A few days ago, on December 3rd, I published another “remembering” of my son Chris.
I have, as long- time readers know, used the 3rd of every month to write about Chris, his life, the story of our journey, our pain and yes, anger .
I mentioned in the December 3rd post how I had been contacted to be part of a project on how grieving parent memorialize their children. I am now, since the project has been presented, going to share some of the interview questions put to me and the answers as to ‘WHY “THIS WAY” TO MEMORIALIZE’?
Please describe the photograph and any special meaning the objects in it may have (such as a headstone inscription, meaning of items placed in a space dedicated to a child, or anything else you feel is important).
The photograph is of my son and some of his art work. I have made a collage of a few that have meanings for him and me.
For example, the baseball hat with the flag and the word freedom was the slide that appeared behind him as he crossed the stage at his graduation from Cleveland Institute of Art. Each graduate was required to put together a slide which told who they were- this was who Chris decided he was.
The “Hands” artwork in the background was homework, sketches of different hands – my son was throwing it out after his first year and I loved it so much I wanted to frame it – it didn’t fit in the frame so he folded the one edge. After he died I had it professionally framed they informed me they could take out the crease but, he had put in the fold and I wanted it left. It was significant to leave it for me.
The reason for the collage of his artwork[ as our memorial] is due to the fact his bride[ Angela (Lombardi) Ritchey]
http://my.clevelandclinic.org/staff_directory/staff_display.aspx?DoctorID=16147 took from us his cremains and buried them without our knowledge or input.
Therefore we haven’t a place or memorial in the traditional sense.
I have had a blog for many years which covers many, many subjects. After Chris’s death and the terrible cruelty that followed including the statement[ a letter sent 4 months after Chris death by Angela Ritchey DO ] “I didn’t know my son”
I then started writing about what we were going through and going on a journey “In search of my son”
Part 19 of the series and links to the other posts are part of our journey.
using his work to illustrate my thoughts.
I, then wrote to “him”[Chris} my thoughts on the 3rd of every month for a year, and have continued to do so for the past 3 years and 10 months [the time when I was contacted for the project] although my blog covers other subjects, I continue to use his art work to illustrate my thoughts and reporting on various subjects
When did you first begin memorializing/remembering your child in this way?
The day I read his obituary in the local paper written by his “in-laws” – my son was so much more than the paltry self-serving piece written in the paper.
I could not let those words be the last words written about my son. So I used my blog (which is well read) not only for him but it has become cathartic for me.
It doesn’t matter if thousands read about his life or just one – his story is there and in some sense his art still speaks for him.
to be continued……………
NOTE: all my posts, the reactions to what happened to this family is backed up with written documentation by the parties involved as well as witnesses to the events of what I consider to be despicable, cruel and selfish behaviours by ” those that controlled” – they are in fact the “enablers’ of this memorial for without the decisions made by The Lombardis, Vykas , Gotts, Zaworski and Gonzales http://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/a-memory-of-vipers-chris-ritchey/
If things had been handled by them -with humanity, kindness, respect and thought for Chris’s family at the lowest point in any parents life instead of putting us in a realm where we “didn’t exist” – this aspect of my blog would not exist.……..
They have themselves to thank their behaviours are here!
Strength to continue…… No! the mothers, who mourn their child, don’t really continue or for that matter to “move on”- they pull and drag themselves through each day and into the next- fragmented and yet never becoming “whole” again. We have crutches , we have game faces, we have tricks to stay the course of continuing. The grief can numb you and yet rip you to pieces in an instant. The cohesiveness of you, my son, is no longer there the hold my heart and soul together.
I dread these days of memory:
and yet I relive those last days of your life over and over and over again daily. So why the dread of facing another December 3rd? December 3rd is just another day where I am holding my breath , trying to hold back the rush of tears, fighting to stay upright and the longing for this to be a nightmare from which I will wake.
The very nature of its coming- December 3rd brings with it such an intensity of emotions that I know will cause me to flood my pillow with tears and tear at the fabric of stillness that is night with my sobbing. The dull chronic pain I live with everyday becomes a shrieking, stabbing coldness of spirit permeating every thought, every fiber of my being. I am lost to comfort.
