Thursday, March 6, 2014

Positively Impacting Lives

Over a month ago, I got a call from a friend, Andrew.  Patrick, Andrew and Nate all worked together back in 2001 when they started up a medical staffing company, Medix.  Patrick was their first employee and promotion.  Andrew started talking about how well their company is doing now, how far it's come since inception, etc.  Then he started talking about the re-branding of their company.  They redid their Core Values and Core Purpose.  He explained how he's been really rethinking things the last year and what really got him and Medix to this point.  He talked a lot about Patrick and back in the day stories.  He kept coming back to what Patrick was, is what their Core Purpose was.  Positively Impacting Lives.  Patrick was their Core Values and Core Purpose.  After he was explaining everything, I was in tears.  He then said he had a question for me.  He wanted to know if they could name a new annual award in Patrick's name.  Of course I said yes.

So yesterday, Olivia and I headed down to Lombard, IL to go meet Andrew at Medix. We got a few tours of their offices, met a lot of great people and saw some old faces.  He then took us out to a wonderful lunch at Greek Islands, Patrick's favorite Greek Restaurant.  The food was amazing!  We then headed over the The Carlisle, where the event was taking place and then back to check in at the hotel down the road.  They had everything ready for us.  What a treat! 

Andrew and Olivia at lunch

Practicing before the big night

Olivia and I rested a bit and then we got into our pretty dresses for the event.  Before leaving, I had a long talk with Olivia about behaving.  It was going to be a long night, let alone a super long night for a 3 year old without a nap.  And let's be honest, it was going to be all adults there and not so much fun for her.

We walked into The Carlisle and it was so nice.  Lots of people coming up and talking to us.  I was super nervous, so I stayed back a bit.  Andrew was so good with Olivia and took her under his wing.  She just loved hanging out with Andrew.  It was then time for the meeting to start.  Andrew welcomed the team from across the country to the Annual Kick Off Meeting.  A few speeches, guests, etc.  Then it was my turn.  Andrew was up and talking about Patrick.  I was sitting in my seat, nervous as all hell.  And miss Olivia was under the table giggling, throwing her shoes, giving me several chewed up fruit snacks she didn't want, hitting her head on the table and making a scene.  I just sat there and ignored it and hoping that everyone else was, too. 

Then, I had to walk up on stage behind the podium and give my speech.    The speech that I thought was horrible.  The speech I thought I botched because my heart was pounding out of my chest.  I got up there and took a deep breath.   Olivia did her thing and then eventually followed me.  I looked for Olivia and she was up on stage with Andrew just hanging out.  I was ready.  Then I just went with it.  As soon as it began, it was over.  Whew.  I did it.  Then I looked into the crowd once more and it was a standing ovation and I saw lots of tears.  Oh boy.  I grabbed my tissue.  Then Andrew presented me with the Patrick Blessing Core Purpose award for 2014 and a gift bag.  Olivia even got the doll from Frozen and a really cool activity/sticker book.  I sat back down and I was relieved.  The ceremony finished and we went to dinner. 

With Andrew of course

But before we ate, Olivia had to get on stage one more time to perform.  The girls got her favorite Taylor Swift song on and she hit the stage.  I think I have a star on my hands...

Dinner was just wonderful.  Olivia actually ate well.  The rest of the night, she followed Andrew wherever he went.  Holding his hand or running after him.  He had lots to do as the President of the company, but he had Olivia with him all night.  Even during his speeches.  She loved every minute of it.  That was her new buddy.

The night finished out with some more awards and great speeches.  What a fun group!  I had to remove Olivia from the event a few times to run in the hallway.  I expected that after no nap and boring for a toddler.  Then the last night I took her out was the worst.  She was super loud and so I covered her mouth, grabbed her sideways and left the room.  We returned 10 minutes later and she sat in my lap.  Not even a minute later she was out for the night.  One tired girl.

We spent the night and headed out this morning after breakfast.  I was lucky Shauna was able to watch her for the afternoon while I went back to work for my management meeting.  We ended up staying for dinner and guess who fell asleep on the way home and is still sleeping?  Olivia.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas in Tyrone

I know I know.  It's been 5 months since my last post.   I promise to do another one this week while I'm on vacation and catch you up on the summer and fall.  But for now, I will tell you all about our Christmas vacation.

Much to everyone not wanting me to drive to PA by myself with Olivia, I did it.  Proud that I made it there and back without having a breakdown.  I really wished Patrick could be on this trip with us.  He loved going to PA and loved being with family.  He was greatly missed on this trip, as he is every day.

