Monday, December 27, 2010


If you have been reading the blog for awhile, you KNOW my fascination with butterflies. So it is no surprise that I received a few butterflies for Christmas...a butterfly ornament and frames with butterflies and a butterfly ring. I love them all. But my favorite (and this will be no surprise either) was a book.

A couple of weeks ago Donny and I were walking through Books & Co. and I saw this book - The Butterfly Effect by Andy Andrews. All I saw was the cover with the butterfly. I just mentioned "I want that book". In the past, I could mentioned several times something that I wanted or needed, but unless I made a list, it was forgotten. Not this time.

I didn't have a CLUE what this book was about. I read it today. It's one of those books that you can read in half an hour. I was crying when I finished the book, and called Donny to tell him that it is one of my favorite Christmas gifts. Ever.

What I will tell you about the book is WHAT the butterfly effect is. Then buy the book. It is worth having and sharing with your kids, or ANYONE you love.

(from the book) "In 1963, Edward Lorenz presented a hypothesis to the New York Academy of Science. His theory, stated simply, was that:
A butterfly could flap its wings and set molecules of air in motion, which would move other molecules of air, in turn moving more molecules of air--eventually capable of starting a hurricane on the other side of the planet.
Lorenz and his ideas were literally laughed out of the conference. What he had proposed was ridiculous. It was preposterous. BUT IT WAS FASCINATING!
So imagine the scientific community's shock and surprise when, more than thirty years after, physics professors working from colleges and universities worldwide came to the conclusion that the butterfly effect was authentic, accurate, and viable.
It is now know as The Law of Sensitive Dependence Upon Initial Conditions.
Science has shown the butterfly effect to engage with the first movement of any form of matter - including people."

As I was reading, I couldn't help but think of the impact that MELISSA made on so many people's lives. There were 1500 people at her funeral. If those 1500 people told her story to only ONE MORE PERSON, that would be 3000 people that knew of her courage in the face of her disease. I KNOW her story is far more reaching.
That's what the butterfly effect is all about...not just MELISSA'S life, but
ALL of our lives.
"Every single thing you do matters. You have been created as one of a kind. You have been created in order to make a difference. You have within you the power to change the world." Andy Andrews

I think Melissa did that. Maybe that is our ultimate goal in life. And she did that.

I've also thought about sharing this book with the fifth graders at school.
I'm not working next week - I just don't think I'll be able to get through the week and accomplish anything. I also think it's time I told them about Melissa. I talk about my "kids" all the time. They've actually asked about the picture I have of her on my computer. And of course they are probably a little confused about all the butterflies around the library.

I can't think of a better time to share her story AND the story of THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT...EVERYONE can make a difference, and there's not a better time than RIGHT NOW (a good New Year's Resolution too!)

...and in TRUE Fort fashion, I will ALWAYS end with pictures (more than like of Drew & Max!)
Christmas Eve. Not too busy. Perfect. Me, Donny, Nick, Mere, Drew, Max, John, my sister Sue, and Melissa's rugby friend Jeannette and her girls, Norah & Lilah.
Angie & David stopped by for a short visit. ALWAYS love visits from Fort's friends.

Norah,Lilah, Drew, Max

Pam, Drew, Max, Jeannette, Norah & Lilah (Jeannette is a rugby friend of Melissa's!)

The FIRST thing Drew did on Christmas morning? Went to see if Santa ate his cookies!

Santa brought him a firetruck...what he REALLY wanted!

Max at their new table and chair...just the right size!

Nothing makes this grandma (Pamma) happier than when my grandkids pick up a book...(even happier when they bring it to me to read to them!)

Drew with HIS book!

J Mac and the boys (after I took the picture, Nick said "Look at Drew...he's Fort all over again!" We have very FEW pictures where Melissa IS NOT making a face...I think she must have been whispering in Drew's ear "MAKE A FACE!" he did.

Hope you spent your holiday with the ones you love the most...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas!

From our family to yours...may you have a happy, HEALTHY Holiday...
Donny, Pam, John, Nick, Mere, Drew & Max (and of course Fort & JP)...

I KNOW Melissa is watching over all of her friends and family during the holidays... MERRY CHRISTMAS from Fort!

(Just a note...we're sending her balloons for her birthday again this year...
if you'd like to join us - Sunday, Jan. 2 @ 1:30 @ the cemetery. Bring a balloon!)

