Tag: daddy

Helping For The Holidays

About 10 years ago, my dad did something that would not shock anyone that knew him. My dad was the definition of “family man” and he loved nothing more than a happy child during the holidays. One particular Christmas, my dad was at Wal-Mart and saw Toys For Tots outside. He wanted to buy a toy and make a donation. While in the toy department, he overheard a little boy asking his parents for a bike and they said they could not get one that year. My dad, being the generous man that he was, did something wonderful. He offered to buy the bike for the parents to give to the little boy, and they accepted, very much overwhelmed by his generosity. If that doesn’t make you smile, I don’t know what will. And, that is a glimpse into the person that my dad was.

Since my dad has passed almost two years ago, Christmas has not quite been the same. I have never known anyone who loved Christmas as much as him. He was the Clark Griswold of Christmas decorations and could never have too many ornaments or lights. He even made a few custom displays over the years. In my family, the Christmas decorations would come out on Thanksgiving and stay up until New Years Day. It was a big project, but he got so much pleasure out of the spirit of the season. In the two Christmas’ we’ve spent without him, we have tried to find that spirit that he so loved.

We have been thinking about his generosity a lot the past few months, and my husband and I have talked about how nice it would be to do something similar, in honor of my dad. My husband even wrote a blog post of his own a couple weeks ago about helping out, which you can read here. Since we do not have children, it would also be a nice feeling to help a child have a nice Christmas. After much conversation about it, we knew what we wanted to do.

Last weekend, on our anniversary, my husband and I went to Wal-Mart and put two children’s bikes (and helmets) on layaway. I cannot tell you what an amazing feeling that was. We weren’t sure yet where those bikes would go, but that was all a technicality. We knew that these would make a little boy and a little girl very happy.





This super cool red and black bike will make a young boy very happy!



This sweet bike will be perfect for a young girl!


Since then, we have decided on an organization to donate these bikes to, and we would love to have more than our two bikes to donate. Do you remember that feeling when you were little of getting a brand new bike? We cannot wait to give that happiness to a little boy and a little girl, all in honor of my dad.

The organization we have chosen is:





I have been in touch with the local Toys For Tots campaign office and I am so excited about this. The coordinator has been VERY helpful. After looking over their website, one sentence jumped out at me, and when I read it I knew this was the organization for our bikes to go to.

“Our goal is to never allow a child to wake up Christmas morning without a toy.”

This is something my dad would feel very strongly about. And that makes this all the more important to us. With that said, my husband and I would like to reach out to our family, friends, and more and see if we can turn this into something bigger. We would love to create a yearly campaign of our own and collect bikes to donate to Toys For Tots. And while Toys For Tots accept toys as well, in the spirit of my dad and his generosity for that little boy and his family at Wal-Mart, our focus is on bikes.

We are still working out all the details for our own little campaign, and we are setting up a Facebook page for it. As soon as we have all the remaining details ironed out, we’ll let everyone know so we can get the word out.

At any time, you can visit the Toys For Tots website HERE for more information on their organization. If you are interested in donating a bike, please let us know. We would love nothing more than to turn our 2 bikes into 5 or 6 bikes and make even more children happy.

**Please note that Toys For Tots will only accept NEW items.

My husband and I both know that my dad would be so proud of us. Knowing that we are helping to make a few children happy for Christmas will make for a very special Christmas for my husband and I.

Miss you, Daddy…

We are 2 months shy of 2 years since you passed. I don’t know how that is possible.

Tonight will be 23 months of sunsets at Crystal Beach, including the very first one we watched as a family, just hours after we said goodbye to you.

Every sunset is unique and beautiful in it’s own way and I know that you have something to do with that.

Every sunset is a representation of you, of an amazing life that left us, on a beautiful, cold winter day. The most amazing of all sunsets was the day we said goodbye. It was breathtaking.

I think of you – and miss you – every single day. My heart will always be filled with love for you, the best Daddy ever.



One of many beautiful sunsets, this one was on August 4th, 2012.



Catching up

What a week it has been. Early Sunday morning is a good to time to catch up, yes?

Monday was Labor Day which means I did a whole lot of nothing. Seriously, I stayed in my pajamas all day. I don’t know about you, but I need days like that. I call it a mental health day.

