Posts filed under ‘Christmas’

Sept. 3rd – No Limits- Chapter 8- Chris Ritchey


No Limits- The book


Chapter One :

Chapter Two:

Chapter Three:

Chapter Four:

Chapter Five:

Chapter Six:

Chapter Seven:

After the Wedding- Chapter 8

All during the trip  to  Europe  I  was in a state of panic . I  tried not to  show my  fear, after all Nikki  was pregnant it was a time of celebration, of being with   family  and supposedly   moving forward with   hope  and happiness.  No  matter how I  tried I could not quell the terror that would  shake me awake at night or in unguarded moments transport me to  a dark place.

I wasn’t alone in this thing called premonition, Chris as a little boy had dreams and premonitions too. They faded as he grew or maybe he just didn’t pay attention to them. The day  I brought my  son home from the hospital, I sat gazing at his little flushed faced and those  eyes , new to  the wonder of a world  experienced for the first time and my  mother admiring her new grandson , I  heard myself saying as I  looked at my  miracle and said out-loud as my  mum sat with  me – he will have a sad life! I don’t know what made me say it, I put it down to post-partum nonsense but I was always, in hindsight,  since that utterance tried  to make sure Chris’ life would not be sad. I spoiled him and loved him, laughed with him, enabled him and tried everything I could to protect him.

After Chris had completed his radiation treatments and  we were finally  over our “European Flu” , my  husband and I  were invited to  the newlyweds  apartment  for dinner.  I  hadn’t seen Chris in a couple of weeks he had been travelling out of state for Wyse  Advertising in his position as an Art Director. He had the Meineke Account and they  were shooting a new ad based on Chris’ ideas  which  would be aired on CNN and on the Meineke Bowl December 27th 2008.


As I walked into their apartment that evening in November 2008 my  arms full of wine and flowers , my son was sitting in “his” chair – one he had purchased after the wedding- men always have to have “their chair”. I  stopped short  as I  looked at my  son – something was wrong, his eyes, dark circles , pallor I  knew it was not good, but he had been through a lot and was back at work; logical reasoning’s  flooded into my  thought process but I knew   all the while knowing  this wasn’t good. I smiled and said:

I will just give these things to Angela, talk to your dad, I will be back in a second.

I joined Angela in the small kitchen , I  had hoped that my  wariness of her , which I  had felt from the first day  I  was introduced to  her, would have dissipated now they  were married. But no! it hadn’t, there was something that made me uncomfortable around her, something that made me try too hard with her, not be me. I remember thinking:

she is like her mother in so many ways but there has to be something I am not seeing in her that Chris does.

I knew from Chris’s  own lips, Sue Lombardi, the mother in law, was an irritant to him and didn’t gladly suffer her.  There were times my son used the cancer and fatigue as an excuse NOT to go to the Lombardi gatherings, and yet was well enough to join Jim and others at the Irish pub.

Angela, Chris does not look well to me is he OK…. is this the after effects of the treatment?


Oh No! she said

he caught cold on the trip  for Wyse – flying you tend to pick up stuff and his immune system is down because of the chemo and radiation. He is on antibiotics from the Dr. at South Pointe. 

I felt somewhat relieved, after all she was now a resident, the hospital staff knew Chris and his situation and so we sat down to dinner. I couldn’t take my eyes off my son, even though I was careful not to let him see I was looking and the quiet fear became a deafening roar.

Thanksgiving 2008 came, Angela was working (supposedly), I  am not sure to  this day  that I  believed that .. I  felt that she wanted to  spend  Thanksgiving with  her family  and Chris with  his, so  they  decided  to  each  go  their  own way and Chris would go  to  Lombardi’s for dessert.

Chris sat as his usual place at the dining room table. I realized I hadn’t really seen Angela but a couple of times, and then only briefly, since they had been married. Chris would come to Nikki’s every weekend but never did Angela stay, she was usually with her family.


I had cooked Chris all his favorite dishes that Thanksgiving Day but they largely went untouched. After he left to join Angela at her mother’s, Nikki was worried:

We have to do something, Mum, something is not right with Chris, I don’t care what Angela says he is ill.  .


Chris had been scheduled for a PET Scan  but he didn’t want Christmas to  be a blow out  so  he scheduled the scan after Christmas. We had a Christmas , Nikki  and I  treading on  eggshells and swallowing our fears like they  were broken glass.

Angela stayed at her parents and Chris as usual stayed with  Nikki, he had his own room. I went over Christmas morning and Nikki  was very  worried Chris looked dreadful .

Angela  duly  arrived that morning in her pajamas and coat , she called up  to  Chris to

get up  and come on she was waiting  ,

they, the Lombardi  Clan   were all going to  the cemetery  where the little cousin who  had been killed by  the falling tree branch  that September was buried in their  pajamas with  gifts for the grave , opening Christmas stockings  and decorate  a tree.

I heard my  son say

“No  that is  sick I  am not going to  be part of that ,you  go  but I am NOT! 

Angela Ritchey- In red – by Chris Ritchey

Angela’s  face darkened , you  could tell she was angry  and that Chris  had disagreed with  her in front of me and his Nana . I heard her say  as she left the  room

” things will be different next year”

I remember my  mum looking at me and saying:

you  know that girl has a coldness in her I hadn’t realized….

prophetic words indeed.




