Posts tagged ‘Love’

Dec 3rd – NO LIMITS- Chapt 23- Chris Ritchey

NO  LIMITS

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/

Chapter Six: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/07/03/july-3rd-no-limits-chapter-6-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Seven: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/08/03/august-3rd-no-limits-chapter7-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Eight: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/09/03/sept-3rd-no-limits-chapter-8-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Nine: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/10/03/oct-3rd-no-limits-chapter-9-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Ten: NO LIMITS- Nov 3rd- Chapter 10- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Eleven: NO LIMITS-Dec. 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 11 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Twelve: NO LIMITS-Jan 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 12 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Thirteen : NO LIMITS- FEB 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 13 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Fourteen: March 3rd, NO LIMITS, Chapter 14- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Fifteen: April 3rd- No Limits- Chapter 15- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Sixteen: May 3rd – No Limits- Chapter 16- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Seventeen: June 3rd-No Limits-Chris Ritchey-Chapter 17 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Eighteen: July 3rd – NO LIMITS- Chapter 18-Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Nineteen: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2021/08/03/august-3rd-no-limits-chapter-19-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Twenty: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2021/09/03/september-3rd-no-limits-chapter20-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Twenty One:  https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2021/10/03/october-3rd-no-limits-chapter-21-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Twenty Two : https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2021/11/03/nov-3rd-no-limits-chapter-22-chris-ritchey/

OHIO

I was emotionally  exhausted after the flight home from Houston  although, I  was  thrilled the news was good but  terrified at what I  was seeing with  my own eyes as to  how Chris “looked”.  to  these mother’s eyes.

The “plan” was Chris and Angela would drive  back stopping at various sights  along the way and  be back for a few days in Ohio  and then the  return drive to  Houston for ongoing treatment.

I drew Angela aside  and  begged Angela:

‘Please , please leave the truck here and fly  back  here, the Doctor at MD Anderson didn’t think  it wise for Chris to  do  that journey, can’t you  talk with  him he will listen to  you if YOU say you  want to  fly  back! 

Angela’s  quiet reply:  because Angela never spoke loudly

 

Chris, will be just fine driving back to Ohio.” We will take it easy

photo Angela by Chris Ritchey

It was going to  be a lot of driving  but I  hoped that once Chris was home  home Nikki  and I  could persuade Chris to  fly  back and we would rent him a vehicle.

He was taking so  many  drugs, not eating and to  counter the effects  I found he was taking  exlax  like candy.  It was just 36 hours later after I  left Houston I  received a call from Angela saying they  were stopping for the night  in  Jackson Mississippi

It was later the next day  I  received another call, she had had to  take  Chris to  the local ER for fluids, he had collapsed! The Doctors there   wanted to  admit him but they  declined saying they  wanted to  get back to  the Clinic.  I said

“Angela you  can’t  continue driving if he is that ill, book a flight, you  have the money  from the fundraiser that will will cover that cost , can you  drive  the truck to  the airport  and park it? I will have  his dad and uncle fly  down and drive the truck back, that will put Chris’ mind at rest re the truck  .

 

 Angela “What about the keys we can’t leave them , can you  pick up  the spare set  from my  mother at the bank?

I said I  would .

Arrangements were made . I  went that afternoon to  the bank where Sue Lombardi  worked to  pick up  the keys.  She walked acrosse the lobby   with  a silly  grin on her face

“Tim and I  will pick up  Chris and Angela and take them back to  their apartment “

I was fuming underneath  knowing  I  should have pushed more to  stop  that drive back.  I was barely  able to  speak more than two  or three words incase  I said something that couldn’t be taken back.

Her daughter the Doctor,   had she no  common sense?  Side  trips  to  Memphsis indeed when her husband  was downing pain pills for which she was getting the prescriptions . She had to  see how his driving  was terrible and anger flare ups in traffice in Texas. More than once   seeing his “road rage” I  would remind him

Chris, these guys have guns on their trucks  and you  calling them  “dick head” and driving like you  are  , you  are going to  get me shot…

I dropped off my  husband and brother in law at the airport , drove home  and waited .

