Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What Will YOU Leave?

I went to a funeral yesterday. A funeral for a beautiful woman, both inside and out. She was probably one of the most decent and genuinely GOOD people I had ever met. She cared about people and it showed.

One of the things that was read at her funeral were excerpts from an autobiography that she had written as part of her admission into a ministry program at her church. As I listened to her own words describing her I was just amazed.

How many of us are comfortable enough in our own skin to write about ourselves?

Really....how many? Not many, and for those that would, would they REALLY do themselves justice?

She wrote honestly, and she wasn't boastful, but she also didn't downplay her accomplishments in life. And it was simply beautiful.

We heard an excerpt yesterday, but her 5 children have the document in its entirety.

...and what a gift THAT is...

It made me think. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have an autobiography on my own Mom? That is something that I would honestly treasure. But, I know it is something that I can never have. Instead, perhaps it is something that I can GIVE. I can give my own kids that treasure. I can explain who I am to them, and as the years go on I can add to it. I can add to the story as my life progresses on.

I hope there are lots of chapters in the story of my life and I hope that at the end of my life my kids treasure those words as much as I know my friend treasures the tale of her own mother.

So think about it...what will YOU leave? We're all going to depart this world, and many people will leave many material possessions. But long after you're gone, what meaningful trail of your life is left behind? Is it in the art you created or the words you wrote? I know it seems silly to many to sit down and write about your own life, but give it a try.

Sit down and write about YOU. Tell people about what you've done and what you are like. Leave behind a meaningful account of your life, as you saw it.

Someone, someday will say "I'm so glad that we have this now".


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Moms and Daughters

Sometimes when the thoughts are swirling around my head in mad chaos, the only way I can make sense of them is to type. So here I go.

Last evening, my dear friend Mickey lost her mom Mary to cancer. Mary was cool. She was just one of those Moms that you meet and secretly wish you had grown up in her house, if only for a short while. I wouldn't have traded my own childhood for all the tea in China, but you just knew that even a week in that house would've given you memories that would last a life time.

Like I said, Mary was cool. Even in typing that it just makes me smile. She was fun to be around. I loved it that she would attend our "Girls Weekend" and get right in there, drinking, eating, laughing, and sharing funny stories with the rest of us. It never failed...we could get her telling stories about any (and sometimes all) of her 6 kids. I really loved those stories...not just the stories, but the WAY she told them. I could just see these mischievious little stinkers getting into all of these crazy predicaments. I loved it when she told those stories.

There is no doubt in my mind...the world was a better place for having her here, and today the world is a bit sadder at her absence. But she left her mark on the world, and the awesome parts of her live on in her grown children.

Yesterday as I thought about Mickey and Mary and what their family was going through, I kept flashing back to the day my own Mom died. Losing your Mom is a sad, sad day indeed. A day that you can never forget, and a day that your entire world changes. I feel like we're way too young to be women without Moms. And sadly, more and more friends are joining those ranks. You often hear people comment that we're "getting to THAT age"...sometimes it seems applicable, but I don't feel like you're ever THAT age to be ready to lose your parent, especially your Mom.

I think as women we go through this strange thing, where even when we're the adult, there's still someone higher on the pecking order...your Mom. You know that you can ask for advice (even if half the time you ignore it) or always fall back on "well, Mom said....". I have participated in adulthood for many years now. I received 2 college degrees....got married at 23....had a couple of kids....bought and sold a couple of houses....and even started retirement accounts and bought life insurance. But nothing, and I really mean nothing, makes you feel like a full fledged adult like losing your Mom.

...and I don't mean that in a good way...

I'd much rather have Joan at the top of the ladder, ready to look down and give an opinion or offer a hand. But, she's gone, and so now I must truly be the adult.

