I have a new outlook on life… I’m sure you already read my last post “what a long strange trip it’s been” and thought “wowzas!” to yourself. My thought process “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and “my tears and stepping stones for the future”. I am truly blessed to have an AMAZING husband, son and circle of friends – you are all my rocks and I couldn’t have made it through that crazy storm without you!!! Through all my hardships I was able to reconnect with an old dear friend that has 2 boys my son’s age – pretty cool!!! And then we took on an amazing family vacation to St. Thomas. While we were there we didn’t go anywhere – just chilled out: snorkeled, floated, built sandcastles, ate amazing food and made some awesome new friends. Keep your fingers crossed for me: I am speaking with the wedding coordinator in St. Thomas!!!!
Now that we are back and wedding season is in full swing I wanted to take a step back and re-live our St. Thomas experience.
I am thankful for all my beautiful and wonderful clients! I feel extremely grateful for the most beautiful weddings I have ever photographed this season. Seriously! I am SUPER EXCITED to have all of them on my blog by the end of this summer!!!
Here are some images I was able to capture in St. Thomas. Enjoy!
Jennifer & Micah had their engagement session at the Detroit Public Library last winter. It was a fun afternoon getting to know them better and hearing all about their big day (coming this weekend!!!) Here are some cute shots we took – enjoy!
Super CUTE wedding invitation designed by the groom, David Cox for their wedding last month at The Toledo Zoo. I just love how the bright green color carries over into the lily bud!
I feel like I need to write this in order to get it all out…. in the summer of 2012 my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer – 2 weeks after she FINALLY quit on her own – it figures! You see, my Babcia (yes I am Polish died from lung cancer and my Dzia Dzia died from lung cancer, so her fate wasn’t too far from theirs. Mom wanted her treatments at St. Anne’s hospital in Toledo, I’m guessing because it was close to their home and is considered a “cancer hospital”. When she was initially admitted, my 2.5 year old son was wearing sandals and playing in her hospital room “entertaining us”, I looked down on the floor and 1 inch away from his foot was a dirty needle!!! OMG I had a TOTAL conniption! I was SO freaked out that I was shaking!!!That’s how my nightmare started……………
So, we were dealing with chemo therapy sessions, educating ourselves on alternative medicines and all the other cancer terms. My dad was always a control freak, bi-polar, an alcoholic with a history of police reports of domestic disputes. But honestly, he wasn’t that all bad, 80% of the time he wasn’t bad to deal with – but he had his moments!! He was also a good man and a good provider. My mom was such a forgiving person (an enabling) and she always took him back and took care of him – no matter what he did. She had her own way of making him realize what he did and made him pay for it her own way. My dad got really weird with her cancer – lots of highs and lows = total bi polar! He was super loving one month and another month he refused to take her to her treatments, hid her purse, hid her pain meds and accused her of all sorts of craziness! Knowing this, I freaked! I tried to get mom to move in with us so she could get proper care and a loving & healing environment but she wouldn’t leave him… summer went away and winter came and my dad chilled out and “came back to normal” and got on track.
everything was going well….. chemo treatments seemed to be taking care of the 3 tumors Mom had and prognosis was good. Mom felt good as well
The next spring, we (my husband Brian and my son Joe – age 3) were at my parents house. It was Mothers Day, Mom and Joe were feeding the ducks at the creek that runs behind their house. Joe came running up to the house saying that “Babcia fell in the creek”. When we got to her, she was face down in the mud but able to breathe – thank God! She apparently slipped with her flat shoe and took a dive. When we tried to get her up and on her feet, she seemed off. We got her in the house, I got her cleaned up and made sure she was okay. She was pretty embarrassed but grateful and assured me that she was okay. A week later I was shooting a wedding, so Brian was home with Joe. My parents always stopped by to visit, they came by that day when I was working. Brian loved it because he had baby sitters and entertainment for Joe Brian told me that my mom fell in Joe’s room that day – she didn’t trip on a toy – she fell!!! He said her feet wouldn’t move and she was dead weight. Apparently my dad didn’t want to call an ambulance. I called her the next day as soon as I found out and she seemed fine and said she was tired. The following week, Mom fell down the stairs and had to go to the hospital in an ambulance. My dad was living in denial at this point and was accusing her of “pill popping”. That week was my 40th birthday and I was looking at all my accomplishments and setting future goals, I was not expecting a gift from the devil that year. Happy 40th Birthday – your mom has brain cancer!!!! I was with her everyday at the hospital – just hanging out and cuddling, sometime I would have Joe and sometimes I would go by myself. She had to undergo aggressive radiation treatments and my father went off on the deep end. I never saw him SO manic, paranoid, controlling and down right mean for NO reason. It was the worst year of my life, so far!!! It was the worst year of my mom’s life for sure!!! Yet, she still wouldn’t leave him to come live with us. I had to learn the game of the mentally ill and how the law protects them. I tried to have him attack me so he could be arrested – so I could declare him incompetent. He wasn’t stupid and knew EXACTLY what I was doing. He stole a lot of money from Mom’s bank account abusing his Power of Attorney rights. It made me sick to my stomach! He threatened our family, close friends, he poured Round-Up on their neighbors 50 year old grapes just because he could. He cornered a realtor in an empty house and gave her a good scare and yet no one did anything – didn’t even call the cops – so he got away with whatever he wanted… it was hell and my mom lived it and she never left him! I didn’t care what rumors he was spreading. I knew I was a good person, I live by a good moral code and that anyone that knows me wouldn’t believe a word he said. And honestly, he made himself look bad! Anyone with half a brain could see he wasn’t all together there mentally. I remember when I would come to visit her, she would tell him to leave the house since it was her’s too because she wanted to visit with me. Nice, huh? That fall, she let me split all her hosta plants and I created a garden in front of my studio with them. I’m excited to see it this year for the 1st time and I will forever cherish it!!!
