Your BIRTHday stories...
Every year on your birthday, I have to tell the story of the day you were born...I can see your face, rolling your eyes, but secretly LOVING that I do this every year. This photo will always be the one I use, because you are forever 30...although I keep counting your birthdays. Today should be 36.
On January 5, 1978, I woke up in the wee hours of the morning...around 4:30 a.m. to be exact. Being inexperienced at this, I was pretty sure what I was feeling was contractions. So we got up, grabbed the already packed suitcase (and took a picture before we left!) and headed out It was unusually balmy for January.
Got to the hospital around 5:30...it was baby day. But not right away (like with Nick...I delivered him in 45 min...but that's a story for another day...March 3...) It was actually a little boring, so we pulled out the deck of cards we had packed...boring too. Just a few hours later, the contractions were getting closer, and at 1:19 p.m., our beautiful daughter arrived!
Melissa Marie Fortener
Who would have ever guessed how lucky we would be...to have such a beautiful, funny, insightful, intelligent little girl...you didn't disappoint! (of course as parents, we only remember the good times...)
Back in the day, we actually got to stay in the hospital for a couple of days, to rest, I suppose. During our stay, it had started snowing...a lot. By the time we left the hospital, there were 4-5 inches of snow on the ground (with a lot more to come-Melissa survived the Blizzard of '78!)...and our car wouldn't start. Your dad called his college roommate and good friend, Rick Kayser, and he came to the rescue. Your dad and Rick picked me and your up at the hospital - I held you, in the front seat, dad sat in the back seat on the way home, and we stopped by Grandma and Grandpa Fortener's house, so they, and 7 of your aunts and uncles, could see you. I held you up to the window for all to see...and they were so happy! (me too...we had SEVEN babysitters waiting for us to go out!)
I remember most of your birthdays...You had a slumber party in 3rd or 4th grade for your birthday-we have lots of pictures of that...and when you were in high school, your friends surprised you at a basketball game with balloons, and they all came over to our house for a party afterward - have pictures of that somewhere too. When you were in high school, we started taking you to China Cottage for your birthday. And you loved that. Became a tradition. And we are going today.
The last birthday you got to celebrate, your 30th, you said "my best birthday ever". Funny, you said that about your last Christmas too..."my best Christmas ever." Were you trying to help us? Tell us that we did it up right for your "last"? I'm happy that they were your best. I just wish we could have done more.
Since you've been gone...we still celebrate your birthday. The first one was the hardest. It was only two days after you left us. We were at the funeral home making arrangements. I knew one of the office workers, and I asked her if she would tell you Happy Birthday for us...she left for a minute, came back and said "you can tell her". They took us back into this room where you were laying on a marble slab, covered with a sheet, but your beautiful face was uncovered. You looked absolutely beautiful. And I said that, and the mortician said "I haven't done anything yet."
You see, I KNEW. You were a NATURAL beauty.
I tried to tell you that from the time you were little. And your mom was RIGHT all along.
After we left the funeral home that day, we went to China Cottage. Because that's what we ALWAYS did on your birthday.
And we still do. We are not having a balloon release today, like we have the past 4 years - the weather is not cooperating this year. But we will do it on your 1/2 birthday when it's warmer out. But we are going to China Cottage today. Me and dad, Nick and Mere and the boys. We always will.
China Cottage can never close, because we won't know what to do!
We love you and miss you every single day.
Happy 36th Birthday Melissa Marie.
Not only are we celebrating Melissa's birthday today...we are remembering my sister Sue, who passed away a year ago today. The only solace that I get from this, is that Melissa has Sue & John Patrick (and my mom, my brother and Donny's dad) to celebrate with.
I miss you Sue - I miss your daily phone calls, our political conversations, and I just miss YOU.
I love you!