So, to Mary I say, Thank You....I'm so glad our paths in life happened to cross and that I got to know you. You were cool (I'm smiling again). You were fun. You were hilarious. And most of all, you were a great wife, mother, grandmother and role model for those of us that knew you. I promise to help Mickey out as much as I can and I will tell Katrina and Clay funny stories about you. I won't keep those stories to myself, but will share them, because even though death leaves a heartache that no one can heal, love leaves memories that no one can steal. You will live on in those memories.

Godspeed, Mary...you were a great one.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

As A Parent....

Last weekend tragedy stuck a local family. A 16 year old boy took his life, only 5 days before his 17th birthday. Let me be clear...I did NOT know this young man.

But his death has struck a chord within me and I can't seem to get him off my mind.

His step-mother and I share the same first and last name, and often have people get the two of us confused. I recently was introduced to her at the gym and we laughed about how people are always getting us mixed up. That introduction and the same name are my ONLY tie to this family.

And yet I can't get him off my mind.

This blog post is not intended to cast blame or responsibility on ANYONE. It is simply me getting my thoughts out.

Because of the same name, I received a few texts on Saturday morning. People were trying to determine if it was MY family that was dealing with the loss of a child. That's really when I started thinking.

I started thinking about how it scares the crap out of me that I am going to have a teenager in a few years....and how I realize how very quickly those "few" years are going to fly by. I then thought about how I was as a teen. And that's when it became clear to me....

As a teen, the things you experience and go through are VERY SIGNIFICANT to you. And as an adult, we often look at these teen problems and think "Oh, kid...if you only knew what REAL problems are". We forget that to them, at that point in their life, their problems are VERY real and VERY serious.

I think we get busy with our jobs, raising kids, making mortgage payment, helping ailing parents, and the rest of adult "life" that we forget how significant those teen problems/issues are when you're a teen. I thought back to the things that just completely set me off as a teenager....

They were really big and dramatic things to me at the time....like breaking up with a boyfriend....getting singled out from the group of friends and feeling like NOBODY cared....not having some material object that EVERYONE else had, and without it, my social life was surely over.....etc.

In my almost-40-year-old hindsight, those issues are so silly....so insignificant. But as parents, we HAVE to remember how incredibly significant and devistating they felt to US as a teen. Only then will we be better able to help our own children. I know I have downplayed problems that my own children have had, because as an ADULT I know that in a few days this issue or that problem will blow over and they'll be on to something else. BUT...I think that it is so very important to remember that downplaying our kids problems is not always the answer. We have to keep perspective that to them, at that point in their life, these problems are EVERYTHING.

Again, this blog post is in NO WAY casting the shadow of blame on ANYONE. I do not KNOW the family or what the situation was behind this young man's suicide. I just know that in thinking about the situation I felt like I had to make sure I was more aware of the seriousness of the problems our kids face. No, their problems aren't on the same level as job security, financial hardships, or any of the stressful situations many adults face. BUT...to a teen, at that point in their life, their problems are as stressful to them as adult problems are to adults. That is part of the way we learn.

We learn to navigate through life by dealing with issues and conflict...from the time we're very young until the day we die. Hopefully the tragedy that this family now faces will somehow help other parents to guide their own children. Hopefully we all will talk to our kids a bit more and listen even harder....hug them every day, and always make sure they know you love them.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


I started this post before the 11th, but couldn't seem to find the right words to finish it. So, here it is; what I had to say about the anniversary of 9/11.

It seems like you can't go anywhere on the Internet these days without seeing someone's thoughts on 9/11. With the tenth anniversary looming on the horizon, people are talking....people are remembering.

Ten years...here are my thoughts on 9/11 as we approach the 10th anniversary.

Ten years ago I was a new Mom, trying to get some sleep and the phone kept ringing. Honestly, the phone was irritating me. It was my husband and I was irritated because the baby was finally sleeping so I was trying to get some sleep too. You see, the baby was a little over 3 weeks old, so Grandma had gone home and the hubby had gone back to work and I was on my own with the little man.