Olivia and I left Fond du Lac on Saturday, December 21st in the morning and drove to Toledo, OH.  We stopped in Lake Forrest, IL for lunch and another break in OH.  We unfortunately had bad rain in IL, IN and until we stopped in OH.  It was hard to see, especially when there are tons of semis on the main highway.  Then it started getting dark out.  By then I wanted to check into a hotel, but there really wasn't anything until Toledo that I'd feel safe in.  We finally pulled off on the first exit or so and tried finding a hotel.  Siri on my iPhone wasn't working as planned, so we got a little turned around and I was a little stressed.  Mind you, I had a 3 year old in my back seat that didn't sleep a wink that day and was crabby, sassy, tired, bored and wanted to get out.  It was awesome.  We got into our hotel, ordered in and went to bed early.

We left Toledo the next morning and arrived at our hotel in Altoona, PA around 3.  It was 65* outside!!  We "quickly" unloaded our U-Haul (I'm kidding) and left around 3:45 so we could go pick up the Blessings at the airport.  We were so excited to see them!  After we picked them up, we went to Aunt Jude and Uncle Bill's house.  This was my 4th time there visiting and Olivia's first.  I was so excited for everyone to meet her.  Grandma MC and Grandpa Larry were already there and we all watched the Packers/Steelers game together and caught up.  I cried when I saw them, because it has been so long since we last saw each other.  The last time we were all together was for Patrick's funeral.

Monday we got to go swimming and hang out in the hot tub.  We headed back over to the house that afternoon and met Uncle Tim and Aunt Millie from Louisiana there.  So happy to see them as well!  The rest of the night was spent around the island in the kitchen telling stories and laughing.  Tweeds got into town later that evening from WI.  They drove straight through.  Brave.

Tuesday was Christmas Eve and Uncle Bill's birthday with friends and family.  Olivia went swimming with the Payton and Amanda and had so much fun with them!  She loves playing with them and they are so good with her.  Great babysitters and cousins:)  We went there for dinner and we were lucky to have Aunt Jude cooking that day and the next.  She is a wonderful cook and loves to experiment.  That's where Patrick got that from:)  We had beef tenderloin with a wine sauce, twice baked potatoes and salad.  Of course we had carrot cake for Uncle Bill's birthday cake.  It was a special night with family and friends.

Wednesday was Christmas with friends and family.  We headed back over in the afternoon and awaiting for us was turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, corn bake, rolls, etc.  So wonderful!  Everyone opened gifts, stockings and such.  So thoughtful of everyone to do that for each other.  Even when traveling!  We also had Revel read us a traditional story from Australia, Wombat Divine.  Olivia loved it!!  Towards the end of the night, Shawn and I lit a purple lantern and let it fly into the winter sky for Patrick.  We all really missed him being there.  He would have loved all the food, desserts, family, friends, PSU, togetherness.  He always did a great job of keeping family and friends together and in touch.

Thursday morning, Tweeds headed back to WI in the morning.  Around lunch, all of the Blessings headed back over for Aunt Millie's original cajun cooking.  Crawfish Etoufee and Chicken Gumbo.  So delicious!  I was asked to bring the quart containers back of leftovers for Shawn.  He'll have that for dinner some night:)  We sat around and told some more stories and then Uncle Tim and Bill took the Blessings to the airport.  I stayed back with Olivia and chatted with the ladies.  Great conversations:)  Then we said our tearful good-byes to everyone.  I went outside to start the car, as it had gotten really cold out.  Wonder what was playing on the radio?  Prince:)  Patrick was there with us the whole time.  We headed back to the hotel and packed up our things so we could leave in the morning.

That morning, we met Uncle Tim and Aunt Millie for breakfast.  We had a nice chat and then we were on our way back to WI.  We made it as far as Indiana and called it a day.  Checked in, ate dinner and went swimming.  Saturday morning we left Indiana and got back home to Fondy around 1:30.  Unpacked the car, started putting things away, opened up a few presents from Santa and we laid down for a nap.  Olivia slept and I just relaxed.  It was so nice to be in our own beds.  We went to dinner at my parents house and hung out with them for a while.  We missed being there during Christmas, but it was important for us to be with Patrick's family in PA for the holidays.

I cannot begin to explain how much I enjoyed my time there.  We laughed, cried, told stories, ate, drank wine, relaxed, celebrated, hugged, smiled and loved.  Thank you to everyone for such a wonderful time.  I will never forget this trip.  Except maybe the drive with a toddler that decided it wasn't important to nap in the car and just bother mom instead.  Ha ha!

