Today Melissa and JP are celebrating with my mom, Fort's Grandma - she would have been 78 today. Happy birthday Mom!
May is ANOTHER difficult month. Mother's Day is hard, my mom's birthday is in May and she passed away in May....BUT I noticed something the other day. My black-eyed susans are coming up and need to be thinned. It reminded me of a couple of years ago when Melissa & John first bought their house. I thought it would be nice to give them some perennials to plant around the house. Melissa did NOT have a green thumb, but I thought this would be something nice - she would only have to plant them once, and they would come up EVERY year. No work involved. When it came to working outside - well - she was much better PLAYING outside.
Anyway, I thinned the flowers, filled a bucket and sent her home with the instructions...plant them where you want them, and water them when you plant them. God will take care of the rest. Fast forward a year. In the spring, about this time, we were visiting Melissa & John. I asked her where she planted the flowers I gave her last year. Her response? "I threw them in the garden over there." THREW THEM IN THE GARDEN???? "Did you PLANT them? You know, dig a hole and put the roots in?" "NO. I THREW them in the garden." I guess she thought they were like those magic seeds and they would just grow. I laughed about that for a LONG time. I learned something from that experience...from then on, she got HANGING plants from me. All she had to do was water those - and she did a pretty good job of that!
While that kind of suggests that she didn't like work...it was totally the opposite. She had the BEST work ethic of anyone I know. She always gave 110% no matter what job she ever held...(some of you probably KNOW this story...)
Her first "real" job was at Stan the Donut Man. She was 16, playing volleyball, and worked whenever she didn't have practice or a game. The first couple of days, her boss had her working the counter. Selling donuts, working the register. She LOVED that. She was a people person - loved meeting new people, talking, laughing. But she soon found out that there was more to the job. After a couple of days, Kathy said "ok. Now you have to learn how to work in the back." Which was basically washing (SCRUBBING) the glaze off trays. It was going to be hard work. Slyvia, a co-worker told her she would need to use a "lot of elbow grease". WELL....the first day she worked in the back, she stuck her head out the door and asked Sylvia (in front of a lot of customers) "WHERE CAN I FIND THE ELBOW GREASE?"....
Needless to say, she NEVER heard the end of that one.
Her work ethic was not so good at home. Oh, she cleaned her room...about once every 3 months. She would spend HOURS cleaning. Then tell me to come and look. EVERY time she cleaned her room, she rearranged it...AND took things out...AND put them in NICK's room. She was SO proud of her work. Angie later told me that their freshman year at OU, Melissa would clean the room in the middle of the night - and of course rearrange the furniture-all while Angie was sleeping. It's what she loved to do. If she cleaned, she rearranged.
She was ALWAYS prompt. THAT started in kindergarten. When she was in middle or high school, I ran into her Kindergarten teacher. When I mentioned Melissa's name, her teacher said "OH, I remember Melissa. She knew how to tell time in Kindergarten. She would always let me know when it was time to go to lunch, go to art, go to music, go home...."
She was NOT a cook...and she got THAT trait honestly...from me. The one time she tried to cook (for John), she made a frozen pizza. The rack was in backward, and when she went to pull the pizza out, it fell BEHIND the rack upside down on the heating elements in the oven. She NEVER had to cook again. Another time, she was making tea. All she did was turn on the stove to heat the water. Unfortunately, John had just taken TWO pies out of the oven and they were cooling on the stove and she turned on the WRONG burners. She could burn food without even trying. (I am not saying ANYTHING she wouldn't have told you herself...she was very proud of the fact that she married a man who was a GREAT cook!)
and most of all, she was VERY INDEPENDENT. When she was in the hospital she updated the blog. Several times, she had the laptop ON HER LAP and was falling asleep. Sometimes she had a hard time just pulling up the blog, so I offered to help. Her response? "MOM. WHAT WAS THE THEME OF MY CHILDHOOD?" (I thought hmmmmmm....I should know this....) "I don't know, Melissa. WHAT was the theme of your childhood? "I CAN DO IT MYSELF". Nuff said. She did it herself. That was SO true - and it carried over to her adult life. First of all, the day she graduated from high school, she starting packing for college. All of her stuff sat by the front door the entire summer, ready to go. When we took her, we helped her carry all of her stuff to her room (I think it was on the third floor). I was so excited and started putting sheets on her bed, putting things away...she looked at me and said "you can go now. I can do this". So we didn't hang around too much longer, but I cried the entire way home. All I wanted to do was raise my kids to be independent, and here she was, INDEPENDENT, and I needed her to need ME. Eventually, she DID need me, but not until she was 30 years old. It was the day I was looking forward to, but not in the way I thought...