At this point, my moms cancer treatments were taking a major toll on her – obviously! Not just the cancer, but the mental abuse and overall nastiness she endured. My heart broke daily for her. She slept a lot and her appetite was way down. Her throat was burned from the radiation and could barely swallow water let alone eat anything – she grew weaker. It was now Thanksgiving and we had it at our house because of the amount of work involved. Mom was grateful she didn’t have to cook but insisted she bring a dish She brought my dad and no one said anything to him – it was SO awkward! I did give him a hug though, but I wasn’t prepared for “a conversation” with him. I had a lot to process and to forgive… I came to realize he was as sick as she was, just in a different way. He looked SO un-put-together – (is that a word???) My dad ALWAYS dressed well, not this time, not this winter. His depression took a toll on him. Christmas came and my mom INSISTED of having Christmas Eve dinner at their house – she didn’t want me to cook at all. My dad tried to apologize for his behavior for last summer but I still wasn’t prepared for that conversation and I definitely didn’t want to deal with it on Christmas (especially my mom’s last Christmas). I made the most of that Christmas with my mom – the best I could….
That January, Mom was back in the hospital. She fell down again, but this time she was stuck in between shelves for about 4 hours before my dad found her. Mom was an insomniac (this is where I get it from, I know this!) and went in the basement to do some laundry (might as well be useful at 3am, right?) my dad didn’t find her until he got up. An ambulance came and admitted her at St. Anne’s. This time I was prepared – or I thought I was! I was going to play the social worker/hospital game and get my mom away from my dad once and for all.. and give her proper care… While she was at the hospital taking all kinds of tests, she was eating like she never ate before. I was so glad her appetite was back! They admitted her for closer observation, lots of talks with her cancer doctors, family doctor and no one knew a thing! It was So frustrating!!!! At this point, I was prepared for that much needed conversation with my dad. I laid my heart out for him, told him I love him, told him I hated him for what he did to us & mom last summer. I also told him that I will do anything for them and I want to be part of the decision making process because I want what’s best for Mom. At that moment, I understood what true forgiveness was. Mom’s doctors said she needed a surgery to drain fluid from her brain and she needed to be in a nursing home afterward. A few days later they came to the conclusion that she was terminal and they were not going to seek any more treatments because of her quality of life would be compromised. My dad fell apart BIGTIME!!! I mean to the point that he made it all about him: “Poor Me” syndrome. At this point, my dad had a nursing home lined up for her – over my dead body was my mother going to a nursing home to die – she deserved the best! We invited her to live with us and she accepted Hospice came to the house and helped care for Mom.