On Tuesday, my mom and I had a nice distraction from our work day with Autumn. She was out of day care for the day while her dad worked (mom left for Seattle that morning). There is no doubt about it, Autumn always brightens my day and there is so much laughter and silliness. The funniest thing she said all day was that she knows what’s wrong with my back, it’s cranky and wobbly. Love it!


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That evening, we went to Crystal Beach as we do every month on the 4th. I can’t believe that in the 21 months since my dad has passed, that it has not rained once on the 4th. Every sunset up there is amazing and I am certain my dad has something to do with it. It’s no wonder my dad loved it so much up there.


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Autumn met a little boy up there and they played in the water for quite awhile, they had a fun time being silly and finding hermit crabs. She also met a little doggy that she thought was so cute. She would pick her up and hold her. Since her dog Scarlett is too big to hold, I think she got a kick out of the “little dog”.


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On Wednesday, my brother brought their dog over to stay with us for a week, while they visit their Seattle family.  Her name is Scarlett and she is an Australian Cattle Dog. She is such a sweetheart and a good girl. She fits in very well with Blue and Ozzie. They’ve been having lots of fun playing and snuggling.


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Thursday morning , it was back to physical therapy. With a follow-up appointment at the orthopedist this coming Monday, I was curious to see what the therapist thought’s were. Every time I’ve gone in there, he’s been impressed with how far I’ve come compared to the first day I walked in there. I was still in a lot of pain at the time and it was very obvious in how I walked and sat. I couldn’t sit still, I was constantly having to change positions to try and get comfortable, which was almost impossible. After 5 visits now, I am hardly in any pain. At it’s worse now, it’s mostly a discomfort but there are times when I don’t even think about it. I’ve had to change the way I sleep and sit and watch TV in the evening, and it has become part of my daily routine to do my exercises. So, I asked the therapist with my upcoming doctor’s appointment if he felt I would need to go for an MRI and possibly epidural steroid injections. He said he would give me a note to give the doctor, but it is his opinion that no, I do not need to do that. He says that I have definitely made progress and over time it will continue to get better. I am still walking with a little bit of a limp, and it’s more obvious at the end of the day when I’m tired. He thinks that now, the limp is out of habit, not because of pain. What I need to focus on now is building up the calf muscle again where I’ve had some weakness. It is very scary how quickly your muscles can weaken. Starting tomorrow, I am to start walking a 1/4 mile a day and focus on firing up that calf muscle and building it back up.

I also got some fun news this week…. I am now an Elite member of Yelp. For those of you that follow me on Facebook and Twitter and you see me checking in places, I am here to tell you that it pays off. Yelp is a great site to check-in to places you frequent, leave reviews and tips, and to find new places to go. There is an app for your smart phone and some places have check-in offers and savings. I love this site because if I receive good service somewhere, I love to share it and get the word out. Being active on here has earned me the Elite status, which means I get to take part in fun events in the area. The first of which will be Yelp-O-Scream at Busch Gardens later this month. It will be a fun night for hubby and I, and we’ll get to meet new people. If you’d like to check out my reviews on Yelp, you can find my profile here.

All in all it’s been a good week. This morning it’s raining and I’m enjoying the fact that I don’t have to go out in it. It will be a lazy day in our house as we get ready for another busy week. And now, I’m off to make pancakes for breakfast!

How was your week? Do you like to be lazy on Sundays?

On loss and grief…

Earlier today, a good friend from high school lost her dad to cancer. He has been battling cancer and spent the last few weeks at hospice. I have been checking in with her often to see how he was doing, and her as well. I have to admit that her experience and what she’s been going through these last few weeks has sent me back to the days I spent at the hospital with my dad and the rush of emotions I felt during that time.

A few days after her dad went to hospice, Leslie asked me how I got through things with my dad. I answered her honestly and told her I don’t know. I really don’t. Looking back on it now, 20 months later, I am actually amazed at how I did handle it and how I got through it. I spent 12-14 hour days at the hospital over a month’s time. The first two weeks he was in the hospital, he was more coherent but still very ill. The second two weeks, after being readmitted, he was mostly in a coma and very, very ill. But I had to be there. I could not be anywhere else. I remember one day during his first two weeks in the hospital, the day before he would come home. It was the only day that I did not make it up to the hospital and it drove me insane. I talked to my mom on the phone while she was at the hospital with him and he told her to tell me that he missed me and loved me. The one day I didn’t make it up there. The next day he came home, and the following evening he was rushed back to the hospital. Thank goodness I saw him and we spoke that morning. He would never speak to any of us again after that, with the exception of a couple times he woke up and acknowledged us. He couldn’t talk because he was on a ventilator, but he would mouth “I love you” and very much smile. It was the moments that kept me at the hospital every minute I could be there, in hopes that he would know we were there with him and that he wasn’t alone.

