Posts filed under ‘grief’

July 3rd- NO LIMITS- Chapter 6 – Chris Ritchey

No Limits- The book

Forward: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/jan-3rd-no-limits-the-forward-chris-ritchey/

Chapter One :https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/02/03/feb-3rd-no-limits-chapter-1-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Two:https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/03/03/march-3rd-no-limits-

Chapter Three: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/04/03/april-3rd-no-limits-chapt-3-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Four: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/05/03/no-limits-chapter-4-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Five: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/06/03/june-3rd-no-limits-chapter-5-chris-ritchey/

If the night before at the Rehearsal Dinner was hot , the day  of the wedding dawned  humid and hotter. I  don’t handle heat and no  sleep at the best of times, and this definitely  wasn’t a good time. For the sake of my  children  and family  I  tried so  hard  to  act cheerful and excited, all the while with  this great lump  of concrete in my gut and a  dread of things to come. I can only  liken this feeling to  having the overwhelming feeling /intuition by  getting on to  a plane and knowing it will crash.  I knew the prognosis for Chris form of cancer Hodgkin’s Lymphoma was excellent, 95 percent cure rate, ” if  you  had to  have cancer this is the one you  would want” a few rounds of chemo  and a couple of treatments of radiation and you  will be fine.

BUT then why  did everything in my  mind scream at me there is a  world of hurt coming  our way ……?

artwork Chris Ritchey

THE WEDDING

I knew that Chris would be putting on a brave face, he had a round of chemo on the Thursday  and it usually  caught up  with  him by  the Saturday, and here he was having to  go  through  a horrendously  busy  morning, afternoon and evening. I knew he would not let on how he was dealing and feeling with  all the poisons  coursing through  his body.  He was so  particular when it came to  Nikki’s wedding  in regard to  his tuxedo, having to  make a special trip  to the tailor to  have it adjusted  the day  before.  Nana and Chris at Nikki’s Wedding

Chris had lost weight with  the cancer and chemo  and his tux was too big, but he didn’t seem to  care, not at all like Chris, but then he had more on his plate to  worry  about.

The wedding at St. Mary’s  Catholic Church  officiated by  Father Daniel Divis , Chris had refused the usual Catholic protocol  to  get married in the church  , and he was allowed to  do  so   probably  due to  the cancer diagnosis and the  Father Divis “relationship” he had with  the Lombardis.

I  sat in that church  , not being very  enamored with  organized religion  as a bit of a hypocrite, but it was  Chris and Angela’s day , it was her faith  and she was very  in touch  with  her faith.   My  husband and mother  and I  sat there  “together but alone”  .

The ceremony  over , and I  couldn’t hear a word, but then Angela always made me feel like I was deaf, so soft spoken was she. I had spent the morning putting together a small  cooler bag  for Chris  and  the wedding party  ( mainly  for Chris)   to  take in the limo. It had  cold water ,  some snacks he could eat after chemo , and some cool cloths  as his body  temps rose after chemo  set in.

Wedding over I  came home  showered and cried until it was time to  put on the “face” again for the reception. No  matter how I  tried I  just  could not get out of this terrible feeling  like some darkness was going to  envelop me.

Oh !  this happy  day  could only  get worse heat wise when the air-conditioning at the Holiday  Inn  failed. However, as bad as that was as I  went to  the gifts table to  put our check in for the Bride and Groom  , not a “wishing well” or a cute little decorated  box but a “casket ” with  flowers on the top courtesy  of Sue Lombardi ‘WHAT WAS THE WOMAN THINKING – WAS THIS APPROPRIATE”  Was I  being overly  sensitive?  although  the comments from my  friends they  too were shocked and my  mother was furious.

” I knew as soon as I  saw that  coffin on the table it would hurt you  Loraine”

 

The  wedding although  apparently  enjoyed by  others left me flat especially  when Father Divis  reacted to  the best man’s speech, I wrote about it afterward , (at the time I  did not mention his name BUT  of course now in that blog post he is mentioned )as I  was shocked , although  this man of God would shock me later after the death  of my  son   to  my  core  !

“This was brought home over the weekend ( and I can take a joke better that a lot of people) . A speech that bordered on not only the insulting ( for me )cultural racism  by a priest  (Daniel O. Divis – Office of the Secretariat)who insulted every English person and non catholic at a function. He spoke of Ulster and Northern Ireland in a way that for those of us who lived through the bombings and were directly effected by the IRA and the terrorism  THEY inflicted upon a population both Irish and English , that was  financed  primarily   from this side of the Atlantic  was akin to making jokes about 911. Would you tolerate jokes about 911?

 

So what makes it OK for a pseudo “Irish” priest of Lorain to make the jokes and insult a group of people because they are “English”? A fellow diner said it is just ignorance of the situation– I beg to differ any Catholic Priest who claims Irish lineage KNEW exactly what he was saying, which to me makes it all the more disgraceful – am I wrong??????

You tell me when is it ok for terrorism to be lauded and applauded and when is it abhorred – is it OK to make derogatory remarks as long as it is based on culture and then only one certain segment of the population’s culture – Is it Ok to do this based on culture and not colour???

Although I did have a “word” with the man- I am sure it fell on deaf ears…… So when is it OK – tell me???? because I find this grey area very confusing ?

