Thursday, December 22, 2011


OK folks...this is the best I can do this year...and this was a hard one (Santa made it easy to smile - thanks Santa...) Our first "new" family picture. Just doesn't seem right. We got Melissa in the picture (Mere's FORT shirt)...the picture is nice, but just doesn't seem right...
Anyway, I did a lot more this year than last - actually baked cookies, bought a few more presents. Still can't put up the "big" tree. Can't even look at the ornaments. Can't put out the stockings (bought new ones). I want to. Maybe next year.

From our family to yours - may you have a happy Christmas, a HEALTHY New Year, and always remember to take LOTS of pictures.

Took LOTS of pictures when Santa visited our house, but this is the ONLY picture that FORT showed up in (notice the orbs? There's actually a big one and a little one - JP was there too!) She either sets off the puzzle, or shows up in pictures - occasionally.

You can see how HAPPY Drew is...and you can probably tell that Max was just a little hesitant to sit on Santa's lap....HOWEVER when Santa walked into the house, it looked like Max had SPRINGS on his feet - he was jumping up and down - it was hard to get him to stop he was so excited!

While this is a nice picture of our nephew (Donny's sister Jan's son) Ryan, this picture is more about the picture BEHIND us on the wall. Ryan is a Graphics Art major at SE Louisana State (I hope I got that right) of his assignments was to take a picture of something that meant a lot to him, then draw it in black and white.
He wears his FORT bracelet all the time, and THAT is what he chose to draw. So he had a picture taken of him holding the bracelet. (he got an "A" of course) - he didn't add the pink to the bracelet until after he got it back...then Santa gave it to me after Drew and Max got their presents! I'm guessing this will be my FAVORITE present this year... THANKS RYAN! Love you!

We have Nick, Mere, Drew and Max staying with us this week (her brother is in town and staying with her mom, so we are THRILLED to have them here when the boys are SO excited about Christmas...GOOD for us too.

The visit from Santa was exciting - that's all they've talked about. I forgot how much we use the "Santa is watching" around Christmas time when they are all wound up. While they are so excited about Christmas and we talk a lot about Santa (AND Baby Jesus' birthday!)...we also talk a lot about Melissa.
Max came into our bedroom the other morning and said "Pamma. Call Aunt Fort".
So we picked up the phone and called her. He picked up the received and said "I love you Aunt Fort". He's 2. I love that Max knows her.

Another cute story - Drew LOVES to hear Pamma's stories. He sat on my lap the other day and said "Pamma - tell me the alligator story" (the one were I saw the alligators on vacation this summer)...when I started telling the story, Max crawled up on my lap and was listening, and he said something about Aunt Fort and the alligator. I told him that "Aunt Fort could sit on the alligator's BACK if she wanted to because she's an angel". He looked at me kind of funny and said "NO PAMMA.
Aunt Fort not a angel." And I looked at him and said "Well, what is she Max?"
His reply? "A butterfly!"

I love it.


On our last day before break, my Moraine Meadows family gathered at Bufflo Wild Wings...hard to believe it's been two years since we left MM. I miss them all so much, and it is ALWAYS good to see everyone (including Mike, Jackie's husband and her daughter Beth who just happens to be in town!)

My friend Dawn (from school)got a call from her sister, who invited her AND a friend to dinner at Flemings at the Greene. Not only did we enjoy a delicious filet mignon dinner...we were encouraged to try the dessert too. THANKS DAWN (and sister Tracy!)

For our Compassionate Friends meeting in December, there was a Memorial Service at a church in Tipp City. 64 Children were remembered...just hard to was very nice, and afterward there was a potluck dinner - my students from Greenmont made the BEAUTIFUL butterfly placemats (I'm not the only one who LOVES the butterflies!) THANKS GREENMONT STUDENTS!

...Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night...

p.s. next post will be the week of Jan 2...3 years AND Melissa's birthday.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Catching up....

I didn't realize how busy the last month has been...until I finally downloaded
the pictures from the last couple of weeks.
December is pretty busy too. I guess busy is good. Going to as many Fairmont girls basketball games as we can (Melissa LOVED Fairmont girls basketball. When she was home from Hospice, about this time THREE years ago, the one thing she wanted to do was to go to a game. Never got to because she had visitors that day for about an hour and she slept the rest of the day. But it was the ONE things she really wanted to do. So WE go. It is TRULY what gets me through the winter.

