Monday, July 22, 2013


Took me awhile, but I'm back.  July was a busy month....and it's not over yet. Last week is just as busy. Which is good for me.  I find that I am a lot more active in the summer, not as much time to sit and think.   Good and bad, I guess.

Anyway, this post will be pictures with captions.  I have LOTS of pictures to share.  I remember Melissa doing this occasionally.  Sometimes it's easier than trying to be creative writing.  So here goes!

On my last post, we had been to Maine (on Sunday) for Donny's "Maine lobster" (we probably could have found a restaurant with "Maine lobster" in Boston, but we had to go to Maine to get it...glad we did.  It was beautiful on the coast.

On Monday, we made the trek to the Cape (Cod).  Met Shannon (and her two kids, Evan & Katelin) and her sister Julie.  Shannon picked a great restaurant in Hyannis for lunch.  Shannon and Julie did the 3 day walk in Atlanta with me and Melissa in 2007.  (if you scroll down the side of the blog, there is a link to that walk with LOTS of pictures).  In this picture, I made sure FORT was with us...we had a great visit. ALWAYS good to visit with Melissa's friends.  She has the BEST friends.

The restaurant was "Tugboats".  We got there a little early, went to the bar for a drink. Met the barmaid, and noticed this butterfly purse behind the bar.  She makes them - her business is called 
"Custom Nothing Apparel" if you are interested. 
www.Custom Nothing.NET

Our visit to Cape Cod took us to the tip of the Cape - Provincetown.  I was there in 2009 with my Moraine Meadows friends.  I loved it and wanted Donny to experience it too - it's one of those towns you "experience".  Nothing like it.  First thing we did was hike to the top of the Pilgrims Tower - I think it's about 10 stories - great hike...then the hike to town.  Our second day, and ANOTHER great day.

Stayed in Boston the rest of the week.   We were in a great location for walking EVERYWHERE. Only a few blocks from Fenway Park, so we took the tour on Tuesday.

Donny on the "Green Monster"

In the sea of green seats in right field is ONE red seat.  The story is that Ted Williams hit the longest home run in the history of Fenway - 502 feet - and it a man who was SLEEPING in right field.
They marked the spot with this red seat.  

Met these girls working in Fenway Park on the way out - stopped to give them FORT bracelets and cards...hopefully they are new readers!

This guy was part of the tour too...he was modeling the Red Sox World Series Rings...
I think he liked me...he was so cute...

On the way back to the hotel from Fenway, saw this on a fence separating the sidewalk from the freeway...this was everywhere...

after we walked back to the hotel to rest for a few minutes, we headed back out to do the Duck Tours to explore Boston....
We had an AMAZING tour guide...her "tour guide name" was Penny Wise.  She's a tour guide by day and a stand up comedian by night...actually very knowledgeable about Boston and adds a lot of humor to her information.  I think we got the best driver - and there were lots of duck boats!

We liked her so much, we told her about Melissa, gave her a FORT bracelet and a card.
(I liked her too because she was dressed like a sailor - her dad was in the Navy - so was my dad.)
Hope you're reading too PENNY!

On Wednesday, we decided to do our own "Walking Tour" of he Freedom Trail.  I thought we could do the whole thing, since Donny said it was only 2.5 miles.  We made it to the river, but not across to see the USS Constitution and Bunker Hill.  We could see them both and get pictures, but it really seemed more like TEN miles that day (it was close to 90 degrees that day).  Got to see a lot, and stopped for lunch at Ye Olde Oyster House - oldest restaurant in the U.S. 

The "original" Cheers in Boston

Donny in Lil' Italy

Statue of George Washington in Boston Common...with a Boston Bruins jersey on - with
on the back.  Pretty cool.

On the Freedom Trail, you walk past the Statehouse - just as we were walking past,
there was some commotion on the Statehouse steps.  They were out taking photos - of the
Governor of Massachusettes, a State Senator and Supreme Court Justice (Donny says it was the Attorney General - now I have to look this up...I'm pretty sure I'm right though...)

It was an exhausting, but interesting day.  Stopped at CHEERS by Faniel Hall for dinners and drinks. 
Another fabulous day.

Thursday-Fourth of July- was not as busy.  Hung around the hotel most of the day by the pool.  Walked about 6-7 blocks to the river for the Fireworks...absolultely amazing fireworks display. Security was VERY visible...on horseback, bikes, vans, and helicopters.  On our walk back, there were two city busses with BOSTON POLICE on the front of the bus.  Felt very safe in the city that night...

Just one picture I took at the fireworks - didn't realize it until we got back that night and I was looking through the pictures, but, I don't know about YOU, but I think this one looks like a butterfly!


The reason we went to Boston in the first  I had NO idea what it was going to be like...I just knew that I needed to do this.  Not just for me, but for our friends at Compassionate Friends, and my friends who have also lost children...I am SO glad we were there.