....and the phone kept ringing....

Argh...I finally figured that he wasn't going to stop calling over and over so I should answer. He said something to the effect of "turn on the tv...you have to see this". I relented and turned on the tv. I sat there for hours.

I sat there and held my new baby close and wondered what kind of world we had just brought this baby into. I sat there and watched.

I watched as the 2nd plane hit the 2nd tower. I watched as people jumped from the windows. I watched as people ran from the buildings. And I watched as the buildings crumbled.

I watched in disbelief.

I watched and I wondered...I wondered how this was going to change our world. I thought of that change in very broad terms, never really taking a minute to think that the events of that day would impact me and my family in a very direct way, albeit years later.

See, Schuyler was just a kid then. He had been here to meet his new cousin and do a little back-to-school clothes shopping with Grandma. He was a kid, getting ready to start another year of high school....to attend football games and go cruising with his friends.

And as I watched the events of that horrific day unfold, never did the thought cross my mind than in a little over 7 years, the events of 9/11 would directly impact my life and the lives of my entire family....

September 11th was really just the beginning of everything changing. It was that pivotal moment in history where my life changed. I didn't see the direct impact that day, but years later the direct impact was seen and felt.

Lots of people answered the call of duty on that day, 10 years ago. Firefighters, police, emergency responders, clergy, and many others rushed to help. They heard their own call of duty and went...

...thousands of others heard their call of duty and enlisted. One may have chose Army while his buddy chose Marines, but each heard their own call of duty and answered.

Boys on 9/11/2001 became men and enlisted to do their part to help. I remember a conversation that Schuyler and I had after his first tour was over. He did not have to go on the 2nd tour with his new unit because he had only recently returned. But he was going...he was volunteering to go on that 2nd tour. I couldn't understand why he would do that. We talked about it a lot and he explained that he was volunteering so that maybe another random person....a random person with a spouse and kids at home....might not have to go. He felt like he didn't have heavy responsiblities at home so it was the right thing for him to do to volunteer to go back.

He heard his own call of duty and he answered it.

And I think, in his own way, early in 2009, he knew the danger was getting closer. He knew that not only was it possible, but very probable that he would face that danger head on, and perhaps not live to tell that tale.

I watched coverage yesterday for an hour or so. I watched the children of 9/11....they progressed from infants to 9-10 year olds. Kids that never knew their Daddies. And as I saw them I thought of the two families who also lost a soldier on 2/24/2009, and how one family shares the same burden as those children of 9/11....a child that never knew his Daddy.

A day never goes by that I don't think about Schuyler or the Thompson, Stream, and Bunting families. We are united by a tragedy that none of us wanted to face. We remember and we hope others remember, because within that memory, they all live on.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother’s Day

I have read lots of blogs today, and I have to admit, it seems as if my thoughts on Mother’s Day aren’t “mainstream”.

See, I don’t really like Mother’s Day….I even kinda dread it a little. Two years ago our area suffered a big storm and so in a last-minute-let’s-get-outta-here decision, Jeff and I loaded up the kids and headed North…headed to my parents home to spend the weekend while our entire area was without electricity.

As strange luck would have it, no sooner than we pulled into my parents driveway I got a call from our neighbor that said the power had been restored to our neighborhood. (When we left, it sounded like it could be a week or so, so we were really shocked.)

But, we were there and we spent the weekend with my Mom, Dad, brother and family. It was a nice weekend….it was Mother’s Day….we were all together.

It was the last Mother’s Day I would spend with my Mom.

Because less than 2 months later, she died. She got sick very suddenly…she got worse even quicker, and in less than a week from “not feeling well” she was dead.

And so my issues with Mother’s Day began. I don’t hate Mother’s Day. Really. I don’t. But I don’t really like it all that much either. Mother’s Day is a reminder to me that I can be celebrated, but I have no Mom to celebrate. Now, I know that I can still “celebrate” my Mom even though she is no longer here to celebrate face-to-face. I understand that, but for me, that day is a reminder that she’s gone. She’s gone and I can’t call her up or send a cheesy card or take her to buy flowers to plant in her gardens.

