Monday, April 20, 2015

Horrible Mom?

After reading the article about "Horrible Moms" and Crystals comment on the article, I had to read it.  When I read the stories of the moms and the horrible things they did…I thought of ME.

We are not perfect.  Sometimes we make bad choices for our kids…and I realize that sometimes "it takes a village" to raise our kids.  But sometimes I think "the village" needs to let parents take care of their kids, without intervention.

When Nick was about five or six years old (don't exactly remember how old he was) - we took him to the Centerville/Carroll basketball game at Carroll.  Carroll high school's gym is not very big - so they put bleachers on the stage for overflow.  We were at the game because Donny's cousin played for Centerville.

By the time we got there, there were only seats left on the stage, so that's where we headed.  Donny wanted to stop to talk to his Aunt and Uncle in the bleachers on the other side, so Nick & I went to get our seats on the stage.  We sat with Donny's dad and mom.

Nick had NO interest in the game.  There were several kids playing under the bleachers (OK, right here, I shouldn't have approved, but I did).  I wanted to watch the game, and he was with a bunch of other kids.  Somehow, and only God knows how, Nick got his head stuck under the bottom row.  Maybe he was trying to get something that rolled under the bleachers…I don't know.  I just remember Donny's dad going under the bleachers and pulling on Nick's legs, trying to get him out…Nick was screaming his ear was stuck - he was going to rip his ear off if he continued.

Donny's dad proceeded to go around the bleachers and started screaming "EVERYBODY OFF THE BLEACHERS!!!"  So everyone is scrambling to get off the bleachers (so he could lift up the bottom row of seats so he could pull Nick's head out)…all the while the basketball game is going on.

Everyone (including Donny) in the bleachers on the other side are going "What in the heck is going on over there???"

Nick was safely pulled from under the bleachers, only for some woman sitting a few rows behind me commenting…"HE SHOULDN'T  HAVE BEEN UNDER THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE."

No duh.  Like I didn't feel bad enough.  I didn't say it at the time, but I thought "Wow.  you must not have kids."

How many times have we made decisions and felt guilty for decisions that we made.  I felt stupid for letting him play, and maybe it was the wrong decision.  But I didn't need someone to remind me.  I tend to learn from those decisions.

I'm pretty sure my parents didn't give a darn what other parents thought about their parenting.  Which by the way, was much like the rest of the parents in the 50's-60's - "get out and play"… and kids played.  Without parent interference.  Parents didn't pick teams for our kickball games.  I never saw a parent outside.  We played and we were home in time for lunch, then back outside until dinner.  The only time I remember watching TV was on Saturday mornings - cartoons.  It was a pretty good life.

I loved the way the article ended - with the woman who intervened ONLY TO LEND A HELPING HAND.  That's the person I want to be.  Because I've been there.

I guess in a way, it was the same way with Melissa.   Did she get cancer because of what she ate growing up?  (the puzzle just went off…I think she's telling me NO MOM. IT WASN'T WHAT I ATE)…but as parents we tend to feel guilty when bad things happen to our kids.  Sometimes we have no control, and other times we make split second decisions that might look bad to someone else, but in the moment, seem harmless.  I don't think I ever left my kids in the car to run into a store, but my kids were never in a car seat.  In fact, I remember putting Nick in a punkin' seat on the front seat of the car.  I think he even rolled off the seat once when I had to stop quickly.  THANK GOD no one saw that.  Was I a horrible mother for any of these things?  I really don't think so.

It's hard to be a parent these days with so many cameras rolling and people watching your every move.
Maybe parenting classes would be a good idea in high schools…just another responsibility for teachers…

And that's a story for another day.

Monday, April 13, 2015

A dream come true!

I don't even know where to start…

So I'll start at the beginning.  A couple of months ago Alecia Derrickson posted on FB that Teresa Caputo was coming to Nutter Center in Dayton.   (Alecia's son Bradley was a friend of Nick's in middle school.  Bradley was struck by lightening the day after his birthday and died four days later. The 20 year anniversary was yesterday-I was really hoping she would get a reading too!)

Donny and I have been watching her show - The Long Island Medium for a couple of years, and I really wanted to go.  So I joined her fan club so I could get tickets before they went on sale to the general public - ended up getting pretty good seats.  They weren't on the floor, but the first row off the floor - right on the aisle.  GREAT seats actually.

After about a 20 minute intro, she came into the audience and started doing readings.  She asked "who lost a child in a car accident and has a piece of the car?"  A family to our left and up several rows came down and were standing to our left on the steps.    She came our way and stood right in front of me and Jennifer!

After she talked to that family, she said "who has a thumbprint necklace?"  I was close enough that I didn't need to get her attention - I just said "I do".  

I don't actually remember the sequence of the questions she asked (thank God my sister in law and brother in law were there - when we met up with them afterward, Jan filled me in on what I missed!)

She said something about the military, and my friend Jennifer kind of whispered to me "that could be Larry" (her brother who passed away)…but she didn't want to speak up.