For my dad, we had to make the most difficult decision ever. After being in ICU with sepsis and pneumonia and on a ventilator for 2 weeks, we had to decide if we wanted the doctors to do a tracheotomy because it wasn’t safe to be on the ventilator much longer. He could not breathe on his own. He had put on 50 pounds in a matter of days after being admitted to ICU and had to have daily dialysis treatments. If there was any hope of him coming home, he would need extensive round the clock care, but the doctors were not at all optimistic.

When my dad had his accident in 1955 and ended up in a wheelchair, he had a tracheotomy then. You could still see the scar from it. We all knew that a tracheotomy would be the last thing he would want. After two very emotional family meetings with all of his doctors, and him pulling out his feeding tube his last night (which we took as a sign), we realized that a choice had to be made. He was so ill. So very ill. His last morning, we decided it was time. We had tried everything possible, we were not making hasty decisions. But it was hard. I did not like playing God. We surrounded his bed – my mom, me and my husband, my sister and brothers and their spouses, three of my mom’s sisters, and two of my dad’s cousins. We all held his hands and kissed his forehead. They took him off the ventilator, and it only took 12 minutes for him to pass. I knew we had made the right decision, but it did not make it any easier. I was numb and the saddest I have ever been in my whole life. To this day, I can remember every day at the hospital with him and what happened. It’s very vivid. But I realized the last couple weeks that I had put away some of those emotions, in a safe place. Perhaps that’s what we do over time when we go through a loss like that.

In hearing from Leslie about how her dad was doing each day, and how she was doing, going back and forth to hospice and wanting so much for him be at peace and not in pain anymore – well, it brought those feelings back. In Leslie’s case, she watched him decline each day. The little changes that would take place, and they waited. She told me he wanted them to live their lives and visit in the evenings. She wanted him to not be in pain anymore. These are all such selfless feelings.

I still wonder what my dad thought in his last days. Did he think about the fact that he was leaving us? Did he wonder how we would all be with him gone? We will never know the answers to this, but I hope that he did not worry about us and know, in his heart, that we would be fine. He was the center of our lives and in the end we were all there with him. I can’t think of any other way to see a loved one leave. We all put our pain aside to be there with him. To me, that is a beautiful thing.

One thing I would tell Leslie now is that there is no wrong way to grieve. We all grieve differently and you have to deal with it head-on. There were days that I cried and cried. You have to let yourself cry and face those emotions. And there were days that I would think of something and it would make me smile. 20 months later, the happy memories and thoughts outweigh the sadness. I still have them, and I still cry, but I also laugh and smile about memories I have of my dad – the stubborn Italian that he was.

Here are some recent photos of Leslie (right) and her dad Donnie, along with her good friend Dawn (left), who thought of him as a second dad. These pictures were taken not long ago by Dawn’s sister before he became very ill. I remember years ago, he would pick on me, and was always laughing. He was such a character. That is how I will remember him.

Today, I am keeping Leslie and Dawn, and their families, in my thoughts as they go through this difficult time. Rest in peace, Donnie, aka Pops. You have very good company up in heaven with my daddy.


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Dawn, Donnie, and Leslie


45 years ago today…

45 years ago today, my mom and dad were married in Long Beach, California. My mom was young, just 17 when they married, and my dad was 34. My dad had an Italian restaurant at the time and this was how my mom learned to be the most amazing cook ever. It would be 5 years before I was born, the first of 4 kids. The life they had, and the family they made, is the epitome of marriage. My mom took care of my dad, and my mom was my dad’s whole world. She took care of him and he never failed to support his wife and children, all while sitting in a wheelchair. They loved each other deeply. It may not have always been easy, and there were certainly struggles along the way, but they stuck together through it all.

They were married 43 years when my dad passed away. They lived a lifetime together in those 43 years – 4 kids, 3 grandchildren, many moves, many businesses, and a whole lot of love. I know that Daddy is celebrating up in heaven today and looking down on my mom. And my mom is thinking very much about Daddy today and all the fun times they had over the years. Thank you Mommy and Daddy, for loving each other and taking care of each other. We have very big shoes to fill…