Dec 27th,  Chris was still at Nikki’s  where  we all tried to  help  him, Angela pretty  much  stayed away sulking   somewhat after the Christmas morning incident, Chris explained . We duly  sat around the  flat screen to  watch the Meineke Bowl  for his ad.

I was sitting on the couch and Chris slowly  started to  slump over his head  on my  lap , like he did when he was a little boy and I  knew…… time was not going to  be kind…..


Chris, had the PET Scan January  3rd  went back to Dr. Abraksia , the oncologist, who  originally  over saw the chemo   treatments and eventually the worst fears materialized. Less than 3 months after being pronounced cured of the curable cancer Hodgkin’s Lymphoma morphed into Refractory Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Nikki was around 6 months pregnant when Chris called me that January evening with the news the cancer was back. I knew  I had to  tell Nikki  in person – her being pregnant was something unexpected and we were treating her like crystal, as just 4 months before her pregnancy Drs. and specialists told her she would not be able to  have children. But I knew she was pregnant before she did , I  told Chris , he got angry  with  me

Mum, stop  it you  know how much  Nikki wants a baby  that is wrong of you.  

I said ,

well I  just know she is....

and when she came over with  the scan I said

Oh Nikki  I  have to  tell Chris……

there was such  excitement

I knew that Nikki  had to  be told carefully   so  got into  my  car and drove to  her home. It was snowing and icy  and I  nearly  took out a mail box .  Jim answered the door, one look at me and he knew things were bad- I told Nikki what I  knew and she crumpled  in two, just sort of folded up.

her baby  brother

she wanted to  go  to  him right away  but we convinced her otherwise- tomorrow we said .

Nikki and I  went to  Best Buy  on the way   and purchased a small flat screen for Chris’s  bedroom- knowing  he would be shut in that room whilst new treatments were tried. Chris was waiting for us, I started to  unpack the TV  whilst Nikki  and Chris went to  the bedroom- I  heard him say-

Nik- I  did everything they  told me to  do, why is it back it is supposed to  be curable?

Other self by Chris Ritchey


My heart was in my mouth- I stayed out in the living room giving Nikki and Chris space” to be”.  It was always the two of them against the world.

And so another medical chapter in the journey of the obscenity of Cancer began. I will write of that journey of stem cell transplants, trials the hope and the horror , the circus that is cancer . However,  this book is not about the journey of medical treatment but that of life and connection.

The Touch- Chris Ritchey


September 3, 2020 at 12:31 pm 1 comment

Dec 3rd- crumbling walls- Chris Ritchey

Although  I  write about you  every  3rd day  of every  month as a way  to  release my  grief, love of you and so  you  are not forgotten, December 3rd is looming. The dying days that start at Thanksgiving – the day  I sat alone in the waiting room as you  were put on the vent.  I  relive that day  and that intensive care waiting room  every  year  dreading I won’t be able to  hold myself together amidst all the joy  of turkey , pumpkins, pies and laughter.

The circus that ensued  that terrible Thanksgiving Day  at the Cleveland Clinic thanks to “those others” (Lombardi)  who  finally  came to “wait”, share  dry  turkey  and cold mashed potatoes and discuss recipes whilst you  were fighting for your life  sickens me still. I  could never understand their reactions of party hearty   , picnic time- it is a wonder they  didn’t bring celebratory  wine. Respect and kindness to  your family as we tried to  deal with the losing of you   certainly  wasn’t on their menu .

artwork Chris Ritchey

It starts with  Thanksgiving  , the defense walls are reinforced , more to  protect others from the volatile emotions that are churning within me. They  deserve and need their happiness, they need not be reminded of dying days. I so  wish I  was  strong, I  am not.

These days leading up  to  the day  you  died leave me , even after the years of trying to  train myself to  avoid the trigger moments, weak and bereft of control.  I had a relative who  used to  take to  their bed when there were situations they  couldn’t handle. There is no  respite for me  there in amongst the down pillows. I lay  awake fighting down the  emotional agony  of remembrance of those days .Finally  exhaustion will bring sleep  but the mind  continues and all the building of walls to  keep my  emotions and thoughts in check are breached. Down pillows  become wet with tears.

Honestly  I  don’t know how my  heart has kept beating, there are times choking back sobs I can’t breathe.  but your  beautiful sister and two  little boys  whose excitement  at the season acts as an antidote  enabling me once again to bear the unbearable.


Your Chris Miss presents to  Gavin and Braedyn will once again be delivered  and I will reinforce the walls ….. I love and miss you  every  day  but  December 3rd will find the walls tumbled into  nothing and I will hide from the world until I  can function again.

Artwork Chris Ritchey

“Heartbreak is a heavy  burden to carry as a soul weakens”  I  love you  Chris

December 3, 2018 at 12:29 am 2 comments

Dec 3rd- The waiting – Chris Ritchey

The dark days are here – night-time draws ever closer- I am as a child  frightened of the coming bleak hours/ days –  cuddled down in the bed that is life -looking for warmth- a place to  escape  the dreading –  a window has a glimmer of a lighter shade of night illuminating the place where I  lay.

