Beautiful tribute ideas to honor loved ones

On July 28, the local Wellington County (Ontario) chapter of MADD Canada will be releasing 1500 butterflies into the air in memory of the close to 1500 victims killed by impaired drivers in 2011. Taking place at a local park, a bench will also be dedicated in memory of those victims as well as the survivors of impaired driving crashes.

My heart tugged at the thought of such an amazing and beautiful tribute. I wish I could be there to see it in person.

In 2010, we held a one-year anniversary memorial for Mamma K where the family came together to honor her spirit and remember. We had a head stone erected and we buried some of her ashes there. We laid flowers at her grave. We all shared stories and memories about her.

And we all wrote her a little note that we attached to red (environmentally friendly) helium-filled balloons. Together, we released those balloons into the air to be carried to her in heaven. I remember how we all stood for a long time watching those balloons sail off into the sky. The tears rolling down our cheeks. The emotion and the love that filled the air. It was one of the most moving and beautiful tributes I’ve ever been a part of.

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As hubby and I become more and more involved with our local Chapter of MADD Canada, we are gathering ideas for different kinds of memorials and tributes to hold for victims and survivors. What kinds of tributes have you seen or been a part of that have wowed you?

On August 1, 2009, my beautiful mother-in-law’s life was cut tragically short by an impaired driver and my stepson’s life changed forever. In honor of Donna and Jordan Kennie, please don’t drink and drive. Impaired driving is 100% preventable. Think about it.

Support MADD Canada and follow them on Facebook, Twitter (@maddcanada), YouTube, and on the Web. And answer their Call to Action (the post is dated 2010 but the Call to Action is ongoing)!

More blog deliciousness here:

Lizzie Bennet with a modern day vlog twist

It’s Tuesday and normally I have a post with some hysterical (if I do say so myself), sarcastic review of some out-of-this-world product. Today I decided to shake things up. Ok, so it was a long weekend in Canada and hubby and I played all weekend and I didn’t get the darn blog post written….yes…busted! Regardless, since Kait Nolan shared the Lizzie Bennet Diaries with her blog readers a few months ago, I’ve been dying to pass it along.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries are a modern-day retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice all done via vlogs. Can you say uberlicious?!?!! They are hilarious, zany, and an absolute riot! Here’s just a little sample of the first few if you haven’t yet seen them yet:

Episode 1

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Episode 2

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Episode 3

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Stellar…right?!?!

If you enjoyed a few chuckles watching these samples, be sure to get up to speed by visiting the Lizzie Bennet Diaries YouTube channel and subscribing. I think we are up to episode 25 now.

They are the highlight of my week!

You can also stay up to date with Lizzie and her friends via her blog, tumblr, and Facebook page.

Have you seen the Lizzie Bennet diaries yet? Thoughts? Any modern-day Pride and Prejudice real-life stories to share? Any hilarious vlogs you’ve come across? Come on…share the wealth…

It’s Twisted Tuesday and that means it’s time to enjoy a smile, giggle or laugh…here’s hoping I’ve provided it in spades…enjoy!

More blog deliciousness here:

How do you sum up the loss of a loved one?

This is the roadside memorial cross that hubby built and installed on the one-year anniversary of the death of his Mom.

This coming week, our impaired driving story takes yet again another turn.

Trent, the man convicted of impaired driving causing the death of hubby’s Mom (Mamma K), is up for parole on July 4, 2012 at 9 am.

Hubby, myself, the Dude and many other family members will be driving to the Westmorland Institution, the minimum-security, campus-style complex that has been Trent’s home since his sentencing on April 5, 2011 to watch Trent face the music and ask for his freedom. If granted (which it’s quite likely it will be) Trent will have only served 456 days in jail for getting drunk and stoned and stealing a woman’s life. How’s that for fair? It’s simply not.

The parole board will receive copies of all the victim impact statements that were issued to the court for consideration at Trent’s original sentencing. You can read mine, hubby’s and the Dude’s here.

Hubby decided to write a new victim impact statement which he will read aloud to the parole board on July 4. When I read it, I cried. He pours out his heart, soul, and you can actually feel the impact and depth of his loss. He…the incredible man that he is…gave me permission to share it with you today.