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2008/06/08/when-is-it-ok/

AND THIS SPEECH  WAS AT A “wedding” 

We got through  the wedding and reception,. The Mother/ Son dance was one of the toughest things  I  knew I had very  little control left  and as  we danced ( and I  told Chris  ( who  was always my  confidant)   I may  need Nikki and his dad to  help  me through. He understood , he knew me so  well and we were always upfront with  one another. So  when I was becoming “emotionally  incontinent”  halfway through  the dance he signaled to  Nikki  and his dad to  join us on the floor  as a group. ( that did not go  down too well with  the Lombardi  clan)  .

My  husband , mother and I   left at a reasonable time  just after the first guests were leaving. I  told Chris Nana was tired but he knew and he by  this time was physically  showing the effects of a very  long day  and the poisonous chemo. I wanted to  gather my  child  up  and  make him  well , but all this was now out of my  hands , he was a married man now!

The next day  was “come over ( to  the Lombardis) and look at the presents” day , we had company  so  I stayed with  them . The next thing I  remember was Chris coming round the corner with  the casket under his arm with  his Best Man. I  said

what are you  doing here?

He said:

Sue Lombardi  and her mother were anxious to  open up  the “box” to  see how much  money  they  received

and he said

No! he and Angela would do  that later ..  I  don’t want them knowing our business and who  gave what so  I  have brought it here  to  stop  their prying . . Turns out there was no  check from the Lombardis in that casket,

Angela said : ” they  paid for the wedding”

HA! thanks to  their “bar arrangements”  we paid more to  the Holiday Inn for the drinks etc. than they  paid for the wedding, and I  know that how ? The wedding planner lady  was so   frustrated with them and their way  of ordering her about  she  told me and actually  gave me a  discount on the total bar bill. 

And so  the next  weeks  came and went all too quickly.

To  be continued …..

 

 

July 3, 2020 at 12:41 pm 5 comments

No LIMITS – Chapter 4- Chris Ritchey

No Limits- The book

Forward: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/jan-3rd-no-limits-the-forward-chris-ritchey/

Chapter One :https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/02/03/feb-3rd-no-limits-chapter-1-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Two:https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/03/03/march-3rd-no-limits-

Chapter  Three: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/04/03/april-3rd-no-limits-chapt-3-chris-ritchey/

I watched out the window as my son’s car drew up outside and he walked slowly to the house. He no longer had that bounce of youth, he walked like an old man with the weight of the world crashing down on him. He had started out that day on a journey of hope, love and a wedding and returned with a diagnosis of obscenity.

He just reached the living room when Nikki flew in the door, her face full of confusion and pain, mirroring her brothers. Jim, her husband standing there not knowing what to say or do, my husband sitting in the chair in shock. Chris trying to reassure us that it could be wrong

“they said his blood counts were all in the normal range so maybe it wasn’t as bad as we were told- they were going to have to do more tests”.

 

Angela was on her way to the house. I put my faith in the fact she was a going to be a doctor, maybe she could make sense out of what we were being told. Maybe she could find out more than we could.

Angela and Chris went into the den, not to discuss a bright wedding and future but “cancer”. I sat on the couch Nikki and my husband looking to me to sort this out” because that is what I do – I fix things , I have a plan, I see a way through only this time my brain was numb , I was at a loss. Chris came out of the den and sat on the bottom landing of the stairs, Angela beside him. No one said anything, no way forward, no plans just this terrible pall that enveloped us.

Then some small talk which ensued about Chris’ dog, Misty, those that loved Chris trying to erase the obscenity with normalcy. I just couldn’t be “brave” any longer pretending this was just another afternoon sitting there in this surreal world. I knew I would crumble and I had to leave the living room and escape from the “living” room of horror it had become.

I lay on my bed, the silence from below deafening, trying to sort through all the fear, the uncertainty , trying to figure out what I needed to do. Nothing was penetrating except the word CANCER in my brain. Cancer became my world in that moment, it threw up its own walls around me. Then , Chris was there – he put his hand on my shoulder and said

“Mum it will be OK”

I remember saying Oh Chris I am so scared. As soon as I said it I realized I was being selfish. This was not about me , this was about my beautiful son, who just had the worst news in the world and he was , as he had done so many times before, putting his family before himself. I

felt guilty because whatever I was feeling he was the one who would have to fight this obscenity. I must put aside and cover my own terror , to be there no matter what for my son, he needed to be first and foremost , I couldn’t do anything about what treatments were needed and what he would have to go through but I would do whatever was needed to see he got whatever it was he needed to survive. I could be his mother and put my son first. I felt relief, his bride- to- be seemed as if she would be supportive and with her knowledge of the medical options. He had his sister, who would move heaven and earth for him, he would have a support group of love to see him through. I would wait for the results of the tests and once more my brain started to function.

The tests, the diagnosis, doctors’ visits and the treatment began as did the days of hope and horror as the “curable cancer Hodgkin’s Lymphoma invaded my son’s body and our world. Initially the obscenity was treated as “Oh if you have to have cancer this is the one you want” 4 to 6 chemo treatment spot radiation and you will be fine – 95% cure rate. The prognosis was excellent, just a small bump in the road of life.

I walked into the “chemo “ room that first day- March 13th 2008 , I had driven Chris and Angela to South Pointe Hospital ( an hour’s drive from home) to start his treatment after meeting with Dr.Abraksia who was chosen by his bride- to -be , Angela.