Still my  eyes are drawn to  the corners , where darkness has gathered  and I know that as the dying days draw ever nearer I will have to  face that darkness that has accumulated  and grown over the days , months and years .  As hard as I try to  keep back the darkness of those days of death  , they are ever-present waiting  to  be released by  the memories of your dying   and those terrible days.

The hope – massacred  by  cancer  causing the onslaught of a pain so deep , a scream that never ends  just becomes silent – to  all but a few.  Every  year I dread these days , the holidays  that hold so  much  more to  me now than pumpkin pies, turkey, lighted trees , singing – they  are tinged with  a blight  that dulls happiness to  that of a  shadow  of holidays past.


You  are with  us , I  know.. more so than any other … and for that I  am grateful.. but I  long to  see your face.. hear your  voice…… and laugh at your irreverence instead  I have to  pull over my  face  the  covers of protection-   muffle my  sobs into  the bosom of my  family   and wait…………….

I love and miss you  more with  each  passing day


December 3, 2017 at 12:15 am 3 comments

Chris- Miss – Past -present – the time has come 2015

gavbres I knew the day would come when children with eyes all aglow, would ask-

Nog, ( that is me) why don’t you have a Christmas tree?

Oh their great- grandmother still has Christmas in her little lounge full of dancing Santa Clauses .


This fact not lost on them as they decorate it for her every year!

My home has been decidedly bare since my son died- I don’t feel joy in this house at this time of year- it brings the missing so much to the surface and with it the inevitable pain that can cripple.
PicMonkey Collage

No ! I visit Christmas at my daughter and son- in- law’s. I enjoy their wonderful tree, the laughter of children and family, all the lovely food , but I can leave Christmas when it all becomes too much.

Since the dreadful December when my son died , there hasn’t been any Christmas lights adorning the house, not even a hat tip to the season. However, anger stirred me this year. Almost every post on facebook,the posturing, the Christmas wars , the share if you believe groups, the anti this religion , the anti that in politics , the media , every holier than thou my religion is better than the other’s religion , the tirade and yes the killings against those that do not share a belief ( all in the name of “human – KIND” and whose god is on whose side) really, as the saying goes It got right up my nose …. talk about “lack of ” goodwill toward men –

I decided to decorate for the Winter Solstice and add another “holiday” to the bunch. , why not part of my ancient heritage and my own way of making a stand against hypocrisy . It took no more than an hour to gather the materials from the tree branches, the holly and the ivy found around the garden – heck there was even a version of a jolly old elf for the wreath on the front door .

A can of white spray paint , some weeds, a bunch of mistletoe and a green spotlight, a couple of deer antlers and there it was. My ode to air ( the garden wind ornament) ,
air postres

water ( my fountain bathed in a green light)- earth
lamp postres
fire – ( Chris’ lantern to be fueled with a candle).

My mother, at first was pleased –

“Has my daughter finally got the Christmas spirit once more- you so loved Christmas , Loraine?”

was horrified when I said

No! I decided to celebrate a pagan holiday of the Winter Solstice outside.

Realizing I was having a sarcastic pop of my own at the holier than thous with the decorations she said:

Oh Loraine , you can’t do that what will the neighbors think?

They won’t even notice mum, because every single thing used ( including a jolly old elf) is used in today’s Christmas celebrations

However, when a little six-year-old asked why I didn’t have a tree, I told him my Christmas story :

How every year his Uncle Chris would insist on a real tree and he and I and sometimes mummy would go and have some lunch and pick out the real tree, drag it home needles falling everywhere , the grumbling from Pooh Bah! The decorating with all the ornaments that were special to his mummy and Uncle Chris.

And NOW it makes me sad to hang all the ornaments that were from happy times on the tree. Instead, I had given all those ornaments from Christmas past so he and Braedyn could hang them on their tree, which makes me happy. I told him it is time for his mummy and daddy, Braedyn and himself to make their own Christmas traditions.

I will come and visit Christmas at their house. This seemed to satisfy him until

Oh Nog! if you don’t have a tree do you put up stockings?


No! I said ,

Oh! then Santa won’t come and you won’t get any presents.

And as I looked at his little concerned face I said

He, Braedyn and his mum were the best presents ever!

What ever you celebrate, whatever your chosen belief, whatever path you choose or not to choose to follow- I wish you health and happiness……

December 22, 2015 at 6:44 pm 4 comments

Hands Up- I am Guilty- Christmas on Steroids

Ok I am going to declare here and now:

I am guilty!

I too, want to see little faces light up- I was always told I spoiled my children – in fact when I got Chris his new truck ( lease) in 2004 so he would have a vehicle he could trust rather than his 2nd hand jeep- which had seen better days even when it was first purchased -I was taken to task by Chris’s uncle( who is no longer with us)

“You spoil Chris he will never become anything

…..yada yada yada.
Let me tell I am so glad I spoiled my son – I am glad I bought him everything I could because of course I can no longer do that. I don’t care if I went over the top I would do it again in a heart beat. Of course that has morphed into the “Chris- Miss Presents “ for Gavin and Braedyn.

