Sunday, November 25, 2012

Inspirational Video For All To See

I recently found a You Tube video on a 6 year old girl, Elena Desserich, and learned of her nine month battle with cancer. This was truly an inspiring video from the Good Morning America show a few years ago and now a book called “Notes Left Behind.” She was able, in her short life, to spread a message of hope and healing. That message is what I’d like all of you to read, see on the video and understand.

After her diagnosis she created a To Do List with things on it like swimming with the dolphins and driving. As her disease progressed she could no longer speak so she started drawing. One of her drawings was hung in the Cincinnati Museum next to her favorite painter, Picasso. This was one of her lifelong dreams. Another was to dance with her father at her wedding. She dressed in a beautiful white dress and although it was not a real wedding, she did dance while her father held her in her arms. He says it was the best day of his life. For her sister, she wrote a kindergarten survival guide.

Her father kept an online journal for family members, never realizing that people from all over were reading it for inspiration to be better parents.

Elena had a secret though. She wrote hundreds of love notes to her family and hid them between pages of books, in cupboards, drawers and clothes to be discovered after she was gone. Discover it they did, each day finding a note, reminding them she was always looking down on them with love. They have no idea how many notes there were and still find them around.

Eventually, all the notes found were combined into a book called “Notes Left Behind,” so her little sister Grace would always remember her. The book is being sold to raise money to find a cure for cancer. Go to to read more about it and the foundation that was started.

As her mother said, “Elena was wise beyond her years. She always wanted to be a teacher, and as it turned out, the world became her classroom to teach valuable inspirational lessons of love to people all over the world.”

To see and hear this video, go to You, plug in GMA Notes Left Behind and click on it when it comes up.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thanksgiving Joy

Thanksgiving: my worst holiday. The last time I saw my daughter in a family setting back in 1993. But my mouth curls into a smile now, so many years later, as I remember her vibrant sense of humor and how we laughed and laughed at some funny comments and situations during those four days. A few examples…

She had come to town with her new husband to help us celebrate the holidays. They had just returned from their honeymoon in Greece and drove from California to Arizona to be with us. When she saw we only had a trundle bed set-up for them, she made a face and made sure the beds were pushed together. “Mother!” she admonished me. “We’re married now and want to sleep very close together.” I thought she was kidding. She was serious! I vowed to buy a larger bed for the next time.

The whole family came to Thanksgiving dinner, what little family we had: my mom and dad, now gone; my step-brother, his wife and two children; and a few friends. One of the friends who stopped by was my daughter’s good friend’s mother. She loved Marcy very much and appreciated her thoughtfulness. She relayed the story about an earthquake in Los Angeles, very close to where Marcy and her friend lived. After calling me that morning at 6:30 a.m. to tell me she was okay, I puzzled at why she had to tell me that. “What are you calling me so early for?” I asked. She told me there had been an earthquake and she didn’t want me to worry. She was safe under the dining room table! She then quickly told me she had to call her friend’s mom so she wouldn’t worry. The friend was on the East coast, not even in Los Angeles at the time of the earthquake. Her mom appreciated my daughter’s thoughtfulness that morning.

My daughter informed me that the day after Thanksgiving, she was going to have some college friends over that she hadn’t seen in years. I told her that was a good idea. “Mom,” she said, “how would you like to make your famous, delicious orange chicken?” Of course I knew she was trying to get me to cook for everyone. And like a good mother, I did. I loved seeing her old friends, that I also knew, get together, tell old college stories about classes, hated dorm roommates and fun times they had, laughing all the while. Their humor was infectious, and my side hurt for days from laughing so much.

When it was time for my daughter and her husband to leave, my husband and I watched her get into the car and start to back out of the driveway. She must have sensed something amiss because she got out of the car, went to the back of the car and ripped off some stickers of rival universities that my husband had put on her car bumper, before smiling, waving and driving off. It was a standard joke between the two of them and her intuition had been right. It was my daughter who had the last laugh as I looked at my husband’s unhappy face that he had not fooled her!