About Donna Kennie, My Mother, My Friend, My Memory

Before Trent Mallet’s choice to consume alcohol and smoke marijuana and drive a ¾ ton missile toward East Saint John and navigate it across the yellow line, thereby tearing my mother and her car literally in two and leaving my son injured and emotionally scarred for life…my mother was many thing to many people.

I could tell you the usual attributes of someone who was taken from this world too soon by another’s hand:

  • She was a daughter, mother, grandmother, colleague and friend.
  • She was a very kind-hearted woman.
  • She was full of life.
  • She was always smiling and the first person to enjoy life with a good laugh.
  • She was always the first person to extend a helping hand to those that needed it.
  • She was passionate for adventure, animals, camping, travel, and gardening and just life in general.

She was more than a handful of attributes and actions. She was the love and support system for so many people, a selfless woman who always gave more of herself than she could often afford to give financially or physically. She was my Mom!

She was!!

Not words anyone wants to use to describe their mother but they are the words I’ve been left with since Aug 1st, 2009.

On that date, she was returning to a family reunion/camping trip at her daughter’s property in St. Martins where she drove almost 100km to Quispamsis get supplies such as tent pegs, mini sips, and campfire snacks for her six grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.

Then with Trent Mallet’s act of impaired driving and an explosion of plastic, metal and flesh, my 16-year-old son got to watch his grandmother, with all of her devastating injuries, take her last breath and die right in front of him.

For all that she was – as a result of the actions/decisions/choices of Trent Mallet – she is now just a set of pictures that I’ve memorized from staring at them so frequently, an old email that I’ve read a thousand times to hear the tone of her voice in my head, a dial-tone in my ear from a phone I’ve picked up countless time as I thought to myself “I should give Mom a call…”.

Her presence in our lives now consists of a metal container of ashes that sits in my office next to a picture that we take to special events/places that she would have liked. A grave plot to visit on Mother’s Day, Christmas, and her birthday! She lives on in endless stories around the dinner tables, family functions and late night campfires and a million “she would have’s” – but the truth of it all is she’s gone – nothing but a memory now

Emotional impact since Trent’s sentencing:

  • First I would like to point out that Trent Mallet plead not guilty to impaired driving causing death – we now know this plea was ruled false by the court. It took 20 months, over 12 court dates to determine that Trent was guilty – all the while the family was forced to relive the loss, the pain, the anger, and the frustration at each court date – all of which Trent chose to prolong with his not guilty plea. A remorseful individual would have wanted to pay his debt and to not cause the victim’s family more pain and suffering, especially knowing that children were involved. I’d ask this be taken into consideration for his FIRST parole board hearing.
  • It is going on 3 years and not having my mother in my life has changed me as a person. I suffer bouts of depression. I suffer problems sleeping. I’ve gained 50lbs since my mother’s death. My overall level of happiness has been depleted. It has affected my relationships with my son, my wife, other family members and friends. I used to be more happy and carefree and it has been replaced with an underlying deep pain, sadness and seriousness. I now have crankiness, a shortness, and/or very low tolerance with people who I never had before. I feel like Trent not only killed my mother but killed a piece of me and everyone in our family – a piece that cannot be repaired or replaced.
  • Family functions that were based around my mother no longer take place. She was the glue in this family that brought everyone together. She still brings the family together but now she brings us together at MADD Canada fundraisers and Candlelight Vigils.
  • Mother’s Days are the worst day of the year now. Cards, commercials, store flyers and then the hardest part of all – trying to celebrate with my wife and her Mother – all the while every moment tearing at my insides as I’m reminded what I cannot experience with my own Mother.
  • I built and installed my own mother’s roadside memorial – need I say more.
  • I cannot concentrate at work, my head gets clouded with emotions about my mother, my son, Trent, the crash, how she died, how she felt, etc. To the point where it has cost me poor performance evaluations/promotions.
  • I’ve watched the pain and suffering of my son, nieces and nephews endure with the absence of their grandmother in their lives. Helping small kids work through their issues of grief, anger and loss has been torture and we’ve all felt helpless.
  • It’s hard to describe the ripple effect Trent Mallet’s decision to drive impaired has had. He didn’t just kill my mother and injure my son – he has changed the lives of hundreds of people he can’t even imagine.
  • I am currently serving a life sentence for a crime I did not commit; a crime that claimed my mother and injured my son physically but more importantly – emotionally forever!