And yes I do go overboard.

bys and toys collage

Gavin announced he would like a snow mobile- because his daddy has one and a truck, and four-wheeler ( which of course Gavin also has thanks to his Chris Miss presents of previous years.

helping Dad roof the new playhouse

helping Dad roof the new playhouse

Gavin wants to be just like his daddy, and go along with him on all his adventures including the snow blowing of the driveway- the other present he wanted a snow blower !

I looked and looked and even I couldn’t justify $2,500 for a child’s real snow mobile- there was only one in Ohio 2nd hand for $1,000 and that was from 1981!!!!!!

Compromise came in the form of a skidoo sled…..

and I waited with bated breath as to whether this would fill the bill… apparently it did because he slept with it.

Braedyn, was a little bewildered by all the boxes and wrappings but soon got into the spirit of the hunt. Braedyn is obsessed with deer- he loves them !!! I was very happy he liked his present from Nog ( Nikki tells me she awoke this morning to find both Braedyn and the deer in her bed!deer collage

Gavin was waiting to have Braedyn tow him around

Braedyn ,finally big enough to reach the pedals on his “own” battery operated vehicle ( Chris Miss Present) , was pleased he no longer has to sit in the passenger seat with his brother. The jeep is reminiscent of the blue jeep his Uncle Chris once had.

ra jeepres
But I wasn’t the only one spoiling the two little boys, their Uncles and Aunts, Nana , and friends also wanted to see little faces alight. Maybe that is what we do not so much “spoiling the child” as trying to fulfill a wish of joy of our own through their smiles.

After Christmas night, I came home to this house with no decorations, from my visits with Christmas,

to an email from a cousin . I didn’t know him growing up we found each other through the “net”. He was my grandmother’s sister grandson, her son married and then later divorced and his son lost touch with this side of the family. Although he had tracked down the family stats etc through “ancestry sites” the stories weren’t fleshed out about the people mentioned.

Luckily for him family stories and scandals still had a “living history” via my mum and some of the things I remembered . That in turn took my own mind back to those early Christmases of my youth in England .

The 1950’s in the US must have been terribly different here ( if Happy Days reruns are to be believed) – London England was still suffering the ravages of the Blitz , there was not a lot of money about and in some case rationing .

Captain Wilford's House - tree

Captain Wilford’s House – tree

As I looked at the Christmas tree that adorned the Captain Wilford house one year,

it reminded me of the little table top tree we had in its pot of earth, covered with home-made paper chains that sat on a table in our living room in England when I wasn’t much older than Braedyn . Father Christmas would come and I would get one big present ( usually a special doll) and needed clothes. But the parties and the people were what I remember most- so much laughter and uncles dressing up, games that included Pass the Parcel and Riding the Plank (blindfolded) into outer space.

I have written about my “wealthy” grandmother ” . I don’t remember ever getting a present from her, or for that matter anyone besides Father Christmas. BUT at Christmas I was allowed for a short time to go into my rich grandmother’s drawing-room with the adults. I told my cousin of those Christmases


I remembered that Christmas night- there were aunts and uncles and lots of people. There were no other children and there wasn’t a tree, even a tiny one decked out with paper chains. However there were silver serving dishes , tea services , brass, silks ,satins, curtains and door hangings with plush velvets and large floor lamps whose fringed shades moved and swayed – the firelight reflected off the crystal. It was all very Aladdin’s cave- like, there weren’t any of the thick slices of homemade bread with lemon curd, or slices of cream cake but dates, and figs and turkish delight, dainty little cakes and sandwiches.

I thought today of laughter and children , true family and true friends, who through these many months have stood by me and held me in their thoughts and have been patient and understanding .

I was surrounded by laughter , the smells of great cooking, twinkling lights and music during my visit to Christmas….

but the best present was in the middle of Christmas chaos when a small boy not yet two – left all the excitement of toys and wrapping , sought me out , curled up on my lap – held my fingers tight in his little hand , cuddled up and fell fast asleep…..whilst Christmas passed into another “past” and memories were made …..this little child gave me the comfort and unconditional love I needed……….

Yes! I spoiled my children – but they became adults who were fiercely loyal, generous, caring and brave………. and I would not change a thing……..

December 27, 2013 at 2:02 pm 4 comments

Lorain Dudes- Tinsel Time -2013


The chocolates in the advent calendars are suspiciously gone already— it must be that Christopher Pop-In- Kins – the Christmas Elf who hides in the home and on Christmas Eve returns to the North Pole to tell Santa about his young friends and his recent holiday adventure –
ate them already!

“All that hiding must make him hungry – NOG!”

says Gavin…..


and who could argue with the child with the halo????

Braedyn has been shopping and dropping-

Braedyn shopping

“MA! can we go now…..”

“Why can’t we go to NOG’s and POOH BAH”S house- we promise not to be naughty-”

lorain dudes card2

NOG’S NOTE– Santa Claus – via UPS and FED Ex has turned NOG’s living room and hallway into a “Box Store” – Nog is now on a first name bases with delivery men… and since the “boxes” have pictures – that means no visits from prying little eyes.