I had a nice day yesterday, in spite of my distaste for it all. Drake made me breakfast in bed. Both kids presented me with awesome cards they had made themselves. Jeff had gotten me a new cover for my cell phone…purple! And then I spent the day planting in my own gardens while Jeff did some laundry and kept the kids alive. Drake and I went to see Thor in the afternoon and then we all met up again for sandwiches at Panera for dinner.

It was a nice day, and many times as I was digging in the dirt I was thinking about my own Mom and the times we shared. I know you’re not supposed to live your life with regrets, but I do regret that I can’t talk to her, hug her, or just see her face smile as she sees her loved ones.

Today is a new day and I’m going to try and push the regrets and sadness back to its spot and live happy. I am most thankful that my husband and kids sense that it’s a strange day for me and they give me the space to spend it in the ways that I need to in order to get through to the end of the day.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Never Forget

As another year passes I find myself reflecting more and more on the lives of four honorable men. I think about not only Schuyler Patch, but also of Dan Thompson, Scott Stream, and Brian (Bubba) Bunting. I think of them, the families they left behind to mourn their sacrifice, as well as the men and women they served shoulder to shoulder with on a daily basis.

And in thinking about their brothers and sisters in arms, I began to wonder…how are THEY doing? How are they coping as we approach the two year anniversary of their tragic deaths? Often the focus is on the biological family that a fallen soldier has left behind. But as we should never forget the sacrifice those fallen soldiers and their families have made, we also must not forget those men and women that came home.

Their pain and anger is as real as ours. Many of them were there the day the tragedy occurred. We cannot forget that they watched helplessly as their friends/brothers/comrades perished. They were there.

When I close my eyes and think to the day of February 24, 2009 I remember the call. I remember Amber’s voice and the disbelief in my mind. I remember wanting to scream. I remember contacting my husband; only saying “Sky’s dead…come home now” before running outside to cry (hoping to not wake up the sleeping baby). I remember my phone ringing and seeing my parents’ number…I answered with a choked “Hello” and my Mom said “OK…you know….do you want to talk now or later?”….I choked out “Later…I love you” and hung up. I could not speak….I could only sob and choke back my urge to scream.

And when I relive those memories I find myself wondering this year about the guys out there with them in that convoy. Do they relive that day in their head over and over? Do they have other days with similar tragedy they find in a looping reel through the depths of their mind? I hope not, but sadly, I would imagine that those images creep into their minds, as they do ours. To those brothers who were out there on 2/24/2009, I think of you today also, and the sacrifices that you made on the battlefields. I wish for you peace in your mind and good memories of your friends that will outweigh the tragedies that you have seen. Thank you for your service.

Two years. Two years and the effects of the loss are still fresh. Children are growing up without their Daddy. Wives are moving forward without their husbands at their side. Parents mourn the loss of their baby…their son…their child. A sister copes by making every effort that he is not forgotten. We all inch on, day by day, and try to find our new normal. And yet, the important thing is that we are inching on. Some days more so than others, but we are moving forward. We are living our lives. We are remembering not just the loved one we lost, but all 4 men. We remember them daily and think of their families often.

The loss has taught me many things, but most of all the loss has given me perspective in my life. The silly things that once stressed me out so much now are given the little attention they deserve. I know what is honestly important in my life now and those little things just have to wait. The loss of Schuyler from my life has reminded me that family is so incredibly important and that you’ll never be sorry for expressing your love for someone.