Teresa said something about "a mother who passed?
I can' t remember how or why I told her my grandson and brother passed also -
She said "what does the #5 mean to you?  Or the month of May (5th month)

…I've been to a medium several times.  Every time I go it's for 1/2 hour.  He'll say a lot of things or ask questions that I just can't figure out what he's talking about - until I get home and listen to the CD.  Then Donny is listening and says "this is what he's talking about!"    Sometimes you just can't think as fast as they ask questions.

Like the #5.  Melissa's birthday is the 5th of January.  But all I could think of was my mom's birthday is in May.  Ok.  It's your mom…but she could tell that it wasn't my mom that I wanted to come through…she even said that.  She goes "sometimes the ones you want to come through don't come through."

Then she said "I'm feeling like there was something with the chest - like fluid" ( When Melissa was in the hospital she had fluid around her lungs because of the cancer in her lungs)…then I told her "that's my daughter"… and she said "you lost your Mother, your daughter, your brother and your grandson?"
Yes.  She said "your mom is taking care of all of them."

She also said "you have something of hers…a purse, a backpack, something like that, it still has everything in it…"  I have the fanny pack that she used when we did the 3 day walk in Atlanta…it still has all her pins on it and all the stuff she put in it for the walk.   I have one just like it and I still have mine too.  I think I carried hers in the first walk I did without her in 2009.  I don't have her purse though….

My sister in law said (she also said something about a fireman - Melissa's grandpa was a fireman and she said something about Freebird.  Jan thinks Melissa was saying FIREBIRD NOT FREEBIRD!)
She probably was!!!!  Teresa just didn't know what a Firebird was!

The other thing - as she was walking away from me, she turned around and said "Do butterflies mean anything to you?"


I'm pretty happy.

On the way home, Jan texted me and said "Guess what song is on the radio????"
She didn't even tell me.  I knew…

VIVA LA VIDA.  Melissa was there.

But she stepped back and let my mom come through.  Interesting thing too…my mom passed away May 20, 2007.  I had two dreams about my mom in the last week…first time since she passed away. I think she was letting me know she was going to be there.  And the other thing - every time I go to Thomas Windlow (the medium I go to) he says "Your mom wants to know why you don't talk to her.  You need to talk to your mom more."  or "your mom wants to know why you don't ask about her?"

I'm working on that.  My mom and I had unfinished business.  I never got to ask her HOW IN THE WORLD do you live without one of your children?  (because she lost a child too - my brother)…my mom died about a year and a half before Melissa, and I never thought to ask her.  Because I didn't want to think about losing my daughter…

Another interesting thing happened when we first got there.  Right when we walked in the door, I saw someone that looked VERY familiar…and if you know me, I am at the point in my life where I don't just sit back and wonder where I know them from, I ask.  So I went up to this girl (who was standing with two other people) and I said "Did you go to Moraine Meadows?" (the school where I worked), and she said "No. I went to Centerville."  My response to her was "then you have a twin"…she looked at me kind of funny and said "I do.  She's right here" and pointed to the girl standing next to her…who looked NOTHING like her.  (she had dark hair, her twin had blonde hair).  As Jennifer and I walked away, I was trying to think of who she looked like…and it hit me.  She looked JUST LIKE Sunday Coffee, one of my former students from Moraine Meadows…who passed away a couple of years ago.  Weird.  Really weird.

During the show, as Teresa walked around the arena, several cameras followed her around - if you got a reading, you were on the big screen on the stage - you could see Teresa and the people that were getting readings.   Another one of my former students (Donnie Phelps) was there too - and found me afterward to tell me that "when she said something about the butterflies I KNEW it was your daughter!

So anyway, I'd say I got my money's worth tonight.  Whether or not you believe, or you are skeptical, my feeling is, if it gets me through another day…that's all that matters.

I KNOW she comes through - and I'm beginning to realize I need to talk to my mom more too.

One more thing…she talked a little about her fan club.  Once the fan club started making money, she turns it around and gives it back to people in her fan club in the form of trips, and gift cards and readings among other things.

Also, a reading from her is $150 (I think - maybe $175) and if you have a group reading, it's $50 per person.  All that money goes to charity.  One of the charities it Wounded Warriors.

Might take a year or so, but if anyone would be interested, I'd schedule a group reading.  Let me know!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Little things mean a LOT!

I don't think people understand how much little things mean…at least to me and Donny.  And I think I can speak for most bereaved parents.

Jim Jabir, head basketball coach for the women at University of Dayton.

Back in the fall I saw a picture on Facebook of the UD Women's team at the Making Strides Breast Cancer Walk in downtown Dayton.  They were wearing black, long sleeve t-shirts with DAYTON in hot pink across the front (found out later there is a breast cancer ribbon on the back).  I wanted one, so I posted under the picture asking where I could get one.  A couple weeks later I got a message from the basketball office.  They would order the shirts for me.  Of course I had to tell them that this is a cause close to my heart…and a little about Melissa.  After a few messages back and forth, I was invited to stop at a practice-to give the team FORT bracelets.  At that practice, they asked if I wanted to talk to the  team about Melissa and breast cancer.  I did - just about how Melissa was young and athletic like them - and to be proactive if they noticed any changes in their bodies.  About 5 minutes.  Then passed out the bracelets to the team and the coaches.   I remember Jim Jabir put his on and gave me a hug.