There have been concerts with Nog and Nana and Pooh Bah and Santa has checked in , special Red Lobster lunches , (they have the best crayons….) and shopping with Nog and Pooh Bah for mummy….


wrapping and trimming our special tree .

by  Lisa Miller

by Lisa Miller

Braedyn loved the trains and trees at Black River Landing

lorain dudes card

and now it is time to wish you all lots and lots of what you love the best ……. The Lorain Dudes- Braedyn and Gavin

December 22, 2013 at 1:56 pm 7 comments

The Memorial Project-Results- Chris Ritchey Pt 5

chrisart collage

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

December 19th- As I type this morning, once again watching the sunrise over the twinkling lights of the neighbors Christmas decorations lighting the now bare branches of the cherry tree, I am reminded of another December 19th. The day the Lombardis , your bride Angela , the Vykas , Gonzales, Zaworskis and Gotts and Father Divas took you my son, to their “family plot” without your kith or kin .

It was an act ( in my view) of pure selfishness,vindictiveness and without pity.
Your name was RITCHEY , NOT – Lombardi , Vyka , Gonzales, Gott or Zaworski . You were taken to their faith and their closure, denying your family even the “time of your interment in their selfishness.”

As someone said

“it is like Chris’ family didn’t exist”

That day, just a week before the celebration of Christmas, a day of celebration, where they dress in their finest, attend a church and profess to their God they are worthy of taking Him and His Son into their hearts. They celebrate the “Mother of their Church but have taken– seemingly without a thought to the consequences of such an act, of inflicting further pain to another mother.

The poster accompanying the project

The poster accompanying the project

The Memorialization by Bereaved Parents Project– gave me a chance not only to share my son, his story and to realize I was not alone – there were others who walked the path who needed……….

Memorialization by Bereaved Parents
Kara Thieleman
The death of a child is a devastating loss that has a profound impact on parents and a families . Prior research has found that maintaining /continuing bonds with deceased children is common and can be very beneficial.

This project sought to understand how bereaved parents maintain such bonds through memorializing their children as well as the meaning they find in doing so. Participants were asked to provide photographs that depict how they memorialize and remember their children thus allowing participants to provide the visual images of their choosing that capture unique aspects of their experience……….

Their children died from a variety of causes , including illness, accident , murder and unknown causes. All of the participants are female and are diverse in terms of age ethnicity, religious/spiritual beliefs and sexual orientation.

These mothers , including myself , all have the need to remember “out loud” in their own way; whether it is leaving tokens of love at the last tangible place on this earth that holds their child, a special place to go and reflect or call out to the silence “WHY” ?

The need to have their son or daughter remembered for a life that was lived, no matter how brief . The need to have a repository , if you will, of the love that was for that son or daughter that was theirs alone. A love that still flows from a mothers heart , seeking the child for which it was meant.

When the Lombardis, your bride and the “creatures of control” took you away into that place of deceit and cowardice – for not one had the strength to speak of “pity” for your family. The death of human kindness on that day led to the birth of my own memorial. A place where I revisit your life, your story and I can cry my tears and shout WHY? to the morning sunrise. I can remember you and let your art speak ….

I have only words to describe , it is a terrible thing to live out your life without the laughter of your son , incommunicable to those who have not felt this grief’s slashing ferocity. Words are inadequate………

Dr. Joanne Cacciatore and of the MISS Foundation

spoke recently of a woman Käthe Kollwitz (July 8, 1867 – April 22, 1945)

“I will never forget the first moment I saw her work. I felt something inside me stir. It was a connection to the abyss, to the darkness of grief- I knew Kollwitz had seen something that I had also seen. I felt she, too, was a keeper of the dark secrets.

Kollwitz birthed art of the soul, from the depths of traumatic grief so frightening that few dare allow themselves to really see it. During WWII, her art (perceived accurately as anti-war) was banned by Hitler. She witnessed, first hand, the horrors of war and lost far too much because of it: Her grandson, named Peter after her dead son, lost his life in war too.

Look at her work. I mean, really look at it. ”

Woman with  dead child  1903 Kathe Kollwitz

Woman with dead child 1903 Kathe Kollwitz

ED NOTE: Kollwitz’s work can be raw and full of truths it can scream the most primordial scream and does

She wrote of her son:

darkness of grief  Kathe Kollwitz

darkness of grief Kathe Kollwitz

[I] made a drawing: the mother letting her dead son
slide into her arms.

I might make a hundred such drawings
and yet I do not get any closer to him.

I am seeking him.
As if I had to find him in my work.

And yet everything I do is so childishly foolish and inadequate…

I am shattered, weakened, drained by tears…
Yet new flowers have grown up which would not have grown
without the tears shed this year.

The Parents ( memorial) Kathe Kollwitz 1932

The Parents ( memorial) Kathe Kollwitz 1932

Men do not know the souls of one another.
Only the galley slaves know one another,
who side by side are chained, and gasp for breath

December 19, 2013 at 4:31 pm Leave a comment

The Legacy – Light Up Lorain- 1996 – ?????

Fifth Annual

Antus said this year’s ”Light Up Lorain” promises to be the biggest event in its five years.

ED NOTE: Actually since the Morning Journal was part of the “1st Annual” event back in the day you would think they would have had a greater background knowledge of the who what and WHEN!!!! 😉

Photo Mark Teleha

Photo Mark Teleha

My rant in the post

as to the correcting event history of LIGHT UP LORAIN took me back to the “first order of business” for the then fledgling “mainstreetlorain” organization ( Not to be confused with MAIN STREET Program – therein lies another chapter) ).

