- A Lorain Lighthouse- the Sweet and the Bitter – Memory – Chris Ritchey
Oh! there are so many things I could write about today- or I could upload any of the 40 drafts that wait- but I am in a funk- I was never keen on July – was always glad when it passed-
I have been remembering my father- he passed away in July – July 12th to be exact- and unbeknownst to my son ( and I didn’t remind him) it was the only day I could make the arrangements for Chris’s engagement – bitter and sweet- I thought maybe it would erase the hurt I felt that day with a happy memory ……….. Ah Life……… July 12th once again rings with sadness and if only…..
I remember the lead in – Chris and Nikki came somewhat sheepishly into the living room- I can see him now sitting on the bottom landing of the stairway – the UUUMMMMMM – ( ever noticed when your kids have something they aren’t sure that you are going to like , or they have done something, or they want something it starts with UUUMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
Guilty looks were exchanged between the pair of them – I had the distinct feeling Nikki was there, as she had always been, to look out for Chris.
You had better tell them
as their dad and I sat down- thoughts rushing through our heads – Oh! Oh! something is up- this doesn’t bode well- you see the demeanor was not one of sharing GOOD NEWS and excitement so we were a bit apprehensive – and I bet you can guess what was going through our minds?
A deep breath and a longer UUUMMMMMMMMM and then Chris said
Angela wants to get engaged…
I was somewhat taken aback- not what I was expecting by their faces- I would have thought such news would have been delivered with smiles and laughter and ” I am asking Angela to marry me” sort of thing not at all what I was presented with Hmmmmmmm
Well Congratulations but what about YOU – do YOU want to get engaged?/
said I as I looked at my son who wasn’t exactly jumping up and down with joy.
and came his reply
Yeah! I guess so
My mind was racing at this point- This news delivered as it was not how I delivered the news to my family when I got engaged- or in fact the excitement of Jim when he was planning to ask Nikki to marry him – something that we were all in on.
I remember worrying myself sick because Jim would keep the ring in his pocket carrying it around all week up until the evening of the fireworks.
My mind then segued into the practical side of this news…..
Ok he was intern at Wyse advertising – he had literally just been hired – only earning 8 dollars an hour – just graduated college – we were still his financial support for the most part- We were paying his insurances and car payments and luckily we had managed to start him off with no student loans.
As a parent the is this the right timing entered my thoughts- Angela hadn’t graduated medical school, his savings of about 6 thousand was going on a ring ( I knew that without even asking- my son had expensive tastes and I was correct)
said Chris –
her cousin is looking to get engaged and she wants to get engaged before she does.
HMMMMM….. I thought……. rather a strange reason……. but I didn’t want to be negative so I swallowed any thoughts of – timing- reasoning and being logical after all this was supposed to be about “love” and love isn’t logical – so I said:
well darlin’ you had better continue to live here so you can save some money- it will be an expensive time and we will help you all we can!
We opened a bottle of wine and toasted my son and his news!
Chris and Nikki focused on designing the ring – and the evening after they had been to the jeweler and Chris had plonked down his savings I met them at Nikki’s.
You helped Jim when he asked Nikki- I have to make this special too. How do I make it special?
Nikki and he came up with the butterfly house at the zoo- ( Angela liked the zoo) but he felt that wasn’t special enough. Angela already knew the engagement was in the works so it was hardly going to be a surprise, but we could make the asking and the where a surprise.
Out of my mouth came to “what about the top of the Lorain Lighthouse- knowing as I said that I was going to be the one making the arrangements-
You can go to the Lorain Lighthouse and people have been engaged there but there were insurance and safety issues to be overcome to go to the top and I knew I would have to be the one clearing the obstacles.
After many phone calls sorting out the legalities , the insurances etc and getting permission for a half an hour. I told Chris is was a go for July 12th at 2:00.
That morning, I arranged with help from others in the community, who were in on the “surprise”, for a boat to take out to the Lorain Lighthouse a bottle of champagne on ice, a folding table, two silver goblets, a checkered red and white table-cloth and a dozen red roses.
My conspirators cunningly hid them on the far side so Angela wouldn’t see them as she ascended the lighthouse platform. Angela had wanted to go to the zoo that day and was a little annoyed ( I was told later) my son had an errand to do for me or so she thought. Chris explained to her that first he had to take some photos for one of my “projects” he told her:
“You know how she is always roping me to do artwork and stuff for her projects- it won’t take long – mum needs some photos of the harbor for the Lorain Bicentennial she is planning next month”
I told Chris that we would be at the Jacalope and would watch with the binoculars for the wave of all was well and to have the boat drop them off there afterwards and we would celebrate.
I called the “in laws to be” on the Friday afternoon when it was all set hoping that weather wouldn’t dampen the day- no it was Sue Lombardi that actually put a dampener on the plans of the day .
“Oh! we are building a new house and we are scheduled to have the electric done and some painting tomorrow – can’t Chris do this another time-
Somewhat taken aback I thought to myself Silly cow- doesn’t she realize this is her daughter’s engagement and getting this arranged has taken days and no little expense” ;I said
Well surely you could take an hour off- we are meeting at the Jacalope to celebrate-
A big sigh Oh! this isn’t very convenient…… I will see what we can do
Well said I:
It is up to you but we will be there on the patio…..
and made a note to self – I would not get involved in “the brides mother’s wedding” plans – I could see that we are as different as chalk and cheese . I could tell from that very short conversation things had to be her way and her idea –
Oh Chris! you are in for a time I thought- little did I know it would be me bearing the brunt of the “Control Doll”.
A year later in July Chris was going through the last ( at least we thought so)of the chemo for the “curable Hodgkins Lymphoma , then July 18th -2009- the return of the damned cancer and he never made to the next July .
Photo by Mark Teleha
I now look at the Lorain Lighthouse that was filled with such happiness that July 12th in 2007 and it reminds me of all the pain wrought to this family by Chris marrying Angela and the acts of betrayal, coldness and calculation we experienced at the hands of Angela , Tim and Sue and the extended Lombardi family .
I am reminded this 12th of July it turned out so very differently from what I ever imagined as we looked at the lighthouse that day sharing the the joy of a beginning .
Although still beautiful the lighthouse and all its memories has now , for me, memories more bitter than sweet………….. and another memory of July 12th that I had hoped would take away the pain of loss has only been compounded by those the CAN and those that DID!!!!
Entry filed under: Chris Ritchey, death, grief, hell is other people, Love, Mothers, personal opinion, weddings and funerals. Tags: Angela ritchey DO, death, grief, hodgkins lymphoma, Lombardi-Lorain, mothers and sons, obscenity of cancer, opinion.