Congratulations to the winner of the free 8 x 10 pet portrait – Brittany Owens! Thank you to all who entered!It’s been nearly 3 years since my husband passed away, yet every year on his birthday I try to do something special with our grandson to ‘celebrate’ Poppy. Making cards and tying them to balloons to send to heaven has been our thing.
I hope as Santino gets older (and wiser), he’ll still continue with this tradition.
For the last couple of months, he’s been staying with me overnight every other weekend. It was so hard after Marlon passed for many reasons, one of which being Tino couldn’t come stay with me because of Mom’s compromised immune system from her cancer. So I’d drive down to Sacramento (30-40 minutes away), take him to Walmart for a toy then to eat somewhere. Usually McDonald’s.
That’s what we’ve done for 2-1/2 years. Not great, but making the best of a tough situation.
When Mom passed in October, I looked forward to Santino coming to stay with me . . . finally. On his first visit he spent two nights. That’s when I realized I wasn’t quite as strong as I thought I was.
Phew. Seven year olds can wear you out. Fast.
So, for now, we’re keeping it to one night, every other weekend. It’s manageable for me and it also keeps it special. Marlon’s birthday fell on Sunday this year and it coincided with Santino’s visit.
I pulled out some craft supplies to make our birthday ‘cards’ but was a little unsure if Tino would want to do them after the Christmas ornament ‘issue’. I try to follow his lead when it comes to remembering Poppy. Grief is a personal thing and everyone is different. So I hope for the best and now prepare myself in case he doesn’t want to do anything, and let that be okay.
Another thing I wanted to do was draw the marlin with two hearts graphic for his wall.
Santino has been having me draw dinosaurs for him to color each visit and this graphic is very special to both us, and others.
When Marlon died in 2012 it was the Monday before our nephew’s wedding, which made things . . . well, awkward. Santino was the ringbearer and it was a big wedding in the Bay Area so Marlon’s services were put on hold until after the wedding. At the rehearsal dinner, my brother-in-law and niece came up to me with a surprise –
They had gone out and got matching tattoos of a marlin with two hearts. I’m not a tat person myself but I loved the image and after the wedding I contacted my friend, Brittany, to see if she could turn it into a graphic I could use for Marlon’s Homegoing program.
She did a beautiful job, emailed the graphic to me and I put them on the program. At the time Santino was four, way too young – in my opinion – to go to a funeral. So he didn’t see the graphic, only the tattoos.
A few weeks after Marlon’s passing I turned a cheap mirror into a chalkboard, painted the graphic on it and decoupaged my favorite photos of the two of them for Santino. He loved it but wondered why there were only two hearts.
He wanted a third one on there for Gramma. *sniff*
That was nearly 3 years ago and Tino was only 4. But last Fall when Mom was dying and I didn’t see him for two months, he sent me a card –
I personally love that he labeled each one and drew arrows but I’m a tad bit biased, I know.
Anyway, last weekend I asked him if he’d like me to draw the marlin with hearts. Yes, he said. Would you like me to paint it or do you want to color it yourself? I’ll color it. Do you want two hearts or three?
Of course mine is handdrawn with a few bumps and bobbles, but he didn’t care. I’ll find someone to turn it into a vector graphic (don’t ask me what that is, I just know vectors look all clean and cool) and then I’ll be able to use the marlin with three hearts for future projects.
It wasn’t an easy weekend. Birthdays and anniversaries will always be hard, I’m thinking. But I was glad to be with Santino and was so happy that he still wanted to do the cards and balloons.
Santino only had one concern . . . since we stuck the cards inside the balloons, instead of tying them on, did I remember to write a note on the balloon to tell Poppy to pop the balloon?
Don’t worry, baby, I’ll tell Poppy. I still talk to him every day.
How do you celebrate your lost ones? Do you have a tradition or something special you do? I’d love some ideas.