I had met, at the end of 1995, with Al Kirchner (Herman Kirchner Furniture) and members of the Downtown Merchants Association. Charleston Village Society,had at that time, been a somewhat viable organization representing Lorain’s oldest neighborhood for half a dozen years. The merchants had decided to move in a different direction wanting to be inclusive of the abutting neighborhood, after all you can’t have a healthy downtown without a healthy neighborhood, something that still holds true today!

It was a few months later I was asked to attend a meeting in the conference room at the Spitzer Hotel. The newly formed “mainstreetlorain” interested parties were in attendance . I only knew two personally- Gary Fischer (Arkinetics) and Al Kirchner ( Herman Kirchner Furniture). I had, of course, heard of the other attendees that morning in the spring of 1996. I was introduced to Joel Kruek (Lorain National Bank), Anthony Giardini ( Spitzer ) Dick Gieonopi (Crystal Clear Cleaners) Scott Beyers (Jax Mens Wear and Endless Summer ) Mary Smith ( Morning Journal) .

I sat and listened, during that first meeting, as to how they wanted to form an organization, following a plan to promote the “downtown area of Lorain” . A number of suggestions were discussed including Gary Fischer outreaching to the National Main Street group as to recommendations, looking at funding sources and so forth, contacting the city, designating the area which would come under the “mainstreetlorain” umbrella, contacting the Koziura Administation as to the intent of the organization and to keep them up to speed. Lorain growth

Just before the meeting was to end Anthony Giardini stated : (I am probably paraphrasing here a little.)

If we are going to promote the business area in Lorain then we need a kick off event . I am sick of those tattered lantern decorations that the city puts up every year. They need to go and be replaced. We need to purchase new decorations , we need them to go along Broadway on every light pole, we need to have a centralized location and light trees in front of city hall”

Photo  Mark Teleha

Photo Mark Teleha

I am not sure who came up with the idea of Veterans Memorial Park, I think it may have been Al Kirchner , as the ideas were now coming fast and furious around that conference table, Gary Fischer was aglow:

“Fireworks!!! we must have fireworks, let us have the Mayor throw the switch, I will build the switch with a flash bang and when it is thrown the lights will come on that will signal the guys to light the fireworks , and the firework display will start.

There was some conversation about warning Mayor Koziura about the switch!

I know

Dick said “

hot chocolate, lets give away hot chocolate and cookies, candy canes

someone else said

bands, carol singing, the library has “characters, Santa Claus, wait let’s get the Palace involved, let’s have a parade….. what shall we name it?

– various names were tossed around – Celebrate Lorain , Holiday Lorain and it was Gary Fischer who said

“How about Light Up Lorain!!!”

and everyone agreed!

And there I sat – wondering what all this was going to cost? I didn’t say a lot – I had been down this path before, lots of great plans and ideas that came to nought.

Finally calm was restored and Anthony Giardini said

are we all agreed we will have the kick off event for the organization the Saturday after Thanksgiving?

I said

so that will be 1997 right

OH NO! it is going to be this coming Thanksgiving !!!

ERRRRRRRR do we have any money ?

No” we are going to have to raise the funds, we will meet next week.

TMC News photo  of the 11th  annual Light Up Lorain

TMC News photo of the 11th annual Light Up Lorain

In the meantime, Gary contact American Fireworks and get quotes, we will contact the city and get their thoughts and how this will work with their programs- Mary, talk to Kevin Walsh (the Journal Publisher) about publicity, Loraine we will need Charleston Village to act as our non-profit so donations will be tax-deductible, Joel talk to the bank etc. etc.

and off they went out the door leaving me somewhat dumfounded. I honestly didn’t think they stood a hope in hell getting this off the ground – you see it was already the end of May.

The next week’s meeting had the same people gathered , excitement filled the air, quite overwhelming my caution. There were some new faces ( Rich Robbin ( my co-chair of CVSI- I definitely needed a cooler head to back me up in case I had to be a negative! That idea went south when he agreed to be Santa Claus.

Vivian Alexander, was there representing the City of Lorain, she had come with the quote for the lights , with the discount it was about $59,000 dollars for the wreaths, holders, lights in the trees and standing decorations.

Photo Lisa Miller Lorain 365 Blog

Photo Lisa Miller Lorain 365 Blog

Gary had a quote of $3,600 for a fifteen minute display of fireworks. The hotel would provide the hot chocolate , Tom Boyer and family would man the tent with chocolate and baked goods and provide the tent! The Morning Journal would run a story, the Palace would be on board with Billy the Clown and a parade as well as the Lorain Police Department and Lorain Fire Dept.

Mayor Koziura would see to it the Street Dept and Chuck Camera and crew would hang the lights and wreaths along Broadway and in Veterans Memorial Park. Jimmy Dillion, from the Electrical Dept would see to it there was power in the park and at City hall. Lorain Public Library and Terri Fredericks would bring in “characters” and Frank and Carolyn Sipkovsky from Black River Historical Society would help liase with the museum , coordinating holiday displays at the museum and canned good donations etc.