And ALWAYS excitement from Nick and Mere's....Nick just called. He wanted me to know that he just pulled a LEGO out of Drew's nose. Like father like son...Nick recalls the time when we had to pull a DIME out of his nose. (And we had to pull a peanut out of my brother Steve's nose when HE was about that age.) What is it with boys and their noses? Just curiosity maybe? Experimenting? Who knows. Just glad Nick was able to take care of it. Hopefully he won't try it again!

Mia Marie. She came to visit with her mom, Stacy. I know Fort was here...Stacy was telling a story about Fort and the puzzle went off. No surprise. She was just letting us know that SHE thinks she's adorable too!

Funny story from school....the day after Mia's visit, Kindergarten came to the library. There is a little girl in the class whose name is ALSO Mia. When she came up to check out her book, just out of curiosity, I asker her what her middle name was. She is as cute as can be, chubby, long hair, glasses. She looked at me, without ANY hesitation said "MIA GRACE MONKEYFACE"...and walked away.

I need to write ANOTHER book.

Drew & Max checking out the "Crib" (as my dad called it). My grandpa built one, then my dad built one, and WE have it for now. I remember laying in front of it when I was their age, and Melissa and Nick laid in front of it at mom and dad's...and someday, Drew and Max's kids will enjoy it too!

Two tired little boys...we wore them out on a Christmas lights tour of Kettering.
If you haven't been through Lincoln Park, you need to go. It's beautiful. (Remember Fort in the Rugby to the Harley? That was in Lincoln Park).
Donny told the boys that "Pamma and PopPop put up all these lights"...and they believe him....OH what a tangled web we weave.....

Me with Illustrators Jeannette & Christopher Canyon at school. He was a
visiting Illustrator at Moraine Meadows about 10 years ago - amazing.
He illustrated the book GRANDMA'S FEATHER BED (John Denver) along with a few others by John Denver. If you haven't seen them, check them out,
they are beatiful.
For me, authors and illustrators are like MOVIE STARS. I have LOTS of
pictures with different authors. Melissa tried to "one up" me...Sue Grafton
was a client that booked a train trip... Melissa actually had her cell phone #and had to call her once (in California) and woke her up. Melissa forgot
about the time change. She (Sue Grafton) was a good sport about it though....

Celebrating my sister Donna's birthday (Donna, Pam, Sue)

On our way in to the Football Banquet, we saw two of these BEAUTIFUL hawks!

Firebird Football Coaches...can you find Coach Fort?

Coach Fort & Coach Rock (FORT would LOVE this!)

In Memory of Jackie....her tree and book are ready! Right next to Fort's bench!

And speaking of Memorials....the Compassionate Friends Christmas Memorial is Sunday.

The Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting unites families and friends around the globe in lighting candles for one hour to honor and remember children who have died at any age from any cause. As candles are lit at 7p.m. local time, hundreds of thousands of persons commemorate and honor children in a way that transcends all ethnic, cultural, religious, and political boundaries. TCF has chapters all over the world. As candles burn down in one time zone, they will be lit in the next so that candles will be burning in memory of our children throughout the entire 24 hours on December 11th.

......That Their Light May Always Shine....Please light a candle Sunday, December 11 @ 7 p.m.

I'll be lighting mine for my beautiful daughter Melissa.

Thank you!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


As some of you have probably noticed, I have been laying low for the last month or so. After Halloween, for most people, it's a time to start preparing for the Holidays. Used to be for ME too. In fact, I was preparing for the Holidays in September.

I don't look at the holidays the way I used to. I told Donny yesterday when we were walking...just a few short years ago, by Thanksgiving, I had already made my lists for the holidays - the LONG list of who I needed to buy gifts for, cookies I would bake, who would be coming over for the holidays, and how much $$ would come out of each pay to pay for all of it!

Now, there is no list...nothing on my calendar (there ARE dates on the calendar, but things that I can't do...)
Something about the change in the weather, the fact that Melissa LOVED this time of year, and the fact that she went into the hospital the Monday before Thanksgiving. It was the beginning of the end.

I try not to think about it too much, but your senses take over - things I see, hear, smell...ALL bring back vivid memories of our last holidays with Melissa. You would THINK that after three years things would get easier. But it doesn't. We went out with some good friends from our Compassionate Friends group the other night, and we all agreed. You don't miss them LESS as each day passes. You miss them MORE.

Today is Thanksgiving. Our routine for Thanksgiving always began on Thanksgiving "eve"... I had the day off and would bake 4 pies - 2 lemon, 2 pecan before Melissa and John would come up drop their things off and head out to Harrigans to meet Nick and other friends of Melissa & Nick's who were in town for the holiday. I would lay awake worrying until they got home, which would be after Harrigan's closed, so I didn't get much sleep. Then up early to put the turkey in the oven and start preparing for our Thanksgiving dinner. It was hectic, chaotic sometimes...but I had my family home and we laughed (and argued of course)and I loved every minute of it.