Conclusion:

On Aug 1, 2009, the world could have lived with one less person but it shouldn’t have been my mother!

I waited 1069 days for Trent to take responsibility; to own what he did; to look the family in the eye and say “I did this to your family, it wasn’t just 3 beers and the world’s smallest joint. I was drunk, impaired and I killed your mother and narrowly missed killing your son”. If he cannot say this and take responsibility then he’s not ready for society and society is not ready for Trent Mallet.

It’s time for action to be taken to put a stop to impaired driving. It’s time for society to stand up and demand that our roads be as safe as possible. It’s time to set an example and send a message that “people are not going to be mowed down on our roads!”

My Mother’s last words were “what’s this guy…??”  Today I hope the answer to this question isn’t “Free to go!!

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Hubby and I share this with you not so you will feel sorry for hubby (or any of us for that matter). We share it as a message of hope, awareness and prevention. We share so that you can put a face and real consequences to impaired driving. We share it so that if anyone reading this blog has ever driven impaired or gotten in a vehicle with someone who was impaired, that you will think twice next time and realize that it’s simply NOT worth the risk.

It’s not worth being the person that tears a family apart just to save a couple bucks on a cab.

What would you say to someone asking for parole after killing your mother/daughter/father/brother? How would you convince a parole board to deny parole? Or do you believe parole is an important part of the criminal justice system to bridge between incarceration and the return to the community? I’d love to hear your thoughts?

On August 1, 2009, my beautiful mother-in-law’s life was cut tragically short by an impaired driver and my stepson’s life changed forever. In honor of Donna and Jordan Kennie, please don’t drink and drive. Impaired driving is 100% preventable. Think about it.

Support MADD Canada and follow them on Facebook, Twitter (@maddcanada), YouTube, and on the Web.

More blog deliciousness here:

Video that will give you pause

This video brought tears rushing to my eyes.

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It hit so close to home for me. At the sentencing for Mamma K’s case, one of her very young grandchildren read his victim impact statement about how he and his Mom choose a star in the sky and named it for his Nanny….and how he looks at that star every night and talks to his Nanny. Every single person in the courtroom, including the judge, cried.

I think it’s important to remember that the loss of a loved one by an impaired driver has a ripple effect. For us, it wasn’t just Mamma K’s children and siblings that feel her loss deeply but also her young grandchildren whom her loss was for the most part their first experience with the loss of a loved one.

I hope this video speaks to you and if you or anyone you know heads out to drive impaired (even after just a couple of beers when you think you are fine), that this video will come back to you and cause you to take pause. Or to speak out to someone. And let these sobering words fill your mind and heart “it’s simply not worth the risk…

Have you had young children deal with the loss of a loved one? How did you/they cope? What tips and tricks did you find helped them deal with their grief? I’d love to hear…

On August 1, 2009, my beautiful mother-in-law’s life was cut tragically short by an impaired driver and my stepson’s life changed forever. In honor of Donna and Jordan Kennie, please don’t drink and drive. Impaired driving is 100% preventable. Think about it.

Support MADD Canada and follow them on Facebook, Twitter (@maddcanada), YouTube, and on the Web.

More blog deliciousness here:

  • I got an absolute TON of good, useful information from Jane Friedman’s guest post at Sarah Bartlett’s blog about how to use facebook effectively as an author. Made me completely rethink how I’ll use Facebook down the road!
  • Have you seen other people’s Contact Me form and wondered how they did that. Well if you have a WordPress.com blog, WordPress Woodie (AKA Carrie Spencer) can hook you up!
  • Loved August McLaughlin’s post this week on how to create Pinterest-friendly blogs – GREAT tips you won’t want to miss.

Multipurpose memorial stones

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mom’s out there!

