Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mary Jo

I was putting Ella to bed last night and we were saying our prayers. This is what it sounded like:

Ella: "Dear God, I pray for Daddy, Mommy, Nannie, Mary Jo....."

Me: Never ever having heard of Mary Jo, I naturally say, "Ella, who is Mary Jo?"

Ella: "Mom, Mary Jo is Jesus' Cousin."

Oh, there you have it folks. In case you were wondering who Mary Jo was. :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ryan's Eulogy

For those that couldn't be there here is the eulogy that my brave brother, Ryan, gave for my Mom. Truly eloquent and perfect in every way. Thank you Ryan for sharing this!

"Before I speak about Mom, Brianna, Philip and I would like to thank everyone, not only for being here tonight but for all of your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time for our family. The amount of support that we have received has been tremendous and we are truly grateful. Also, for all those who have sent anything, food or otherwise, it has been very helpful so thank you. Lastly, for everyone who came to visit my Mom these last few weeks, in New York or back here in Memphis, we really appreciate the thought and I know Mom enjoyed the visits and company.

There are a few people who I would like to especially thank. First and foremost, I want to thank my sister Brianna and her husband Jeremy. About six or seven months ago when they first told me that they were going to build a new house and move in with Mom as a result, I advised strongly against that. For those of you who know Mom well, she is not the easiest person to live with day in and day out. It really turned out to be a blessing when she got sick a few months ago, however. They took on the difficult task of taking care of her every day, from bringing her to all of the doctor appointments to making sure she received the proper medication. Having two little girls to take care of at the same time did not make their task any easier. Brianna - Philip and I are eternally grateful for your leadership and sacrifice so thank you. Jeremy - a lesser man would have taken off a long time ago. Having four women yell at you every day is not an ideal situation. The level of support that you have given my sister and what you did for my Mom was an amazing thing and I want to thank you as well. Mom thought of you as a son, the same as Philip and me, and I know she would want me to share that with you.

Philip - you and Mom probably fought the most, but I think she loved you the most being her youngest. Please know that Mom was very proud of you and knew that you would succeed with whatever path you chose. You have her spirit and we all know that you will use that to be great. I would also like to thank my aunts and uncles and my Dad. Brianna, Philip and I truly could not have gotten through this without your support and love. Mom treasured her relationship with each of you (even you Dad) and I know that she was very proud to be a part of each of your families and you of ours.

When I first sat down to think about what I was going to say tonight, I honestly admit that I was a little nervous. I quickly realized, however, that Mom gave me plenty of material to work with, both good and scandalous. She would hate us standing up here talking about her but hopefully she will be ok if I just stuck to the good things.

Mom was always the brightest light in every room. She enjoyed and celebrated life, both hers and everyone else's that she knew. As soon as someone encountered Mom, they immediately felt her generous sense of warmth and love. If you asked her for a dollar, she would give you five. If you asked her for a hug, she would give you a kiss. If you needed her friendship, she gave you her love. In her spirit, she would want us to celebrate her life and all of the wonderful memories that we shared with her. I know that is a difficult thing to ask but I believe we can be comforted with the fact that she is in a better place, a place not of illness and pain, but of comfort and safety. She will also be reunited with love ones, especially her mom and dad. I laugh when I think of her mom, my nannie, who passed away a few years back and the fact that she has probably been in heaven bossing people around like crazy. Everyone will be very excited to see Mom and potentially get a brief respite from Nannie's long arm of the law.