Finally  Chris called me from the Lombardi’s car and said they  had been picked up  and would call me  the next day.

He did call me the next day  but not from the apartment , he was back in hospital at South Pointe, where Angela was a resident and getting those prescriptions filled  that  I was worried about. 

It was  an I  am OK mum and getting fluids  sort of call. I  told him his truck was nearly  back in Ohio  , his dad and uncle   had driven straight through and they   would leave his truck at  it at Nikkis,as it was safer there will all the items they  had had to  leave.

I was surprised a half an hour later when Chris called back, the inlaws  and Angela had left  and he said  he was alone and wanted to  talk to  me .

“Mum, I am appreciative of everything you did in Texas

 

I said:

I know that Chris you don’t have to thank me

 

He continued :

But I was so mean to you

referring to  the altercation we had  when Angela had lied to  him  and  he thought Nikki  and I  were excluding her .

SEE Chapter 17 of No  Limits 

I responded :

Chris I am your mother , you are allowed to be mean to me , I understand what you are going through , the lack of control over your own life , the anger – it is OK I love you !

 

He said :

You were right I should have stayed in Houston, I shouldn’t have come back to the apartment….. there are so many bad memories – I should’ve stayed in Houston  and I love you mum I should’ve listened

 

I said

Chris, it is no good dwelling in   hindsight….. we will get through this I will see you Friday . I love you

As always he said

I love you too”

I hung up  and burst into  tears…..

I can still hear his voice in my  head , I can  bring those words  to  the fore of my  memory  as if he were speaking them to  me in the present time and day.

That is probably  because  it was the last time  I ever heard him say  those words out loud…… a mother  clings to  every  bit of her child and his life and voice that she can.

 

Note as I  sit  and type this day  of December 3rd 2021-  it is the anniversary  of his passing and so  I am defeated I have to  leave the keyboard and the desk and release  the pain and heartache.. I can write no  more today  the emotional incontinence  that overwhelms on this day cripples  and crushes my  very  core.  … until the next chapter……. and Chris I still love you  with  all my  being……

 

December 3, 2021 at 2:14 pm 5 comments

NO LIMITS-Jan 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 12

ED NOTE: It has been one year since I  started this journey  of serialization of my   book/posts on my  son’s, Christopher Ritchey, journey.  I had thought, initially,  to  intersperse  the posts as usual with  other posts, pertaining to  life, Lorain, crime and politics. I  have found I  just do not have the energy  and the apathy is all consuming . I have come to  the sad realization what I  think  and my  passions on those subjects just don’t matter and don’t make a bit of difference in the real world.  However, my  journey  with  NO LIMITS continues, as hard as these chapters are to  write  and reliving the journey  of hope and no  hope there is a light at the end of this journey . I  will continue to  tell of our journey with  transparency  and truths.

 

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/

Chapter Six: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/07/03/july-3rd-no-limits-chapter-6-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Seven: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/08/03/august-3rd-no-limits-chapter7-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Eight: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/09/03/sept-3rd-no-limits-chapter-8-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Nine: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/10/03/oct-3rd-no-limits-chapter-9-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Ten: NO LIMITS- Nov 3rd- Chapter 10- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Eleven: NO LIMITS-Dec. 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 11 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

 Chapter 12 : The Trial and Tribulations

The days following  the biopsy  found me sitting by  the phone. I  knew in my  heart of hearts the news was awful but I  clung to  the hope they  could be wrong, it had been known. I  knew it was a foolish  hope but you  grab anything you  can to  hold onto.

Chris came to  stay  with  Nikki that last weekend in August . He was so  pale and quiet. I went over bearing his favourite food . Nikki  told me he had been out in the woods for hours on his four wheeler , alone and not wanting to   talk to  anyone.