Christmas is about's to YOU Jackie!
Last year, our new principal at Moraine Meadows convinced the entire staff to register for the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati. Some did the 5K, some did the half marathon and a couple did the full marathon. I thought it would be a good idea to do it for a good cause...and we had a GREAT CAUSE right there at Moraine Meadows. Our second grade teacher had been diagnosed with cancer in the fall of last year, so we asked her where she wanted the proceeds to be donated...Her first choice was the library at MM. When we were closed, she wanted the money to go for books to be donated to Children's Hospital in Dayton (she's a READING teacher!). We raised almost $1500! In the fall Jackie and Rodney purchased books with half the money (which Jackie & I delivered in the fall). She recently gave me a check for the other half - close to $800 -plus the RUBI GIRLS raised another $500 and Southdale students and staff (where Jackie & Josh are now teaching) raised another $200 in addition to books (about 100) that were donated. WELL...we went shopping yesterday. Books and Co. gave us the educator's discount and we were able to purchse 160 MORE books to go to Children's!!!! We had so much fun. And we're hoping that Jackie will be up to it to help deliver the books after we put bookplates in each book "DONATED in Honor of Jackie...A Most Excellent Teacher!" What a great feeling it will be to deliver MORE books! WE LOVE YOU JACKIE!!!!!

Rodney and me with some of the books...

Josh and Deb with some of the books...

Josh holding the receipt for the books we bought!

The BEST gift for us....

A friend of Melissa's sent me the link to this on FB today (didn't get a chance to read the paper today - had Drew & Max overnight and all day today...thanks for sharing it with me Chelsea!)
There is not much I want or need (only ONE thing...can't have that), and this is GREAT advice:

Dear Abby:
My beautiful 20-year-old daughter was killed in a car accident. I am writing this not only for myself, but for all parents who have lost a child, and to all of the wonderful people who asked, "What can I do for you?"

At the time there wasn't much anyone could do to help, but after two years I have an answer: Accept me for who I am now.

When Rachel came into my life, it changed me profoundly. Losing her did the same. Her father and I work hard to honor her memory, but we will never "get over it" to the degree of being who we were before. I am different now. In some ways -- I think -- better. I am kinder, more patient, more appreciative of small things, but I am not as outgoing nor as quick to laugh.

I know people mean well when they encourage me to get on with my life, but this is my life. My priorities have changed. My expectations of what my future will hold have changed. Please extend to me again the offer of "anything I can do" and, please, accept me as I am now. -- DIFFERENT NOW IN RIVERVIEW, FLA.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Christmas was always my favorite holiday...beginning in September I made my lists (all the names of who I was buying for (and WHAT), how much I would spend each pay-from Sept-Dec., when I would write my Christmas cards(about 100), when they would be mailed, what weekend I would make cookies, and when to wrap the presents. Then when to shop for groceries for the annual Fortener Christmas here (on Christmas Eve)...and somehow fit in decorating. I pretty much did it myself. OH... they all loved Christmas as much as I did, just not the preparations...Hard to believe it was my FAVORITE holiday. But I did love it.
As the years went by, the kids got older, the lists grew longer and my temper grew shorter...the winter depression set in. Finally, one year (before Christmas) my good friends Sharon & Jennifer convinced me to go to the doctor to get something "to help me get through the winter" I did. I'll never forget THAT Christmas. The kids kept saying "What's wrong with mom? She's not yelling!"...(and knowing I was on medication) they would laugh and say "OH, she must be on drugs!"...and they laughed and I laughed because it didn't matter...I was HAPPY. So I continued to do all the crazy hectic Christmas things.....

That was THEN.