On Saturday, hubby and I went out shopping to pick up a few Mother’s Day items. We got my Mom a beautiful pot with spring flowers already blooming. While we were searching for a tombstone spray of flowers to put at Mamma’s K’s grave, we happened upon a beautiful man-made rock with a “memorial” phrase engraved.

When we both read it, tears sprung to our eyes. Had anything else said it so perfectly? Nope. It was so good; I got one for my Dad’s grave site as well. Hubby and I were very proud of our sentimental find.

So yesterday morning, we took my Mom for a brunch at one of our long-time favorite Mother’s Day buffets. There was every breakfast item one could imagine and then some. Plus they featured a huge lunch buffet which consisted of every kind of seafood, meat and chowder that was to die for. The dessert table was a dream come true. It was delicious. It was wonderful to spend the morning relaxing, chatting and just hanging out. Poor Mom was sick with a bad cold so we didn’t keep her out for long.

After dropping my Mom off at home, we headed off to honor Mamma K. Hubby planned a fabulous afternoon. We drove to Sussex (about an hour or so away) and hiked up a stunning mountain trail to a gorgeous bluff look-out. The sunsets are spectacular. It just so happened that when we got there, we were alone, which was lovely. We enjoyed the vista and spread some of Mamma K ashes under a bush where she’ll be out of the elements but will have an amazing view of the valley and the sunsets.

Hubby spreading some of Mamma K’s ashes

Mamma K’s View

Then we set off to visit her grave in St. Martin’s to lay the engraved rock.

There we were in the truck heading on our way. I reached in the back to get the rock to take the sales sticker off the bottom. I flipped it over and started to peel the ticket when something caught my eye. Right next to the price, it said “Memorial Stone Pet”.

Hmmmm….

Me: Hubby….ummmm…did you see the price sticker on the bottom?

Hubby: No, why?

Me: Well….it says here it’s a ‘Memorial Stone Pet’

Hubby: Really?

Me: Yip. The little gold paw prints up the side sort of make sense now.

*Both giggling at this point*

Hubby: Well…now that you mention it…that does sort of make better sense. Leave it to you and I to get my mother an engraved memorial stone for pets.

Me: Regardless what it was meant for, the engraved phrase is beautiful and sums up how we feel…so I say we stick with the plan.

Hubby: You know, if nothing else, Mamma K would get a kick out of it!

We chuckled the rest of the drive and we did leave the stone at her gravesite because regardless of what the intent was, the sentiment remained the same.

I am sure Dad will love his too!

How did you spend Mother’s Day? How do you honor your Mom (here or gone before you)? What gravesite memorials have you seen that caught your eye for one reason or another?

More blog deliciousness here:

MADD Canada annual conference helps people heal

The last weekend in April, hubby’s two sisters traveled to Oakville, Ontario to attend MADD Canada’s 19th annual National Conference for Victims of Impaired Driving. Over 2 days, they gathered with 200 other people who have suffered loss or injury due to impaired driving, a bond no one ever wants to share and yet tens of thousands of Canadian do.

The participants attended sessions on a wide range of topics from living with injuries, parenting after the loss of a child, understanding the criminal justice system etc. There was also a special stream for younger victims, aged 25 and under.

One of the most amazing things was that the Conference centered around a Candlelight Vigil of Hope and Remembrance on the Saturday night. In a powerful ceremony, participants paid tribute to the loved ones they had lost or acknowledged the injuries caused by impaired driving with a photo, short reading and the lighting of a single candle for each victim.

Last year, hubby and the Dude attended the same conference and both said it was one of the most enlightening and supportive events they had ever attended.

Both years, the Saint John chapter of MADD Canada sponsored the Kennie family attending the conference so there was no cost to them to take part.

Sometimes people ask me what MADD Canada does for the victims other than advocate for change and create awareness. I can tell you that this conference has played a huge role in helping my family members heal from this devastating tragedy; it is an incredible place of help and support.

MADD Canada has volunteer-driven groups just like the Saint John chapter in more than 100 communities across the country, and they offer: grief and bereavement support; support through the criminal justice system (a representative of the MADD Canada Saint John chapter attended each and every court session with us); assistance with victim impact statements (they helped us write ours and showed us examples of good ones); help with understanding victims’ rights; a lending library; brochures, community referrals; and trained victim service volunteers.