We waited, and when he came in I saw my  son trying to  put on a brave face. We all tried to  act normally  I  sat with  him at the kitchen counter , trying to   eat . He was , for my  sake, trying to  force the food down. A friend of my  son-in-law, oblivious to  the situation, came in  talking about the hunting season to  come  and new equipment he was planning to  purchase. It was so  normal and so  damned surreal. Chris left the kitchen , I  knew he was thinking

I  probably  won’t be here for that  season.

I  waited, trying to  swallow my  scream. Nikki  came into  the kitchen  and said ”

Mum, Chris is not good, you  had better come upstairs   

I followed her up  to  the guest room, also  now known as Chris’ room. He was laying on top  of the bed and had broken down, the fear, the hope, the fact he would die crashing down on him and he could no  longer  put on a brave face that day .

I didn’t know what to  say  or do . I felt totally  helpless.  I sat on the bed next to  him and Nikki  was on the other side and we  huddled and cried together. After a while I said , not knowing really  what I  was saying

“The three of us like this, Chris , is probably  Angela’s worst nightmare”

Finally  a weak smile and I said  to  my  son , almost believing it myself

Chris , I  will move heaven and earth  to  find another way  another treatment, even if it means going  to  Germany  or Europe

( I  had heard they  were making strides in Germany with  Refractory Hodgkin’s)

Chris went back out into  the woods riding and I  went home to   get on the computer and research.

I went home worried beyond reason for my  beautiful son. The phone rang it was Angela’s mother Sue Lombardi  wanting to know something inconsequential.

I said Sue:

I can’t even think about that know ( I  can’t even remember what it was ) I have just left Chris and he is in a terrible state.

WELL! she said NOW YOU  KNOW WHAT ANGELA HAS BEEN PUTTING UP WITH . 

I couldn’t believe the sanctimonious,  cold hearted cow!

PUTTING UP WITH , he is dying and scared and turning to  his wife.. don’t talk to  me .. putting up  with ????

she said :

maybe putting up  with  wasn’t the right choice of words .

No!  it wasn’t  I am going now. I  have things to  of more importance to  deal with  

Finally Tuesday   came  when we once again sat in the offices of Dr. Pohlman. Chris sat alone on the side of the room, he had on his aviator glasses and cap was pulled down, as I  looked at my  son , knowing these glasses were his defense  against the emotions he was feeling  being  shown  to us. Nikki  and I  sat together and Angela  drew up  a chair on the opposite wall.

No-one said a word, and Dr. Pohlman of the diamond earing , white framed glasses , starched white coat and Italian leather  shoes entered the room.

I was never keen on him , his bed side manner was decidedly  lacking  , but Chris liked him, why? I  don’t know .  As he sat down he looked at us , looked at the report and said coldly:

“This is bad, very  bad. Your immune system, ( looking at Chris who had not moved but sat like stone) does not recognize the cancer. As your body deals with the good cells it is also  helping the cancer cells .  Another stem cell transplant  , this would be a donor  transplant in the hopes that their immune system  would take over (allogeneic) is a remote possibility , but the insurance probably  would not   OK  it.

Nikki , spoke  ” well  why  can’t we try? “

Pohlman  looked as if he had noticed her for the first time,

“and  you  are  his sister? Well we could test you  as a donor, are you  willing “

“Of course I  am willing I  will do  anything “

Polhman  then continued.

Chris your only  hope for a “cure” ( and yes he said the word “cure” )is to  get on a trial for the drug SGN35 .

I finally  found my  voice,

how  do  we do  that?

Unfortunately, 

he said ( and this was the Tuesday  morning after waiting for days for the results of the biopsy)

We.at the Clinic closed down the admittance to  the trial of SGN 35  we have here on Friday  and there are no  more spaces available. I am not sure there are any  openings  around the country.

