A for Independent

 It seems like not that long ago, we were staring down at our granddaughter’s face.  We were mesmerized by her delicate features, from her tiny toes, to her little ears all newborns have.  I could not help notice her high cheekbones though, so many in our family have those.

Like all Grandmas I was investigating closely to see if I can distinguish who she looked
more like, my daughter-in-law or my son. I determined quickly, neither!   Actually I saw signs of both and realized, like most of us do, in time it will become more evident.  And honestly, who cares as long as our grand-babies are healthy.

As little Ava grew, she became a carbon copy of her mommy. Personality wise,  I am told she also was a ditto of her mom.  But I, to this day, in her fantastic sense of humor, definitely hear remnants of the past when I see her act goofy and bring laughter to those around her.  She has the ability to make everyone happy just like her daddy. Mike, my son, has always enjoyed making others smile. I see that clearly in his daughter.  I like to think of that as the humor gene and Ava clearly has that characteristic from her dad.  Hopefully that comes from me. 

Ever since my granddaughter was born, pink has predominant in her wardrobe. First it was the color of choice by her mother. Then, when she was old enough to have a say, it was her preferred color also.    Perhaps we were destined to be close.   Ava was born while I was fighting breast cancer. This disease, as everyone knows, is specifically tied to the color pink.  Long before I ever wore pink, a color I chose to never wear or liked, became central in my life.  And one of the dearest people in my life wore pink consistently and still wears it. And yes, she broke down my walls and changed my mind about the color, her and the disease of breast cancer.  Pink can be beautiful and cancer takes bravery to fight. Therefore pink stands for being brave and being beautiful like Ava.    My bond with Ava is like my bond with pink, it will always stand for something unbreakable, a commitment to putting life ahead of all else.   

Ava started kindergarten this year.  Her independence has begun.  She is coming into her own now.  Breaking away from being a baby, a toddler, and now she is truly growing into a little girl.  She now yearns and runs instead to hang out with her little girlfriends from school and dance on a public outing when they are near.

I am 6 years old and growing strong!

Nowhere was that change more apparent than recently at her birthday party.  Turning six, gone is the little girl who shied away from others she did not know well.   She would flat out refuse to speak, not answer questions.  She is now becoming a social butterfly. And Ava is like a magnet that draws others to her also.  

My somewhat introverted granddaughter who seemed, at times, to only be outspoken and brave around us, family, as now broken out of her shell.  I can remember the days her mom and dad would lightly encourage her to stand up for herself, speak up and hold her own with other children.  Be not afraid, be brave and answer simple questions she is asked that she knows the answers too, e.g. your name.   Making friends is easy and a good thing to do.  Now she does it without hesitation.

I reviewed all the pictures taken from her birthday party to make the attached video to remember her sixth birthday.   Seeing the pictures, I couldn't help but notice there is none with Grandpa and me in it with my granddaughter. Suddenly, by age six, we are passe to Ava.  Wow, life does come at you fast.  Those first few years were very important ones.  I am so grateful we made the most of them. 

Now my granddaughter is truly beginning to come into her own.  She will begin the journey and will remain a brave inspiring little girl climbing more mountains until she reaches the peak. 

                                          Click here to play Ava's Celebration Video


Change the Future, One Family in the Phillipines

The amount of lives affected by the typhoon that hit the Central Philippines on Nov. 8th is staggering, how could you possibly come up with a number.  They still can't quantify the death toll as they are discovering bodies, missing persons and people are walking around aimlessly unaccounted for, unreachable by conventional methods. 

It is hard to fathom the rebuilding process when we have so much and they have so little, not even a brick to start a foundation of a home. There are many outlets to help.  All are good provided you make sure they are legitimate and going to the rightful source, the people, aiding those that need it. 

This post is about one family in particular hard hit by Yolanda, the catastrophic typhoon. So let me back up a minute.  I met Jessa Santos this summer in Northern Kentucky, where she lives. She is from a large family and came over to the United States to try to provide a better life for herself and her young daughter Dawn.  All of her siblings still live there and have been directly impacted by this tragedy. Her step-father is trying to do all he can to bring awareness to the family from others that might offer some assistance.  Everyone that knows the family or hears of their plight is being asked to spread the word as he has created a funding account just for Elsie, his children and his grandchildren to receive aid via this special account.  The relief going into the country is limited and quite slow. 

His information is below.  If interested in helping, please give knowing that no gift is too small. Jessa's step-father is will keep anyone posted on how their kindness and generosity is helping his children in this time of dire need if they are interested, so please let him know when you mail in your gift.  

Pass this information on as well.  This is a good loving family.  They are proud people and are in desperate need of help. 

Thank you for taking time to reflect on their plight.  


Please Help!
Family portrait - May 2010
To those of you who are moved to make a donation to help the victims of typhoon Yolanda in the
Philippines, I ask you to please help Elsie’s and my five children and five grandchildren there in
Tacloban who are victims of this terrible catastrophe. We now know that, by the grace of God, they all
survived (two of them miraculously, having been in Elsie’s house when the storm and surge struck).
Very sadly, all that each of them has now is their life, and the clothes they were wearing while enduring
this monster storm. They have lost everything else. 