I could never thank MADD Canada enough for all that they continue to do to support victims as well as create awareness and advocate for change.

How have non-profit organizations supported you in your time of need?

Two years ago, my beautiful mother-in-law’s life was cut tragically short by an impaired driver and my stepson’s life changed forever. In honor of Donna and Jordan Kennie, please don’t drink and drive. Impaired driving is 100% preventable. Think about it.

Support MADD Canada and follow them on Facebook, Twitter (@maddcanada), YouTube, and on the Web.

More blog deliciousness here:

Please don’t drink and drive

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Two years ago, my beautiful mother-in-law’s life was cut tragically short by an impaired driver and my stepson’s life changed forever. In honor of Donna and Jordan Kennie, please don’t drink and drive. Impaired driving is 100% preventable. Think about it.

Support MADD Canada and follow them on Facebook, Twitter (@maddcanada), YouTube, and on the Web.


P.S. Remember, hubby and I are on vacation until April 23, 2012 but have fun and talk amongst yourselves!

More blog deliciousness here:

Thursday’s blog love fest…

It’s Thursday and that means it’s time to share the blog luv.

Social Media Out Loud:

  • You’ve seen it around WordPress: Press This. I know…what the heck is it? Well our furry friend, Woodie (on behalf of Carrie Spencer) brings us the deets. Thanks Woodie…phew!

Write Out Loud:

Life Out Loud:

  • Last week I wrote about living our passion. This week I read an amazing post by Liza Kane on the art of letting go, which was super timely for me. It’s about letting go of the sometimes automatic overachiever in each of us so we keep the real priorities in sight.
  • So…I’m always worried after cleaning my bathtub how much residue is left behind that I end up soaking in!?!?!? Ever thought of cleaning your bathroom with a grapefruit and some salt??! I know…me either! Well, Myndi Shafter tested this little ditty out and says it works like a charm!! I can’t wait to give it a go!
  • This time of year, a lot of people lean towards the idea of giving puppies as pets. And who wouldn’t want to pass along that ADORABLE little face?! But is it the best idea?!?! Our resident pet expert, Amy Shojai, gives us some amazing tips and resources on puppy gift giving you must check out IF this is something you are considering.
  • Fears. They can wreak havoc in your life sometimes totally unbeknownst to you! Barbara McDowell wrote a fantastic post with some uberlicious resources on how to run toward your fears!
  • Have you heard of the Layaway Angels? I cried when I read this post by Diana Murdock and then the subsequent news piece. Wow. I had no idea and how cool is that?!
  • Christmas. A wonderful time of year for most people. But for some, it’s an extremely painful time of year dealing with grief and loss (my family still struggles with the pain of our third Christmas without Mamma K). Debra Kristi knows about that pain too well herself and she offers some most amazing suggestions on how to deal with grief through the holiday season. Thanks Debra – loved the candle burning idea!
  • Did you visit August McLaughlin’s blog and check out her ORIGINAL Holiday Tune (her gift to each of you). Ahhhmazing and beautiful!!! Thank you August!

Laugh Out Loud:

  • I nearly died reading Leanne Shirtliffe’s naughty letter to santa…OMG!
  • Piper Bayard and Holmes did another hilarious rendition of holiday survival advice that had me snorting coffee!
  • Are you at a loss at what to get that hard-to-by-for person on your list? Well then I have a real treat for you. Ellie Ann Soderstrom did a holiday gift buying guide for JUST that person…it’ll be just perfect! I nearly peed myself!
  • I don’t have children but I still got a huge kick out of Paige Kellerman’s post on how to have a cup of coffee after children. Thought all you parents out there might enjoy it!

I hope you enjoyed this week’s line-up of fantabulous blog posts. Stay tuned for next week’s. I promise to go and spend oodles of time (time away from friends and family I’ll have you know…) to bring you this do-or-die information…My god…you guys must really love me!!

Got any ditties of your own to share? Let me know and maybe they’ll be featured as part of next week’s line-up…

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