The only fly in their ointment that first year was the Lorain City Schools thought it would be too cold for their choirs and band. However Clearview Band had no such problem and Bobbi Emery stepped up to the band stand ( literally). Elvis would entertain. We had a commitment from Alan Spitzer to pay for the fireworks!

We had our MC Gary Fischer who two years later was joined by his assistant Natalie Fischer although she wouldn’t be talking for a while yet 🙂 – the program for the night was set, the food, fireworks all seem to be in hand. BUT the nagging little voice kept saying

errrrr what are we going to light up because the “lighting vendor” wanted to be paid before they delivered and I didn’t have 59,000 hanging about in CVSI accounts


We were now in June- Once again it was Anthony Giardini

we will have a Christmas in July fundraiser at the hotel, Mary and Loraine you take care of decorations, the invitations etc. etc.

And so the fundraising started , there were afternoons spent at Scott Beyers’ store ( since he had multiple phone lines) calling donors , getting pledges it was a busy few months.

mainstreetlorain” had its first “member ” Alan McCartney ( SQP) Print Center, he more than paid his dues as I was always running in for “can you print this please….” It was well deserved his family became front page as they watched the fireworks on that November 30th night of 1996 and the 1st Annual Light Up Lorain!

Photo Morning Journal

Photo Morning Journal

The funds were raised and the lights delivered however to our amazement over 100,000 light bulbs needed to be screwed in , hundreds of thousand of feet of wire had to be stretched out , every display needed to have their bulbs attached. Frantic calls to Frank and Carolyn, their volunteers, the girl scouts, the boy scouts, the school kids, Alan Spitzer donated the hotel and lunch but due to hotel commitments it had to be done in three hours. The Spitzer Hotel ballroom and hallways were filled with wire , bulbs and laughter but the volunteers came through and they got it done in time .

There were some difficulties along the way even then, the test run saw one exploding reindeer in front of City Hall- and George Koury commenting

in every battle at least one soldier must fall.

I was concerned it may be the mayor and that exploding switch!

Photo  Mark Teleha

Photo Mark Teleha

And lessons learned – As the Fire Dept rushed to the scene during the fireworks extravaganza ( as we lit them on top of city hall- a place well known for fireworks”) the ensuing smoke was sucked into the air vents setting off alarms throughout the building- I do believe that was the 1st and last time for fireworks on the roof!

Since THAT 1st Annual Light Up Lorain Event the “mainstreetlorain” organization became Lorain Growth Corporation and has seen directors come and go, new committees have succeeded those of the original group they have added a great deal to the Light Up Lorain, Santa has a wife and a kitchen, window displays and more lights, there are bonfires and icesculpting planned, rocket rides but along with Gary Fischer the one and only constant from those days in the 1996 it is about celebrating the holiday Lorain style!

photo Mark Teleha

photo Mark Teleha

So you see when publicity for the Light Up Lorain event has been promoted as the first annual, or the 3rd annual and recently the 5th annual as the headlines last week; I took exception!

Yes! I had my own brand of fireworks going off because I can still remember sitting around that conference room table in 1996 thinking OMG these people are off their trolley this will never happen by November 30th 1996… but it did because they had a vision and a passion and a willingness to work together for Lorain!

October 21, 2013 at 11:02 pm 1 comment

Tradition died- the laughter of innocents- Chris Ritchey- January 3rd

memories ring The Memory Ring – Nana

The third day of January – another 3rd -another year – another holiday season was experienced and survived without your smile , without your laughter , your being , your lighting of the Christmas pudding – because you weren’t here and actually neither was the pudding or any other aspect of the holidays in this house .

As we talked , your sister and I, after all the happenings and celebration by those innocents – the children , the dinners, the guests , Nikki pointed out that everything now, about our celebrations, is totally different.

all the traditions she had grown up with were no longer part of our holiday – most of the people who sat around my holiday table had gone- some through passing and some through their own volition.

I knew that first Christmas you weren’t here , Christmas past was never to be Christmas present or Christmas future again……..


I hadn’t realized, until Nikki pointed it out, just how much had changed from those Christmases I had experienced as a child in England. The fun we used to have at my Uncle Mark’s on Boxing Day, the family plays put on by my Auntie Rene and then I saw a picture of Aunt Rene’s son on facebook dressed in a “Christmas tree suit” – his smile and humour touching my heart and flooding me with memories. The ghost of Christmas past dressed in a suit of red long johns and a Christmas tree.( The face has been excluded to protect the guilty 🙂
I tried to bring those traditions of fun , the food, the things I grew up with, here to the United States. I only partially succeeded. We always had the traditional English Christmas dinner, parties, breakfasts , bubble and squeak with the leftovers, cakes, mince pies, the drinks – sweet Sherry- Port and Lemon for my Uncle Mark and the Christmas pudding ( which only two us ever ate) was duly steamed and set alight by you, my Christopher. How you delighted in your job- pouring so much brandy over the pudding that it took forever sometimes to go out.