Light a candle this Thursday, Thanksgiving, for those children no longer with us. Recall how blessed we were to have them and how they brought such joy to our lives, each and every day.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Carrie Bears

To help someone who is grieving feel close to someone they have lost in an artistic way, Carrie Pike creates what she labels Carrie Bears. I met Carrie years ago at a Compassionate Friends national conference where she displayed her bears. I thought they were cute, clever and could mean something special to those who have lost a loved one, particularly a child.

Carrie started creating these bears in 1999 for bereaved parents, so parents can feel close to the child they lost. "Every family has a story and as hard as it is, I feel that many have found comfort in having Carrie Bears to hold onto," she said.

How it works is this: the bereaved parent sends a favorite article of clothing to Carrie and she turns it into a soft, huggable 20 inch stuffed bear.

Carrie has done bears out of shirts, blouses, prom dresses, uniforms, skirts, baby blankets, infant outfits, levis, vests, pants, pajamas and flannel sheets. She warns that knits tend to stretch but can make for a very soft bear. Silky and thin materials can be used but don’t work quite as well. Cotton and denim fabrics hold the shape of the bear really well.

Bears can also be made to match a baby nursery or a bedroom set. If a loved one is confined to a hospital bed or has moved far away, cuddling a bear can make home feel so much closer. Every bear is different and every bear can be personalized with pictures or writing, according to Carrie.

“It is up to you to decide what you want to have on the bear,” she said. “Personalize it any way you want.”

Each bear is $49.95 plus tax and shipping. To put a message or poem on the bear is an additional $5. A scanned picture onto material is an additional $8. For more information or to place an order, call Carrie at (801) 467-7395 or email at She can send you pictures of her bears.

The bears can be plain, or here are some examples of what can be said on the bear.

In Loving Memory of

Laura Ray Jones

Dec. 24, 1998 – Aug. 13, 2000

To My Beautiful daughter Melanie,

I will love you always.


Jan. 27, 1970 – Oct. 2, 1999

I have always been proud of you

For all your accomplishments

Your inner beauty, your laugh

Your friendliness, your smile

I remember it all and always will.



Eric William Macy

March 2, 1968 – May 4, 2009

Sunday, November 4, 2012

In Loving Memory...

Over the years I have done many things in my daughter’s memory as have others from planting a tree with a plaque in my former school, memorial bricks at theaters and cultural centers to building a drama center at a summer camp. Each time I do something, it makes me feel good and I know I will never stop trying to find ways to honor her.

My latest “memorial” idea came to me the other day over the internet. ASU’s alumni group helped restore the “Old Main” building on the ASU campus in Tempe, Arizona, and is selling brick pavers ($100) or memorial plaques ($250) on a legacy wall to celebrate or memorialize a loved one. Procceds benefit a lasting effort to preserve the building in the future.

I have bought engraved commemorative brick pavers before and been very pleased with the way they turned out, so decided to do this, since this is also the school from which both my daughter and I graduated. In addition, when she moved to California after graduating, she became president of the ASU alumni association in Los Angeles. When she died, ASU alum from L.A. sent me a beautiful letter and made a donation to the library at the school. It seemed fitting to do this in her memory.

Some history: The Old Main building was constructed before Arizona achieved statehood Feb. 4, 1898. The building stood three stories and dominated the camps. A trailblazer in technology, it was the first building in Tempe wired for electric lighting. When Teddy Roosevelt came to the valley for the dedication of the Roosevelt dam in 1911, Old Main was the natural location from which he addressed the community. In 1985, the year ASU celebrated its centennial, Old Main was added to the National Register of historic places. It was in the 1990’s that renovations to protect the building began discussions. After a $5.7 million campaign, the building was refurbished to the period of its construction and serves as a place on the main campus where alumni can always return.

If you are looking for something more to honor your child, look at the online site of the university you attended. Perhaps they, too, are doing something that you can also participate in that has a rich history and can be a lasting tribute to your loved one.