Monthly Archives: November 2013

A Magical Thanksgiving


I loved waking up on Thanksgiving morning knowing our whole family, including our grandsons, were all in Muskegon together. Holidays have always been special to me but this one is extra meaningful. The love of a family is priceless and no words can properly describe this type of love.


All morning I sat back and watched Mark and Kelly work efficiently in our kitchen to prepare our Thanksgiving meal in an attempt to try and make things seem normal. Mark and Kelly have bonded beyond belief during the past ten months. We’ve all gotten closer, which makes me so proud of my family.


In the evening our huge extended family and a few friends joined us for dessert, which is a speciality in our family. After dessert our kids gathered everyone into our living room and Bryan gave a champagne toast for our 35th wedding anniversary and then the big surprise was announced.


Our friends Cindy and Paul Whiteman gave Mark and I a beautiful anniversary present. They gifted us with 35 yellow Chinese lanterns and asked everyone to gather outside to send these beautiful yellow lights up over the lake and into the sky. The night was cold and crisp but about 50 people braved the snowy weather outside to help send 35 beautiful anniversary wishes into the night. Mark and I had a spectacular view from our balcony.


As these beautiful lanterns drifted gently into the sky I couldn’t help but think about how fast our 35 years have drifted by us. If only it would have slowed down a little we would have more time to love, cuddle, kiss and laugh.


Thanksgiving has always been extra special to Mark and I because of our anniversary being so close, but this year was so full of love from every person that attended. It was a magical day.


For Laughter

FaceTime Laughter

Dear readers,

Today I am thankful for laughter.

A few days ago a friend of mine and I were discussing my Thanksgiving trip home to Michigan and he asked me to relay a message to my mom on his behalf.

“Tell your mom I read her blog every day,” he said. “And that I like it when she says fuck.”

I delivered my friend’s message when I arrived home earlier this week and my mom smiled and rolled her eyes, somewhat amused, I suspect, at the thought of a complete stranger quoting an early post, but also a little bit embarrassed about having an f-bomb on record in what has become such an oft-visited diary bearing her name.

“Tell him I said ‘thank you for reading’,” she said sincerely.

The next morning while she and my dad and I were sitting at the counter having breakfast, one of the fifteen or so pills that my mom is now required to try and swallow each day got lodged in her throat and she started to choke. My dad and I tensed and waited for the spell to pass. When it lasted longer than either of us were comfortable with, we each grabbed one of her arms below the shoulder and hoisted her from her seat, trying to open her airway. We hovered over her for a long time, glancing at each other with panic in our eyes as she gasped for breath. After what felt like forever, my mom finally worked the pill loose and gulped for air and immediately began to cry. My dad and I followed suit.

The three of us stood there for quite a while feeling helpless and hopeless and bawling, our half-eaten bowls of oatmeal cooling on the counter, when my mom suddenly took a deep breath, looked me in the eye and mouthed “Fuck.” A sly smile spread across her face and her sobbing turned to laughter. My dad and I started to laugh too and that’s how we made it through breakfast that day.

In our house we’ve always had the good fortune of laughter. Lots of it. And even now, in the midst of what oftentimes feels more like a nightmare than a reality, we still laugh together, and it heals. Not in the way we all so desperately wish it would, but on some days it’s enough. And for that, I’m thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving, readers.



P.S. My mom will return to posting tomorrow. She asked that I fill in today so she can spend more time with her grandsons.

Robert’s New Resting Place

Hart Cemetery

In August I wrote about finding my oldest brother Robert’s grave in the Hart Cemetery. Shortly after telling my six siblings about finding Robert my brother Jim started devising a plan to reunite him with our parents in the Laketon Cemetery in Muskegon.

Last week Mark and I met Jim and his wife Janet at the Hart Cemetery to exhume some of the dirt in Robert’s grave. Robert’s wooden casket had deteriorated after 68 years so all that was left in his grave was dirt and some small pieces of wood from his casket. As a family we decided to keep a headstone at both cemeteries.

John Wilson, the sexton at the Hart Cemetery, treats this cemetery as if he owns it. He knows where everyone is buried and is so respectful of its visitors. John takes great pride in making sure the grounds are beautifully groomed.

Thais and Paulo 11x11 (1)

On Saturday, November 23, 2013, Robert’s 68th birthday, my siblings met at the Laketon Cemetery to celebrate Robert and bury him near my parents. Before the burial we added a few special items to his burial box. Janet made a baby blanket for him and we all added a few of our own thoughtful treasures.

Thais and Paulo 11x11 (5)

After the burial we visited my brother Mick and my sister Jean who are both buried a few rows away.


We ended Robert’s celebration at Jim and Janet’s house with a birthday cake. I can’t help but wonder who Robert resembled or what his personality would have been like.

An Amazing New Year’s Day Breakfast

IMG_5242 (1)

On New Year’s Eve last year we spent the night with the Salisz family playing games, walking, singing and twirling in the woods. The night was really fun but the next morning was amazing.

All twelve of us sat down as a family at the Salisz’s huge handmade table and shared a delicious breakfast. The food was great and the conversation was perfect. The twelve of us, ranging in age from 18 to 57 with very different opinions, talked about religion, politics, old times, our upcoming events and New Year’s resolutions. The reason why this conversation was so amazing is because we were all allowed to voice our opinion without someone getting upset because they didn’t agree. Everyone at the table that morning learned something new about the opposite view and respected it even if they disagreed.

I shared one of my New Year’s resolutions (“Stop trying to change people.”) with everyone at the table and I remember crying while saying it. This resolution has plagued me most of my life because I want everyone to see the good that happens all around them every day instead of finding the negative or always finding fault with others. I want the people I love to make their lives simple and less cluttered because it brings so much clarity and freedom and it feels so good. I would love it if we could all eliminate greed, envy and old grudges from our lives. And yes, I am a bit of a control freak, but life could be so much better for everyone if people would look at the positive instead of the negative.


A few months ago I received a Facebook message from our friend Tré , one of the twelve at the table that morning, reminding me of one of my resolutions.

Tré wrote:

“I’m loving me some of your blog and writing! Your New Years resolution…Don’t try to change people….and the conversation that followed continues to stick with me! Thank you for eternity for that!”

One of the things that I have finally realized this year, maybe because I have slowed down so much, is that I could never change people, the change in people has to come from within.

Being around the Salisz’s table on New Year’s Day was a great start to my year. I was so proud and honored to start my year with everyone at that table and so happy our adult children wanted to be around us for New Year’s.

I Prayed


After I was diagnosed last year I prayed for many things. I prayed that I would be able to walk and talk at least through the summer and then I realized that I was selling myself short so I quickly reneged on that prayer and set my sights a little higher. I asked God to let me walk and talk until the end of the year and so far He has answered those prayers.

One thing I could never bring myself to pray for was to be healed. I’m not sure why I couldn’t ask God for healing but in my heart it felt selfish when so many others needed that miracle much more than I.

Today I am thankful for all of you and for the love you have shared with me and with my family. I am also thankful that I reneged on my first prayer and set my sights a little higher because I feel very lucky to still be walking and talking.