Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rest in Peace Ruth...

My friend Ruth working at the Firebirds for Fort Fundraiser...

Me & Ruth selling tickets for the quilt at the Fundraiser...

Me & Ruth at our favorite place (Donut Man)having coffee...
December 31, 1999.

Me & Ruth at her granddaughter Stacy's wedding.

I started my walking 25 years ago with 3 women down the
street, Carol, Ruth & Pearl. I met Carol because her
son Kurt was in Kindergarten with Nick @ BTWN. She invited
me to walk with herself, Ruth & Pearl...we started walking
in the fall of 85. Then I started walking the 4 miles in the
afternoons to get in shape for my reunion and never stopped.
The four of us would walk to Donut Man (across from Channel 7)
and JUST have coffee. Stay an hour, walk home. Melissa eventually
got her first job at Donut Man because I got to know the owners
(Stan) daughter who managed it.
Pearl passed away about 10 years ago, and Carol stopped walking
because she started cleaning houses and had grandchildren to watch.
But Ruth and I continued to have coffee together. We would drive
to McDonalds every Saturday during the school year, and go 2-3 times
a week in the summer.

Ruth was diagnosed with breast cancer the year after Melissa (2004-she
was 80 at the time). She did pretty well until about 7 months ago.
She was having trouble with her balance, so she went to the doctor -
they found 19 tumors on her brain. Even at 86 they did radiation, and
she seemed to get a little better. But in the past month she has deteriorated.
She was in Hospice care at home for about three weeks. I've been visiting EVERY day. She was not only my FRIEND, but more like a mom to me. I loved my mom, but never had that friendship that you look forward to when you become an adult. You know, go shopping, go to lunch.
That's what I did with Ruth. I know more about Ruth than I knew about my OWN mom. I love her. And now SHE's gone. She was 87, but other than the cancer, she was unbelievably YOUNG. Hardly a wrinkle on her face (smile lines, but that's about it!) And NEVER took medicine. I asked her husband the other day and he said "she took an aspirin once"...she was pretty amazing. So I want to be like Ruth. (Although if I go sooner, that would be ok with me...33 years is a long time to wait to see Melissa again...)
Hard to believe when Ruth and I first became friends, she was 62 (and retired!) and I was 29 with an eight year old and a six year old!!!!!
Time flies when your having fun...and it goes too fast.
I love you Ruth and will NEVER forget you...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

...and the Melissa Fortener McLaughlin Scholarship goes to....

NOT YET folks...
FIFTEEN...YES 15 applications were submitted for Fort's Scholarship! We are
SO thrilled. Will be getting together soon (me, Donny, Nick, John & Angie) to read and decide who the recipient(s) will be this year. Will post as soon as it is announced.

The Scholarship Fund continues to grow...we will be receiving a check from the Fairmont Girls Softball team from donations collected for the softball tournament.

TJ CHUMPS recently opened a new restaurant in Fairborn and purchased the NOSE CONE from Danica Patricks car for $450.00 (to display at the new restaurant!) It was one of the items in the Silent Auction at the FIREBIRDS for FORT Fundraiser in 2009.
THANKS JIM & TERRY at TJ CHUMPS!!!!!*******************************************************************************
And on ANOTHER good note - over $3000 was donated for JACKIE'S BOOKS (my good friend who passed away about a month ago). Proceeds will go to books for Children's Hospital in Dayton and other children in need of books at home! Jackie would be thrilled!


Ever since the 350 butterflies "landed" in the library...students have been
bringing everything they can find with a butterfly. Even had a student
write a poem...

Butterfly in the sky
Butterfly in your eyes

Your daughter is at home

When she was a girl you
combed her hair

When she was a teen you
let her go everywhere

Now she is a full grown
Butterfly in the sky.

By Athena McL
(and believe it or not, she
has the SAME last name as Melissa!!!!)

...more beautiful butterfly artwork for the library!

Pam with Rubi Girls....

HAPPY (39th...seriously)BIRTHDAY JEN!!!!! We love you!

