Sunday, August 28, 2011


...8 weeks and counting....

(First of all...if you are reading this blog for the first time - be sure to scroll down the right side of this page and go the archives...anything before January 2009 is FORT'S writing...I have been updating since then. BUT you want to read HER writing...she make you laugh out loud...(and cry sometimes)...also be sure to go to where she began the blog after her first reoccurence in 2005...)

ANOTHER successful Team B Positive fundraiser...this time sponsored by Annie, Melissa's roommate in the Convo at Ohio University her sophomore year. WOW. Annie did an incredible job pulling this together. 50/50 raffle, probably 20 gift baskets along with several framed Cincy photos in the Silent Auction, fun games and LOTS of fun....I am positive this fundraiser took her WAY over her $2300 goal!!!! It was awesome. Besides around 100 or more of Annie's friends and relatives - some of Fort's friends surprised us too.....Kat & Chris, Pauly, Elizabeth & baby Luke, Tammy and was so nice to see such a great turnout for such a great cause!
Thanks Kat, Chris, Tammy, Pauly Elizabeth & Luke & Stolle for being there too!!!!!

GREAT JOB we need to get you packed....

Pam, Annie, Ang

I LOVE Annie's idea here...for $10, she'll wear a button with your loved one's name for the entire 60 miles...she had an awesome button with Melissa (and a butterfly)that she'll be wear, hopefully along with lots of other buttons!
Let me know if I can wear a button with YOUR loved one's name...just let me know soon so I can make the button!

Lots of framed Cincy photos in the Silent Auction...Fort would have LOVED this one...she became a huge UC BEARCATS fan when she got the job at UC!

One of the MANY baskets in the Silent Auction!

Elizabeth, Pamma & Luke, Pauly


The Cincinnati Kelt's Men's Rugby team is holding the 9th ANNUAL Breast Cancer Fundraiser @ HAPS in Cincinnati on Saturday, October 8. Mark your calendars...more details to follow...(Pauly and Elizabeth organized the first fundraiser in October 2003, the year Melissa was diagnosed and have held it every year since...LOVE YOU PAULY & ELIZABETH!!!!!) And thanks to all who participate by either selling raffle tickets OR BUYING raffle tickets and attending. Half of the proceeds go to Susan G. Komen and half go to Melissa's scholarship!


Went to the Compassionate Friends Picnic/Balloon Release...this is an annual summer event...instead of our monthly meeting, we have a picnic and send "letters" to our children...this year I invited my dad (and my sister Sue went too). It was good for all of us...

My dad with his "letter" to my brother Steve...I can honestly say that I don't remember my parents ever talking about my brother after he died. So seeing dad writing on his balloon...not just "I love you" but a LETTER, telling him about a friend of his (Steve's) that he sees and asking him to "say hi to everyone I know up there" touched my heart...

Express letters to heaven ("air" mail)....

Had a second celebration for Max's birthday...had to share MORE cute photos...
here Max...use a fork....

such good manners....

aw...the heck with using a fork...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Max is 2!!!!!

Hard to believe Max is 2 already. I remember VIVIDLY the day Nick & Mere told us she was pregnant...they made a little puzzle for Melissa (it was at Christmastime and she was home from Hospice). The puzzle said "Meredith is pregnant". She got as far as "Meredith is" and she guessed. They REALLY wanted her to name the baby, but she had only ONE name in mind, (she's here...the puzzle just went off)and it wasn't one they would use (we thought she was sleeping and talking in her sleep...we all looked at each other, like, WHAT?????) She opened her eyes and said "I'M JUST KIDDING..." that was her. ALWAYS kidding. So Fort KNEW about Max...she just didn't know if the baby was a Maxwell or Maxine...and on Max's birthday, every year, I will remember that Melissa KNEW Max, and loved Max, and we make sure that Max KNOWS that Aunt Fort knew him and loved him.