I was incredulous , this young man had been treated by  them from the very  beginning they  KNEW the cancer had returned , they  knew he would need options , they  held out the hope again to  only  withdraw it coldly  and clinically. I was so  angry  I  couldn’t  speak. Angela sat there ,

 

For god’s sake I  thought Angela say  something, you  are a resident going to  be a Dr.  a member of the Cleveland Clinic yourself  say  something!!!!!This is your husband  fight for him.

Angela said nothing,  it was Nikki  who  spoke :

You  are the Cleveland Clinic  , the best in the nation, and you  are telling me that Chris has been your patient all this time and you  come in here offering nothing,  just that a trial has closed, why  didn’t you  reserve him a space. You  KNEW what those results were . and all you  can say  is “this is bad , very  bad ” and there is a hope for a cure but not here . Then Where????? Don’t kick him to  the curb, he is not a lab rat……

Chris’ face book page

I am not sure Polhman  was expecting that , I know Angela  looked shocked.  Polhman was the big shot specialist, I  am sure she wasn’t happy  with  Nikki  questioning him.  Polhman turned his hands  outward in a gesture  of  “oh well” said that he would send his assistant to  set up a test for Nikki  and he would have them see if there were any  openings for SGN 35 in other states , but the trials had all closed on the Friday . He had other patients he had to  see.

As they  all walked out I asked what about Europe, Germany , he looked perplexed. He didn’t know  and was that an option. I  said:

anything is an option to  save my  son’s life and walked out.

The rest of the day  found Angela looking into  options, contacting people she had been  in medical school with. Nikki  on the computer  and I called family  in the medical community , who  dealt with  Cancer research . They  put me in touch  with  Chicago  and Columbus trials, talking to  Doctors,   setting up  appointments.

Angela had the best options with  MD  Anderson   Houston Texas . She sent Chris records through   to  a friend who  said they  would get them to  Dr. Younes who  was doing the trial.

Wednesday  morning , Nikki  and I  picked up  Chris from his apartment and we went to  the Clinic for them to  be matched for a allogeneic  transplant. This done we went back to  his apartment, not really  speaking . We stayed for a little while, I  was so  worried about Chris , he had lost hope. I left Nikki  and Chris in the living room and went to  busy  myself making the bed incase he needed to  rest. Nikki  came flying into  the room. Dr. Younes’ PA from MD Anderson  was on the phone and they  had an opening for an appointment  the next day  in Houston.

The next afternoon at two o’clock . OMG!!! the thoughts tumbled and whirled through  my  mind. Take the appointment , call the airlines, Chris call Angela , where is my  credit card , get them on a flight, book a hotel near the hospital , get some money . By  eight o’clock they  were boarding a flight to  Houston….

 

the roller coaster  ride was starting up  again

 

to  be continued……..

 

January 3, 2021 at 2:27 pm 5 comments

Oct. 3rd No Limits Chapter 9 – 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/

Chapter Six: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/07/03/july-3rd-no-limits-chapter-6-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Seven: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/08/03/august-3rd-no-limits-chapter7-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Eight: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/09/03/sept-3rd-no-limits-chapter-8-chris-ritchey/

Double Cell Transplant:

We went to  see  Dr. Brad Pohlman  who  had been involved through  South Pointe with Chris’ initial treatment.

:Brad Pohlman, MD, is Vice Chair of Operations at Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute. DrPohlman is a member of the American Society of Hematology, American Society of Clinical Oncology, and American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sngT_dShxsw

 

So  much  for the 95% cure rate  re Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Chris was  now diagnosed with   Refractory  Hodgkin’s Lymphoma , the cancer came back very  quickly https://www.webmd.com/cancer/lymphoma/qa/what-is-refractory-or-recurrent-hodgkins-lymphoma

The day, Chris and Angela and I  went to   we went to the Cleveland Clinic and saw the Lymphoma specialist Dr. Brad Pohlman, once again we rode the rails of hope. My son wanted to  do  whatever it took to

get this “crap” out of me, cut it, burn it, kill it, I want to  reach  the age of 50″.

