I’m grateful to have so many strong women in my life to learn from. These women range widely in age and in profession. Some are my relatives, some are neighbors and some are friends. I could go on and on describing amazing things about each one, but today I would like to talk about one of my favorites, my daughter Kelly.
Growing up with three brothers probably toughened Kelly up a little. Kelly was very shy and timid as a little girl but was always confident around her brothers. When we would go to a restaurant we would encourage Kelly to look at the waitress and order her own food to push her outside of her comfort zone a little. As she grew up she became more and more comfortable and independent but she still needed our guidance. After Kelly graduated from college with her nursing degree I started to notice a strong and confident Kelly. A year after she landed her first nursing job at Devos Children’s Hospital she decided to become a travel nurse and move to San Diego for a while and then to Dallas. She continued to get stronger as she experienced life far away from home and adapting to each new work environment.
As Kelly’s knowledge of nursing grew she decided to try the management side and became a Clinical Nurse Manager at Towne and Country Pediatrics in Chicago. This too helped Kelly to grow and become stronger.
Now my once shy and timid daughter is displaying her strength more than ever while being one of my patient advocates. Kelly helped me understand some sensitive medical topics as we learned more about this disease. As a medical professional and a daughter she never pushed me into making a decision even though at times she may have wanted to. This past year Kelly and I have had many serious talks about the future and about dealing with death and through these conversations we’ve both become stronger and closer.
I’m so proud of and grateful for my strong daughter.
I found this letter to Chad on Devin’s Facebook page and thought it was so beautiful that I wanted to share it.
He has embraced my crazy, my life, my family, my kids. He makes me stronger, gives me my space, he helps me when he can with whatever he can. He gives me everything I need. He can be so sweet yet isn’t afraid to tell me I’m wrong. He listens, he talks, he gives me more than he even knows. He points out the clouds to me when I don’t seem to notice, he reminds me of things that I sometimes forget. I love you chad. Thank you for everything, for loving me for me…
On Sunday evening, a couple of days before my 58th birthday, Bryan, Corey and Kelly surprised me with a beautiful birthday party. Mark and I were supposed to meet everyone at Kelly’s condo for dinner, but when we opened her door all we could see were balloons and flowers and streamers. In fact, there were so many balloons that my wheelchair couldn’t get through without popping some.
Bryan, Corey and Kelly were waiting for us inside with Chad joining on FaceTime. Cole, Peyton, Harrison and Tucker were also there, and so were Patti and Luz, who helped the kids decorate and took pictures. Instead of a real dinner we drank champagne and ate ice cream sundaes and ended the evening with a relaxing sunset boat ride.
I loved this birthday celebration.
In 2012 I was given the gift of a lifetime. I traveled to Europe with Kelly, Corey and Chris. Kelly and I flew to Germany and met up with Chris who was in Switzerland for work. Then we all took a train to Venice where Corey met up with us one night while we were drinking Prosecco in Piazza San Marco. After Venice we went to Florence, then to Rome and finally to Capri.
While we were in Rome we visited many beautiful religious sites, including the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel. One evening we took a taxi to the Colosseum where we got into an argument about religion while we were admiring and learning about the history of the moonlit structure. To make a long story short, the conversation revealed some differences in opinion and ended with some hurt feelings. The next day things were still a little sensitive and Corey and Kelly weren’t happy with one another which made me upset because here we were on this beautiful vacation and my kids were fighting.
The trip ended well with a few days spent swimming and shopping in Capri and we all went back home, Kelly and Chris to Chicago, Corey to San Francisco and me to Muskegon, but Kelly and Corey were still sore at each other.
I have thought a lot about that night at the Colosseum. Differing opinions are a natural part of life and fortunately Kelly and Corey have been able to resolve their differences and forgive each other. I wish everyone could.
Minutes after Mike Anderson, one of Corey’s best friends, read my wedding ring blog post he was on the phone with his boss and the owner of Terryberry, Mike Byam. Terryberry specializes in employee appreciation products, gifts and awards. Mike Anderson asked Mike Byam if their company could fix my broken ring. Mike Byam said, “Absolutely!” Before we knew it Mike Anderson had my ring and was heading to Terryberry’s factory in Grand Rapids.
Only a few days went by and Mike Anderson called and said my ring was finished and he was heading over to our condo. Before Mike arrived I thought of how incredibly kind people are. When Mike presented my ring to me I couldn’t believe how shiny and new it looked. It was prettier than ever. My ring needed to be cleaned and the diamond was loose so they fixed the prongs. My broken ring was put perfectly back together and I was thrilled. The box the ring came in contained a delicate gold chain so I can wear it around my neck. Mike explained to us how intriguing it is to watch the talented and dedicated craftsmen while they work on delicate jewelry. He said they take so much pride in their artwork.
Thank you Mike Anderson, Mike Byam and the talented craftsmen at Terryberry. I’m so happy to have my wedding ring back and more beautiful than ever.