...and she ALWAYS made me laugh. Even at the end. She made us laugh so many times when she was in the hospital - once Melissa, John & I were watching tv. She was drifting off and heard the music from the show that was on. She said "JOHN. WHAT SHOW IS THIS?" He said "Uhh..Can't Buy Me Love" (one of her favorite movies. she said "OH MY GOD. My day just went from a 3 to a....a.....FIVE! She was SO happy - trying to watch it after after 4mg of dilaudid (her pain meds, which I just recently found out are 8X stronger than MORPHINE).
-She made her FRIENDS laugh too - Stacy sent me this one today:
The summer after we graduated from OU, I lived with Alisa for one
quarter because I had a few classes to finish. Fort came down to visit
us and we all decided to go to an afternoon matinee to catch a movie.
We decided since it was a girly-afternoon, we would chose a chick-flick:
"Autumn in New York." The movie was HORRIBLE. It was full of
predictable scenes, cheesy lines and a terrible plot. Needless to say,
we spent the entire time whispering snide comments to one another and
giggling throughout the "emotional" scenes. On the way home, we were
all bitching about the money we spent. Fort proclaims, "I've been seen
more chemistry in a porno flick." At that point, we all just lost it
and laughed the entire way home. To this day, that quotes remains one
of my favorite things that she's ever said!
-another night I was in my bed next to hers, and we heard a lot of moaning and screaming from the room next door. I told Melissa "maybe she's getting her blood pressure taken (an inside joke from the ER) her response was "or someone just turned 21!"
-She was getting her THIRD thorocentesis by the THIRD (different) doctor and she told him "I'm just an old pro-I'm testing all the doctors. I'm the best secret shopper there is!"
-We were watching Clean House - they were going through the house looking for things to put in a garage sale. They went outside and were looking at this beautiful HUGE bbq smoker grill. Melissa looks at John and yells "NO JOHN. We don't know where they live - we can't go buy it!"
She got a good laugh when a volunteer from Jamaica came in, saw me pretty relaxed on MY bed and said "you look pretty homely there!" (while THEY were laughing at me, he said "comfortable, I mean comfortable!")
she was a REALIST She LOVED the show INTERVENTION. She would call me and say - "mom, turn to this channel...you need to watch this". We'd call each other during commercials and discuss what was going on...The day after she went into ICU, Dr. Romer came in and told her it was time to stop fighting it. The next day, when we were alone, she asked me "was that a chemo intervention I had with Romer yesterday?" Then proceded to tell everyone she was "going to Hospice to complete her healing. She was amazing.
-when she was in Hospice, she would get a sponge bath. When a new aide came in and asked her if she wanted a bath, she said no. She said "I already HAVE a girlfriend..I'm not ready to break up with her yet..." (I guess that was the FIRST aide that gave her a sponge bath!)
She was a fighter. While she was in Hospice, the provost from her department at UC came to visit. When he walked in the door, she told him "I should be back to work in a couple of weeks!"
SHE WAS ALWAYS GRATEFUL...when the nurse brought platelets in before a transfusion, she asked the nurse "can you get the address of the person who donated their blood? I want to send them a thank-you." She might not always get thank-you's out right away - you might get a thank you a year later that just said "THANKS". (right Angie?) And she was SO thankful for everyone who visited, called...she got a little angry with me a couple of times for "making her friends leave"...SORRY if that was you. Guess the mom in me KNEW she needed her rest. She just couldn't say NO either. BUT SHE LOVED EVERY CARD, EVERY VISITOR, EVERY CALL.
and she was a LOVING DAUGHTER I am STILL finding cards that she sent me over the years. I saved everything (much to Donny's dismay...although he is thankful now)...ok, not EVERYTHING, but a lot of my kids stuff. and I am SO GLAD I DID. When I find things, it's like a gift from her. I found a card at work the other day that she sent me when she was at OU, and Donny was looking for something in the attic the other day and found a letter that she sent us when she was at Girl Scout Camp. It read:
Dear Mom, Dad, Nick, I am having a very good time here. There are horses, Cows and Dogs. We went to a lake. Right now I am going to sleep in a tent. and we got to feed the horses. I already got nick something. and I am going to get you & Dad something. my shoes kind of dirty. and I haven't spent any of my money yet. I miss you very, very, much.
Love: Melissa Fortener
P.S. If If it gets late I am very sorry
OH tomorrow I am going to try to water ski
We were SO blessed that she was a writer - she left us with so many memories - many that I'm sure are still waiting to be found.
I miss her EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.