Elsie's house (before typhoon Yolanda hit)


Elsie’s house, where three of her children lived, has
been totally destroyed, flattened to the ground by the ferocious wind and the 16 ft. storm surge. The same is true for the home of Elsie’s elder son, his wife and four children. All gone now. Wherever all of
them will go and whatever they will do, they will have to start their lives anew, for there is not one thing left of their lives before November 7th.

If you are so inclined, we will be forever grateful, as I am sure
will they, for a contribution of any amount to the fund we have set up for their welfare (“Elsie’s
Children Fund”). Should you do so, you will then know exactly whom your money will be helping to
recover from this disaster and that every penny will be benefiting them directly. May God bless you.

Mail donation to: Elsie’s Children Fund, c/o W. C. Roth, 134 Main Ave., Highland Heights, KY 41076
Please write email address on check.

            Yvette                                                     Blanche                                                    Ella           

             Bill                                                         Kim                                                    Jerome                     

       Joy Joy                                              Jessa Mae                                                      Jessel       

General information on family members above:      

   Yvette, Elsie's daughter ("Net Net")
         Yvette's dog "Poochie" somehow survived the typhoon but now won't leave the wreckage that was Elsie's house, even though she has no food.

Blanche ("Che Che"), Elsie's daughter

Blanche's daughter, Ellacriss (named after Elsie's given name, "Criselda")

Bill, Elsie's son (Elsie calls him "Billingoi")

Kimberly ("Kim Kim"), Elsie's youngest daughter

Jerome ("Jing", "Rome"), Elsie's eldest child

Joy Joy, Jerome's eldest daughter (her debut was to be on her 18th birthday, this November 28th)

Jessa Mae, Jerome's daughter

Jessel, Jerome's daughter

Clarence, Jerome's son



Pet Me Friends

These past few weeks, it has been difficult to get my head around writing a blog.  I keep waiting for that divine intervention of an idea, that perfect topic to come up to expand on, one that touches my heart and soul. The only thought to write about that keeps reoccurring is one that sort of leaves me emotionally feeling paralyzed.  That immobilization scares me. It also makes it indeed a challenge to convey my thoughts in writing. 

I have reflecting, these past few weeks, on the plight of several close friends paths in life.  I have been haunted by a few unfortunate turn of events. A few friends have had things in life happen where it is as if they took an unexpected drop off of a cliff and managed to hang on a thin ledge.  They cling there, bewildered, yet full of faith.  All the while, they are questioning, where were the friends that said they would forewarn them before they got that close to the edge?  And I wonder to myself also, where were they?  Does true honesty in most friendships not exist?  Are people unwilling to share feedback if it is unfavorable?    Why do others not extend more help or ideas to do what they can to help friends succeed?  Do friends not feel, in any way, vested in their friends success?  I think we all know the answer to this. Safely guard and nurture the friends that do!!!

During this same time frame, a few other friends have had wonderful news occurring in their life.   They indeed have been blessed and are celebrating their good fortune, as they should.   I am overjoyed for them, yet saddened that life could not have met somewhere in the middle so that both friends could have had a moment of satisfaction. But life doesn't work that way. It is God’s plan, not ours.  And we all must face our dark moments to get to and appreciate the light. 

As I have silently and pensively reflected on this paradox at home, my mood has been somber.  My dog Charley can sense this easily. He feels my pain, always has.  And he feels certain the best way to help me overcome my sadness and confusion is to focus my attention on him.  That can simply be best done by petting him.  To accomplish this feat, he bothers me relentlessly by doing whatever must be done to get me to pet him. This must be quite hard on him because it entails doing actions he has long since given up, head butting me on the legs, trying to jump on my lap when I am sitting, barking at me, laying his head on my lap, etc.   He is particularly fond of making a U turn so that his rear-end is facing me so I can scratch his backside as if to say “Yes, life can be pretty smelly but you still have me.” 

 I know that things will turn around for my friends that are struggling right now and that life will make a U turn for them in the days ahead.   And those that are rejoicing, they had their moments of despair and have been justly rewarded for their struggles.   My friendship will always be steadfast for all of my dear friends.   And the friends that should matter to all of them, no matter where they reside in the journey of life, will be devout.  As one friend said recently, “It is when things aren't going well; you look around and realize who your true friends are.”  So true.

We are not in this world alone for a reason, it is definitely by design.  We need to help each other, or as Charley implies, pet each other.  So maybe my darn dog is reinforcing something critically important to me.  I am not so helpless after all in any of friends’ plights of life’s letdowns.  I am doing something.  Just being a reinforcement as a friend, an unconditional supporter, can make a huge difference.  You don’t need to put your rear in someone’s face to create a positive change, like Charley, but you can certainly nudge them and let them know you are there. 

I apologize but I must sign off now. Someone is weaving in and out of my legs, at the moment, all 105 lbs. of him.   He is letting his presence be known, much like that friend that knows you and is assured that you will always take their call when they are in need.  Well, this friend, though aggravating at times, and most assuredly getting dog hair on my pants, is taking precedence over anything at the moment.  And that, as I hope my blog has clearly stated, is what good friendships are about.  Figure out who yours are and give them prominence in your life, support them in all ways!  Charley is one of mine.............