Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thankful for....

The most wonderful husband EVER.  Two of the most beautiful kids EVER.  30 years with my daughter, my best friend.  32 years with my baby, who is now older than my OLDEST.  I am so proud of both of them.  I LOVE this picture.  Memories of happy times ( although Nick looks a little happier than Melissa - must be the drum.  I'm sure Pilgrim outfit wasn't quite as much fun...)
And thankful for friends who are still around.  And my sister Sue.  And Melissa's friends who stay in touch (Drew and Max kind of have a cousin on the Fortener side now... baby Bennett.  Thanks Ang for including us in YOUR life and now HIS.)

This time of year is not easy.  Not sure if will ever get easier.  Keeping busy painting (living room, dining room, kitchen, hallway)...there is no division on the walls between these rooms, so once you get started, you can't stop.  Took us two days.  Nothing drastic, just a fresh coat of paint because I was motivated to do SOMETHING.  Any more, this only happens occasionally.  And Donny knows it, so if I decide something needs to be done, we do it.  He is so good.

Nick and Mere are hosting Thanksgiving, and I am thankful for that.  Never really started our own tradition because my mom and dad always had dinner (my mom was a GREAT cook and loved to have us all over), and in the beginning, Donny's Grandma and Granpa Rado had his mom's family over  ...both on Thanksgiving.  It was exhausting.  But looking back, it was what we did.  And the kids looked forward to it.  (Every year when I was working, the week before Thanksgiving, I would read this book to all my classes ~ The Perfect Thanksgiving. It was about how two families celebrated Thanksgiving in different ways.  One family had a sit down dinner~my family~ One family everybody's on their own to find a SEAT~donny's family.  But it was about being with FAMILY.  NO matter how you celebrate it, it's about being with FAMILY.  My kids got to celebrate both ways.  And while I know they enjoyed going to my mom and dads, they loved the craziness of Donny's family.

I miss Melissa, I miss the "old" me, I miss the craziness that  used to be.   It's called a "new normal".  Not sure if I like this new normal, but we don't have much choice, do we?

So we keep busy.  This week, painting, last week traveling to Louisiana ~ with stops in Nashville on the way there, Memphis on the way home.   The purpose of the trip was to see Donny's nephew Ryan play football - he's the kicker for SE Louisiana University. Five days and we were on Broadway in Nashville, the French Quarter in La. and then Hammond for the game, then Bealle Street in Memphis.  We stayed across the street from The Peabody Hotel (with the ducks that swim in the fountain in the lobby and then get on the elevator at 5:00 every day to go back to the roof of the hotel!).  It was a good trip for both of us. Plus got to see Ryan kick off 6 or 7 times (compare to the ONE time he got in when I drove five hours to his game at UT Martin!), and they  won, AND the Clydesdales were there.  

 Not sure, but I think we had a ghost in our room (right side of doorway) Donny thought it was a reflection, but I took a couple more pictures in the same spot-not there. I think it was a ghost. So it was a ghost.
The pool at our hotel in the French Quarter.  A little to cool to swim, but it was nice.  It was in a courtyard right outside our room. It was in the northeast corner of the French Quarter.  Lots of walking, but that's what we like to do.  Nice room too.

 Evening in the french Quarter.  Beautiful.
 At a cafe in the French Quarter for dinner.
 Carriage rides, which we didn't take.  We prefer walking.
 Breakfast at Cafe Dumonde.  Cafe au lait and beignets. yum. (Note: don't wear dark clothing when eating beignets.)
 At Louis Armstrong Park for a Gumbo Fest.  Two blocks from our hotel!  A little story about his pink shirt.   I forgot to say that the hotel we stayed in was in the gay district in the French Quarter.  Not a problem.  However, about a block after we left our hotel, I stopped to take off my jacket.  Donny had to hold my purse....in his pink shirt... in the gay district.  He looked at the purse, then his shirt, then the rainbow flag hanging on the business next to us and said "if this doesn't make me gay, I don't know WHAT does"....Um. I know what would make you gay, and you are NOT gay.  (and if you were I would love you anyway!...but he's not....

 Butterfly exhibit at Children's museum (across from Casino. Which we went to first). Donny did not want to go into the exhibit, but once again, he keeps me happy.  $32 and and hour later, we had lots of framable pictures. I think he was happy he went with me.  He took more pictures than I did!

 Didn't know BEFORE we decided to go to Ryan's game that the Clydesdales would be there.  We were able to get up close and personal (although not close enough to pet them) and get some great pictures.  If you look really closely, both horses are SMILING.(click on the picture to enlarge)  The girl next to me said "SMILE" and both horses smiled.  It was amazing.  They are BEAUTIFUL animals.  Melissa LOVED the Clydesdales.  Her last Holiday at Home parade featured the Clydesdales - she did some research and posted info about the Clydesdales and some pictures she took at the parade.  She would have LOVED this.  (miss you Fort....)
Ryan, kicking off, one of multiple times this game!

And as Fort would say...you don't think you're going to leave this post without seeing a picture of Andrew (and now Max too)????   Of course not....



Remember....enjoy the chaos, the craziness and be thankful that you are with your family. 
Happy Thanksgiving, from our house to yours!


Love you and miss you Melissa Marie!

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Wow.  Have been sitting here reading the blog...MELISSA'S posts...and laughing for the last hour.  How could I EVER think I could keep up what SHE did????

Looking back, it's a wonder that anyone has kept up in the last 4 years.   Wish I could continue her legacy in a way that would truly HONOR her.  But I am not the writer that she was.  I guess my goal was to keep you updated on Andrew and Max (which I think she would approve),  and in a kind of selfish way, help you understand where I was coming from in this "new" life of mine.

After reading for the last hour, I'm wishing I could have done this blog a little justice, but at the same time realizing how thankful I am that she kept this online "journal" her last five years...

The good news?  Donny has decided that I've waited too long to get started on the process of turning this blog into a book.  I am happy to announce that  HE has started the process.  At the rate that he's going, we might have a book before the next fundraiser.    (I actually started working on this a couple of months ago - did get an intro written.  Just didn't tell him.)

Because the blog reads from "back to front", we need to start at the "end", cut and paste in chronological order to get it to read "front to back".  We are starting with fortscancersux1.blogspot.com and working up to fortscancersux.  It will not include anything after Christmas of 2008.

The book will be hers.  (We are doing this because it is what SHE wanted).

Not sure if we will go to a publisher or self publish.  But it WILL be a book.  And as soon as it is ready, we will let you know.


As a side note, I will continue to post.  It has been therapy for me, and I hope helpful.  This has been a difficult journey, and I am thankful to have an outlet to share our journey.  Life goes on.  She lived her life to the fullest EVERY single day.  I am trying to do the same.  I miss her so much, but I know I have a lot to live for, and I KNOW I will see her again.

SO.  If you occasionally come to this blog to check in to see what's new...my recommendation is to scroll down to the archives, click on 2008, pick a month, and I GUARANTEE you will be laughing.  Out loud. Or, go to www.fortscancersux1.blogspot.com, go to the archives and pick ANY date.  You might be "featured" in one of her posts.

I am smiling just thinking about it....


                            WELCOME BABY BENNETT!
  Mommy Angie and baby Bennett upon his arrival, Oct. 27!

                                  One happy, content baby!

                                   Last of the backyard wildflowers...

                 Dogsitting for Sam (Sue's dog)

...and of course, last but not least, Andrew and Max, aka Spiderman and Batman.
Fort wouldn't have it any other way...