Now, I guess you could call it "peaceful". Not so sure I like "peaceful".
We got up, I went to get coffee for me & Donny, and read the paper. No laughter.
No aroma of turkey filling the house. Pretty quiet. TOO quiet.

We couldn't decide if we were going out to eat, or if we should have something here - ultimately decided to stay home and buy a dinner from a restaurant because otherwise my sister would be home alone and our good friend Mary would be home alone.
So they are coming over, Nick & Max are coming over (Mere is going to her mom's family in Cincy with Drew).

Sometimes I wonder WHAT I have to be thankful for. I don't have my daughter, I miss her EVERY single day, and it consumes me. But when I woke up this morning, my first thought AFTER thinking of her, was "I am so thankful that there are restaurants open on Thanksgiving for people like us...who don't have the energy or desire to prepare a feast"....then I thought of a lot of other things I am thankful for -

Donny. He is here for me every day and of course truly understands because he misses her as much as I do. We need each other. I am thankful for that.

Nick. Ever hear the saying "A son is a son til he takes a wife. A daughter's a daughter all of her life"? I am blessed that is NOT Nick. He is here for me and understanding whenever I need him...

Mere. I couldn't ask for a better daughter in law. I would have picked her for Nick if HE hadn't picked her!

Drew. He is so smart and I love his hugs and kisses and I love when he says "Pamma, Pamma, Pamma..." until I look at him.

Max. He makes me smile. He makes me laugh. He hugs your legs at random times - and is getting cuddlier and cuddlier (especially when DREW is stting on my lap!)

My sister Sue. She is more than making up for the times I listened to her. Her life isn't so great, but she is always there to listen when I need her.

Angie. Melissa's best friend from high school, who calls just to check in if she hasn't heard from me in awhile...she knows. And she listens, and she tells more stories about Melissa than anyone else, and I love her for that. And the fact that she's a lot like Melissa too.

Friends. I am thankful for old friends who continue to call and invite me to do things, even though I continue to decline. I am thankful for NEW friends, who are where WE are and who we can talk with about OUR kids, all the time if we want. And cry together too. And reminisce. As much as we want too. This may sound strange, but there we have WAY too many friends who are where we are. And new friends at work who come in and visit me because I NEVER leave my room. (Wish they could have known the SOCIAL Pam. She was kind of fun.)

Fort's Friends. I LOVE running into Melissa's friends. Hearing MORE stories about her. Hearing NEW stories about her. Just talking about her. I am thankful for her Rugby friends who continue her legacy with the Fundraiser every October. They make me laugh and they REMIND me of her. We love you guys.

Family. Who understand that I am not the same person, and I might not be able to attend a family function but love me anyway.

I am thankful for two of my best friends Jackie and Ruth, who both passed away in 2011. Their families are celebrating (?) their first holidays without them. My heart aches for them - I hope that their memories will get them through the next few weeks...

And of course, I am SO thankful that I had the MOST BEAUTIFUL, SMART, LOVING, CARING, FUNNY daughter that ever lived. I have only precious memories that will have to carry me through the rest of my life, until I see her again.

On this Thanksgiving, be thankful if you are celebrating with ALL of your loved ones. Have fun, LAUGH, and take lots of pictures. And enjoy the day.

(And, just a note, although this may have been a little depressing for some of you, I hope to have a more cheerful post this week. Melissa's best friend from OU, Stacy, is coming to visit with Mia Marie (Melissa's namesake!)so I'll be taking LOTS of pictures.)

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

I think Halloween was one of Melissa's favorite holidays. Didn't always have the costume she wanted, but she had fun. Loved trick or treating...
One of our favorite memories (mine and hers) - I think it was the year she dressed up as a clown (picture below)...the neighbor girls were a few years older and had a mom who was REALLY good at putting on makeup. They dressed up as PRETTY cheerleaders (with BEAUTIFUL makeup)...somewhere we have a picture of the three of them, the two cheerleaders smiling and a very unhappy clown. I KNOW she laughed about that years later. (Interesting side of the other girls - one of the cheerleaders, now has breast cancer...diagnosed in her early 30s)

Not one of her FAVORITE costumes. Saddest clown I've ever seen. I'm pretty
sure we've laughed about THIS picture...