The decision made sense at the time, Angela would be doing her residency at South Pointe, and the hospital was in the Cleveland Clinic System. When Chis and Angela married in a couple of months’ time they would be living in the vicinity. I convinced myself this was a good idea. I, at the time, admired this young woman, Angela, she would be supportive and seemed to take the diagnosis in stride, she seemed calm and cool whereas I was being consumed by fear, panic and doubt. Perhaps it was her faith, as well as her medical knowledge, that enabled her to be so cool. I know that was one of things my son admired in her was her “coolness” and quiet voice.

Close up of Intravenous drip

As I crossed the room, where half a dozen “elderly people” were hooked up to IV’s ,I saw my son- poison’s flowing into his body to kill the invader. I wanted to pull the needles from him, gather him up and run away from this place, he shouldn’t be here my mind screamed at me. Instead I sat with him for a little time. The first chemo was going to take all afternoon, I couldn’t bear watching the slow drip of poisons, so I drove the hour home, had Angela call me when they were about an hour from finishing and drove back to pick them up to drive home again. I had to do something I just couldn’t sit by watching destruction being pumped into my son, for chemo destroys the bad and the good.

That night, as I worried about my son, listening for his every move as he tried to sleep in the room across the landing from me. I remembered how many nights I had spent when he was a baby, getting up three or four times just to make sure he was breathing , alert even in sleep to hear the faint whimper or cry of your new born. Yet not daring to disturb him, I had had to be a positive for his sake. Finally sleep came.

Angela , Sue and Tim Lombardi

I did not know Angela’s family well, although Chris and Angela had dated for a few years, both were in college, and living away from home. We, as families, did not have much of an occasion to socialize. However, at the engagement celebration I realized the mother, Sue Lombardi , was not a person that I would embrace and that my son would have a “mother in law” who controlled and was self-promoting . Well his problem I thought, little did I know she would end up my problem.

I awoke in the early morning hours of that first night after chemo, shaking, gasping for breath. I had a dream; it was so real.

I was in a room, in the middle of the room was an open casket in which lay my son and around this casket was Angela, her mother and father and family. I was drenched in sweat and tears, the realization it was a nightmare slowly came to the front of my mind.

I crept, as quietly as I could, into my son’s room to check on him – he was awake.

“You alright mum?”

I said:

yes just wondering if I can get you anything?

Some cold water would be nice, this stuff is warm

a smile and the beginning of a pretense way of dealing- I would check on his “water needs” I would be reassured he was alright and the game of pretending began, both of us knowing “ I was awake – do you need some water/ juice?” was not the real reason for my “checking in”.

The next day , I opened up my terror to my good friend Barb, I broke down when she called to check on how we were, Christopher was her godson I tried the small talk but blurted out

“ Barb I am going to watch my son die”
A very definite Barbara firmly stated:

Pull yourself together, the prognosis is great, don’t be silly, you have to put those thoughts from you for Chris’s sake – he will be fine.

And so I tried, all through those weeks of chemo, to push aside the negative thoughts that would creep into my head; but still the dream came back to haunt of Angela and her family standing around the casket.

E. Munch- 1895

The wedding plans continued and I tried to be normal, but the doubt and dream tore at m. I wear my heart on my sleeve, always have done, I am not good at hiding my emotions and thoughts…..

To be continued

May 3, 2020 at 5:00 pm 2 comments

March 3rd – NO LIMITS- Chapt 2 – Chris Ritchey

  NO LIMITS-The Book

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/jan-3rd-no-limits-the-forward-chris-ritchey/

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/02/03/feb-3rd-no-limits-chapter-1-chris-ritchey/

I find this rehashing of “life” and the connection with the Lombardi  family  and my  son’s choice of a life partner very  difficult to bring back to  light in my  life  and write. I wish I could file all those memories and people away  in some dark corner  never to  be thought of again. However, in order for those that read this “book” as it will be ( after it has been serialized here) to fully  understand the emotions, the relationships, the thought processes  and the connection to what happened and happens after my  son passed , the  connections  and especially those of Christopher have to  be explored. In some cases , with  hindsight and indeed some premonition I felt I should have seen a lot of the pain coming. 

THE ENGAGEMENT- CHAPTER 2

Although  I  must admit to  some “mother’s reservations” as to  the engagement of my son and Angela Lombardi , his sister and I wanted to  make this day  special.

Chris had said one evening , after he and Nikki  had gone to  a jeweler friend of Nikki’s husband to  design  “the ring” – which  cost him all of his savings $6,000.00 –

“Mum you  helped Jim (  Nikki’s husband) find a special place for him to  ask Nikki to  marry  him, you  have to  help  me  too”

Nikki  and I set about searching the internet, making suggestions, all of which  were not what Chris felt were right. Finally  I  said ….

“How about the top  of the Lorain Lighthouse”? I  am  not sure if I  can arrange that , but I  can try to  contact some of the people at the Lighthouse Foundation”

At that time the Lorain Lighthouse was still undergoing repairs and the top  of the Lighthouse was not open to  the public. But a few years earlier Chris had been asked to  paint the Lighthouse on a shed to  be put at the Marina to  be used to  hand out literature about Lorain. I thought that possibly  they  might be open to  the fact he would like some help  in what was supposed to  be a happy  occasion.

