Hope Wissel

Happy 4th of July

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According to Wickapedia “Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain”.

For me, the 4th brings up all kinds of memories that are bittersweet…

Life in Ocean Grove over the 4th of July was a whirlwind of fun and excitement. I can remember many 4th of July parades and bar-b-ques with the family. Belinda was always in the parade in an array of costumes. Costumes were made by me – Ariel (The Little Mermaid), Pocahontas, Peter Pan… are you getting the Disney theme? Yes, we were obsessed with Disney and we wore out many VHS tapes before DVDs came around. Then as Belinda got older, it was decorating her bicycle. Cards in the spokes to make the flipping sounds – okay, am I really showing my age now? Red, white and blue shirts, shorts, hats…

Sitting on the side of the parade route on Main Street waiting for the parade and the barrage of candy that was thrown by the floats as they traveled down the street. Grams worried that Belinda would get too close to the trucks. Belinda hiding and covering her ears as the fire trucks came by – her sensitive ears were always a concern for Grams.

Life in Ocean Grove was fun and has lot of memories for us. I mean there was a time when ALL of us lived in Ocean Grove on Broadway – Edythe, then Grams, Pop-pop & Elsie then closest to the beach was mom and I. Okay, so that was BEFORE Belinda but it was always a lot of fun. Believe it or not, I miss living in Ocean Grove… this is so off topic. Yes, I squirreled!

Best wishes for a ThirtyOne-derful day with friends and family celebrating today…

Hope Wissel

Happy 80th Birthday Mom!

NYC with mom

I know that you hate pictures but I really LIKE both of these…..YES! I went there and disclosed your age because you DEFINITELY don’t look it.

Let me tell you a little about this AWESOME woman that I get to all mom.DSC_9178

Growing up, Mom was always there. Our home was always open to my friends – I mean we were the house to go to after a basketball game or when there was no place else to go.  The frig was always stocked, the rec room was always ready and sleeping bags were always handy if someone needed to crash for the night.  I may not have always been thrilled but looking back, I am so grateful.   Grateful that I could pick up the phone and say – I am on my way with 2, 10, 25 or more people.  There was never a hesitation even if she was headed to bed.  After my Junior Prom, my parents made breakfast for over 300 kids.  Yes, the parade of non-stop kids through the house was a little more than this teenager was ready for but mom stood strong.  I mean who wants to ALWAYS hang at your own house,right?

As I left for college there were struggles.  Freshman year, my parents divorced and it wasn’t easy.  I was in Rhode Island while mom was home holding down the fort. Scrimping pennies to make sure that I had a home to come back to. They were tough years but we had fun. She would travel to Rhode Island for a weekend where we toured the mansions of Newport, shopped in Fall River and she even camped out in my dorm room.  It was then that things started to change from mother-daughter to friends.  After college, I headed home to work locally, moving back in with mom. We spent endless nights walking the boardwalk in Ocean Grove.  We were a team even though I am sure that I drove her crazy.

When I moved to South Jersey there were many more years of rocky roads.  My years of addiction were tough on Mom and for that I am sorry.  There were arguments and periods of not talking to each other.  I missed her but my addiction had a hold of my life.  Mom practiced tough love during those years but our relationship survived the test of time.  Along came Belinda and more struggles.  Me as a single mom letting pride and my addiction get in the way.  When I got clean – mom was there.  She helped emotionally, financially and physically. Despite some differences and hiccups in the road – she was there.

When Belinda left for college, I moved to Brick and got married.  It has been tough for both of us. Distance makes it hard to “drop in” when I want on my way home from work. No quick calls to have lunch or dinner together.  Most days communication is via email instead of the phone.

Lives changed – I have a part-time weekend job, my own business, and a hubby.  The one hour drive to Mays Landing sometimes feels like an eternity when I thought nothing of it when I was commuting 2 hours one way to work.  We don’t spend as much time together as I would like.  It is on our TO DO list again this year – “plan at least a day per month with mom”.