As Nikki spoke I realized she was right, there was hardly anything at all nothing left of our Christmas past. I think the cable guys who came to once again look at the cable were relieved they didn’t have to move a tree. Had they gone upstairs to Nana’s living room they would have seen at least her “Granny’s Christmas Grotto” the Santa Clauses and presents of Christmas past you gave her on display, your Nana keeps you in her heart and in her Christmas. Nana still makes the chocolate Christmas log you so loved and helps Gavin to a big slice.
Nikki was right , there was nothing much left of our Christmas past– no presents from Santa wrapped in plain red paper, but your Chris- Miss presents were opened on Christmas Eve by such an excited little child- after wishes were made to the flight of Chinese Sky Lanterns. Following of the balloon fish was not repeated this year; a tradition that needed to be deflated 😉 And another little boy watched as his mummy opened his special

( I chose it myself gift)

to his mummy making her smile with delight

I must say Gavin wasn’t enthused at the “boiling of the “named for those who wronged ” lobsters in the pot as you were at the pudding and decidedly stated

ew what are they , why are you eating them – I don’t like lobster”

We did have Christmas Crackers- although Gavin now thinks every time we sit at Nikki’s dining room table for special dinners we always have to pull crackers and wear a crown. New Years Eve dinner was no different and when he realized the table wasn’t set with “crackers” he found the left overs so once again paper hat crowns reigned supreme.

Christmas morning Nikki and Jim have started their own traditions with their little family now including “dirt” who celebrated his first Christmas, and Christmas night was spent with other uncles and aunts and cousins.

The food had changed , the people have changed – but among the tears held back children once again flush with excitement


and new traditions replace the old and I got through it one more time because they had changed………….

January 3, 2013 at 2:00 pm 4 comments

…….”And do their mothers mortal hurt”…….

chris cuddle

Even after these many months, I continue to walk in my parallel universe:

I have found there is a parallel universe- and those that walk in my universe see the twinkling holiday lights and decoration- they are peripheral to our sight and touch – they, along with the new fallen snow- bring no joy as we continue on our journey. We walk unseen through throngs of people smiling with packages, parties and laughter- they are seen but not recognized.

We, of the parallel universe, move through the same time and space not taking up space in that universe – a presence barely felt by those of the world of colour, noise and happiness.

These days of celebration, so looked forward to for so many years, are now “to be got through”.

xmas past

I am not alone in this parallel universe, there are other mothers , even those of us with other children and therefore as – “society” reasons – to be joyful we still can not walk hand in hand with the “hope of days”…….. hope was denied us.

We are changed- there is no word to describe a mother who has lost a son or a daughter , we, as a group, are “outwith” even the English language , we are all-knowing, we know the depths, we are impatient with celebration, we try, we honestly do, to ,if not exactly join in, to not spoil the celebrations.

But I must admit there are days of dour when I understand too well- Old Scrooge
departed col

“said Scrooge indignantly, “Every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.

I can understand the Grinch whose heart was two sizes too small wanting to stop this season:

“Every Who
Down in Who-ville
Liked Christmas a lot…

But the Grinch,
Who lived just North of Who-ville,
Did NOT!

The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be that his head wasn’t screwed on quite right.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small

Heart of Thorns- artwork Chris Ritchey

Heart of Thorns- artwork Chris Ritchey

But you see I know the reason my heart is too small and for my BAH! Humbug

It is a time in our lives – and I say “our” because we are many who walk among you- not for parties and celebration but of just trying to get through these days .

We are the mothers, who watched the child of their soul perish, lose their grip on life day after day , week after week, we who could do nothing. Our sons and daughters did not die for a greater good or cause but were lost to the obscenity of cancer and disease . We hoped , we made the deals , we watched life drain as disease and the cures took away our joy, giving us no peace on earth and goodwill toward men.

We struggle every day and every night – we are of different faiths , different cultures even different languages but we know each other , WE KNOW.

As the television spews out the “holiday cheer” of shop til you drop, the canned music playing 24 hours a day, the celebrations of different religious persuasions I once again turn to the Military Channel and World at War ( WW 2) (as I know at least how that turns out ).
Ghost of ww 2
Source: Ghosts of War -Jo Teeuwisse, Amsterdam

I watched, one soldier remembering his time of hell

When I came back from war- I could no longer “communicate” with the world around me – I didn’t care about what was so important to other in my community- I had lost that innocent part of my life- situations and things that were so important to others who had remained in their lives were no longer important to me- I lost the will and ability to communicate with life around me

The narrator then talked about the millions lost and quoted from a poet who died in 1944 on the battle field – I only heard part of the quote as the words cut me to the quick-

the (ones) who died and

“do their mothers mortal hurt”

mothersof hurt


For Scrooge, the Grinch and all the myriad of “hope stories” that abound this time of year there are the happy endings- that is not the case for the “mothers of mortal hurt”.

We get through- we are not “mentally ill” we are NOT an illness to be cured by pills , remonstrated with, suck it up for the sake of society, good will, the books of religious testaments and rules – are found wanting – as is a man in a red suit and white beard.

We take our respite where and how we can – we try to get through – do not try to manage us– you of the “others” have no idea of our path – we have seen the worst a mother can see! Our world no longer holds the bountiful, brilliant colours of celebration our colours are faded. It is not wrong it just IS………….

DO NOT judge us or label us the just be glad you aren’t one of us ……………………..

Grief is not disease

December 21, 2012 at 2:15 am 10 comments

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