So. I just kind of decided yesterday that I would start a tradition with my grandsons. I would take them out for their birthday...just me and them. So I decided to take Max to breakfast. A two year old. Boy am I STUPID. Fortunately,
Nick & Mere agreed to go with us. Good thing. We probably would have been thrown out of the restaurant if it were just me and Max...I couldn't have caught him. He's pretty fast. And he LOVES the blueberry syrup (WITH blueberrys) for the waffle sticks. Sucks that syrup right off of them, then wipes his hands on anything close, THEN wants a kiss....

Fish kisses for need to thank me Max....
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Got Max a new BIG WHEEL for his birthday...we have one here, and while they share SOMETIMES, thought it would be nice if we had one for each of them. Looked pretty cool on the box, and silly me, I thought it was ALREADY put together. Open the box, pull it out, Max gets to ride it...but NOOOOOOOO. There were probably 100 pieces. And Max was bound and determined to help. By moving pieces around, moving the screwdrivers, using the hammer on the wheels, he was a REAL help. I got everything together up to the front wheel, and I had just given up when Nick walked him. He finished it and EVERYONE was happy....

Max is ready and willing to help Pam-ma put his birthday present together...

...and it's ready to roll! A little big for him, but he'll grow into it (and in the meantime, Drew is just the right size!)

Max and his new bulldozer in his garden...
~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
Went to a picnic in the afternoon-Wilson Park in W Carrollton- for my cousins 50th Anniversary. (Congratulations Sharon & Jim!) Great park, GREAT pool. The kids had a great time (so did we)...


What Pam-ma? Can't you see I'm eating my root beer float?????

Rest period...Nick, Leanne, Stacia, Pam,Drew, Max, Mere
DON'T FORGET....2 upcoming fundraisers for our 60 mile, 3 day walk in Atlanta in Oct.
Next Saturday, August 27, in Cincinnati - Indian Mound Cafe - 5226 Montgomery Road. 7-midnight; and Saturday, Sept 17 for a tailgate party for the Ohio State Game @ Talegators on Far Hills in Centerville. No cover, donations accepted. $10 for buffet; 50/50 and other raffles. ALL TO A GREAT CAUSE...TO END BREAST CANCER.

Wow. Where did the summer go? I get a little anxious every year about this time(about going back to work)...and now I can decide ~ "Should I stay or should I go?".......for this year, I'll be staying. Donny is busy with work AND coaching ~ long days. Exactly what HE needs. I work and need some down time...exactly what I need. I love the fall as much as Melissa did...and fall brings us into the holidays...try not to think too much about it. Can't get around it, HAVE to go through it. But I try to keep busy too. I STILL miss her EVERY SINGLE DAY. I'm guessing that will never change.

This week was rough - a good friend of Nick's from high school lost her sister in a tragic accident last week. ANOTHER set of parents lose a child. WHY??????????? And it all comes flooding back. And I look at them and know EXACTLY where they are today, and where they will be tomorrow and next week and next month...and a year from now.
And it is painful to know and understand THEIR pain. I promised them we would keep in touch. It's what WE can do now.

So, kiss your kids, tell the people that you love that you LOVE them, and enjoy EVERY day. Oh...and take lots of pictures too.

Enjoy the fall.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mutual Bonds

Nope. Not a post about finances....but about FRIENDS.

First of all, if I learned ANYTHING from Melissa, it was to B POSITIVE. (I'm TRYING...REALLY). She ALWAYS had a funny story or anecdote in her posts, even when things weren't going so well. So I need to do the same. There are PLENTY of funny stories about Fort, so I'll share a few of the favorites...

We had a great priest at Ascension back in the late 80s that started every sermon with a joke. He grabbed your attention right away and pulled you in. Maybe that's where Fort got it. Anyway, one Saturday, we got a late start to Mass, walked in a couple minutes after it started. Immediately an usher, FRONT and CENTER holds up two fingers and motions for us to come to the front...Father Rudy stopped, looked at us and said "If you get here early, you get the good seats in the back..."
If you knew Melissa at all, you know that she HATED to have any attention brought to her...I know we BOTH felt like crawling under the seats. Church was OF COURSE packed and people were straining their necks to see WHO he was talking about.
Needless to say, we were never late to mass again.