Sunday, April 10, 2011


The Fairmont Lady Firebird Softball team sponsored a FIREBIRDS for FORT event to raise money for the Melissa Fortener McLaughlin Scholarship Fund AND to raise awareness about Breast Cancer. It was ANOTHER touching tribute to Melissa (who played softball her junior year - because she wanted to be with her friends!) Even though her dad and mom both played softball and her brother was a baseball player, softball wasn't her best sport...but she tried it...and the Softball team honored her TOO! THANK YOU. Thank you Janet W. (no last names - per Fort) for getting the t-shirts together - we LOVE them...and LOVED seeing all the kids wearing them at the games! Fort would have loved it too...and to head coach (and friend) Rick A. for your part in getting this together...and coaches Bob, Chelsea (who Fort KNEW AND LOVED!) and Joe for your contribution! The funds raised will go to Fort's Scholarship, given to one (or more) graduating seniors each year.

When the coach asked if I wanted to throw the first pitch, I was a little worried about getting it over the plate...so the catcher was KIND enough to let me throw a couple of pitches BEFORE going to the mound! (Believe it or not, I still play softball...kind of. I'm on the team, and I'm married to the coach, so if I want to play, he's pretty good about getting me in. OH. And I only play first base, so I get that too. A little spoiled maybe? But he has to LIVE with me AFTER the game!)

Pam throws the first pitch for the JV game...

Getting the ball after the first pitch!

batter on deck....

Freshman...posing for the BLOG!

Freshman team pic...after an AMAZING 9-0 WIN against W. Carrollton!

Pam & Donny with Freshman Coaches Bob F. & his daughter Chelsea (THANKS for your part in organizing this!)


As EVIDENT in these photos...the students were JUST as surprised as I was about all the butterflies in the library...and THEY made them! The teachers never told them WHY they were making the butterflies or WHERE they were going. So when they came to library this week...this is what I saw...it was priceless.....

First grade teacher Nikki P. tries on a butterfly headband...one of the MANY butterfly things I found this past week! Always having fun in MY library!

ANOTHER interesting story happened this week in the library. After finding all the butterflies on Monday, I changed the plans I had for the week and went with butterfly stories - fiction AND nonfiction. On Friday, I had one of our fourth grade classes. After reading the story CHARLIE the CATERPILLAR, we talked about the story being a story about friendship, and what REAL friends are. I said something like "in a couple of years, when you get to middle school, it's a good idea to be friends with everyone..." something like that. This boy in the back says "YEAH - there was a boy named BRADLEY at the middle school that EVERYONE liked...but he was struck by lightening. Yesterday he would have been 32..." I was taken aback....16 years ago, one of Nick's friends at the middle school (BRADLEY DERRICKSON) was struck by lightening...and he WAS liked by everyone. So I called his mom after school and asked her if yesterday (April 7) was Bradley's birthday. She said yes. And the day I called her was the day he was struck by lightening! She was SO happy to hear this story...16 years later. I called her because I KNOW that 16 years from now, I hope SOMEONE calls me to tell me a story about MELISSA....we hope NO ONE EVER FORGETS. And here is a FOURTH GRADER, 16 years later, talking about Bradley, who he NEVER knew. I LOVE IT...and so did his mom and dad. I guess I'm telling this story because I want you to tell your stories to anyone who has lost a loved one...the stories are TRULY appreciated. We NEVER get tired of hearing them...even the same stories over and over again...JUST REMEMBERING them is what we want.

Monday, April 4, 2011


April 4, 2008....Andrew Charles was born. ANOTHER of the happiest days of my life.
It has been three years of bliss for us. Not sure if he will ever understand that his arrival came at a time that we would need HIM the most. This is the child (and Max later) that got us through THE most difficult time of our life.
AND he KNEW his Aunt Fort. She talked to him, played with him and LOVED him.

I'M THREE...HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU??? Now let me eat my ice cream!

Having fun with PopPop

Boys...(NICK & Uncle Jeff)...never too old for toys...

Whose birthday is it anyway????