February is so hard…first Schuyler’s birthday on the 17th and then the day he died on the 24th. The 24th doesn’t just represent the 2-year anniversary of his death…it represents the starting of a pain that none of us ever anticipated knowing. It represents a shift in the path our lives would all take…not just for our Patch family, but for the Stream, Bunting, and Thompson families as well. This is a path none of us would’ve chosen for ourselves, and yet here we are. We are all navigating this path as we best can, knowing that what we’re doing is what we can do. Each of us navigate the path in our own way and hope that the others are doing as well or better than ourselves.

So once again, we find ourselves at February 24. Two years ago this world lost 4 brave men, and 4 families lost a treasured member. I love and miss you every day, Schuyler. I hope that you’re in a place where you enjoy endless happiness and can look down and see us from time to time. I hope that you are with Mom and telling colorful jokes and playing pranks. I hope that you know how much we all miss you and that not a single day goes by that we don’t all think about you and wish you were here. And, I hope that you, Scott, Bubba, and Dan can all see that we will NEVER forget.


Monday, February 7, 2011


One of the blogs I regularly read posted a link to a lady, Lisa, who makes jewelry. Her website is www.lisaleonardonline.com. One of the pictures really stood out to me. It was this one:
Now, you may be thinking "Ummm, OK...imperfect...whatever". But, when I first saw that, I saw "I'm perfect".

Then I realized that it said IMPERFECT.

And that's when it hit me. Isn't it really when we take a hard look at ourselves and say "it's ok...I'm not perfect...and that's OK" that we really become perfect? Isn't it in that moment when you let go of the notions of what a "perfect" wife/mom/daughter/sister/friend SHOULD be doing and just accept that you're doing the best you can...isn't THAT when we actually become perfect?

I don't mean perfect in the never-make-a-mistake kind of way. But more the perfect version of your true self way...the here I am, take it or leave it way. I think we spend so much time worrying about what we SHOULD be doing and HOW we should be that we forget that we ARE what we ARE. You make the choices that you make and many times those choices define us. They define our values and show the outside world what is important to us as a person. And what is right for one person can be totally wrong for another.

And THAT'S OK....

Knowing that where you are and what you're doing right now is where you need to be and what you need to be doing....THAT's perfect. Accepting today is perfect.

So, look at yourself and declare yourself IMPERFECT....because you really are PERFECT!


Friday, January 28, 2011

Devastating genetic disorder is taking a little angel - O'Fallon Progress - bnd.com

Devastating genetic disorder is taking a little angel - O'Fallon Progress - bnd.com

READ Friday Fragments FIRST! Then please, please, please read this article!

Friday Fragments

My friend Liz does a blog post every Friday entitled "Friday Fragments". This post is just little bits and pieces of her week. Today, I'm giving it a try.

This week has been emotionally crazy. I've seen and heard things that just make me want to cry...sometimes tears of joy, and sometimes tears of sadness.

First of all, sadness.....

Tay Sachs is a disease that has affected the Rochman family. One of the members of this family, Tric, is a fellow Mom at my kids' school and we have gotten to know one another. Sadly, I didn't know much about Tay Sachs until very recently when Tric posted a link to an article done on her family and sweet Elise. You can read the article at the link below.

**Edit...I can't seem to make the link work...I will try to post it on it's own...sorry...technical difficulties!**

Reading this article really opened my eyes. The situation isn't at all what I had imagined in my mind's eye. Elise wasn't born with an obvious defect or disorder. She was born like both my kids....10 fingers, 10 toes, and appearing like a normal, healthy run-of-the-mill infant. Six months later, everything began to unfold, and their healthy child's future suddenly had a much different and fatal ending. One of the things that Elise's Mom, Kerri, says in the article completely hit my heart.

No one ever teaches you how to raise a dying child.

So, today, as Elise earned her angels wings and left her family behind, I hope that anyone reading will hug their kids a little tighter tonight, read one extra bedtime story, and thank God (or whatever you believe in) that your children are safe tonight. And, while you're at it, educate yourself on Tay Sachs by reading that incredible article, and keep the Rochman family in your thoughts. During times of tragedy and hardship, it is my experience that the people around you can lift you up and keep you moving forward. Keep them in your thoughts.....