Recently, I was asked to participate in a “grief project” for an Arizona university. The project, as I understand it, will be presented this week. Basically the gist was how grieving parents memorialize their “lost” children .
The last question asked as I filled out the projects questions is as follows:
Please use the space below to share any other important information about your child………
Our lives changed so much the day my son died. Every moment from the time of diagnosis to his death is as fresh in our minds as if it were yesterday. There is a sort of parallel world we walk in the present – we are physically here but at the same time elsewhere in a world of horror and hope- the obscenity that is cancer will do that to you.
Watching your son lose his grip on life day after day week after week, the tests and finally helplessly watching him slip away hooked up to machines being unable to fulfill the promises parents make.
The guilt of surviving, the questioning of WHY, the deals you did in your head and out loud to a “being or entity” that ignored – realizing you are alone – for all the platitudes foisted upon you ” the God’s plan” the better place .. The people who do not have the words to comfort- how could they – trot out inane phrases – you know they mean well but they just add to the anger, because there is anger .
You don’t move on, at least we don’t, we continue , we love our daughter, son in law and grandchildren – they give us laughter and strength but always lingering on the peripheral of life is the “missing of memories that should have been” . There will never be total happiness in our lives – there can’t be. Maybe it would have been easier with the crutch of an organized religion to support one- I don’t know- it is Chris that comforts – his smile – his
his humor his thoughts as they are expressed in the works he left with us…………
Childhood living is easy to do
The things you wanted I bought them for you
Graceless lady you know who I am
You know I can’t let you slide through my hands
Wild horses couldn’t drag me away
Wild, wild horses, couldn’t drag me away
I watched you suffer a dull aching pain
Now you decided to show me the same
No sweeping exits or offstage lines
Could make me feel bitter or treat you unkind
Wild horses couldn’t drag me away
Wild horses couldn’t drag me away
Wild horses couldn’t drag me away
Wild horses couldn’t drag me away
Wild horses we will ride them someday
Wild horses, wild horses
Part Five http://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2013/11/29/why-lorain-the-lilac-city-the-paper-trail-5/
(Click on jpgs to enlarge)
The 1924 aerial shows the same area as it looked in Sept after the tornado. The photos were made by a local photographer “Somogy” flying out of Lorain Airport
Whilst the above photo does not have a date a similar photo tracked down by Dan Brady had a handwritten notation “prior to 1924″ written on the back
.(ED NOTE: this is up in the air literally- anyone have any information of the shape etc of gardens at Lakeview prior to 1924- the photo from BRHS with the handwritten prior to 1924 may not be correct)
***** After much discussion and enhancing of photos it is the consensus of opinion, Dan, Dennis, Bryan and myself the photo with the hand written “prior to 1924″ has the incorrect information .. it is possibly mid 1930′s It was not the original bathhouse pictured from the Metro Parks website
I have enhanced and cropped the aerial shot from Sept 1924 after the Tornado that is dated correctly- we cannot see any of the “rose garden wheel” in the photo and I believe some of the hardscape should have remained since it was very intricate.
Reading the article one realizes the “fountain ” was part of the plan and further reading of articles found it was dedicated to the Veterans of World War One – after World War Two it was dedicated to “All Veterans”
Mark Teleha of Lorain County Photographers Blog ( whose daughter, friends now appear in the Metro Parks Lakeview commercial for the park- There Is a Park for That
has award-winning photos of THE Fountain today and yesterday http://www.locophotogblog.com/?cat=31 .
Mark’s blog has the full history of how and when the fountain was built and it can be found here:
On July 15th, 1935, monies were allotted from the War Chest Fund for the construction of a lighted fountain at Lakeview Park. Work began by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) on September 16th of that same year, at a cost of $12, 450. The following February, on the 14th, found the War Chest Committee denying funding for the fountain. Superintendent of Parks George Crehore obtained permission to purchase scrap stone from the Quarries in Amherst.