I duly  did the contacts and offered to  pay  for a day’s insurance policy  to  cover the the event of just the two  of them. After a lot of negotiating  and Ok’s by  the people involved it was a go. The date was set for July  12th. at 2:00 pm.  Lighthouse volunteers entered into  the excitement. It was arranged, I  would meet the little boat earlier in the morning, with  the champagne , a table, two  wine goblets, checkered red and white  table cloth  and roses and they  would be put at the top  of the Lighthouse.

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 first  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 meet him and Angela afterwards to  celebrate.

Naively  I  thought to  include the Lombardi  clan…. my  first interaction with  these people. I  had met them rarely  in the past  not more than a half dozen time , really  never having an in-depth  conversation with  them.  Since  we ( “Chris’s family”) had planned to  go  to  the Jacalope – a restaurant that over looks the Marina and the Lighthouse to celebrate after the event for some drinks and food, I thought it might be nice to  include the “family  of Angela”

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 the arrangement were set – hoping that weather wouldn’t dampen the day- no it was Sue Lombardi that actually put a damper on the day

Photo Sue Lombardi .

 

I  must admit to  be more than a little taken aback when the “Mother of the Bride to  be” stated:

“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!!!”

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- maybe for lunch – we are meeting at the Jacalope to celebrate-
A big sigh from Sue  came down the phone :

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 Diva”.

The weather was indeed perfect, arrangements went like clockwork and even the in-laws and some of the family  of Angela duly  arrived on the patio. The happy  couple eventually  arrived  by  boat and Angela was flushed with  excitement. One of the aunts expressed a desire to  see the ring, and oohs and ahs duly  followed however from Sue Lombardi came the  concern

“Won’t that get caught up  and rip your  surgical gloves (  Angela  was going to  be a doctor)

As the afternoon progressed, I found out that I shouldn’t have relaxed  about it being a long engagement  they  were getting married  the next summer in June.  Oh dear I thought , must lose weight, how are they  going to  afford to  live Chris hadn’t been offered a position  with Wyse advertising , he was still a paid intern but my  thoughts soon were sent in another direction.

My  daughter, Nikki, who  actually  had never met Sue Lombardi  was cornered in another part of the restaurant by  Sue. I  should explain Nikki  and her husband had just been transferred back  to  Lorain from Toledo  and had just purchased a house. Nikki  had taken a break from employment to  get things together. Apparently  knowing this ( Angela, had lived with  my  daughter for over a month  in Toledo  so  she could do   one of her “rotations”) Sue requested  firmly  that Nikki  would to  go  with  Angela and drive to  Philidelphia , stay  overnight  so  Angela could take some  medical requirement. It was in a bad part of town apparently  and they  didn’t want her to  go  alone.

Nikki was upset, she didn’t want to  say  no  and upset Chris, but neither was she comfortable driving to  Philadelphia a distance of 451 miles, ,after talking to her husband , he definitely  wasn’t in favor either.

Why  doesn’t her mother or father take the day  off, they  have a large family  Why  you  Nikki? Two  women going to  a bad part of Philadelphia????

I waited until the Sunday  evening to  talk to  Chris , he didn’t want Angela to  driver alone  and no-one in her  family  were  prepared to  take her, so  he had to  take two  days off of work ( not only  unpaid but also he was still on probation at work , so  that didn’t bode well) .

( note  similar ring in design)

In the meantime on the Monday  Nikki  called me  she was in the middle of tiling a back splash in her new kitchen:

“Angela has called and is angry  and upset, apparently  one or two  of the aunts had  gone with  Angela to  local jewelers  to  get the  engagement ring appraised  and the one who  did give them an off the cuff appraisal  came in at $3,000.00 half of what it was supposed to  be worth. They  blamed Jim’s friend, Jim    and poor Chris had been cheated”

Nikki  was beside herself and dropped what she was doing and met Angela at another jewelers but they  would not do  an appraisal. Chris was furious  as Angela had been on the phone crying to  him at work.

I, for one, could not believe the crassness of this family  and  two days later were valuing the ring she had just received. I  thought of my own poor little speck of a diamond engagement ring , I didn’t care how much  it cost I  was so  happy.

To  solve the situation I  asked Chris to  bring me the ring . I  paid  $150.00 dollars for a proper evaluation  of the stone and setting . The paperwork came back a week later

Stone..its clarity  size etc. was valued at $8,000.00 and the setting designed by  Chris in white gold was  another $1,800.00 and was deemed to  be on the conservative side. 

I immediately  called Chris , but he still was in a mood , which  got darker by  the time he came home. He and I  had words, the ones you  shout. I criticized  how this whole situation had come about.  He then informed both his sister and I  that Nikki  had lied, Angela did not call her upset and blaming  anyone.   This was the first time that Angela tried to  come between  Chris and his family, in this case Nikki. Nikki said

are you calling me a liar?  Why  would I  lie about something like that….?

Nikki  left the house, and she and Chris did not speak for days . Finally,  I  had enough  and another dressing down to  my  son…..  who  had by  now  cooled down- thought about the situation  and went to  apologize to his sister…

 

So much  for love and happiness.