We made some new friends, got ideas for working through our grief, and lots of things to share at our own Compassionate Friends meetings.  Donny and I didn't go to many of the same sessions - we decided that if we were going to share when we got home, we wanted to get to as many sessions as we could.  Some of the sessions we attended - Proactive Grieving, Taking Control of Your Journey,
Multiple Losses - challenges faced by those who have suffered multiple losses (most people in this session have lost multiple children - but they emphasized that multiple losses could be the loss of a child  and a sibling and grandchildren.  I qualified for all three :(     
101 Chapter Meeting Ideas and Activities, The Bereaved Parent - Five Years Later, Writing and Publishing Your Book,  Loss of An Adult Child,  were just a couple of the sessions we attended.

One I did not attend, but walked into for the next session, was Secondary Losses in Grief - Am I Crazy or is this Grief?  When I walked in, there were several posters on the wall - when I went to see what they were, I KNEW this was something I should have attended, so I took pictures of the posters to help me remember...

Not only do you lose your CHILD, you also lose a lot of other things...(there were probably
10 posters - this is just a sample)...the x's & o's were put there by the people who attended this session. 
X's for men, O's for women.  They put x's & o's by the losses THEY experienced.
I am not crazy after all...

Our favorite session was Whispers of Love, Signs from our Loved Ones.   This was the first workshop on Saturday morning - it  "explored the phenomenon of signs with a PowerPoint slideshow of extraordinary pictorial and anecdotal evidence coming in from all over the world". Mitch Carmody was the presenter.

Me and Mitch Carmody

This session was followed in the evening with a sharing session
 (we were there from 9:30 until almost 1 a.m.!)

If you have been a reader of this blog, you KNOW that we get signs from Melissa all the time.  We only shared a couple of our signs - one being the song VIVA LA VIDA that she sends me (when I need to hear from her!)  Donny shared the dream that my cousins wife had the morning Melissa passed away and HIS dream about Melissa.  Several other people shared dreams that they believed were visits also.

One in particular that was similar to Donny's... A father dreamt about his son who had passed away - he said "he looked really good - I remember telling him how good he looked, he had a nice haircut, he just looked so good..."  A couple of days later, he was telling his daughter about his dream.  She said "Dad, I had a dream about him a couple of nights before YOU did.  He told me he was getting a haircut!"

We also met a professor from Louisiana, who had lost her second child August 2012.  The following March, she got two messages from him on her cell phone.

It seems that one of the times that bereaved parents grieve a lot is in the car.  I guess it's the privacy, maybe it's the music.  Maybe it's the quiet and just alone time when we think about our children. One mother said "I was having a hard time - thinking about her, crying.  I looked up, and the car in front of me had the license plate MEG N HEAVEN.   I followed the car, and when it stopped I talked to the person in the car - it was another bereaved mother."  She felt like it was a sign from her daughter telling her she was ok.

Another mother told of shortly after her sons death, a ray of sun came through the window - it looked like a heart on the floor - didnt happen again...until a year later on the anniversary of his death.

Dr. Ken Druck lost his daughter in 1996 "on a dirt road in India".   He talked about a "yellow bird fluttering around his window.  He moved to a smaller house, thinking that he wouldn't see it anymore, and it was back."  He also talked about a night  he was "having a really hard time.  Got up screaming, begging for a sign from Jenna.  He went back to bed and there was a 6.8 earthquake!  

One woman asked for a sign from her son at his funeral - a bird flew into the church and landed on the casket.  That Christmas, a bird flew into the house and landed on the Christmas tree.

On the slideshow during the morning session, there was a picture of 2 hearts with X's & O's reflecting on a garage wall - the grandmother had passed away and said she would send hugs and kisses.

Another photo in the slideshow was a photo taken by the sibling of a young girl who had passed away. The family decided to get away after her death.  The photo was of a mountain - when you turned the picture sideways, it looked like the daughter!

The presenter, Mitch Carmody, lost his young son to brain cancer.  While his son was going through chemotherapy, he was encouraged to draw pictures (to eradicate) the cancer.  Mitch shared his drawings on the slideshow - there were multiple drawings over a time period - earlier drawings show little men chomping at the cancer cells (kind of like pac man) - but as the drawings went on - (and they realized this after he passed away)...the drawings show that his son understood that he was dying - his arms started looking like angel wings - there were other changes in his drawings that showed that his son Kelly was accepting  that he was going to die.   

The father of the girl on the left (Jessica) was at the conference.
After his daughter passed away, he and his wife decided to go away for awhile.  They were at the airport when the girl on the right walked by...she looked so much like their daughter - it was really hard for them.  When they got on the plane, they both had aisle seats across from each other, with no one in the seats next to them.   The flight attendants asked if anyone had an empty seat next to them because there were more passengers - the girl on the right ended up sitting next to him.   His wife told him "not to scare her"...but he really wanted to tell her about his daughter.  So he did - and he showed her a photo album of pictures of her.  As she was looking at the pictures, she said "I have that purse.  I have that shirt..." among other things - she was a softball player as was his daughter.  He also said that his daughter normally didn't have her hair "wavy", it was normally straight like Whitney's.  They felt this was a sign from help them I'm sure! (they have stayed in contact with her too!)