OU Halloween...looks like she's having fun here...

Fast forward about 10 years...FORT would have LOVED this. We have a picture of her (probably posted on this blog somewhere - Oct 2008 - of her and Drew on his FIRST Halloween)...good memories, but I miss her SO much. Holidays are hard...

Picked up the kids from the sitter,fed them (BEFORE all the sugar), then Mere got here to get them ready to go. First "real" trick or treat experience for both of them...didn't take them long to figure it out!

A little girl came up to the door and said "Is that Drew?" Andrew said "I'm not Drew...I'm a STORM TROOPER"

Ok Pamma...get the picture...we are READY to go trick or treating!

All sugared up and ready to go home!

Hope you had a happy, sugar filled Halloween. We did.

Get the toothbrushes out.....

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


2900 walkers, 6.5 Million dollars raised....(JUST IN ATLANTA!!!!!)
and HOPEFULLY a cure to be found for Breast Cancer in MY lifetime...
It was ANOTHER incredible 3 Day experience.

Some of the MEMORABLE MOMENTS in those three days...(in no specific order)...

~Crossing the finish line after 60 miles (of mostly hills!)

~ Crossing the finish line with our ENTIRE team...even though we weren't walking together much during the 3 days (everyone pretty much had a partner - same stride/same pace...)

~Sleeping w/ Angie (we had our own beds...) :o)

~Spending three days with good friends of Melissa's...Ang-best friend from high school, Annie, Roommate from OU, and Julie, walked with me Melissa and her sister Shannon (rugby friend of Forts from OU too!) in 2007.

~Walking with one of my best friends from high school-for the SECOND time (Sharon)

~Emily-one of our teammates, a YaYa AND high school friend of mine! - walking after a stress fracture on her foot a couple of months ago AND a double MASTECTOMY a couple of months ago WAY TO GO EMILY!!!!

~Teammate Tina - continuing to walk even though she had HUGE blisters on BOTH heels and some other weird things going on with her feet...WAY TO GO TINA!!!

~Having an AWESOME Team Sign - thanks to teammate Mindy...THANKS Mindy!

~Getting mail....LOTS of mail! From friends, family, one of my teachers at school and ALL of her kindergartners, Forts' friends (with pictures of Fort from friend Stacy...THAT was with expressions I had forgotten...)
THANK YOU SO MUCH. They got me through DAY 2 AND Day 3!!!!

~Meeting a CREW member who went to OU (on the last day in Turner Field. When I did the walk with Melissa, she made up a Scavenger Hunt, and one of the things we were looking for was an OU Alumni! I found one again Fort!)

~BUTTERFLIES! - at the finish line on DAY 2, Finish Line on DAY 3 and behind the stage before Closing Ceremony

~Friends there to support you (from DAYTON!!!) Cheryl(Angie's mom)and her friend Terry, Ralph, Karyn & Kylie (Sharon's family)and Larry & Deb (my friends from Dayton)
THANKS for being there!!!!

~Got busted on my cell phone (whoops...major no no) Didn't do it a second time...

~Wheelchairs - at least two of them. Being pushed for 60 miles. Occasionally people who were cheering us on would volunteer to push up a hill...incredible

~People walking in boots (not winter...stress fracture boots)

~Pregnant- VERY pregnant women - WALKING

~Beautiful scenery

~GREAT food

~Beer stop - DAY 3


~lost toenail

~Tent City

~NEW friends

~OLD friends

~Waiting in line for the shower with only 2 people ahead of me!

~450 CREW MEMBERS keeping us going, feeding us, generally keeping us HAPPY~!

~Atlanta Police Dept....keeping us safe!

~SOUTHERN Hospitality at it's BEST...fresh bread and FREE coffee (THANKS 3 DAY Coffee Kids!), LOTS of candy, gum, cheering - mostly Atlanta residents (I'm guessing!)

I Thought you said 3 Miles in 60 Days
Cancer can Kiss my TIRED ASS

~Inspiring signs - Pain is weakness leaving your body

~ Keeping up with a 29 year old for 60 miles (YEP...that was ME. The 29 year old was Julie~ Thanks for being my walking partner for 3 days Julie~!

I compare this walk to giving birth. There is definitely PAIN, but you forget the pain after you cross the finish line. I heard some very young girls saying "ONE and DONE...I'm going to be driving a car next year, beeping the horn and cheering y'all on"...
Yeah. That's what I said after 2007. It's just something that you can't do just once. For me, every two years.

Looking forward to 2013 ALREADY....