Another favorite Fort story - she got her first "real" job at Stan the Donut Man.
The first day or so, they had her working the counter - selling donuts, working the register, pouring coffee. She LOVED that. She loved interacting with the customers.
Just when she was getting comfortable with THAT, Sylvia, the older, more experienced co worker, said "Ok Melissa. Now you need to learn how to work in the back." One part was cleaning up the fryers and the racks that were covered with hardened glaze.
As Sylvia walked out to the front, she said "you need to use a lot of elbow grease to get those clean Melissa." A couple of minutes later, Melissa poked her head out the door and asked "Hey Sylvia, where's the elbow grease?"
Of course all of the customers started cracking up, and Melissa had NO IDEA what they were laughing about! (of course I mentioned elbow grease to her when she was growing up, it was obvious she never listened!)
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
So. Mutual Bonds. Friends.
We went to the Compassionate Friends meeting last Thursday. We had a great speaker. The topic was Mutual Bonds. He started with story when Christians were persecuted and how they communicated to others that they were Christians because of the fear of being put to was very interesting. He then compared that to our group, and how we were all together because we had something in common, the loss of a child (or children), and how these will be lifetime friendships.
We have been going for about a year, and have made some wonderful friends. It is the one place you can go, say ANYTHING you want, and EVERYONE truly understands. At the end of the meeting, he asked if there were any questions, or anything anyone wanted to talk about.
There were a few questions, one being "is anyone else afraid of losing ANOTHER child?" He put it out to all of us. "Does anyone else ever think about that?"
EVERY hand went up. There were probably 40 people at this meeting.
So one person wonders "am I the only one that feels this way?" and we find out we are ALL feeling the same way. Pretty much about everything.
Other concerns were things that people say that bother us. Again he put it back on US. "YOU are the teachers. If you've never lost a child, you DON'T know what to say, what to do. YOU teach us. If something bothers you, tell the person."
Then I thought about when Melissa lost HER son. I was in the same position as YOU.
I had no idea what she was going through or HOW she was feeling. I was really insensitive, at least on one occasion that I remember. It was Christmas Eve. The only thing I EVER wanted for Christmas was for our whole family to go to Mass together. She didn't want to go (it was only TWO MONTHS after she lost HER son).
I begged her to go. So she did. When we got to church, the family that sat in front of us had a brand new baby. She was devastated. And I had NO idea how she was feeling...because I had never been in her shoes. And she is not here now, and I can't take back what I did, but I can maybe help someone else if they are ever in the same position (God forbid)...I look back on that and am horrified that I did that to her.
But I didn't know.
So that's why I post what I post. Because I'm a teacher. And I hope that it helps you understand where "we" are coming from. Will we ever get "better"? On the outside, maybe. But on the inside the hole in our heart will always be there. The pain will never go away. (the puzzle is going off...I think she's ok with what I'm writing here...) So let us talk. Let us cry. It's a healing process that will go on for the rest of our lives, I'm sure. We will always miss her. But we will keep on living our lives.

I had TWO teachers - my mom (who lost HER son) and my daughter (who lost HER son)...and what I learned from them is to keep on living. But what I have learned from my friends at Compassionate Friends is it's OK to talk about them so you CAN go on with your life. For me, it keeps her close to me.

And while I'm on the subject of friends, one things that makes me smile is getting together with Melissa's friends. And in the last couple of weeks, I spent a little time with several of her friends. They are treasures, and I hope they never stop calling, sharing stories and just keeping in touch. It keeps US going.

Fort's best friends in high school...Tracy, Bone & Angie...

Fort's best friend from OU, Stacy (and me)...When Stacy had Emma, Fort was Emma's first friend. When she had Luke, Fort was Luke's first friend. When the new baby arrives, I GET TO BE the FIRST FRIEND. Thanks Stacy...this means SO much to me!

Max & Drew on their motorcycles...just having fun...

~~~~~~~~~~~ more thing to think about from Compassionate Friends....
(NO ONE expects or ever IMAGINES that they will lose a child. The order should be
grandparents, then your parents, then you. Not your children first. Unfortunately, that's not the way it works...)

"We are all in line. We just don't know WHERE we are in line."

Enjoy every day. And make today a GREAT one.