Posts filed under ‘journey’

Cleveland Institute of Art- a journey continues – Christopher D. Ritchey

Another month passes but we are so very fortunate to have the very walls that surround us reach out to embrace our memory- my son -through his works- speaks to us every day .

Sometimes the glimpse of remembered humour of the piece will pierce my being with the torturing spear of longing and missing – I see his smile- his anger – his love – kindness – laughter as I try to go through my day .

My son is here, in all his moods and his talent, still speaks as I find yet another design, project, photograph or sketch. Some I know existed others reach out through boxes in the basement and attic.

Some of the best times Chris had were at Cleveland Institute of Art and they have given me more of my son than they will ever know.

Last year we were able , thanks to the generosity of contributors along with Chris’s sister,uncle, and nana offer a $1,500.00 scholarship

The recipient was a very talented young lady Jessica Obando

We met with Jessica at a CIA meet and greet for scholarship recipients
Jessica invited us to come to her BFA presentation but I knew I wasn’t going to be strong enough to walk back into the display area where I had walked in such happiness in 2006, to see the pride on my son’s face , the excitement of starting his professional life –

I just couldn’t, no matter how I tried, to walk that path- just yet.

Thankfully, Jessica understood my plight and that of my daughters, however she did send me some photos-

I decided to publish three of them as readers have been so generous in this living rememberance of Chris.

BFA presentation display

The graduate and her mom

I am pleased to say that this year’s $1,500.00 recipient of the CIA scholarship in Chris’s name has gone to a young man Andrew Frank. The following is from this month’s CIA publication LINK


We are hoping to continue with the scholarship at CIA for 2012 in order that another “communication design student” can share with their loved ones the excitement and pride as they too receive their BFA and continue a journey denied my son.

Should you wish to contribute to the 2012 scholarship in the name of Christopher D. Ritchey
please contact or send checks to

Megan French
Assistant Director of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations
The Cleveland Institute of Art
11141 East Boulevard
Cleveland Ohio 44106-1710


June 2, 2011 at 11:35 pm 2 comments

Tears – I Hear Each Tear- hear(t)ears -Chris Ritchey

A woodland glade greens with the spring rains, no one ventures close, the path is heavily pregnant from the coupling of the already sodden earth and watery sky , the path to the clearing will need days of sunshine to birth the way – this is a special place- a place of great love- one that is secret to only those that know – a place where love does not forget nor is forgotten.

And yet, through the veil of watery mists can be seen, as eyes, through their own veil of tears, seach the woodland landscape -a spark-

a glimmer of gold, a splash of sunshine, a shock of red, a greeting of purple reaches through the grey dampness as if some lone rainbow comes to kiss the earth.

I don’t have to walk the woodland path where deer graze in the evening, wild turkeys flock, squirrels play noisly to the mournful song of the Morning Dove as birds are building nests for new life, to know what is the cause of my rainbow.

A promise kept and renewed with each spring – and love that continues vibrant , strong and on the other side of grief.

A small tree fights for its place in the woodland reaching to the canopy of green above and beneath its own branches- a small plaque – given by another mother marks the spot where love is focused

“Missed beyond all grief- loved beyond all tears”

I am not alone in the shedding of my tears, there are others of this sisterhood. One is my friend Jayne, who lost her daughter. Jayne wrote on her face book page the following:

I Hear Each Tear
My mom doesn’t know I’m watching her, but I’m watching her just the same. And I hear each tear fall on her face at the mention of my name.

She says it sounds like music to her ears and can be heard over a crowd. Oh, I hear each tear fall on her face,when my name is said aloud.

I watch her stumble through each day as she wishes the day would end. And I hear each tear fall on her face as she talks of me with her friends

But there are few who truly understand Oh this I’ve heard her proclam, and I hear each tear fall on her face will my mom ever be the same?

I know that her smile can light up a sky , but I don’t see her smile today . Oh, but I hear each tear fall on her face, her blue skies have turned gray.

Oh I send to her my warmest hug with the rays of the morning sun, then I won’t hear a tear fall on her face, for I shall erase them one by one.