NOTE: All events and conversations were witnessed  and  although  these events etc are from my  perspective and opinions however  they  are the truth. Loraine Ritchey

 

 

March 3, 2020 at 1:11 pm 1 comment

Feb 3rd – NO LIMITS- Chapter 1. Chris Ritchey

NOTE: At one point in their relationship  Angela told me she had said to  Chris, ” Your  mother  ( Me) will write our love story and you  ( Chris) will do  the illustrations. Well not exactly  the story  anyone envisioned.. but the truth!

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/jan-3rd-no-limits-the-forward-chris-ritchey/

CHAPTER ONE…. 

I was married for 8 years before I felt the quickening of a baby beneath my heart, a baby girl whom I cherished and cherish. 3 years and 10 months later a little boy completed our small family. Like countless mothers before me, I would talk to my children as they grew within my body. The day they were born, the moment mother and child were left to one another after all the turmoil of birth, I too, promised them to always love them, protect them and never let anything happen to them. I wish I could put into words the feeling that grabs at your very innards as your child is put into your arms.

Some say that exquisite joy must be compensation for the pain of birth, others will tell you the bond is strengthened by the fact the child’s DNA having passed through the walls of the womb stays with the mother. Therefore, you are always part of your mother’s body. Months of sharing a body, heart and breath of life, there is nothing closer, the sound of a mother’s heartbeat- the lullaby of life. The very life essence that makes each one of individuals shared and a love that knows no limits. All I can tell you is that from that first fluttering of life I was consumed with a love for them that was greater than anything I had previously known.

The bond I shared with my son was different to the one I shared with my daughter. Nikki was so like her father, laid back, non-confrontational and even tempered. Chris, on the other hand, was volatile, passionate, definitely did not suffer fools and loved a good fight. He was more my child. I always knew what would set him off and we had the proverbial test of wills as he was growing up but underneath the clashes of wills he knew I would walk through fire for him and I knew he would do the same for us. The love shared was not on show, it was there and deep rooted.

My little girl and her baby brother soon left childhood days behind, life was normal, school, holidays, hobbies new friends , new loves and yet my daughter Nikki and her brother Chris retained a bond between them that was unbreakable. Nikki was always there for Chris and Chris was always there for Nikki. It wasn’t contrived or for show, they were each other’s sounding board, life line – it was them against the world, if need be.

I would watch them and knew whatever happened to me or their father they would always take care of each other no matter what.

 

 

 

 

Nikki married, moved out, life went on.

 

Chris was a student at Cleveland Institute of Art.

Other self by Chris Ritchey

Every weekend he came home and when I say home – he had two, this house where he was born and his sister’s. Nikki’s husband, Jim, became the brother Chris never had.

There was a lot of love and laughter in those years. I knew Nikki would always have Chris in time of need and Nikki would fly to his side no matter what. I relaxed in the notion they would always have each other.

He had been dating a young woman in his last year of High School- Angela Lombardi. She seemed a quiet little thing, I tried to make her welcome when she came for holiday dinners. I always got the feeling we were getting what my mother called the white glove test and that we didn’t measure up to her standards.

photo Angela by Chris Ritchey

Although my son broke up with her for a few weeks in the latter part of 2005 “as she was too clingy and didn’t give him room” they did get back together thanks in part to a conversation I had with him at 4 o’clock in the morning!

He had asked me:

mum what is love ? 

We explored, love, the flush of new love and sexual attraction, the role of family and caring. The conversation lasted many hours, a few weeks later Chris renewed the relationship with Angela.

I was happy at the time although the day in June when  he came through the door with his sister with “news” – I wasn’t so sure .

I saw the look on Chris and Nikki’s faces that June day- they sat guilty together , after asking their dad to join us in the living room my mind racing, something was up? Finally Nikki said to Chris-

you’d better tell them!

My first thought was Oh God Angela is pregnant- it was that sort of vibe – not such good news coming- I held my breath.

Then Chris said quietly-

Angela wants to get married –

I was stunned, not what I was expecting!  Not knowing what to say ‘relief I guess she wasn’t pregnant”

“ Well congratulations, I guess – how about YOU do you want to get married ?

Chris gave a little shrug :

I suppose so –

Worrying to me what he said and didn’t say – this was not the reaction of a young man who was getting engaged.

Chris had just been hired by Wyse Advertising, he had very little money to speak of and was just starting his career.

I said “well you’d better plan on living here to save up for married life.

My thoughts of this is not good timing – my  thoughts  to the “other mother in the equation” A person I  had barely  met more that a half a dozen times , and never really  had any  conversation with  her at all.  – I asked:

when was the date?

Chris didn’t know and I found myself thinking Sue Lombardi, the mother of Angela, I knew from mutual acquaintances  was a controlling individual when it came to Angela – she  would surely make it a long engagement .

How many times had Chris ordered flowers on my credit card  account to cheer Angela up when the mother, whom they called Mama Sue and Psycho Sue, had upset her for NOT living up to Sue’s standards of achievement? I thought, Sue will not be happy at this and therefore I needn’t worry………..

The engagement – to  be continued 

 

February 3, 2020 at 2:04 pm 5 comments

Jan 3rd- No Limits- the foreword- Chris Ritchey

I  start another decade, recent months have been very  hard, some of the situations I  have blogged about some may  not ever come to  light on this blog. I am waiting … I have spent most of December deciding on how to  proceed . I am definitely  going to  “try  and finish” the book NO LIMITS as it pertains to  my  son. Although 10 ish chapters have already  been written I have had to  decide how to  proceed. I have made the decision to not only  publish in paperback form  eventually  but I may start serializing  each month on this blog. Here for your edification ( readers who still bear with me ) is the foreword  of NO LIMITS!!!!!!