I looked at his face as he said those words and my heart ached for him.

It was suggested that Chris undergo  a Double Stem Cell transplant ,  good results had been seen in a study  out of California . A tandem (double autologous) transplant is a process in which you have two stem cell transplants with your own cells — done about three to six months apart — to increase chances of success.

Basically  this involved removing stem cells  from Chris  through  his blood. The need a certain amount and they  did manage to  get all they  needed in one  removal

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stem-cell-transplant/what-happens/

The most common way to harvest stem cells involves temporarily removing blood from the body, separating out the stem cells, and then returning the blood to the body.

To boost the number of stem cells in the blood, medication that stimulates their production will be given for about 4 days beforehand. On the fifth day, a blood test will be carried out to check there are enough circulating stem cells.

If there are enough cells, veins in each arm will be connected by tubes to a cell-separator machine. Blood is removed from one arm and passed through a filter, before being returned to the body through the other arm.

This procedure isn’t painful and is done while you’re awake. It takes around 3 hours and may need to be repeated the next day if not enough cells are removed the first time.”

He then, after harvesting, went through more Chemo therapy  and  in one year from his first chemo  was back in the Cleveland Clinic isolation  etc. to be chemically  killed . There is no  other word for it. We prepared as best we could because of the high risk of infection he was initially  behind a glass window. The side effects of the first transplant  were given to  us :

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hair loss
  • Mouth sores or ulcers
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Infertility or sterility
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Cataracts
  • Organ complications, such as heart, liver or lung failure

As he went through the  first of the stem cell transplants I would go to the hospital every day, he hated the food, refused to eat it. Apparently  the smell of the plastic covers covering the food  and the steam coming off of them  nauseated him. I would cook him lunch and supper, trying to devise a menu which would appeal to the lack of appetite, high calorie content that slipped down easily, dishes he liked from childhood. Then I  would take the dishes to  him. The nutritionist had to  OK what I  cooked, but they  were more nutritious than what they  were trying to  give him so  I was allowed.

Finally  the glass screen came down, he was supposed to  be the hospital that first time around for at least 4 weeks. He experienced most of the side effects.  I still suffer from that place and  that transplant. The nurse warned me they  would be putting his own irradiated and treated cells back into  his body  and the preservative  used would smell like creamed corn and it did. The smell permeated the very  air  for hours. I can no longer smell  creamed corn cooking  or dished out  without being violently  ill both  in mind and body.

I would arrived at 11:30 am, most of the time he would be in the chair by the time I arrived, hooked up to poisons and fluids. I would get clean sheets from the nurse every day and make up his bed.  This was my only way of trying to make him comfortable, with clean sheets and freshly made bed. I would stay whilst he slept, or watched TV. Most of the time I read. I can’t remember one book or title of any book during that time.

I would stay with him in that “cell” because that is what it became for both of us a cancerous prison but with hope the door would be unlocked to a future.  I would heat his supper in the hospital’s “family room” microwave – clean up and come home at 7 to get dishes etc. for the next day and start all over again.

My daughter was at the end of her pregnancy, when Chris was admitted for the first stem cell procedure.  She wasn’t due until at least two  weeks after Chris was due to  be released from the first stem cell transplant ( Autologous) , but once again, somehow I  KNEW  (yet another premonition) , I was going to  be torn would   between hospitals –  I would be travelling between hospitals and the needs of my  two  children.   I was right, Chris was at the end of the first procedure when Nikki went into labor two  weeks early .

I had just crawled, exhausted,  into  bed when my  son in law called to  say  Nikki’s water had broken and to  meet them at the hospital as Nikki  wanted me  with  her when she gave birth.  Even though Chris had been in one hospital being chemically killed he was on the phone to Nikki the whole time talking her through the pain of birth, making her laugh, easing her mind. They were miles apart and yet Chris was there for her as I knew he would be. Chris talked to  her through  the hours of labor, making her laugh, getting her through. They  were always there for each  other

Chris and his sister, Nikki – on the happiest night of her life

Chris said:

hey  at least you  will get out of there in a couple of days  even when I  get out I  will have to  come back….. hang in there … you  can do  this….