...and Max slept through it all....

SPRING BREAK in Melbourne, FL

For the first time in over ten years, we didn't go to Siesta Key for Spring Break. Decided to spend it with my 80 year old dad in Melbourne, FL. Thought we would have a "relaxing" week. HA. It was seven days of trying to KEEP UP with my 80 year old dad. And we couldn't do it. I just can't DO every night at the VFW. But we did go Sunday night to watch him entertain the masses for Karaoke night. AND introduce us to EVERYONE there. EVERYONE. We made it another night to watch him play darts, then followed him to Applebees (10:30) for MORE karaoke. Three nights was about all we could do. We were in bed (reading or sleeping) every night no later than 10.
Dad was home every night no EARLIER than 11.
Maybe when WE are 80 we'll have the energy that HE has.

Karaoke on Sunday night at the VFW...

Dad with two of his VFW friends (sisters Marie & Phyllis)

Went to one of dad's favorite restaurants (and mine too)in Melbourne-
Meg O'Malleys... This one is for you Johnny Mac....

Bumper to Bumper traffic going south. Doesn't look like the economy is too bad to me...OR that gas is almost $4 a gallon....

The Butterfly Effect....IN ACTION

A couple of months ago I posted about a book that I recieved for Christmas...THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT. When applied to humans, it's about how something YOU do can affect others for a LONG time. What happened to me today not only made an impact on ME (for the rest of my life), but over 300 students (and teachers too)...

When I arrived at work today, I was carrying in a heavy box AND a cup of coffee and trying to unlock the door to the library. Now, mind you, there is a ceiling to floor window NEXT to the door, but I didn't look in...I was concentrating on my keys (and with the help of Linda) finally got the door open, and talking to Linda at the same time, didn't even look up. When I finally did, what I saw was nothing short of SPECTACULAR...for me. BUTTERFLIES. EVERYWHERE. It was incredible. There were probably 100 butterflies hanging from the ceiling of the library, and 200 butterflies on the walls and windows. BEAUTIFUL. There was a tshirt(shown below) on my chair, a basket FULL of butterfly "things" (pencils, notepads etc etc), butterfly placemats (one with a box of Kleenex with butterflies on it), a plant with a butterfly in it, butterfly headband (I promise I will wear it), a butterfly coffee cup (with a donation for my walk!)...OH! AND BUTTERFLY COOKIES for everyone on the staff made by our "RESIDENT" cookie maker, Dawn F....I'm not even sure if I "found" all the butterflies....all coordinated by Angie (one of our Kindergarten teachers who just HAPPENED to be a student at Greenmont when I was there 25 years ago!) and Mel, our pretty amazing secretary!!!!!

WOW. I was just SPEECHLESS. Then the teachers started coming in...ALL wearing the pink tshirt with the quote that I posted on Fort's birthday...with a BUTTERFLY in the middle of it, and IN MEMORY OF FORT at the bottom.


I don't even know how to respond to such an outpouring of LOVE. Most of the people on this staff never even knew Melissa. (although Angie did-she went to Fairmont with her, and Mel COACHED Fort in basketball in Jr. High!). What they DO know is that I can NEVER stop talking about her, and if they stand at my counter in the library and let me talk, I will go on for, well, as long as they will stand there. And they also knew that butterflies remind me that Melissa is still around. So they all came together (EVERY class in the school made butterflies, including the Pre-School classes!!!)


The Butterfly Effect IN ACTION. The impact this will make on the students (not to mention ME) will stay with me forever. Of course I had to change what I was going to do with all the classes this week - it's ALL about BUTTERFLIES this week.
PERFECT for the beginning of spring.

and it's not even my birthday...or ANYTHING. Just because.
I think I found the right place. Or it just found ME.
THANK YOU GREENMONT STAFF for this BEAUTIFUL display of caring! You have no idea how much it means to me...

Mel, Angie & Linda (Mel & Angie were the "culprits" here...and VERY GOOD AT IT!!!)

THE (amazing) staff...all wearing FORT shirts...

the shirt....