Thank you all to everyone for the best Christmas vacation. 

Olivia and Christy


Leaving the driveway.  Headphones lasted until the highway. 
Beautiful on our way through Milwaukee

Olivia took pictures of everyone holding the Bear.
Uncle Shawn and Olivia at Gardner's

Payton, Aunt Jude and I

Olivia helping Grandma decorate the tree

All ready for Christmas!

Where's the beef?

I was stationed at this buffet table quite a bit.

Uncle Shawn reading, T'was the night before Christmas
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Happy birthday Uncle Bill!

Will be married 53 years tomorrow on New Year's Eve!

Sister and Brother

Revel reading the book to Olivia

The Blessings


Siblings. MC, Tim, Jude

Swimming with the girls!


My girl



Grandkids with Grandma

Olivia with her new PSU Purse!  Thanks Tweeds!


Last good-bye with her buddy for the week, Uncle Tim.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

1,096 Days

Dear Patrick,

      It has been 1,096 days since you left us.  In some ways it seems like a life time ago and other days it seems just like yesterday.  A lot has  happened in 3 years.  Olivia was born and is growing into a beautiful girl. Our friends have gotten married and had kids.  New songs have come out that you would have loved.  I've been to Pearl Jam concerts.  You've missed our Sunday night dinners with family.  You've missed our celebrations and holidays.  We have a new house and a different car.  I gave your car to someone who needed it.  You've missed 3 birthdays.  So many other things.  But most of all, you've been missed as a dad, husband, brother, son, son-in-law, brother-in-law, nephew, cousin and friend. 

     My life was forever changed at 12:40 a.m. on July 22nd, 2010.  Watching the heart surgeon make his way into the waiting room.  I knew.  I knew by the look on his face and my stomach dropped.  My heart sank.  I was no longer your wife.  I was a widow 6 months pregnant and on my own.  I think of you every time Olivia does or says something.  You would love it.  She talks about you all the time.  She says you're at work.  She knows what your things are and I didn't even tell her.  I don't know how she knows.  She has your humor.  She has your heart.  She loves everyone so much like you did.  People talk about you all the time and how you had such a positive impact on them.  You were such a giving person that helped everyone you came across.  In the time that you needed help the most in that operating room, you couldn't get it.  We've never had it "good" as people say.  Always a string of bad luck.  Sorry to say, but it has continued and I have to just laugh every time. 

     I miss wearing the engagement and wedding ring you gave me.  I miss you kissing me on the forehead.  I miss you yelling every time it snowed and the snow blower

wouldn't start.  I miss you watching Penn State and Bears games.  I miss you rubbing my feet.  I miss holding your hand.  I miss getting lost in the car, even with a GPS.  I miss you telling funny stories with guys.  I miss buying you things.  I miss your cooking.  I miss your hugs.  I miss laying next to you.  I miss your creative and fun gifts.  I miss seeing your passion in Advertising, music, movies and being a better person.  I miss your positive attitude.  I miss seeing you sit in your chair and falling asleep.  I miss your clothes on the floor or leftover dishes on the table.  I miss your Star Wars marathons.  I miss laughing with you at Family Guy.  I miss watching our shows together.  I miss going on errands with you.  I miss having you there for me when I needed it most.  I miss seeing your happy face.  I miss you.  I miss you more than anything in the world.  I know you're here watching over us.  We talk to you all the time.  I know you're protecting us.

     Today I started crying while laying by Olivia watching TV.  She laid next to me and said, "You ok?  It's ok  momma.  Don't cry.  It's ok."  Then she hugged my and started patting my back.  She asked why I was crying and I said that I missed you and I wanted you here.  She got off the bed right away and said she'd go find you. She searched all over the house and came back in the room.  "I couldn't find daddy.  He's at work." 

     To have you walk in the door just one more time.  To be with you for 5 more minutes.  To ask you a million questions.  If I had another 3 years with you, I'd spend every waking minute with you.  Our time together was too short.  Your time on earth was too short.  You were meant to do greater things and didn't get the chance.

     I miss you.  I love you with all my heart.  Keep a watchful eye over us.  We need it.


            Love Always,

               Christy and Olivia

Tomorrow will be a difficult day.  I don't mind messages and reaching out to me.  I probably won't answer your call.  I have a busy day at work tomorrow, which will help me stay occupied.  I need the day to reflect, spend time with Olivia and be alone.  I know people want to be there for me, hug me etc, but on days like that, I need some space, too.  Thank you.

I'll leave you with some happy memories...