On MAY 31ST 1932 MAYOR CONLEY DEDICATED THE ‘LAKEVIEW MEMORIAL ROSE GARDEN – TO ALL OF LORAIN’S MILITARY ORDERS
We are here that our soldier dead should be honored and it is to this end and in honor of the living that I now preset , in behalf of the city this memorial garden to you “
As we saw in Part 5 the Lilacs made somewhat of a comeback in 1939 – but time , wars and history moved on, things , people places and visions became blurred and Lorain lost her title of the City of Lilacs – but there are remnants left and
In August of 2007 Settlers’ Watch was dedicated
and the garden holds some special Lilacs
Photo Lisa Miller
one of which was planted by Bryan Goldthorpe – the Manager of Lorain County Metro Parks Lakeview Park ( caretaker extraordinaire of the very fountain and gardens ( and Lilacs???) the great-grandson of Mayor Paul Goldthorpe of the Lilac City who along with Bryan’s grandfather met the Lilac Train……….
The End of the Lilacs?????? - up to you – Lorain You can see the Trains and Trees display and the Charleston Village “Lilac” Tree here
And so it started – the next May 1931 -found the City of Lorain proclaimed City of Lilacs, contests were held for artwork, songs, competitions for the best lilacs , Queen of the Lilacs – both floral and in human kind, Lilac courts . In fact the Lorain Journal now ran the fact Lorain was the City of Lilacs across the front page of its paper
It was certainly Lilac Time in Lorain-as Mayor Paul Goldthorpe so proclaimed
That first year Mrs. C.E Kent of 1601 9th Street and her lilacs were proclaimed the finest in Lorain- Unfortunately I can no longer find the address 1601 9th street or for that matter 1310 the winner of the poster gone with the way of the Lilacs one would presume.
You see , what was at first the saving of Lorain by Lilacs, pronounced international and national recognition due to Lilacs, faded like the Lilacs of July.
What started with so much anticipation slowly died a death- by 1935 no longer was the Lorain Journal proclaiming Lorain the Lilac City on its banner, the event came to be “Bi-annual” – In 1939 The Pittsburgh Press announced :
Possiby the winds of war or at least Lilac apathy may have paid a part in the loss of the Lilacs- at least the festival, if held, no longer made the Lorain Journal with the vim and vigour of past festivals . At one time roses substituted for the event. Once again Lorain reinvented herself or tried to. About the same time a town LOMBARD , ILLINOIS also decided upon the Lilacs as a theme
Since 1930, Lombard has hosted an annual Lilac Festival and parade in May. “Lilac Time in Lombard,” is a 16-day festival ending in mid-May. It starts with the Lilac Queen coronation and her court. Many lilac themed events take place, including concerts, a Mothers’ Day Brunch, an arts and crafts fair, and tours of the park. The grand finale is Lombard’s Lilac Festival Parade
Lombard succeeded where Lorain failed and crowned their queen for the 83rd year in 2013 http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20130504/news/705049885/
NOTE: I could only find the name of the 1993 Lilac Queen
Jean E. Wilms http://chronicle.northcoastnow.com/2008/03/30/jean-e-wilms/
NOTE Update:: I received the following jpgs from a reader
returns as the Sesquicentennial Lilac Queen
Within two short months of the Journal editorial, the City of Lorain and all her organizations, were meeting the train to unload the first 5,000 Lilac on November 11th 1930. It had taken just a month to get the project up and running- and they did it without STUDIES or the internet for communication just the newspaper of the day and word of mouth.
Click on jpg to enlarge
Without all our “modern conveniences” flash drives, power point presentations , visual aids galore these “movers and shakers of Lorain in 1930 managed to move faster than we do today. The fact Lorain had a myriad of social service clubs at the time had to help and Lorain City schools came on board after the Chairman of the project Carl Robinson spoke to the 1,000 junior high children attending Hawthorne
Mayor Goldthorpe had the Parks department prepare all city parks to receive 700 of the 4 ft. high shrubs and trees. In fact St. Josephs Hospital, gas stations, businesses and private gardens were all going “lilac”.