 

 

He said to  Nikki  after he heard  it was a baby  boy. let me tell Nana and Dad and he did .  I didn’t see him for 4 days after the birth  as I  was with  Nikki, but his counts came back quickly , quicker than expected and he was released/

Chris came home on April 3rd and met his nephew for the first time, he was amazed at how tiny  Gavin was. Nikki’s house was the first place he came straight from the hospital . Nikki, with  Gavin in her arms   and Chris and held onto  each  other that afternoon ….

To be continued

October 3, 2020 at 12:00 pm 1 comment

Sept. 3rd – No Limits- Chapter 8- 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/

Chapter Six: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/07/03/july-3rd-no-limits-chapter-6-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Seven: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/08/03/august-3rd-no-limits-chapter7-chris-ritchey/

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

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 6 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 3 comments

Nana’s MY BOOK- memories of another time

 

ED NOTE: My  mother, Violet Janet Gabbey  1919-2018

My  mum  had a long and amazing life. Mum was 99 when she passed  and was loved by  all her friends and family. However, 40  years ago  she was going through  a very  trying and emotional time in her life.  Her only  child, me,  was three thousand miles away  in the United States at the time and was unable to  do  much  of anything.

Mum had nights of not sleeping  I  suggested she use that time to  start writing down her memories of being young for her  granddaughter , Nikki . I have always found writing things down cathartic and still find that to  be the case. Mum scribbled notes on scraps of paper every  time she couldn’t sleep .( I  still have those notes)

A few years ago  we sat in the den and she and I put them in some sort of order. Mum then sent a copy  of what she named “MY  BOOK”  to  the oldest grandchild of each  of her brothers and sisters and to  some special people .

Please remember when reading her words and memories  it was a very  different time , especially  in her young years, what was  pretty  much  the norm then probably  wouldn’t be acceptable today.

Cover Design Chris Ritchey

So , where is the beginning of it all? Upon reflection and trying to  summon up  the very  first picture, there is a faint imprint in my  mind. Can  a child of three really  retain, retell the event so many years on? Could I  really  see six or seven human forms lying on a mattress of black and white ticking strung between wooden frames? The box like shapes, the harsh  sounds of human retching , the pungent smell of oil and vomit, that unpleasant fragrance still is in my  nostrils. Some photo of that time with  its sights and smells must have embedded itself forever in my  mind

I can still feel still the roll and steady beat of a noise below. I  was huddled, warmed and comforted  by  another little body  next to  mine. I can see my  mother lying stretched out a short distance away from us; her long dark hair was damp and lying untidily on the pillow. I knew somehow she was ill too. My  Father was on his feet , I see his arms with dark shapes and lines on them holding a cup  to  my  mouth. He was telling me

“Drink  this, you  will feel better” 

then oblivion and I  remember no  more .

Many  years afterwards I made the discovery  that my  first recollection was of being in a cabin of a troop ship  travelling home to  England. The ship  was bringing soldiers and their families, who  had been serving in southern Ireland  ( where the Anglo  – Irish War – [1919-1921]  had broken out after the Great War.(1914-1918)

My  father was a soldier and a very  good one.  I fear, however he always drank  too much  and was forever shouting . He had scores of wonderful stories in him. He had a moustache which  tickled and scratched  when he would kiss you.