Yes, my mom doesn’t know I’m watching her, but I’m watching her just the same and if I hear a tear fall on her face I’ll just softly mention her name.
By: Jayne Bartish-Kacik

Photo appears with permission of Virginia Mak

May 26, 2011 at 6:36 pm 1 comment

WORDS-( are all I have)- Chris Ritchey

Who I Am - Chris Ritchey

Over the course of this “blog” I have written hundreds of thousands perhaps millions of words.

Words can heal, confuse, cause unbearable sorrow, hurt , laughter, destroy, enlighten, express your deepest emotions. I believe at one time or another I have used up those categories on this blog. The last posts have focused on words and their importance.

Advertising knows the importance of words and telling the story quickly and their visual importance to the “screen”.

During the course of Chris’s education he wrote a book- yes! a book!

The brief as I understood it – limited the number of words to be used ( under 30 ? ) – using different fonts to emphasize each wordtexture of the paper / colours etc also to give visual emphasis to the reader. Subject (of one’s choice) telling the story with a beginning , middle and end- evoking at least two emotions from the reader.

I saw the book at one of his “student shows” along with another of his interpretations of a “social message” which caused a bit of controversy that evening- whereas other students had decided on – sexually transmitted diseases, use of condoms- spousal abuse- aids – my son took on the war in Iraq/Afghanistan and wasn’t on the side of the “anti-war protest” group.

Chris’s humour was sometimes dark and irreverent ( like mine) but he used his humour as described here

Whilst in Texas( end of October) a text came through from Angela with regard to the fundraiser- Chris was told that two funeral homes had donated– Chris turned to me and said :

“You think they are vying for my business?

ED Notevacuous thinking comes to mind when that statement was made by Angela!
WHO???? gets excited about the participation of funeral homes in a fundraiser for your husband who is under a death sentence and to then feel it was important to impart that information to him? In my opinion total lack of thought to the consequences of her words. But like her other words SHE did not have to deal with the results – harbinger of words to come and end results of that sort of vacuous thinking on her part.

Back to the book– I found the book not long after Chris died – it was touchable, tangible and reminded me once again of my son , his humour, talent and how much I miss him everyday.

Obviously jpgs of the pages cannot give you the feel and texture of the paper used, the mere act of turning a page – anticipation for the ending- the process in which the reader is supposed to feel at least two strong emotions with regard to the subject – in this instance a COW– but it is the best I can do with my limited resources to show the power of words as used by in visual communication every day we “watch”

The book cover is covered in
Cow Hide

Did this little book evoke any emotion?Will you be able to have a steak tonight or look at a cow the same way 😉

Did you follow the story of the subject matter?

Can you see the significance of font and the words used?

If you did (even in this format) then his little book is truly an example of “working words”

and “words are all I have”…………

March 10, 2011 at 12:11 am 2 comments

Out of the Box-The Attic Archives

The attic, a place for “shoving everything” over the years- The attic became my place for all things needing to be stored

I just can’t throw that away- I might need it

– mainly because my husband had taken over the whole basement with his “junk”!

What has happened over the years I became the paperwork keeper. I admit it I am a disgrace – I don’t file and I don’t organize stuff- people yes- events yes -but not papers/photos cards NO!

Chris artwork 3years old

My mother is wonderful when it comes to photo albums you know where when what and who. I, on the other hand, tend to rationalize

I have to get to that

and put the photos and paper work in drawers and cupboards.

Chris was also like me in that regard as well. So as the drawers would fill they every once in a while got dumped into a bigger box- which eventually got sent to the attic.

Chris was the stronger so he would toss the boxes across to a space that was clearer- away from the pull down ladder. However even the boxes have no rhyme or reason to them- some contain years worth of scripts and all things theatre along with school certificates and Hallowe’en. it really just depended on what the drawer held at the time it was “filed”.

Chris used the attic as his personal “catch-all” as well. The attic became his “in case I need it space” and his paintings and tents and “paraphernalia from a college parties ” found a space nestled along with Christmas decorations- a twin bed ( not sure why that is there) – well you get the picture

Since Chris died and “I was in search of my son”- the journey I have had a nagging voice telling me to go to the attic.