Plans were made for the parks and in October an expert came to Lorain – Jean Henri Nicolas
Jean Henri Nicolas was born in 1875 in Roubaix, France, permanently moved to the U.S. after meeting his wife here (and promising her father he would not take her back to France), and died in New York in 1937. Although his love affair with roses started as a hobby, he became a world-recognized expert and gave up a business career to make his living in rose horticulture. In addition to writing three books on roses, his accomplishments included serving as the first Director of Research for Jackson & Perkins Company (when it was among the largest rose growers in the world), and before that served as a researcher for Conrad-Pyle / Star Roses. He was a Trustee of the American Rose Society, Vice President of the National Rose Society of England, and was frequently honored by the Rose Society of France and the German Rose Society. He held a doctorate in natural science for his accomplishments in creative horticulture, was a Knight of the Merite Agricole, Officer of the Academy of France, and Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor. And to top it all off, he was also a gourmet. As the French rosarian Francis Meilland once said of him, “He was everything all at once, a man of fine letters, a fine speaker, a good writer, a wonderful diplomat and a surprising geneticist
AND HERE IS THE LORRAINE FRANCE CONNECTION: IT WASN’T THE LILACS THAT WERE DONATED TO LORAIN AFTER THE TORNADO- THE LILAC, COINCIDENTALLY IS ALSO THE “NATIVE” FLOWER OF LORRAINE, FRANCE after which Herman Ely named the county and subsequently Postmaster Vorwerk re named Charleston Village after the county when she was incorporated in 1874 http://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2008/05/21/this-old-house-aint-got-or-has-it/
and from whence hailed THE EXPERT JEAN HENRI NICOLAS
IT WAS THE EXPERT WHO CAME – NOT THE LILACS
Click on jpgs to enlarge
Amazingly, ( considering what it takes in this day and age to get anything done) two years later the business district was back and as mentioned in part two so was the surrounding neighborhood.
Yes! that would be the pride of Broadway ( The Broadway Building) being built- I wonder what they would say to its worth today- a man-made tornado of destruction that is known as “NEGLECT”
Miss Harriet Root- 3535 E. Erie Avenue
More on the Root Story here
The one thing that was very important to communities ( world-wide) in decades past was the newspaper. I would imagine, for those early residents of “Black River”- then Charleston -then Lorain the importance of newspapers was it was one of the few sources of communication with the outside world. Now of course, we are in information overload with our internet scanning of websites of today with their ersatz sound bite news.
The newspaper back in the day , was just that, a paper full of news connecting people and communities. It was tangible, you could discuss the news of the day over breakfast or evening meal, decide how your day would be as far as business, or use it to put under carpets for padding or in drafty places to keep the house warm or light a fire, a source of bedding for animals , to clean boots and in England wrap your fish and chips. A newspaper, was indeed very important part of community. A strong newspaper helped to strengthen the community!
Lorain’s first newspaper was the Lorain Monitor and its editor, reporter, ad man, printer and distributor was a 16-year-old. This young entrepreneur went on to become one of Lorain’s finest citizens before the tragedy that wiped out 9 of Lorain’s then movers and shakers . You can read about Lawler and the Leo in the series here
Editors of newspapers held great power and sway -as some still do- it is their connection to the public , the ability to reach into the homes and minds of the general population. They have been courted by politicians, kings and queens, merchants and groups of all kinds just to get into print or in some cases “stay out of print” .
So is it any wonder when an editorial on August 22nd 1930 in the Lorain Journal called together the civic-minded groups of the day to embrace the idea of a city flower , especially when comparing Lorain to Washington DC and the cherry blossoms and by doing so was going to spread the word and market Lorain nationwide ( where have we heard that before ) a gathering of Lilacs commenced
Click on to enlarge !
The power of print caused Lorain, as Dan Brady http://danielebrady.blogspot.com/(the researcher for these posts) observed to go Lilac -looney. But again, you have to hand it to those citizens when they got on board with something they went all the way – you see this was seen as a way for “Community Development “. Just one day later the Lorain Journal ran the story – you will see in the article familiar organizations of today.
“the commission expressed itself unanimously of the opinion that the adoption of a community flower will doubtless contribute to a more beautiful atmosphere to Lorain and play no small part in furthering the growth and development of the city , even so with regard to our industrial development
Whew! a lot riding on the backs of those Lilacs…. more to come ! OH has anyone found the missing “red lantern on Reid” To be continued ……….