Getting ready to leave lunch on Day 2, this guy comes up to me and says "I met you two years ago - LOOK! I still have my FORT bracelet! I wear it all the time!" He also had her card in his lanyard (with her picture showing!!!!)...I am SO glad you stopped me...THANKS CHRIS!!!

I'm walking behind this person who has a FORT button on her backpack. Got close enough to take a picture, then I tapped her on the shoulder and asked "Did I give you that FORT button?" She turned around and looked at me and said "YES. Two years ago!!!!"

Elizabeth, Pam, Erin

I was standing in a pit stop when I heard "Pam?" was two of my tent city neighbors from 2009!!!! Becky & Bobbie...still wearing their FORT bracelets!!!!
Thanks for stopping was GREAT to see you!

OUR 3 DAY JOURNEY begins....THURSDAY, October 20

TEAM B POSITIVE arrives in Atlanta. Only 3 on our team have walked this before (Pam, Sharon & Julie)...the rest have NO IDEA what they have gotten into...Thanks John & Wendy for transporting us from the airport to the hotel...and THANKS for being patient with us (none of us were very familiar with the Atlanta airport. We walked from our gate to the baggage area...about a mile. We decided that this was part of our training...NOT stupidity...)

Tina,Sharon, Annie, Angie, Terri, Mindy, Emily & Pam (Julie met us at the Opening Ceremony)


Getting ready for Opening Ceremony...remembering MY BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER...

Right after Opening Ceremony, ready to get started on our journey...what a great way to start - in front of STONE MOUNTAIN!!!!

Troops joining us in the Opening Ceremonies AND the walk around STONE MOUNTAIN...
ALL with FORT bracelets AND cards!

Annie, Ang...and Fort? (trying to get Annie to say something???)


THESE shoes, on THOSE feet, will walk 540 miles in 3 days...AMAZING.

YAY!!!! We finished the first 20!!!!

Stopping in the Remembrance Tent to see Fort after finishing the first day...

Inside the Remembrance Tent. I stopped by every morning to see her, and every night to kiss her goodnight...

Everyone decorated their tents (this was a necessity so you could FIND your tent!)...Ang came up with our theme...our tent was The FORTress. We put about 10 pictures of Melissa on our tent. PERFECT. We woke up in the mornings to her smiling face (or sticking out her tongue at us!). I loved it.

3 DAY "Mall" (included shopping, a post office, lounge and foot massages!)


After getting through DAY 1 with no problems,we were excited to get started on DAY 2.
Got up around 6:30, to breakfast around 7 and in line with 2900 others to get out the door. ANOTHER beautiful day....

If you have to sit down and take a break (or a rock out of your shoe), it might as well be at a scenic location so you can get a picture...

...and DANCING? after walking 10 miles????? Are you KIDDING me??? No. And yes, that is a guy (walker) out there dancing. I saw maybe 20-25 guys walking. And yes, that is OUR Julie out there dancing too (in the orange)...she was the youngest in our group, so she HAD to.

'nuf said....

I'm not sure how safe this was...but we HAD to have a place to charge our STUFF. You wouldn't want 2900 unhappy women on your hands...

Ni Night...
Julie & Annie...sleeping...or TRYING to sleep. Lights didn't go out until 9, and this night, they had a DANCE PARTY in the DINING room. Not for us.

Getting ready for bed (I am IN bed!)

I asked for some motivating mail...WOW!~ did I get some!!!!! THANKS!!!!!

Last day fun at breakfast...Ang, Pam, Julie (I LOVE that Melissa is in the picture with us too!)

Taking a well deserved beer break on DAY 3. Julie is from Atlanta, so she knew a great place on the route - nice patio here too. NEIGHBORS. Check out the orb over Julie...did Fort decide to join us for a beer?


Annie & Julie having a Buttery Nipple in honor of FORT (her favorite shot) appropriate...


Didn't get many pictures here. My camera battery died about 3 miles before the finish line :o( Passed FORT STREET about 2 miles before the finish - I missed it somehow, but Ang & Annie got a picture...she was with us at the end!

Last day in Atlanta...Julie ended up getting the day off, so she took us to lunch (a great place in Midtown - Joe's on Juniper. Great service - great food, great atmosphere. Nice patio too on a BEAUTIFUL last day. My new favorite appetizer - sweet potato tater tots with marshmallow dip...wonder where you can get THAT in Dayton? THANKS JULIE!

So there you go. That wasn't so painful, was it????
Are YOU thinking about going in 2013?
I hope so.
It is an experience of a lifetime.
I hope you think about it...