There was a couple from Israel who had lost their son.  He was a volunteer firefighter/parmedic.  They said his friends gave him a hard time about being a volunteer, and he said "I just want to serve."He was on his way to an emergency on a motorcyle when he was killed.  His name was
Chanan Amit - (Chanan means Compassion and Amit means "friend")
His parents felt like he was trying to prepare them - like he knew he was going to die.

The keynote speaker at the closing session was Bill Hancock.  He had a dream that his son was in a plane crash ten days before it happened.

Bill Hancock with Donny

Bill served for 13 years as the director of NCAA March Madness, and is the Executive Director of he BCS since 2005.  His son Will was in the 2001 plane crash carrying the Oklahoma State men's Basketall team.    Will  was just 30 years old.  After Will's death, he biked from  Huntington Beach California to Tybee Island, Ga. in 35 days, then wrote a book about the trip Riding with the Blue Moth. Donny is TRYING to read it.  Very emotional.  


I can't say enough about what an incredible experience this conference was...everyone has a story. 
We are NOT alone.

Some of those stories of some of the people we had the pleasure of meeting...

Terry and Doug lost their 25 year old son, Justin, in a car accident.  They were from Frederick, Md.

Catherine lost her only son, Brandon - she is from Saginaw, Mi.

Janeisy Perez lost her 20 year old brother - Jorgie - he was murdered by a gang in Miami, Fl. 
She sat with us at the Whispers of Love session.  When we asked if she had any signs from her brother, she told us the story of the Long Island Medium's visit to an arena in Miami.  Her and her mother went, and they were at the top of the arena, thinking she would NEVER get to them.  But she did - she came up to Janeisy and said "Who lost a brother here?" then proceeded to give them a message from her brother!

Met Lesli in the session "Genuine" Dialogue after the Death of a Child -  another great session.

Ran into Lesli at the Walk to Remember...she was walking behind me and said 
"I remember your hair cut!"  Lesli's only son Zak died of a rare form of kidney cancer.  They are from Baltimore, Md.

On the way back from the Walk to Remember (from Boston Common), we were walking behind Maureen and Nancy from Seattle.  Maureen's son, Jaimeson's picture was on the back of her shirt. He was watching me for blocks...I finally said something to them, and we started talking.  Jaimeson was 20 and died of testicular cancer.  
We were in a session together - Why Did You Say That? When People Say Hurtful Things"
She said "when I went back to work (after about 3 weeks), a new co-worker and I were talking. He asked where I had been.  When I told him that my son had died, there was an awkward silence.  A few minutes later, he turned around and said "If I had known your son, what would I know about him?"
If you are EVER at a loss for words if you meet someone who has lost a child, this is the PERFECT response.  We LOVE to talk about our children - even our children who have died.

It 's experiences like that that make me so happy that I was there.

And by the way, there is a website about Jaimeson -

At the closing session, I sat next to Mickey (Miquelina DaSilva)
She lost her daughter Sophia...

In another session, I met Louise from Foster City, MI. She lost her daughter Jilly. 
Jilly was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma when she was 16.  Four years and 50 weeks later, just two weeks before she was to get the "all clear" from the cancer, Jilly was killed in a car accident.

a sign carried on the Walk to Remember

Memory Boards at the Conference

my "Walking to Remember" list...
(and I walked for Steve Duke  & Steve  Fink too!)

I guess you might be wondering how this conference could POSSIBLY be good for us.
All the sad stories, all the death.  

What I will tell you is that when you are in a place where you can share your story as many times as you want (because no one has heard your story before), and they truly know what you are going through, it is helpful.  Not to mention meeting people who are farther along in their grief journey...THEY have survived.  Somehow.  
We will too.



On the way home from Boston, we stopped in Akron to see the new stadium.
Not at the Rubber Bowl any more!

Donny did some exploring, got into the weight room and found Nick's name on the
Weight Lifting Records board!  Still holds THREE records!
(Look by TIGHT ENDS)

This is the longest post EVER.  I'm sorry.  but like I said at the beginning, it's been a busy month.

Five days after we got home, I took my dad back to Melbourne, Florida.  I was in 14 states in a two week period.  Exhausted...

Dad and Andrew

Dad with his namesake, Maxwell Irvin (and he is JUST like my dad!)

Dad, Happy to be home!

Home from Florida - Pop Pop reading a MYSTERY to Andrew & Max
Love it!
(It is called ENIGMA by Graham Base)



NO, this is not Chelsea and Brook...I always get a picture of Donny with the Bride!
Chelsea was the PRIMARY organizer of the 5k for Melissa...
She is AWESOME...and part of the AMAZING Franz Family...our other family...

Mark Franz Memorial 
@ Reds Game




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