Thursday, January 5, 2017

Gifts from Melissa...on her birthday

The gifts should be going to Melissa...not me.

But I am so thankful for these gifts.

Yesterday, John's parents went to his house.  His wife told them that there were several boxes in the basement with "Melissa" written on them.    We got the first round yesterday.

Second round today, Melissa's birthday.

Less than a year after Melissa passed away, I asked John if there was anything of Melissa's that he didn't want, we would like to have.  He sent us a box of her t-shirts.  I was so thankful.  I guess I just assumed that he gave away the rest.

I had no idea.

When his parents asked if we wanted the things that were in the basement, well, there was no question.  Treasures.  All treasures.  She was just like her mom.  She saved everything.  I did something right.  (we are not hoarders, just save things that are mostly sentimental.)

There are a couple boxes of pictures.  Lots of pictures.  A wedding keepsake book "Our First Year", you know, like a baby book where you write about your first year.  Every page is not complete, but there are a lot of things (that I'll share here) that I didn't know.  These are the things I am most thankful for...her writing.  

I have been wanting to ask John if I could make copies of JP's scrapbook that Melissa made, I didn't want to take it from him, I just wanted copies.  I have it now.

There is a bag (you know, the ones that comforters come in-I save those too.  Melissa inherited that), that is full of teddy bears...and the newspaper with JP's obituary. 

We haven't gone through everything yet, and there is more to come.  I need to take my time.  So we do what we have done for the last eight years.  We went to the girls basketball game.  We got out of the house, didn't think about everything that has gone on this week.  That's how we cope.

There is so much more.  

What i love about this...a picture of her and Nick in a frame with butterflies!!!!

One of her creations. 
The pink scarf she made (when she learned to's about 6 ft long.  I'm wearing it right now...had to wrap it around 6 times...I have a picture of her wearing this. The frame is something I made for John a few Christmas's ago - all pics of him and Melissa. (I made the same thing for Donny and Nick - ea with pictures of them with Melissa). And the blue was the blanket JP was wrapped in when he was born...

JP's scrapbook

the rugby ball signed for Fort. There was one for J Mac and one for us.  Now we have both.

and their wedding keepsake "Our First Year".

I know she would be ok with me sharing some of the things written in this.  Made me laugh...and boy to I need to laugh...

This is how each page is set up.

I'll share a couple of the pages...

Falling in Love

How we met - I know Haps was involved, I'm sure beer was there too - My first real memory was sitting at the Bar with John, Pauly & Lou at 2:00 a.m.  I asked if I could crash on the closest couch - 

First Impressions - Infectious laugh, sensible shoes, awesome sense of humor, highly intelligent

First Date Details - Julie & Kevin's wedding at the same place we're having our reception!!  I remember beer & beads, dancing and fun!!  (2nd date was the AF Museum the next day!!)

How We Spent Time Together - Mostly weekend long dates ( I was still living in Dayton). 
Haps, basically.

Favorite Places - Haps, Rugby games, Haps

Most Romantic Moment - When we "got lost" and ended up looking over the skyline of Cincinnati and we told each other "I love you" and John prefaced it by telling me it was a "Big MATZA BALL"


Ok, you get the idea.  I'll share more later.  

What a treasure we have received.

I have to thank John's parents, and Lisa too.  All of these things could have been disposed of.  But she was gracious enough to make sure that we got them.  Thank you.

And speaking of John's parents...when they brought her things to the house yesterday, we went through a couple boxes, because they thought there might be some of John's things, which we did find.  Then John's dad pulled a frame out of one of the boxes, it was their Marriage License.
He said "Well.  Here it is.  It's official."  And the puzzle went off!!!!!!!!  (I've told the puzzle story many times here.  It's one of the signs we get from Melissa-one of the ways she communicates with us.)  The puzzle did not go off just once, but the entire time they were here.  They were here for about an hour before Donny got home from work, and when he got home, it continued.  It was like Melissa, John & JP all wanted to be in on the conversation.  It was truly incredible.  

What John and Melissa had was true love.  True love with a tragic ending.  

and before I end, I need to tell the story of the day you were born, Melissa.

...It was a balmy morning.  My contractions started around 4 a.m.  We left for the hospital around 5.
A little later in the morning it started snowing (and didn't stop for three days).  My labor was not bad, and did not last long.  You were born at 1:19 p.m. ( and I now have your birth certificate to prove it-or a copy that YOU had...along with your driver's license and UC ID's - always wondered what happened to those).  
Anyway, back in those days, we got to stay in the hospital for two or three days to rest before the REAL work began.  The day we took you home, our car (a Gremlin X) wouldn't start.  So Rick Kayser, your dad's best friend and college roommate picked up your dad and came to pick us up at the hospital.  I sat in the front seat, holding you (no car seats necessary in those days), Rick drove and your dad sat in the back seat.  A couple of weeks after we got you home, the Blizzard of '78 hit.  And we all survived.  

January 5, 1978 was the happiest day of my life. Little did I know that there was so much more happiness (and heartache) to come.  

I love you Melissa Marie Fortener McLaughlin "FORT".

Celebrate your birthday with your family in heaven, and we'll celebrate with the rest of your family (and some friends) at China Cottage.

Happy Birthday Pretty Girl!

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