Merry Christmas to All and A Very Happy New Year!
“What?” you say. I know that I have been late with my Christmas cards before but this is taking “late” a little bit too far. Besides being the wrong season to post this, if you know my family, there is one child missing from this photo. This was my Christmas card photo that was never sent this year. You see, I do have a tendency to take the annual Christmas photo a bit late in the season and this year was no different. With Kelsey away in college, we did not have the opportunity to take a photo until we were all together when she came back from break. Yes, we could have, and should have taken one at the beach when we were all together there this past Summer, but who is thinking of Christmas in the heat of summer? Obviously, the fifty families whose cards we received this past year with smiling sun tanned faces who have, “on the ball mammas.” The Thanksgiving photos that we took, truly reflected the energy that lives at Willowbrook Farm but unfortunately not everyones faces. So ours was to be taken on December 17th, the weekend Kelsey came home. Talk about cutting it close to the wire! That is okay, I had it all figured out. I could still get them back from the printer on time, and if I addressed the envelopes early, I would enlist the kids begrudgingly, to help stuff, stamp and send them off. My good friend and photographer Brenda Carpenter was going to come to the house to take a photo of our brood. Yes, I could have done it but she is so darn good and the thought of getting that “good enough to send” shot with the kids all getting older made me get a little sweaty. After all, lets face it, something happens to a Christmas card when the kids age and there are no longer toothless smiling faces beaming at you. Brenda showed up on the weekend afternoon that she had fit us into, the kids got dressed in their clothing of choice and the weather man obliged us with a bit of snow. The dogs even got in on the act! The only snaphu was that we could not get our eighteen year old son out of bed. Not because he is lazy but because he has been struggling with a chronic illness called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia since he finished his Freshman year in High School. That was four years ago and this has pretty much been the scenario ever since then. The question of, “Where is Shane?” no longer gets asked when we are in social or family gatherings for it has become the norm that he is unable to attend. Life is passing him by in the fast lane.
Pause the thought of Shane and life passing him by. Into my life enters the Hearts for Megan event, which was started in the memory of Megan Bates, a beautifully vibrant twenty one year old Senior at West Chester University whose life was tragically ended by a drunk driver. Her family, friends and co-workers wanted to start a non profit to not only honor her life but to celebrate it, and Family Lives On Foundation would be the recipient of the funds the foundation raised. Why Family Lives On? They provide grief assistance to bereaved CHILDREN who have lost a PARENT (not to parents who have lost a child) through the carrying on of traditions. The reason was two fold; Megan loved traditions AND the young man who was driving the car Megan was in that veered off the road, was under the influence. He was a man who had lost his mother at the age of thirteen and Megan’s family had known him well. They felt that he had made some poor choices since his moms’ loss. Maybe the involvement of an organization such as Family Lives On, might have helped guide and nurture him as his mother had done? Thus the relationship between Hearts for Megan and Family Lives On was born. It has continued on every year since Megan’s death in 2008 when the idea was conceived and in 2009, when the first event was held at Riverstone Cafe in Exton Pennsylvania where Megan worked.
The very first Barn Sale that we held, benefited an organization known at that time as Mommy’s Light. Mommy’s Light was born by a mom, Mary Murphy (my maiden name but no relation) who was diagnosed with cancer. As this insidious disease began to win out and she knew there would be no remission, she spoke to her then ten year old son about how they would keep her memory alive as he was grieving her loss. They came up with the idea that he would continue the tradition of baking butter cookies at Christmas every year. Mary then realized that there were hundreds of kids out there who were facing the same scenario. Who was going to keep their moms’ memory alive and how were those kids going to be helped with the obvious grieving process? Thus Mommy’s Light was founded in 1997. Mary died two months later but her idea has lived on and to this date Family Lives On Foundation ( the name was changed to reflect the incorporation of supporting children whose fathers have died in 2013) has supported over 1000 traditions for children between the ages of three and eighteen whose mothers or fathers are terminally ill or have died. Any of you who are reading this and are mothers, would feel a special pull towards this organization, for the thought of not being there for our kids is staggering. That thought is one that we, as moms, push aside, shut out and never really get our heads around…unless we are forced to do so.
The thought of losing a child is even more staggering and I know that I fire up that prayer, all too often, to watch over my kids and keep them safe from harm. Megan’s parents have turned their tragedy into something that will bring others a blessing while remembering the joy of Megan’s life. Family Lives On works tirelessly to do the same. This relationship that I have formed with both, through Life’s Patina, has blessed my own life. It has opened my own eyes and made me face things that I would rather not. Shane has a life altering illness and yes, I mourn the missed opportunities, the college visits, the proms, the football games, the unsent Christmas card… but these are all trivial in the scheme of life. I know that he is upstairs and I can talk to him, experience his nearness and that someday, hopefully, he will experience life as it was meant for him again. He has good days and bad days…we all do. It is what we do with those days that count.
So…we walk on, in all of our different life situations and we hold our heads high and we try and make a difference. Please come out and join us at any of our events this Spring. They all benefit the Family Lives On Foundation.
Life’s Patina Spring Preview Party with a seasonally inspired menu and cocktails
Thursday May 1st at 6:30
Life’s Patina Spring Barn Sale
May 2nd, 3rd and 4th
Hearts for Megan Dinner and Auction with QVC Host Shawn Killinger
May 10th ~ 6:30 pm
For tickets or more information on any of the events please visit our website at www.lifespatina.com
Thanks for reading and a very Belated Merry Christmas and a New Year full of blessings and making a difference!