In 2008, things changed. In the summer, Melissa had a reoccurence and it was everywhere. I knew it wasn't good. Fall came and went, never even thought about making a list.
By Thanksgiving she was in the hospital.
By Christmas, she had been to Hospice for ten days, then after pleading with the nurses, they let her come home.
She came home to our house...and Hospice set our family room up into a comfortable "Hospice at home".
I remember when she came in, she was pleasantly surprised - her bed was right in front of the big screen tv- she had a rolling tray for her food...everything was within reach. And there was the oxygen. It was a VERY noisy machine - but we got used to it very quickly - and had 45 ft of cord, so she could get to the bathroom, or pretty much anywhere she wanted to go around the house. I went upstairs to get something, and when I went back to the family room, she was GONE. I thought "OMG, where did she go????"...then I noticed the cord...followed it to the basement. She was walking around looking through boxes. just wandering. I asked her what she was doing..."Just looking".
The next ten days went by in the blink of an eye.
I had NO list, but Christmas had to go on. What about gifts? I could get out for an hour or so, but I didn't want to leave her.
What about food? Taken care of by WONDERFUL friends.
Christmas cards? No way (no time).
Decorations? We took care of those the Saturday after Thanksgiving when John stayed with her in the hospital. Not much, but enough that she loved it.
As for the gifts, a couple of days before Christmas I went to Kohls. Got a couple of things for everyone and went to get in line - there were probably 25 people ahead of me. I just started crying - then ran into an ANGEL (by the name of Mike Schmidt). I asked if he was going to wait in the line...when he said "yes"...I asked if he would pay for my things and drop them off (and I would write him a check when he got to our house!)- I HAD to get home...and he took it and said "GO". An hour later he was ringing our doorbell - delivering the "stuff"... Wouldn't have had gifts if it weren't for him...
I also went to Beermans - saw a red and black warmups - called Melissa to see what she thought - "you don't have to buy me anything mom...OH...OK - I'd love them..."
(they are still hanging in my closet)....

And for the first time, we opened Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve...I was a staunch believer in YOU ONLY OPEN ON CHRISTMAS MORNING. IT was simple...just me, Donny, Melissa, John, Nick, Mere & Drew... We spent most of the time watching Drew open his gifts - Melissa took lots of pictures and videos - can't see her, but you can HEAR her voice talking to Drew. We each had a couple of gifts to open and we laughed and we talked and enjoyed EVERY minute. AND Drew took his first steps to Melissa that Christmas. AND Nick & Mere announced that she was pregant - they really wanted Melissa to name the new baby (that's ANOTHER story) Fort KNEW about Max. (we tell him that too)...It was THE best Christmas ever. She even said so.

Christmas now? No lists. Very little shopping. A small tree and some lights out for the kids. No cards (sorry, just not there yet).
Last minute shopping/wrapping (I'd have THAT all done by now - while watching It's a Wonderful Life - still my favorite.

Not much energy for all that. I THINK about doing things alot. I guess that's half the battle. I'll get done what I need to get done.

SO. We get through the holidays, but as you can see, the memories are still very fresh. Drew & Max help - a lot. Working (I never thought I would say this) actually helps too.

The next couple weeks are going to be hard. First Christmas, then the anniversary, then her birthday - which by the way, we will probably go to the cemetary again this year and send her balloons (with messages) - if you'd like to join us, we'd love that. And we will ALWAYS go to China Cottage for her birthday - not sure if it was her favorite, but it was tradition. And we are big on tradition. Then we'll get through the winter...with a break in February - doing the Donna Breast Cancer Marathon (I'm doing the half with Jen & her friends and Sharon is going this year too) Jacksonville, Florida. That will help.

So were almost through another holiday. One day at a time.....

and OF COURSE, I end on a HAPPY note....the only way Fort would have it....

I said I would post any "TREASURES"...found another one. Donny was going through some boxes, found this one...I am SO glad I saved EVERY card. She wrote messages on everything...this one is SO her...

When Melissa was in Hospice, good friends of ours brought this snowman to Melissa to help make the room "festive"'s one of the only Christmas things that I can put out (that was out when Melissa was here)...Max gives him a hug...

Every once in awhile the kids get a book and sit on my lap...Drew found his scrapbook from Aunt Fort (she was working on it for Drew for his first Christmas. She never got to finish it, so Stacy & Ang worked on it and finished for him for his first makes me SO happy that he has something that SHE made! He loves it too!

Drew LOVES when pop pop chases and tickles him...

Donny, Nick & I took Drew & Max to a holiday "extravaganza" at Bellbrook Middle School (one of the teacher's I work with organized the event)...lots of kids games, food, Christmas music, and Santa. Drew decorated cookies for himself and Max...and had to EAT them right away of course!

Donny & I attended our first Compassionate Friends Memorial Service...there were over 60 names of Children in the program...and family members there to represent each child and light a candle in their memory. At the beginning of the program, they read a poem called "The Lighting of the Five Candles" -
Candle for our Grief, Candle for our Courage, Candle for Our Memory, Candle for our Love and Candle for our Hope. I got to light the candle for Our Hope. It's the candle in the didn't burn down like the rest of them...maybe Fort letting me know she was there? (Donny says, maybe it was colder than the other candles...I like to believe she was THERE.)