20 Years Later

To everyone out there worried about letting go, how or if they will be remembered, whether a new spouse or stepparent will “replace” you… this is 20 years later: from a spouse and a child who was 20 months old when she lost her daddy:

Attached are some pictures of the deathiversary tradition we did with the balloons. I am trying to change the tradition. When I did it I wasn’t aware of the environmental issues. But my kids have been so attached to the tradition that they continue to do it and I don’t have the heart to stop them. His father raised the issue this year and I said this might be a good year to make it the last year we do balloons and think about a different tradition that is more environmentally friendly.

Regardless, I want you to know, and feel free to share, that even 20 years later… you are never forgotten if you are in someone’s heart, like you are in so many, even beyond your immediate family. He has been more remembered this year than any other year I think. Other than the first maybe.

We had a table set up for him with his picture with Ashley at her wedding.

The frame/photo gift with a butterfly was from me. The flower vase was from her grandmother on her mom’s side. It was beautiful. ❤️

The girls have necklaces with some of his ashes that they were at special events he should’ve been present for.

I was grateful there was an empty seat where my sister didn’t show up for my daughters graduation, and while I was disappointed that my sister disappointed her, I was able to place flowers in that chair and it represented his absence.

When I die, I want part of my ashes buried with the remainder of his that I have in a safe in a small medicine bottle in case anyone loses their own ashes or necklace, so it’s not forever lost and they can get another one.

I’m certain he will be part of their every special day, all the way to their own funerals.

Please know you are never, ever forgotten, even if a stepmom comes in one day to give them a small portion of additional love (because it can’t ever replace you… it can only add).

My kiddo enjoying the rays I can’t with my kiddo! So grateful she has a good stepmom and I get to watch them grow closer! ❤️

I even recently shared with someone who is married to a man who lost his wife, and she told me about how she gave the kids a gift recently that honored their late spouse and mom.

I teared up over that. And I thanked her. And I told her she probably has no idea what that means to them. Because I know what it means to me when Kennedy’s stepmother thinks of me. That means she will keep me even more alive than I would be even if she didn’t acknowledge me at all.

I picked Kennedy up yesterday. She came with a picture her stepmom’s mother sent for me.

Anyway, I wanted you to know a lot of this stuff. Having been on both ends as the surviving parent and now the parent unlikely to survive, I know this issue from both sides. So I thought I would share this side with you, on the other side. Knowing how much Josh has a life in Madison’s life makes me feel more secure that I will not be forgotten when I’m gone. ❤️🙏🏽❤️


The Valentine’s Day gift.

When we first started dating, Josh told me he was not a card and flowers kind of guy. I laughed and said that was fine, because I would just take his wallet and buy myself something.

It turned out he kind of became a card and flowers kind of guy. Not every time, but more often than not!

However, we had quite a hilarious Valentine’s Day once. Retroactively speaking, of course. I decided to get him a little tray I found that would go on the side of the couch and sit in front of him, so he didn’t have to balance a tray on his knees.

It wasn’t great quality. But I liked the idea of it and thought he would too. I was wrong. Not only did he not like it, but if you want to get an idea what his personality was like, and therefore, understand why his kids have the personalities they have, this was his reaction:

“What the fuck is that supposed to be!?”

I can’t remember what else he said, because I was busy taking the gift, the chocolates, and the balloon and trying to stuff the helium filled balloon into the trashcan so that it would stay.

No this was not one of the only two times he apologized to me in his life. Or probably to anyone. Those are stories for another day. But this was definitely a prize-winning moment in our relationship.

Similar to when he wanted some cash and we didn’t have any, so he asked what happened to the money. I got out the check register to tell him where the bills have been paid and he told me not to play number games with him.


I asked if I was supposed to explain using the alphabet, because I was unsure how I could explain where money goes without using numbers. He was not amused. oddly, I was. Which didn’t go over very well.

But it sure makes a funny story now! I’m sure he’s laughing from heaven. ♥️


How we met

I was a DJ at the college radio station where I first attended college in Jacksonville Alabama. I’ve always loved music. When I got to Florida, I spent a few months working in the mall in a retail clothing store before I got a job at coconuts music, a music store that sold CD’s, and cassette tapes.

Just across the parking lot, almost a shared parking lot, was a Discount Auto Parts. They had snack and soda vending machines, and we were not close to any gas stations or convenient stores where we could otherwise buy quick snacks. Naturally, we would run to the auto parts store when we needed a drink or a snack.

Eventually I got to know the employees and applied for a job. I worked both jobs for a short time until the music store closed and I became a full-time employee at discount auto parts.

I started working at the auto parts store in approximately April 1995. not long after I begin working, we got a new monthly named Joshua Smith. Of course he seemed interesting to me, beginning with his tattoos. As I got to know him, I adored his personality. I was disappointed when his wife came to pick him up with their one-year-old daughter.

I assumed he was off-limits. Although I was young and experimenting as many young people do, and at the time he became the person I bought my “weed” from. when I went to visit him and pick something up, I discovered several colleagues at his house, but more importantly, I walked in right in the middle of a fight he was having with his wife.

I still believed him to be off-limits, but a friend. I was asked to be a bridesmaid in the wedding of a colleague. At the time, I was dating another discount auto parts employee I had met while filling in for his manager at his store. However, I didn’t want to take anyone who didn’t know other people, because they would be left alone while I was in the ceremony. It finally occurred to me to ask Joshua to go as a friend.

I drank more than I should have, and even the bride and groom were encouraging us to take advantage of one of their empty rooms. I was baffled, and did not take them up on their offer. He drove me home, and I didn’t realize I had had so much extra to drink but I didn’t even remember most of that evening, except that he helped me out of my dress and into bed without trying anything.

A short time later, I had to move suddenly and asked a couple of people, including him, for their help since my dad was stationed overseas in Hungary. I had secured a room in a three-bedroom apartment near the university that would be shared with two male roommates, one of him was gay. They seemed very sweet and I looked forward to living there.

However, I never did anything except move my belongings to their apartment. When I went to pick up Josh in the U-Haul, I overheard what I later learned to be part of an argument about their separation that I didn’t know existed. He told me about their impending divorce, and a girl he was seeing.

He stayed over that evening until pretty late, and I’m not sure why, but I decided to share a song with him that I loved, which was introduced to me by my first girlfriend. I had wine with cheese and crackers. He didn’t drink the wine but enjoyed the cheese and crackers. I’m not sure how it started, but at some point I was massaging his back with lotion, and things got a little bit intense.

We still didn’t get physically involved outside of the massage, but there was no denying that the massage became incredibly sensual and there was certainly something there we could have acted on. But we didn’t. however, he did invite me to stay over until I was finished moving and my room was set up. So I did. That was how I learned his wife wasn’t actually even living with him anymore.

I’m still not sure if it was intentional or not, but he didn’t go help me set up my room. He didn’t want me to leave. I didn’t either. Once I realized his marriage was ended and he had even dated someone else in the interim, I felt the coast was clear and we had an incredible week together. I became good friends with his close friends, Carlos and Heather, even after Heather and I have had our differences at work.

A week or two later we hosted a party which several colleagues attended, including his manager, and we finally stopped hiding that we were together. At the time I had been sent to work in his store. We were no longer able to work in the same store, and I was transferred to a different store. But that was the beginning. I didn’t believe him when he said he had told his best friend as soon as he saw me that I would be his next wife. I laughed heartily. Who knew? Apparently he did.

And so it began…


The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton