.  Didn't get to sleep until around 3:30 a.m.

We had decided to celebrate Melissa's birthday Monday since we would all be home.  Our tradition for her birthday was China Cottage.  She loved it.  So we will always go for her birthday.  Nick, Mere and the boys and my nephew Matthew were meeting there at 11:30.  Andrew called at 10:30 and said his daddy and mommy weren't up yet - so I told him to wake them up - we were meeting in an hour.
So we get there right at 11:30 - Nick and Mere aren't there so I called Nick to make sure Andrew woke them up...no answer.  So I called Mere. She answered and said they would be there soon...and she sounded upset.    While I was talking to her, another call was coming in from Murphy, NC.
our son in law John's parents were calling.  I thought for New Years.  We stay in touch during the holidays mostly.

I missed the call and when I called back John (our John's dad) answered...he sounded like he was crying, and gave the phone to Diana.

Our son in law John had died.  WTH????????? How????  What happened?????

I won't go into details here, because at this point I don't have all the facts.   But I will say that it was in the news in Cincinnati.

Nick & Mere had just gotten a call from Pauly.   Pauly, who runs the Kelts Breast Cancer Fundraiser every year.  He had heard from another Kelt.

How can this be happening????  How can this be real?????  How can this be true????
It's not possible.

But it did happen.  It is real.  It is true.  It is possible.

John was exactly the kind of guy Melissa was looking for...he was really smart and they could have an intelligent conversation.  That was really important to her.  And he loved her.
He loved her so much that he married her even though she had cancer.  Even though they had lost a child.  He took his wedding vows seriously..."til death do us part".  He was by her side until she took her last breath.

A few years later, John met and married someone.  He deserved to be happy more than anyone.  It was hard to see him alone (and I'll be honest, it was hard to see him with someone else too), but we just wanted him to be happy.  And he seemed to be, for awhile anyway.

Grieving is something you HAVE to do.  You can't hold it inside because it will eat you alive.

I know some people are probably tired of me talking about my daughter, but I will honestly say if I didn't I wouldn't be here.  I talk about her to keep her alive (in my mind anyway).  That's all that matters to me.  And I've made it 8 years dealing with her death this way.

I wish we would have kept in closer touch with John.  We just never knew.  Do we stay in touch, or is that too much?  We were new at this,  just didn't know what the boundaries were.

I wish we would have told him how much we loved him because he loved our daughter.  He was her "schmoopie".  They both had booming laughs.  And voices.  And John loved to cook.  He wouldn't let Melissa cook (unfortunately, her mom wasn't a very good cook).  But he loved her anyway.

Sometimes life is just too much.  To be honest, I have no idea how I get through each day.  Especially now.  Some nights I lay awake and my brain just won't stop....I miss my daughter, I worry about my dad, Nick, the boys, if Donny has a headache or he doesn't feel good I worry.  I can't lose them too.

This is not the life I planned.

I (we) raised our kids to be productive citizens. Kind.  Caring.  Loving. Healthy.  Active.  All the things that are important to living a good life.  We paid our bills on time.  We help others.  We vote.
We're active in the community (more so now since Melissa's been gone.)  I'm taking care of my dad.
I am by no means perfect, but I am also not a risk taker.  I was the kid who was always afraid of being caught.  Thats what kept me from being a risk taker.   And of course I have the Catholic guilt thing too.  Oh - and we did the marriage thing in the "right" order too - we got married.  We bought a house.  We had 2 kids.  They both graduated from high school and college.  They both got married and had good jobs.  I worked for 40 years before I retired.  Donny is still working.

What the hell.

In the last nine years I've lost my mom, my grandson, my daughter, two best friends, my sister and now my son in law.  Donny's lost his job twice.

What year is going to be the year that things go right?  I really beginning to believe that there is some kind of curse on us (me).  I'm really getting tired of constantly picking up the pieces.  I don't know if I can do this anymore.

I write that a lot in my journal.  "I can't do this any more"

And then I get a call from the mother of one of my former students (who completed suicide), and needs a friend to have coffee with; my friend who just lost HER daughter; my friend who lost her only daughter.

My husband needs me.  My son needs me.  My grandsons need me. My dad needs me... My Compassionate Friends need me (and boy do I need them)....

So where I'm going here is the only reason I'm here is I'm not here for me.  Helping is what heals me.
But, Oh, I am so tired.  How much can one person take?

We are finding comfort in the fact that John is with Melissa and JP.    The first time they have been together since October 19, 2003.   The day JP was born.  I remember that day so well.  The day I could do nothing to help my daughter.  I couldn't take her pain away.

It's just after midnight and I'm on the countdown to 5:18 a.m.  It will be 8 years at 5:18.
Right now I was sitting in a recliner on one side of Melissa's bed and John was in the recliner on the other side.  Didn't sleep much that night either.

Never in my worst nightmare would I believe that I would be sitting up 8 years later grieving the loss of her husband.  NEVER.

I am not afraid of death.  I don't fear death.  For me anyway.  Death will deliver me to my daughter and my grandson.

It giveth and it taketh away.

I thought I could get through this week quietly.  Reminisce and remember on January 3, celebrate her life on January 5.   Now I sit here wide awake.  There is no sleep in me.  How can I help my friend who just lost her daughter?  How can we help John's parents?  We KNOW what the future will be for them.    Death is natural, none of us are getting out of here alive.  But can't we just go in order of how we came in?  That would make it so much easier.

Fortunately, we have been blessed with some pretty amazing friends.  Your friends might not always be around...even for a couple of years.  But they show up (in a phone call, a text, a message) when you need them.  Our phone has been ringing off the hook today. Lots of messages of love.  It has really helped.  Sometimes we forget how many friends we have until something like this happens.  Thank you for the phone call, the message and for just being there.  I guess that's why we're ALL here.

So, this year, on the eighth anniversary, it's not just about Melissa.  It's about John & Melissa.

This is what I picture when John arrived in heaven...

and this...

John, lining up Melissa's medication.  He was so good to her...

Brothers.

He did love his food!

Happy together...at last.

I just love him....

fun with the Kelts!

Breast Cancer Fundraiser

My COMPLETE family (well, almost.  Minus JP & Max)

Last family photo

can you tell how much fun they have? it was like this EVERY time!

love love love this one

John and Max (the wiggly one!)



WE LOVE YOU J MAC.  Give my pretty girl and JP a hug and a kiss for us.


***************************

The Cincinnati Kelts are an amazing organization.  An amazing family.
They have held 13 Annual Breast Cancer fundraisers in Melissa's memory.  They have raised over $50,000 for Melissa's scholarship fund and Breast Cancer Research. And they have been a second family to John and our family.

The Kelts are in the process of raising funds to buy land for a pitch (field).  If you would like to remember John, a donation to the Kelts in his memory would be greatly appreciated.

Checks can be made out to and mailed to:

The Cincinnati Kelts Foundation
222 Hilltop Lane
Wyoming, OH 45215

Thank you so much.

"Once a Kelt, Always a Kelt"