I probably don’t say it a lot and I am sure at times she wonders what I am thinking but the truth is I learned ALOT from my mom. She taught me: how to be strong when life is rough, how to save and budget (okay, so this course I failed), the importance of family and about being a mom. She reminds me to believe in myself (you would think I would know this by now). I can honestly say that my mom is one of my best friends.

 happy birthday URU

Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do.  I hope you are enjoying the sunshine in Florida but I do miss spending today with you.  Thank you for always being there for me. I love you!

Hope Wissel

Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th

According to Wickapedia “Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain“. For me, the 4th brings up all kinds of memories that are bittersweet…

Life in Ocean Grove over the 4th of July was a whirlwind of fun and excitement. I can remember many 4th of July parades and bar-b-ques with the family. Belinda was always in the parade in an array of costumes. Costumes were made by me – Ariel (The Little Mermaid), Pocahontas, Peter Pan… are you getting the Disney theme? Yes, we were obsessed with Disney and we wore out many VHS tapes before DVDs came around. Then as Belinda got older, it was decorating her bicycle. Cards in the spokes to make the flipping sounds – okay, am I really showing my age now? Red, white and blue shirts, shorts, hats…

Sitting on the side of the parade route on Main Street waiting for the parade and the barrage of candy that was thrown by the floats as they traveled down the street. Grams worried that Belinda would get too close to the trucks. Belinda hiding and covering her ears as the fire trucks came by – her sensitive ears were always a concern for Grams.

Life in Ocean Grove was fun and has lot of memories for us. I mean there was a time when ALL of us lived in Ocean Grove on Broadway – Edythe, then Grams, Pop-pop & Elsie then closest to the beach was mom and I. Okay, so that was BEFORE Belinda but it was always a lot of fun. Believe it or not, I miss living in Ocean Grove…  this is so off topic.  Yes, I squirreled!

Best wishes for a ThirtyOne-derful day with friends and family celebrating today…

Hope Wissel

Memories of My Buddy

Has it really been 16 years since I heard your voice?  Sixteen years since I smelled snickerdoodles baking in the kitchen.  Mine just never taste as good as yours did.  Sixteen years since we spent hours talking. Elsie Marie Weston, my mom’s baby sister, lost her battle with breast cancer 16 years ago and will forever be known as one of the strongest women I know.

Elsie‘s battle with lumps on her breast started when she was about 18 years old. Always removed and always were not cancerous. Until the life changing diagnosis  – you have breast cancer. Her first mastectomy in 1990. Her second reconstructive surgery 6 years later to replace a leaking implant.  Then they found it in her bones. She went through medication regimines, and chemotherapy. She continued to fight through it all.

Sure, Elsie was family but she was also my best friend. Growing up, Elsie was privilege to some of my deepest secrets. I may have been the pesty niece that she was forced to babysit when I was little but that changed. She visited me in college. We partied at the Headliner when we both worked for Neptune Township. We both went to Atlantic City to open the Claridge Casino. We were roomates – Tuckerton and Somers Point. We weathered hurricanes, blizzards and life itself. Elsie was there when Belinda was born – she even cut the cord before heading out to attend a wedding.

Elsie and Belinda were buddies. From the time Belinda was born she was there to help. When I was in detox and rehab, she made sure life remained as normal as possible. I remember being in detox, not being able to have visitors – she helped Belinda make a sign and they stood outside the hospital window to show their support. When I came home from rehab, Elsie took us in when we were evicted from our home.

Elsie fulfilled one of her dreams by opening Small Wonders, a gift shop in Ocean Grove.  Belinda and I traveled up on weekends to help out. Belinda traveled with Elsie and Edythe.  They taught Belinda to bake while spending countless hours watching Disney videos.  When the cancer spread, to Elsie’s eyes, things got a little tougher but she was  determined to work every day in her store. We all helped – Belinda learned how to work the register and run credit cards at the ripe old age of 10 so that she could work in the store as Elsie was going blind.