The dark shapes and lines were tattoos which he had subjected himself to  in a far away  land. When I  was very little and  asked about them he said the one said ” I love Betty”  I used to  wonder how could my  mother  bear to  see that day after day , as her name was Charlotte! However,  the “I love Betty” was just my  fathers peculiar sense of humour . When I  was older  and could read and looked  more closely I found there was only  two  hearts entwined  with  a lover’s knot  and there was no  wording there at all……

To  be continued:

April 22, 2020 at 12:48 pm 3 comments

April 3rd- NO LIMITS -Chapt 3- 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/

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/03/03/march-3rd-no-limits-chapt-3-chris-ritchey/

After the engagement announcement and the resulting kerfuffle with  the in laws to  be, I decided I would only  do  what I  was asked , no  suggestions or real involvement with  this wedding. I  could tell it would be walking on egg shells time.

A few days after the ring fiasco  Chris called and said Angela wanted us to  go  to  Beechwood where she had made an appointment to try  on wedding gowns.  It was rather short notice but Nikki  and I,  for the sake of fence mending, agreed to  share in  what should have been a delightful afternoon. In fact it was  except the mother of the bride was not there, aunts and grandmother etc but no  Sue Lombardi.  Angela duly  tried on various gowns and she did look lovely. I suggested that I would purchase the  wedding veil  of her choice.

 

Since I  had to  get back to  a meeting – already planned- Nikki  and I  left. I found out later Sue eventually showed up  as she didn’t want to  take the time off work. Chris called and said Sue was  very upset and

“What would I  have done- would I  have taken the time off? “ 

” Chris you  aren’t pulling me into  that  situation”.. and I  kept quiet. 

 

Chris had  still not recovered his usual good humour , although  he was speaking to  his sister once again. I couldn’t figure out what we had done wrong now. Finally , Nikki told me : Apparently  Chris was beside himself  worrying as to  how he was going to  pay  for the wedding items that Sue and Angela had said  were his obligation. The rehearsal dinner, cars, flowers , liquor for the reception, gifts, photographer, honeymoon  etc. He had spent his savings on that ring and had just been offered a position with Wyse Advertising. Since  his family  had paid for all his college – 5 years at Cleveland Institute of Art he did not have any  student loans and he was trying to  get a loan for this wedding.

I thought to  myself some of those  of those expenses should have been covered by  the Lombardi  family and they  should have realized what a wedding list of over 200 would cost this young man.  but as I  said

I  was going to  keep  my  mouth  shut .

Chris came home from work and I asked him what exactly  was worrying him  and he told me. I told him his father and I  would pay  for all he needed to  pay  for and not to  worry. He balked at the idea  and I  said:

OK let us pay  for it , rather than you  taking out a loan  and you  can pay  it  back to  us over time.

It was decided and life pretty  much  went on, people being young and planning. Although   it wasn’t  all plain sailing as  the bridesmaids and groomsmen were picked and Nikki , Chris’s sister was left out of the plans.  Chris asked her why  she wasn’t going to  look at the bridesmaids dresses  and she informed him

” I  wasn’t asked , I  don’t believe I  am part of the wedding party” ( although  her husband was)

Chris immediately  got on the phone to  Angela

“Nikki  is one of the wedding party  right? ( the reply  of yes if she wants to  be) rather a backhanded invitation ….

Looking back these things faded into  the realm of  really  didn’t matter they  were inconsequential  in the grand scheme of life. Summer passed , autumn and Christmas and then in February  a trip  to  the Doctors for Chris, whom we thought  was not getting over bronchitus and swollen glands .

Our world was suddenly  turned  upside down inside out and  the silent screaming started : I wrote about the phone call   10  days  later:

All it takes is a phone call to  start you screaming

Hello!
It was a phone call that sent an icy cold that permeated through my very core and has not left me yet, my brain not wanting to “compute” what my ears were hearing, mouth dry, eyes welling with tears , the incredulousness, the denial , the confusion, the sheer terror that runs through your frame, your mind screaming, a few seconds that changes your life forever- nothing will ever be the same.

A phone call that leaves you weeping with fear, that terror, whose tentacles reach through your very being, tearing at your insides, ripping to shreds happiness and laughter. One of the people you love more than life itself, one that you gave birth to, cuddled, bathed, fed and protected is on Route 2 and has answered another (cell) phone to be told that test results (for possible bronchitis) have come back with a life threatening disease.

face of a cancer cell

Someone please wake me from this nightmare……..what am I supposed to do, what do I say, how can I do anything- someone , anyone why????????????????
The look on your husband’s face as he tries to understand the picture of what is happening with this conversation………

The dread disease that sends a mother into the world of deal making ,

No please – not my child , let it be me, take me ,God how can I bear this?
How can I be brave and make it better when my heart is exploding with pain, every part of me screaming from the gauntlet of emotions that are coursing through my very essence?

You are removed from the world around you –

Nothing matters, not the politics, not the crime, not the state of the roads, not the weddings, the weather, blogs, the pettiness, media , CRA’s, pontificators, principles , presidents, arguments ….. .nothing…. your world has shrunk, your planet consists of no more than 8 people and the all consuming fire of fear that your child is going to be in a world of hurt and you are helpless.


You want to curl up in a dark place – trying not to feel, to escape but the pain and confusion drags you back to the surface of desperation, despair and the reality that is now your world.

Eventually the body decides, through sheer exhaustion, to sleep but the nightmare doesn’t stop, you wake, a pillow wet with tears, a coldness that remains in your very core reminding you there is no escape- you truly do

“wake from sleep exhausted”(Susette Kelo)

Family , friends try to be encouraging and for that you are grateful but in a mother’s heart there is really nothing that they can do or say , you want to wake up from the nightmare, make it go away.

Make it stop

You look for anything that will give you hope -that there is a mistake but somehow inside you know the truth – it will not go away – it is going to have to be dealt with.

No matter how old your child becomes they will always be your child. You see not the young man or daughter – you see the chubby 2 year old with soft plump arms, the eyes that never change

only mummy can’t- no soft butterfly kisses or a cookie is going to fix this – there is no magic bandaid with happy faces.

Your life and that of your loved ones is contingent upon a surgeon’s knife and upon a lab in California – a stranger making a decision that will decide whether there is happiness , hope or pain to come in your life and that of your child. You are just another lab report , a number with an insurance billing code- a job of work.

This nightmare of speculation and waiting for the next body blow , like some sort of insidious torture technique, rips at you and the very fabric of your family . Life goes on around you but you are removed you go through the motions but you aren’t really there and you only care about the turmoil that one phone call caused.

The tests, the scans, the trips to the hospital, the waiting rooms with color co-ordinated furnishings, a laugh echoing through a hallway, people talking about the weather, a child crying as life goes on -biopsies, more waiting – hoping- praying pleading with a greater power

“please let them have this wrong ” “please let it be a mistake”

Watching every movement,

“are they eating , are they paler today , the cough – is it better, worse,?”

Trying to smile, to put on the brave face and make life normal until the results are in, cooking food no one really wants to eat , but the strength has to be kept up.

Laying awake watching the clock tick away the hours of life and darkness, waiting for morning……things always look better in the daylight,
but that isn’t true- the mornings come and there is no sanctuary in the watery, wintery sun. Days run into one another, hours, the calendar and the marked events deemed important enough to make note of are no longer significant in their passing.

The darkness envelopes and you think of other mothers, how do they cope with news that threatens their babies, their teenagers, the mothers whose sons and daughters return from war missing limbs and with horrific injuries, how do they cope even having them in harms way- day after day ?

How does a mother bear the news that her child is gone- no longer to hold them, to feel a heartbeat , to gaze with love upon their face, the hear their laugh , to see their eyes no more ….the gut wrenching sadness the rises up. unasked, unwanted, and overflows with the releasing of tears without warning.

Then the results and you know, even before the Doctor opens his mouth – you see his eyes- what they are…. you hear the bad news tempered with good news and hope and another journey begins…………and you know that somewhere another mother shares your pain and fear and is trying to make a deal

take me, not my child………………..

To  be continued

April 3, 2020 at 2:03 pm 3 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 2 comments

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 6 comments

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