Fast forward through the winter.  Most of you know that winter is really a hard time for us.  Holidays are hard, then Melissa's anniversary and her birthday.  We get through the winter watching basketball.  Specifically Fairmont's girls team, and in the last five years, UD (since Cassie Sant started playing there-she was the first recipient of Melissa's award for the Basketball team)-now Notre Dame (Kathryn Westbeld) and Ohio State.  I think without basketball I would sleep through the winter.  

ANYWAY…I remember watching one of the UD women's games on tv and I SWEAR I thought I saw Jim Jabir wearing his FORT bracelet.  Then last week, there was a picture in the paper of Jabir -it was with the article about the Flyers in the Sweet Sixteen.  Sure enough, he DID have his FORT bracelet on (photo above).  

UD had a celebration the day after the Sweet Sixteen for the Women's and Men's teams.  We took the kids.  Afterward, we got a chance to talk to Jim Jabir.  I asked him if he remembered me - that I talked to the team in the fall.  He said he did and he asked me how I was doing.  Then Donny asked him about the bracelet…he said "I never take it off.  Did you know it glows in the dark?"  We talked for a few more minutes and then got a few pictures of the girls.

Ally Mallott

Me & Jim Jabir wearing FORT bracelets!

Andrea HOOVER!

Ok - so the point of this long winded intro.  It doesn't take much to make Donny and me happy.
Just seeing someone wearing their FORT bracelet makes our day.  Something SO little…

Donny's nephew Ryan had a tryout for the NFL…he wore it too.

And Melissa's friends occasionally send us notes or messages about little stories they remember about her.  Or pictures they find that they know we would love.

So if you ever wonder if you should make that phone call, or send that picture or story if it really matters…it DOES.  

We talk all the time about downsizing.  Getting rid of all the clutter…all the things that we've held onto for years … for WHAT?  I look in some of the boxes of things we've packed away and shake my head - why in the hell did I pack that?  Why didn't I just get rid of it????

Funny how your priorities change when you lose a child.  Things that used to be important - material things specifically - just seem, I don't know, trivial?  

Important things are the memories.  The stories.  And pictures.  

Thank you Jim Jabir, Ryan, Stacy, Annie, Ang, Lola, Kat, Tammy & Philly, Crazy Legs, KJ, Stewy, Pauly, Netti, Krause, Aunt Helen, Jami, Jeanette,Amber ….OMG, I need to go through all my things and get EVERYONE's name who has remembered Melissa with a story, pictures, memory.  I wish I could thank you all personally.  Maybe I shouldn't list names because I can't think of them all right now, but I want you to know that we appreciate what you do.  That you remember Melissa (FORT) to us.

Please don't stop.  

And of course the big things make us happy too.  The FORT 5K - sponsored by the Fairmont Girls Basketball team this year - THANK YOU Lacy Romine and all the coaches and parents (Shannon Hughes) for working on making this a huge event.  There's another quilt being raffled off this year - this  one will have a FORT 5K t-shirt in the center.  Haven't seen it yet, but I've heard it's beautiful!

This year's 5K will be held Saturday April 25 at Trent Arena (just like last year) - besides the 5K, there will be baskets and the quilt raffle.  

You can register online ( - or you can register the day of the event!

Hope we see you there!



Hard to believe, but Andrew is 7….I look back on his baby pictures of him with Melissa…and makes me sad that he doesn't remember her.  But he KNOWS her.  Even have videos of him with her.

It was a fun day - a party at Wings and Rings with his friends and their parents.  Melissa was there too… heard Viva La Vida playing during the party!  Another little thing that makes us happy!

I love the "silly" pictures.  Always the best!

Our birthday boy!

Andrew and G.G.

His favorite. Legos.  Put together in a little over an hour.

Since they were on spring break on different weeks, I got to spend 
time with them individually…took each of them to the
Air Force Museum.  Great way to wear them out, 
and they love it!

Nap time!

And of course got to spend Easter Sunday with them…
another little thing that makes us happy.

On the way to visit Melissa on Easter Sunday, we pulled up behind this car.
A FORTE with an OHIO University license.  Perfect.  Another sign.
Another "little thing" that makes us SO happy.
We love you and miss you so much Melissa-so happy you haven't forgotten us!

Another little thing that makes me really happy?  My dad is happy.  My first priority was that he was safe…and I found a place where he is safe.  And, it's only been a couple of weeks, but I think he's finding his nitch in his new place.  Yesterday they had "Karaoke with Irv" and Ice Cream.  I told him the other day it sounded like he was making a lot of new friends,  He said "Yeah.  Everybody's getting to know me."    I shouldn't be surprised.  He's very social.  I just didn't think it would happen so soon.

So for us, we are getting rid of the clutter in our life - in lots of ways.  Hanging on to all the memories, appreciate the important things…family, friends and our kids friends too.  

Anybody need anything?  We probably have it.

Have a great week.