Fragment two...(Sorry my "fragments" are so long....)

Yesterday I went to the salon for my second "Brazilian Blowout"....no, not THAT kind of Brazilian! It's a hair straightening and smoothing process! Anyhoo....the salon I go to has a few older stylists that do the "roll and set" on the older gals. The station directly across from me was one of those stations. As I sat there having my "treatment" I saw 3 different ladies come and go.

These ladies were of the generation where you go to the "beauty shop" once per week for a wash, roll, and set. Then next week you do it all over again. The hair in question was both "blue" and sparse....but the skilled stylist was well versed in the ways of the blue hair, and she could transform a sparsely covered head into quite the 'do!

Well, the final patron at the station was watching my process...I was near the end, where the stylist is doing the final blow dry and combing out my now sleek, straight blond locks. I had my head slightly down and eyes closed, yet I heard Miss Daisy say something across from me.

I opened my eyes and looked at her, only to see her moist eyes glistening. I said "I'm sorry, did you say something?", to which she replied "Yes, dear, I said you have the most beautiful hair".

At that moment, I saw my own future....50 years from now, as I near my late 80's, early 90's, my skin will be wrinkled from the experiences of life. My once thick, shiny blond locks will have been reduced to the occasional wisp of hair on my mostly-bare head. And I will sit in a salon of the future gazing at a younger patron and remembering back in the day when I had young kids and a head full of hair.

I'll recall how I didn't appreciate my thick sleek hair and how now I'd give anything to run my fingers through that hair of old and feel the silky strands cascading through my fingers.

As we locked eyes I saw the future in her eyes, and even though there were no "Enjoy it now honey" words spoken, I saw it in her eyes. I smiled at her and told her that I thought her hair was beautiful too. She chuckled and said something about how little there was of it, and I told her that I thought it was beautiful nonetheless.

And I thought in those moments after my gaze fell from hers...when I'm old and my hair starts falling out, I'm going to say "Screw it" and shave my head and buy some big colorful hats. I'll be a crazy hat wearing old lady, and I'll be happy about it!

Fragment 3....end it on a high note........

Before I start, let me just declare.......I LOVE ellipses.........I love them a lot!!!!!!!!!

OK....the high note.

Several weeks ago, Amber (my niece, who's more like my little sister, 'cause she's only 9 years younger than me, and that's how we roll in my family), called me and said she was pretty sure she was pregnant. This, in case anyone is wondering, is a GREAT piece of news. Amber and her husband Brandon have been trying to have another baby for a while now. Amber's brother, Schuyler, was killed in Afghanistan almost 2 years ago. His loss left a huge hole in our family. A new baby would in NO way, shape, or form take his place, but it would be a bright spot and something to rejoice over. We need a bright spot.

So, yesterday I was so happy when she called and said she had had an ultrasound and everything looked fine and she was ready to let the news out. Woo Hoo! I totally suck at keeping a secret, so I was SO glad that I could let it out!

So, tears of joy are being shed for the new baby coming to our family. Amber and Brandon will welcome this new bundle of joy in mid-September. Or, if their boys' births are any indication, late August....she went early with both Logan and Cole. Now, I'd be lying if I said we're not wishing for a girl, 'cause obviously we are, but if she has another boy, we'll all love him too! I can't wait for the "gender confirming" ultrasound because once we have that...well, let the shopping begin, folks!

Two boys will become big brothers and everyone will have a joyful occasion to focus on, instead of sadness. We will gather for a happy occasion. Since 2/2009 most, if not all, of the gatherings have been for a sad occasion, or reflecting on one of those sad occasions. This child will never get to know his/her Uncle Schuyler or Great Grandma Patch, but you can bet this child will have some "Wild Angels" watching over!

Now, go out there and LIVE the weekend....have fun, laugh a lot, and love.....always love.