Then the snow came….. and it snowed… and it snowed.. and it was beautiful! It was SO nice to drink coffee together in the morning and we enjoyed each others company watching the beautiful snow! Mom soon realized that I am not the type to just sit down all day. I’m a worker: I make sure my family eats 3 home cooked (not processed food) meals a day, along with laundry, house stuff, a business to run and raising a 4 year old little boy. The fact that I don’t sit down until after the dinner dishes are done, drove her crazy! She understood, even though she forgot how much work it is to raise a family – she taught me well!!! My dad would come by for a visit and complain how bad the roads were, but at least he came and made an effort to be with his wife – even with his depression! My Ciocia (aunt) from New Jersey came to visit my mom for a week, my dad stayed away during this time. My Ciocia endured a lot of my dad’s antics last summer and was not kind to seeing him – and he knew it! So, he laid low, Mom didn’t even want to call him while she was with us – I think she just wanted Peace. While mom was with us (especially the week my Ciocia was here) Mom declined every day – God took something from her daily – balance, speech, you name it, every day was something else she lost. Mom was in a hospital bed in our living room by the week with sister’s visit was over. Every day she declined, her nutrition was good though – which kept her from getting bed sores. Her skin was awesome looking – even the nurses from Hospice would comment on how beautiful her skin was Hagan Daas White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle ice cream was a favorite of Mom’s and I made sure she had it often
Valentines Day came and we ate steaks on the grill for dinner and we didn’t hear from my dad. I remember thinking “I can’t believe he didn’t call her on Valentines Day”. Well, there was a reason for this: he shot himself in the head the day before in the basement of their house. Their neighbor called me that Saturday and said there was police all over their house………. I flew there (literally, I think I was doing 90 mph down Secor Rd) I found out about the suicide when I got there and the detective told me. Whoa!!!! I know this is all screwed up, but honestly I was relieved, and sad and angry but mostly relieved! He couldn’t hurt anyone anymore and I didn’t have to worry about him hurting Mom anymore. Is that messed up or what??? In my heart, I know if she was with him at this time he would have taken her life 1st. I am grateful I had the sense to get her away from him!!!
Mom declined and declined and declined. It got to the point that I had Spa Radio on Pandora Radio on for her, so her transition would be beautiful and she would be comfortable. She would not let go. I remember my dog barking at the back door every 10 minutes the Friday before she passed away. Super freaky, because no one was there but Sugar was in “protection mode” and she never left Mom’s side!!! That Saturday, her good friend came to sit with her all day and then I stayed up with her all night until 5:30 am. I went to bed because my most comfortable couch in the world wasn’t comfortable and I needed to lay down. Brain woke me up at 8:30 am and said she passed away.
I have a brother, I’m the responsible one and that’s okay. Well, he attacked me in front of some ladies after the funeral and that’s not okay. He is also bipolar and he self medicates – not a good combo! I don’t want to detail why he went crazy on me – it’s not important and is extremely petty. Something I wish to forget (and forgive) in time. During this horrible time, Brian’s dad (My father in-law) goes in for emergency surgery in Naples, FL. He made it through the surgery, Brian’s sisters went down to Naples to be with him – thank God! He never progressed from the surgery, it was as if the grim reaper found him! Our world was crumbling all around. So, I thought 2013 was the worst year of my life – 2014 by far takes the cake of THE WORST YEAR EVER!
Something good HAS GOT to come from all of this, right??? Stay tuned to see what happens next!
thanks for letting me get this all out – I feel better!
This brought a smile to my face when I saw this adorable arrangement at my parents funeral. I seriously love this design from Beautiful Blooms by Jen. The AMAZING ladies are incredibly CREATIVE! Beautiful Blooms by Jen is a FABULOUS full service & local Florist that I am proud to call my friends!
Maria “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and good courage. Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” Joshua 1:9
I am so saddened for losing my best friend and also so overjoyed for your new journey. I’ll see you again, check in on us every now and then.
I Love you!
I had such a FUN session with Beautiful Blooms by Jen! I was ecstatic that Jen asked me to photograph her and her employees for the website and marketing!!! She wanted something fun and fresh and I believe that’s what we achieved! Beautiful Blooms by Jen is located in Sylvania OH and specializes in weddings, events & funerals. They are definitely on my list of preferred vendors and have been for 5 years. Click here for the website: http://beautifulbloomsbyjen.com/
Stay tuned for my next blog post! You’ll see how my studio & yard was decorated for the holidays by Beautiful Blooms by Jen – it is SO cute!
Katie & Eric had their wedding at Schedel Gardens in Elmore, OH. They also had a First Look Session – which is always a great idea!
Your Perfect Day – designer & coordinator
Pollynn Flowers – florist
Ultimate Nights – DJ
Miss Kaley is a Senior at Bedford High School in Temperance, MI and will be graduating in 2014. Something she is pretty proud of is saving up enough money to buy her own truck. That’s pretty awesome considering 1. trucks aren’t cheap to buy 2. girls and trucks are a pretty cool combo! She expressed an interest in photography during our session and I would love to take her under my wing… as long as she earns her Bachelor’s in Photography Higher education is important and having someone push you past your goals is extremely important. Keep up the great work Kaley, you have a lot of determination and I really value that