NO LIMITS

By Loraine Ritchey

“Nothing should be hidden or untouchable, if it is your truth and you stand behind it – no one should be able to silence you “

Foreword- NO LIMITS

Brave words from my son, Christopher, on a fall day, his 4th year at Cleveland Institute of Art. I had met him for a meal in Tremont, Ohio. He was so very angry, one of his projects had met with resistance and indeed censorship. His anger and frustration spilled out:

Why were his thoughts not being accepted in a very community that accepts so much more than the general population? Why would he be censored in the very open environment of an art college where nothing it seemed was untouchable?

After all, his fellow students went outside so many politically incorrect boundaries. Had he gone past where even those of his peers were feared to go? Had he come up against the self-imposed limits of a society of his peers?

I never did find out what the project was that caused the censorship and his anger that day. In true Christopher fashion, he changed his project to another, an “Anti-Political Correctness Campaign– complete with displays and posters He used the situation to “speak out” and “show” those who believed themselves to be followers of the out of the box thinking, they were still inside a box, even if the box they had made was larger than most, their walls maybe be transparent yet there were and are walls.

 

freedom of speech by Chris Ritchey

As I ponder the wisdom of writing the events of life as we know it and death as we believe it to be, I know there will be questions I cannot answer, events I cannot prove.

I am opening myself, my family and my son to a world of naysayers, negativity and ridicule. I will reach the walls with this book. I will push aside and through the walls my peers in this “community”  and others have erected for themselves and for me.

Ironically although  I have always written the truth whenever I have sat at this keyboard and its predecessors I probably   won’t be believed , explanations will abound, logic ( as we perceive things to happen)will come into play .

I have hesitated for months, even years, to tell the story from my self-imposed box. I have written millions of words on my personal blog in the 10 years since my son died. https://www.thatwoman.wordpress.com . I have written his story, I have opened myself and my innermost thoughts and feelings. I have told the tale of cruelty, searing pain and thoughts of suicide. I have exposed myself in ways not many would without fear. So then, why is it I hesitate to share all of our story, a story of continuing love, strength and astonishment?

What could be so dangerous in opening up a world of hurt to my loved ones? Why would a love that continues cause such angst and trepidation in those of my society?

Society? Oh they can’t hurt me, I am beyond their pain, their laughter The sound of laughter to one who rarely laughs is just pleasant echo of what once was. There should be laughter in the world, I do not begrudge laughter or being the source of humor. The disbelief , I don’t care whether they believe or what they believe, so many believe so many different things, worship so many gods, those slings and arrows will not penetrate my being there is an armor in “knowing” The insults and negativity that will come as the story unfolds will bring the comments-

Why not my loved one? Why them? It is the grief, she wants money, she wants her five minutes of fame, and she always was strange. , needs medication, exploiting her son. They are just consumed with grief, hallucinating.

Yes! I can hear those raucous voices, tinged with the cynicism, of organized religion or lack of religious beliefs. So why martyr my family on the pyre of society? Why open this family to those who would wound?

I HAVE to document what happened to this family and my son, for the sake of my daughter, grandsons and future generations. I have to be brave, as my son was brave. I need to tell this story of a mother’s nightmare, of a love that reaches through the barriers of disbelief, of hope. I have the need to document and yet there is a fear my son will once again be negated in death as he was in life by those of “beliefs”.

Every night I see one of my son’s “projects’ from his graphic design course as it hangs framed upon the bedroom wall. It was a small project

Take three words and make the visual connection. Timid- Confidence, Aggressive- coupled with Past, Present and Future to tell a story.

 

It is the “future” graphic which nags at me, his future was not to be. The cartoon character of a snow boarder explaining his future and the word “aggressive”. I looked at the artwork through tears for weeks as it hung, along with other projects, on the wall. It wasn’t until I looked very carefully one day whilst dusting; I noticed written faintly on the bottom of the snowboard “No limits” and yet I too, have limited the truth by omitting a truth from my writings on my blog..

It is time to  tell the story  so long in waiting no matter the consequences….

To be continued … Chapter  One 

January 2, 2020 at 11:32 pm 7 comments

Dec 3rd – TIME of our Life- Chris Ritchey

Artwork Chris Ritchey

Every  3rd of the month I write a tribute to you   my  son , I  have  written , apart from the other memories of your passing  over 120 posts. I write to  release the pain that builds, to  take the thoughts out of my  mind and put them on paper, or in this case on this blog. If I didn’t they  would consume me more than they  do  and I  would not get any  relief. The tears I  shed as I  write drop  onto the desk  and over these many  months the varnish  has all but gone  – a surface worn away  by  my  tears.

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/category/chris-ritchey/

Other self by Chris Ritchey

How can that be possible? How have 10  years passed? How can that be?  You  see for most of my  nights and days I am back in time , to  a time where life and death  and selfishness have trapped me, and not only  me  your father is on this same journey. I dream of you  but you  always have cancer and I  am always searching for a cure or help, then I  wake  there is a moment of relief that it was just a dream and then I  realize  I  have woken to  my  nightmare, there was no  cure no  help… I  am in reality……………..

The diagnostic box- self- portrait Chris Ritchey

I am reminded of H.G. Wells and The Time Machine , I feel like the lead character sitting in that machine , only the lever is not controlled by  me but by  a profound grief, that is stronger than any  will of mine.   I  sit in place in my  own device  as I  watch the world around me go from the future to  the present.

photo -self -Chris Ritchey

Every now and then I leave the machine of grief and experience the world of the present, happiness comes , anger comes, passion – very  rarely, duty to  others is limited and they  are the ones I  hold most dear. That is why  although  it is now 10 years this December 3rd. since I last saw  your face, kissed your cheek,  held your hand and lost ME. No  longer Loraine, but a facsimile   who left this place when you  did . The unbearable is borne  tempered by  love of your family , sisters, nephews  brother in law and father. Deep breaths  and the conscious and sub-conscience  effort by  the brain to  hold back the excruciating  emotions that wrack the physical body.

Anger at those that through  hypocrisy  and selfishness ( Tim Sue Lombardi, Angela (Lombardi – Ritchey) and now Murphy – and their family  and church ( Father Daniel  Divas  whose wickedness ( in my  opinion)  perpetuated  and took whatever compassion with  them in their  act of callousness. not to  be forgiven- then or now  

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2009/12/14/something-wicked-our-way-came/

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2010/12/11/december-11th-the-beginning-of-the-beginning/

 

 

but that same anger also  has kept me upright.

 

The 10th  anniversary marked by   the yearly  posts of December 3rd  and as the new year dawns once again to  finally  finish  the book- NO LIMITS.

Starting a new chapter both  literally  and figuratively  -not the regurgitating of posts- but of your life and presence in the present………..

The Touch- Chris Ritchey

Your words ring through  my  mind  and indeed is part of the forward in the book

“Nothing should be hidden or untouchable, if it is your truth and you stand behind it – no one should be able to silence you “

freedom of speech by Chris Ritchey

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/dec-4th-how-cold-is-cold-lombardi/

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/december-3rd-chris-ritchey-yesterday/

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/december-3rd-the-trilogy-of-tears-christopher-ritchey/

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2013/12/03/december-3rd-memorial-chris-ritchey/

 

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/december-3rd-there-is-no-peace-chris-ritchey/

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2015/12/03/december-3rd-end-of-days-chris-ritchey/

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2016/12/03/dec-3rd-the-loop-chris-ritchey/

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2017/12/03/dec-3rd-the-waiting-chris-ritchey/

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2018/12/03/dec-3rd-crumbling-walls-chris-ritchey/

My  time here in this world  grows shorter as the days continue – I have to  finish this book and publish – as “truth  is definitely  the daughter of time” and time is running out…… I  love you  and miss you  every  moment of these days  and oh so long nights  no matter the  year I find myself existing……

 

December 2, 2019 at 11:01 pm Leave a comment

Nov 3rd – Museum of the Heart- Chris Ritchey

This is an old house, and I  am getting old.

I am comfortable in this house because it reminds me of the homes of my  family, the people  I loved with  whom I  shared my  early  years  growing up in England.

The fringes on lampshades , large cabbage roses in a vase on the table and on the walls and bedspreads.

Then there was always chintz in the old cottages and especially  in my  grandmothers’ abodes, the wealthy  one especially, along with  velvet winter drapes , changed to  chintz in the spring  I always thought of her living room with  silks and overstuffed furniture, brass reflecting the firelight as a bit of an Aladdin’s cave. Yes! due to  drafts and no  central heating drapes and curtain were changed out from spring and autumn. I  used to  do  that in my  younger days, slipcovers going over the couch  etc. when summer arrived.

When my  mother had to  leave her home in England , she brought with  her  the things she loved. When she finally  had to  move in with us

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/what-are-they-thinking-the-thought-process-stops-here/

We had to  clear away  a lot of things  – six rooms  did not go  into  the two  rooms we were able to  give her.

 

Still some of the items she could not bear to  give or throw away. Those items that didn’t fit into  her new living space had to  be introduced to  the rest of my  house.

One of the reasons I  have two  antique cocktail cabinets, one a wedding present from my  parents and one my  father made.

A couple of years ago I featured in a magazine, Pulse.

The writer/photographer came to  interview and as she went through  the house she exclaimed

OH this is like a museum!!!

To tell the truth  I  was a little taken aback.

No!.this was my  home, yes some of the things are antiques  having come down through  family, probably  not worth  a lot but you  would find them in most “cottagey type homes” in England.

 

 

 

 

 

( Horse Brasses, warming pans , brass or copper kettles and fire fenders ( very  useful)

Some things are old not antiques just remembrances of holidays, gifts through  the years. Then there are the things my  children made or purchased for my  birthdays , Mother’s Day  etc. and finally  your artwork Chris. You  work hangs along side , pride of place on the walls  with  the portrait of the old lady  –  circa 1785,

and paintings and water colours from your great – great grandfather  and great great uncle.

Fairyland painting by Jack Stokes

Oil by  Jack Henry Stringer

 

Nana’s needlework pictures . These are things I love and live with  and yes! use everyday and try  to dust at least once a week……….. .

Today , as I  was thinking about this old house and a “museum piece” I realized that although  a few years ago I  had decided to  de- clutter- out with the old…..life got in the way  and your dying – leaving me just your work ,

Breath of Life – Celtic Knot – Chris Ritchey

 

and then my  mum having to  spend her last years here and all the things she loved coming with  her,. Artwork and items made by  my  father came with  her. The little gifts from Braedyn and Gavin, Nikki I  realized in some way  it is a museum – this old housea museum of my  heart.

I love you  more each  day  that passes and I am as proud of you  as I  ever was…. you  are still in my  heart and home…………

Reaching out- art work- Christopher Ritchey

November 3, 2019 at 3:39 pm 1 comment

October 3rd- out of reach- Chris Ritchey

 

The brieftake a photo  of self  taking a photo  of self……….. and I found that classwork after you passed. I remember, I cried thinking  how at that moment in time  you  were captured on the other side of the window just out of my  reach. I feel that still that you  are just there , a shadow,  just out of my  reach ………..

I felt so  strongly  about the photo I  had it made into  blank cards. I used them to  thank  people for all they  had done after you died and I sent one , pouring out my  heart to  the Vatican . I  was so  confused as to  why  these “strong  faith based Catholics” (Lombardis) and their priest – Father Divas decided to  take from your family  any  semblance of  closure and peace…… I  wanted  clarification on how this was part of a faith  based on love and kindness not retribution and selfishness!

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/when-death-becomes-divorce-chris-ritchey/

Well I  did receive a letter back which  was published on my  blog. Telling me to  forgive , well not likely  to  happen then or now , not “Catholic”  just “Celtic ”

BUT I remember thinking that somewhere in the archives and files of the Vatican is a letter of heartbreak  with  your artwork  – Just out of Reach– amongst all the millions of papers and prints and works of art.

I love you  my  son that has never gone away  and neither have the tears I cry and won’t  until you  are no  longer out of my  reach………..

October 2, 2019 at 10:10 pm 1 comment

Sept 3rd – Moving On??? Chris Ritchey

“Try  to  remember the kind of September……….. “

I  have no  difficulty  in remembering this Labor Day  Holiday of yesteryear . You had been given another chance of a “cure”. Of course I  realize now that  the word “cure” was not an accurate description  as given to  us by  the Cleveland Clinic. The “trial” of SGN 35 was just that  another trial.  What followed was a frenzied trip  to  Houston, and more of that four letter word HOPE!!!!

Septembers  have come and gone and I  remember the “beginning of the end of hope” with   the pain that never lessens.  As this blog brings to  the fore writings of previous Septembers, I  revisit those emotions  of those times.

One such  September third came to  the fore today because it had been accessed by  someone reading my  words.

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2011/09/03/september-3rd-war-movin-on-hell-truly-is-other-people-chris-ritchey/

As I  read what I  had written in my  emotional  incontinence , I  wonder would I  have written anything similar today , you  can see the anger, the hurt and the disgust I  felt and I  asked myself would I  have felt the same or written the same  today? The answer is YES! just as time has not eased your  death  and “taking of the memories that should have been” neither has it lessened the feelings I  have toward those of self serving hypocrisy.  The anger that keeps me upright is beneficial to  being………… it is now part of me and who  I am….

I love you  my  son ………. you  are but a  last breath away…

Chris Ritchey Source

September 3, 2019 at 12:45 pm 1 comment

August 3rd- Linked – Chris Ritchey

Graphics Chris Ritchey

Every  street in this oldest neighborhood is designated by  the signs designed by  you  for Lorain’s Bicentennial. It was supposed to  bring a sense of pride  to  the residents who  have continued to  stay  here and fight for a quality  of life, the history  of these oldest streets and a preservation of a neighborhood that was.

I wish  I  could say  that those of us that banded together and set up a 501C3 30  years ago  had succeeded in our endeavours but thanks to  bank dumps in 2008-2009 with over 200 properties being dumped  sometimes for pennies on the dollar, the unscrupulous out of town landlords and property  companies, drug houses, lack of code enforcement  well we have become a saturated solution of the negative.

Two  things came together in my  brain this week……. the news of a young man of 16 shot and killed by  other young men… just two  blocks away, the gun shot waking us up as the sounds of killing reverberated through  the night air. I watched the news that evening and as I did the TV camera panned up  to  the street sign on 6th street, YOUR SIGN  and my  focus changed instantly  as once more I was sent back  to your  passing and then the pain and I  realized another mother , that of a 16 year old , would be weeping tears , heart pounding , trying to  breathe  trying to  deal  with the reality of the unreal.

Will she experience  the tiniest  interludes of happiness? You  see, once in a great while, when exhaustion forces the body  and mind to  sleep there are moments, just between sleeping and waking. One such  moment came this week the air was cool enough  for the windows to  be open and for a brief second as the sun  kissed the morning to  waken the day , the breeze picked up  the  peppery  scent of the petunias in the window box, this body  hadn’t quite realized it had aches and pains, there was for that precious second happiness and then “life” intruded once more……. and mothers weep  for lost sons in this old neighborhood……..

Another August of holding my  breath , fighting back  the tears , holding myself ready  for the trigger moments , knowing they  will come  and wanting

Love continues………. and memories of times much  happier……..before life intruded

 

August 3, 2019 at 12:56 pm 2 comments

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