Belinda put together one of her famous surprise parties for Elsie’s 50th birthday. Elsie was mad but she never stayed mad for long at Belinda. That would be her last birthday with us. On May 23rd, Elsie was admitted into the hospital – she had lost 95% of her eyesight to cancer and had given up her will to live. Seven days later she became another Weston Angel – joining her parents in heaven.

The imprint that she left on the world will long be remembered by all of us. She was a fighter. She was loving & kind. She was Belinda’s Buddy! A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think about her. When there is a crisis or we are in the hospital, a sense of calm comes over me and I knew that everything would be okay – see all my Weston angels are always with me – Mom-mom, Pop-pop, Elsie and Edythe.

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Elsie, like the rest of the family, hated having pictures but this is a collage from the scrapbook we made for her 50th birthday.

Elsie, I miss you and I am sure that I didn’t tell you enough how much I loved you. Cherish the moments today – the good, the bad and the ugly for life is precious.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day.

Hope Wissel

Happy Birthday Belinda

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It is 7:59AM and exactly 26 years ago TODAY, my amazing daughter Belinda was born. I will forever remember the words of the doctor as he delivered my beautiful bald baby “she hasn’t done anything by the book and she probably never will.” Truer words were never spoken…

An expected premature baby who was 2 weeks late and was far from tiny – tipped the scale at 9 pounds 5 ounces and 21 inches long. Labor should have been hours long but was a mere 2 hours and 59 minutes. She continued to push forward by trying to lift her head while she was still in the hospital nursery. That should have been an indication that she would push the limits.

Fast forward 10 months, when she began walking. We had to teach her to crawl because the doctor told me it was important for her development. Just picture all of us crawling on the floor to play games while she walked around laughing at us. I tossed the baby books when she was off the charts in the first year. Bored in Kindergarten, she was never really thrilled with school. An average student who really thought school was for the social things. A gymnast, a field hockey player, a cheerleader, and an all star cheerleader – who would have ever thought that I would have had a Tom Boy!  Never one for dressing up, even as a child she was a jeans and flip flop kind of girl.

WHY was her big question.  I know it is for most kids but they eventually grow out of it.  She never did and for that I am grateful.  I am sure that many thought my child rearing was crazy.  She helped raise funds for the AIDS Alliance, and shared her things with those who were less fortunate.  We talked about EVERYTHING and I was blessed that as a result, she was a good kid.  I picked my battles and as a result, we had very few.

Today, I am a VERY proud momma. Belinda has just received a promotion at work to After Care Coordinator. The kids at Hawthorne love her and they gladly share the impact that she has had on their lives when they are ready to leave. Belinda will graduate with her Masters in Social Work in May 2015. Her frankness in any given situation makes me cringe but to know her is to love her. We always said that she had no tact – Don’t ask her opinion if you don’t want an HONEST answer. This kind of spirit has brought her great success with difficult children and dual diagnosed addicts. I am honored that she wanted to follow in my footsteps in the area of Social Work. She is blazing her own trail – making a difference in the world, one step at a time. She fights for causes she believes in regardless of what others think and has a heart of gold.

The miles between us are definitely too great – her in North Carolina and us in NJ but the bond is always there. Our family has grown with the addition of her step-dad, Rob. Our tag line of “you and me kid” will always be a reminder of our amazing journey when she was growing up. The good times and the bad, the struggles and the celebrations. I truly believe that God placed this strong-willed, loving child in my life for a reason – as her mom, I grew too and for that I am grateful.

The picture is from her trip home shortly after Superstorm Sandy.  She wanted to see how it had impacted the places that she loved – the beach, HER Ocean Grove and the boardwalk.  It was a rare moment when her emotions got the best of her.  See, despite the fact that I cry at the drop of a hat – Belinda seldom lets her emotions show.  It was a precious moment and I am glad that I got to be there when it happened.

Happy Birthday Belinda! I love you, kid!!!