A few weeks ago we had a semi clearout- bags and bags of junk, paperwork and hard copies of years of writing for various publications, reports on highland dancing – thousands of documents “I had to keep” just in case I needed confirmation ( I was pretty controversial in my writing and in my younger days)- All tossed just so I could access my sons clutter.

There was a box cardboard somewhat damp due to being next to the air vent. Now what was in this I wondered as my husband struggled to bring it down.

It was life!!!!

The contents of years of putting “I must save that” into a deep sideboard.

There were cards wishing us congratulations on our engagement from people long since passed – our wedding photos and invitations – the birth of our daughter and then son- cards sent by Nana and granddad on their birthdays, poems from Nana.
Easter bunny card pictures of a little girl then joined later by a little boy- photograph albums – some whose pages have ripped from the album- happiness of celebrations – artwork from chubby little fingers- a sister writing the card for her baby brother-

his card to her on being his sister– letter from my husband before they were born – and after they were born- Cards from great grandmothers- family photos from before I was born intermingled with high school graduation pictures – this damp cardboard box contained life – my life- my mother’s life- my daughter’s life and my sons- and a hand print given to a mother so many years ago that clutches at my heart-

As I sat on the floor of his old bedroom sorting through our lives I, of course, became awash with tears- the damp cardboard box that held happiness lost I realized that like it or not our life really is about boxes……………….TO BE CONTINUED……………….

January 4, 2011 at 1:43 pm 12 comments

A Place of Echoes- Chris Ritchey

“In search of my son- in search of me.” series
Part Thirteen

SOURCE ( ED note please check out Leonnie Isaacs poem that goes with this artwork.

In the Don’t Ask- Don’t Tell- Don’t Ignore post and answer to
How are you ?

Most days I try to get through but then there are days that I am not sure I will make it through

There are no good days , at least I haven’t found any as yet, but there are people amateur and professional that have tried to give me a good day or at least move on. We have, as a family, had loads of advice. There is always a question I ask to those of the professional kind.

Have you lost a child, a son

NO !.

Did you watch your child die -take his/her last breath -watch as their heart stopped- did you scream silently for them to hold on, not to die , even though you were the one that had to make the decision to let them go?


Do you know what it is like to relive that moment every time you close your eyes?


Have you had (due to control, spitefulness and cruelty toward you) had your closure and final goodbye taken from you – Do you watch every day the pain that has caused?


NO???? Ok! then well sorry but unless you have lived that you cannot possibly , even though you have years worth of “academic knowledge” help me because you cannot relate.

This is like nothing I have ever known- I have no words that adequately describe what is happening to me .

One Dr. (a lovely person) who is childless, told me

Take down from your house all photos, reminders of Chris put them away out of sight. Put the things that are most meaningful to you in a drawer and leave them there then when you want to remember go to the drawer relive your memories you get them out and then shut them away again.

I smiled, thanked them for the advice and came home.

As I walked up the path to the front door, through the wrought iron gate Chris had helped me choose and put up , to the pair of lions that flank the steps I once again saw the chip on the nose where a naughty little boy had tried to change the shape of the lion’s nose, still visible .

The front door where the welcome bells ( a mother’s day gift) scratch the wood- And I hadn’t even made it into the hallway where a little brass lion sits , a

I am sorry for defacing the lion

gift .

There are hundreds of reminders in this house, gifts, photos, artwork. I checked there isn’t one room including bathrooms-( candles too pretty to burn) ) not one wall that doesn’t hold some reminder of the baby, toddler, child, teenager, and young man who called this house home 27 years.

I wandered from room to room -I would need a storage unit, I haven’t even touched on the attic and basement. And then what would I keep in that drawer?

As I wandered realizing the daunting task that was ahead of me, the bricks on the fireplace caught my eye –
Yes the day of the “lion’s nose” had also found him trying to leave his name on the mortar of he brick, it is still there – first left as reminder to him NOT to do such a thing again, then forgotten with a “I must get to that” and now evidence that the child existed at all.

Which drawer? Would I choose the one where resides an envelope with a nugget of coal and some pencil flowers? Another I am sorry gift made for me after he had been particularly naughty. The homemade flowers delivered by dirty chubby hands looking for a softening of his mothers face, which he didn’t get until he handed her an envelope saying “if these don’t warm your heart ( the flowers )maybe this will” as the nugget of coal fell onto a white rug- but my heart was warmed and the smile and forgiveness followed.

Assignment by Chris Ritchey

In my world the scenes of “past life’ are so real , the colours, the voices, even those terrible last months and days, are with me – We all know about split personalities , various people living in one body/ brain.

I experience split lives, going through the motions of the present, simultaneously living the past- as it comes unbidden to the fore.
I can see the toddler as he stood at the top of stairs after finding out he could get out of his crib. I see him on the kitchen floor when, at two in the morning, he had decided he wanted more of the chocolate cake , this little boy cross-legged face full of cake looking innocently up from the mess he had made

“want some???”

The archway into the dining room where he would jump up and hit it as he grew leaving handprints on the off white wall. The dining room floor he helped me refinish whilst his dad was away just a 4 years ago. Even the damned ivy that is growing over the windows once again, he was supposed to cut it back for me. As it grows, it is a constant reminder of his not being here.

I sat on the couch where he had sat dazed and afraid ( although he tried not to show it) the day the Drs. told him you have cancer.

As I sat there surrounded by the visual reminders the echoes of his laughter, the nights he would do anything not to go to bed , even in his big boy bed-

“Dad come up and kiss me goodnight”- Mum I need a drink., How come Nikki isn’t in bed?

Children’s laughter as they tore through the house playing their games. The bedroom ceiling fan he chose. The fish ,frogs and even Misty which drawer do they go in ? Which reminders are not as important as others?

Do I move out the house altogether? I see him in the street signs , I see him at Settlers’ Watch , I see him playing over at Irving , the baseballs and soccer balls lost on the roof, the broken window ( they never fixed just boarded over) all those years ago.

Cleveland Signage design- Chris Ritchey

I see him on the storefront windows, on television, his ads, his design on signage in Cleveland. I am reminded every time I see a soccer ball, a Nike commercial, Adidas,

everytime I vacuum I look at his logo on the machine. I see him in my daughter’s eyes, in her smile – my grandson’s hands . The very sign on our street designed by my son.

No there isn’t a drawer that can contain and lock away my heart memories,

Photo Mark Teleha -artwork Chris Ritchey

there isn’t a storage shed anywhere in the world large enough to lock away and hold those memories.

My parallel world of the past cannot and will not allow confinement .

There truly are days that I wonder if I will make it through until tomorrow but I suppose the day I don’t is the day the heart memories and echoes will no longer cause the smiles, the wishing, the whying and nights of crying .

Think I Am - Chris Ritchey

“In search of my son- in search of me.”
Part One In search of my son- In search of me
Part TwoTourjours Moi-Always Me
Part Three Always Me – Always Chris
Part Four In search of My Son-
Chris Ritchey – Thanks

Part Five Dark Humour- Shedding a Light
Part Six – The Unfinished Portrait

Part Seven– The Unfinished Portrait- The Artists
(2) Part Two – Who Are We Really?
Part Eight– When Premonition Becomes Hindsight

Part Nine– When Premonition Becomes Hindsight – Part Two
Part Ten (a)There is an “I” in Death
Part Ten (b)- I didn’t know my son- Chris Ritchey
Part Eleven- Unfinished Portrait the Artistic Gene
Part Twelve- Unfinished Portrait- the Artistic Gene- Part Two

July 21, 2010 at 10:37 pm 14 comments

For Grammy – The Journey- The Comments- Chris Ritchey

Grammy left a comment on this blog and I started to write an answer but as fingers flew and “the force” took over I realized the comment was becoming a post.

I get lots of comments most of them off the blog .

Some of them question,

Some agree

Some just “hold my hand” ,

Some are worried I am becoming obsessed 🙂 –

Some feel what has happened is a private matter –

Some are just uncomfortable that I am touching upon the “realm of death and religionthis muddying up the perception of the other world- the non sugar-coating is making things a little uncomfortable. And let us face it no one likes discomfort and yet the stats tell it all ……….there is an interest !!!!

So why do I write about this most uncomfortable of subjects and situations. I have explained here and here as to the reasons I am exploring every avenue of what happened to us in this “OUR STORY”-
The “story” of romance, death, thievery, ill-gotten gains, heros and heroines, religion , politics, lies and deception, cold cruelty , kindness, love and bitterness.

Truth and transparency has always been important to me in other aspects of my life- why not in this?

Uncomfortable as it is to read at times it is our truth and our life and journey at the moment.


Grammy said :

That, though very small, is a comfort. Someone actually listened.

I started to reply :

The letter from the Cardinal/Vatican didn’t actually bring me solace etc. or tell me anything I didn’t already know EXCEPT it was a validation from the hierarchy of the religious community that the Lombardi’s and their crew (that they hopefully pay more than lip service to )was in need of my forgiveness of such an act.

It was and is wrong in the eyes of their beliefs otherwise no forgiveness would be required.

I needed that documentation as I am not of their beliefs so I wanted to be sure that the church of their choice understood the need for a family’s closure . And I needed “in writing” for those that are also of their beliefs who are trying to “justify their actions”. by sending out emails of erroneous happenstance to defend the actions. ( Ah Brucee B you know not of what you write!)

Any good researcher , when delving into a situation or story , requires documentation and provenance -of paramount importance when trying to write the truth rather than a fictional perspective. 🙂 ( Ah Brucee lesson No 1. )

This series was but a small stepping stone across the river of grief as I explore my son, his life and his death and all that made up the journey .

Too long have disease, and the actions of others beyond my comprehension or our control made up the swirling waters of doubt , loss and confusion- I refuse to let that be the case any longer

I am crossing my river to reach my son and take him back from lies and doubt …. AND WILD HORSES COULDN’T DRAG ME AWAY

It is for Gavin I write and the knowledge that one day he will know his Uncle Chris , the young man who was so looking forward to being a part of his life. He will know the story of his family and who they were in the thousands upon thousands of words, this journey will take. And hopefully he will see the Good the Bad and the Ugly and learn from this journey of ours.

It is for Nikki – who was accused of being a liar and was also accused of not knowing her brother as she read the letter stuffed in her dead brother’s clothes. Having him wrenched from her by cancer and cowardice was apparently not enough for his bride of 500 or so days.

It is for my husband , my mother and those that loved Chris for who he was !

I will give them closure .. I will give them back their Chris…… the only way I know how…

I can do nothing but show the injustice that was done to those he loved and show that indeed it was an injustice not born of faith but selfishness. I will chronicle the agony both emotionally and physically this act of “control’ has taken upon those I love .

I will show the truth and document each step as each ‘stepping stone of an answer” carries us across to the other side.

In this small 1st step I have found that my foundation of thought and conclusions with regard to my son , who has been so cruelly wrenched from us because of disease and words written on cheap paper is as I thought……

I have explored this part of the equation of religious beliefs and how they pertained to our loss.

( RELIGION )and those that preach shouldn’t have and needn’t have caused the pain to those that love their son and brother- they tried to bury the act along with his ashes– I will shed the light of their actions and the results of those decisions to all who care to read.

I am not going quietly into the night- The reliance on keeping death a private affair by “it just isn’t done to discuss these situations “ is not part of my make -up . I will discuss anything I choose because no matter how uncomfortable it is to read OUR STORY


I am not obsessed as I explained to one writer -there is no end in obsession –there is AN END to this journey BUT we are only in the middle chapters….


July 11, 2010 at 10:40 pm 4 comments

Don’t Ask – Don’t tell- Don’t IGNORE

No! I haven’t segued from the Roman Catholic Church and IGNORE to Gays in the Military but to the thinking that is behind this “way of dealing with life issues.”

You see if we ask the question you might get an answer – the answer may make you uncomfortable- and then you may have to pursue a solution.

During these past months I asked the questions – I was IGNORED locally by men of the cloth – WHY??? because – in my humble opinion – to answer may have led to actually having to acknowledge there was an uncomfortable situation and everything in the garden wasn’t perfect.

In fact by ignoring the motivation of an emotional abusive act they didn’t have to deal with it.

It was essentially easier just to IGNORE and hope “I” would give up go away- because that is what usually happens- and not just with this instance of the Roman Catholic church locally ! ( that was a mistake I don’t give up and I don’t go away ).

This is however, a course of non action that works 95 percent of the time. by those that don’t want to “deal” with unpleasantness or problems. They ignore people and situations until finally every once in a while they can’t ignore anymore, by then a lot of damage is done. I found that out the hard way and the reason we are now dealing with this cruelty of control

As readers, how many times have YOU been ignored in life by your respective governments , politicians, religious affliations , corporations, media , schools etc.

Have we become so lily-livered ( funny word that)-

Means cowardly. People once believed that your passions came from you liver. If you were lily livered your liver was white (because it did not contain any blood). So you were a coward.)

as to run from issues that make us uncomfortable or prod us into action?

Is that what we have become as generation of cowards so that if we
1. We don’t ask

2. It follows we can’t be accused of knowing

3. Therefore , not knowing relieves of the responsibility of “acting upon the situation.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Come to think of it the Military establishment being cowardly doesn’t equate and they of all groups shouldn’t be lily-livered about anything. Honestly if someone is putting their life on the line for mine the last question I would be wanting to know is if they prefer the same-sex or opposite sex to share their bed. That isn’t a case of ignoring or not asking the question it just isn’t a question for me anymore than the color of their skin or whether they are Roman Catholic or Protestant, right or left handed .

When I do rise to the surface and go out in the parallel world to mine I am often asked by some who know me and some who are just being polite to their customer

How Are You ?

To a man ( or woman) they expect

“Fine and you”

But because I am no good at pretending I answer truthfully to people who ask

How are you ?

Not good, been better, holding myself together barely, bloody awful or most days I try to get through but then there are days that I am not sure I will make it through !

Very few people really want to know how those that grieve are really. They want you to give a polite answer to a polite question – it is after all the done thing in society to “ask”.

It is not the done thing “to tell “


Truth and Transparency are words that are touted on blogs, in political arenas, forums, newspapers but I think real truths are only for the few and the brave, because the answer may mean we would have to face the demons and open wounds and that may make society uncomfortable.

Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell even when it comes down to a mighty nations military because otherwise we might have to actually face unpleasantness and we have become a community of wanting “sugar coated truths” and if I ignore it maybe it will go away .

The highest hits daily on this blog is a post about Dachau and Germany ( June’s total 14,473) – another, albeit an extreme case, of IGNORE – and a local population who lived around these camps of IGNOREDont’ Ask – Don’t Tell taken to the extreme –

Poster Design by Chris Ritchey – 2000 AD -Stocker Center Production

Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell or Ignore is a mantra of those taking the easy way out because sometimes the “truth hurts”!

“…For a long time during those frightful years I waited for a great voice to speak up in Rome. I, an unbeliever? Precisely. For I knew that the spirit would be lost if it did not utter a cry of condemnation when faced with force. It seems that that voice did speak up. But I assure you that millions of men like me did not hear it and that at that time believers and unbelievers alike shared a solitude that continued to spread as the days went by and the executioners multiplied…. …What the world expects of Christians is that Christians should speak out, loud and clear, and that they should voice their condemnation in such a way that never a doubt, never the slightest doubt, should rise in the heart of the simplest man. That they should get away from abstraction and confront the blood-stained face history has taken on today”. —French author, Albert Camus, in a statement made at the Dominican Monastery of Latour-Maubourg in 1948.

Understanding the Vatican

July 7, 2010 at 10:37 am 4 comments

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