Mom lived her life exactly the way she wanted, doing exactly what she wanted and that was being a nurse, a mother and eventually a grandmother...a nannie. She was a nurse her entire life. Helping people, most often complete strangers, was what she loved to do. Even later in life, she went back to school so she could further improve her ability to care for people and we were all so proud of her for that. As a mother, she always put herself last. I would be sitting in her hospital room and she would be most worried about me being comfortable or getting something to eat. I had to tell her to be quiet and to not worry about me; she was the one who was in the hospital bed. Now, Mom could be a real pain in the butt, but she simply wanted the best for us at any cost. That cost often resulted in us doing a significant amount of manual labor, but in her eyes, it built character. She felt that the most important thing was for us to be good people first and the rest would fall into place. Being a nannie truly completed her life. I really think these last few years with the girls were some of her happiest days. Experiencing the unconditional love of a child every day was truly precious to her. It is probably best that the girls aren't here right now because they would destroy these in a heartbeat but I have two flowers for the girls. Mom loved flowers and these symbolize that the girls were Mom's two little flowers who were always in bloom.

Although I only got to share 27 years with my Mom, she taught me an exceptional amount in that time. During times of adversity, she showed me the true meaning of courage, poise and perseverance. It is easy to live life when there is not a cloud in the sky but it is how you behave when you get caught in a storm that makes you the person that you are. She has been in her storm for the last 10 years and the amount of dignity and grace that she displayed during her struggle should be a lesson to us all.

As we say goodbye tonight, we should be comforted that Mom has returned home. A place where no storms exist...where the wind will always be at her back...where the sun will always shine upon her face...a place where she can reach the stars."

My Beautiful Family

Here are some pictures from when all the family was in town.

Aunt MoMo and Philip

Ella was in heaven having all these playmates to play dolls with and to dress up in bows

Yes, our children eat off the floor. Don't judge. :)

Giving Uncle John kisses

Aunt MoMo, Ella, and Kaitlyn

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


The dogs even knew what was going on. Buddy, Mom's dog, would not leave her side the last couple of days she was here with us. Buddy could feel what was going on. When the funeral home came to get Mom in the wee hours of that Tuesday morning, Buddy wouldn't even leave the room for that. She was heartbroken. We took some nice, precious family pictures with Mom the last couple of days. I won't post those since they are private and special to us. But I did want to post this one of Tanner giving his Nannie her last kisses goodbye. These dogs miss her as much as we do.

This is what happens when...

...your brother comes into town and he gets bored. I didn't get a full beard picture, but you get the point. :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hood Rats

We were just hanging out one day with Mom during her last week. Two of my favorite hood rats of all time. Love you two! Thank you for being my favorite brothers!

They have been so helpful to me during Mom's illness. I thank you both very much for following instructions on what I needed you to do. :) I love you tremendously and Mom is so proud of you. That I know!

Hanging out after bathtime

Can't you smell the freshness!?!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Christmas 2010

Ok, so bear with me. I am so far behind on posting. So I'm going to try and catch you up this week. We brought Mom home from the hospital on the 23rd. So she was able to be home and she so enjoyed watching the girls'. It was a great morning spent as a family. Ella loved every bit of it, except she did not want Santa to come in her room in the middle of the night. She was very concerned about that. :) But she tore through all her presents and said she needed more. Ha! Megan was completely different. She did not give two hoots about any of those presents. She just wanted to eat her breakfast. Priorities. But we had a great Christmas with Mom feeling good and at home. One I will never forget.

When we went in Megan's room to get her this is what we found. The one shoulder look going on.


We were eating dinner the other night and Ella decided she didn't want to eat. So I told her she had to eat her meat. It was protein that would help her grow and get big and strong. She looks at me and says, "And it'll give me boobies?" Oh my stars! We are in trouble. I thought Jeremy was going to choke on his food. So yes, I have a 3 year old already worried about "developing".

Monday, January 10, 2011

Kathleen Williams Leach 6/2/55-1/4/11

It has taken me days to get the courage to write this post. My courageous mother lost her battle with cancer in the early morning hours of Tuesday, January 4, 2011. Cancer may have taken her body, but she won the fight in that she is eternally whole in heaven with our Savior.

Just a little background since I last wrote about her...we arrived home from New York via private jet the Thursday after Thanksgiving. We went straight to Methodist Germantown for her hip replacement/reconstruction surgery. She came through that very well. She went to the rehabilitation floor after surgery and was able to come home the night of December 23rd. Her one wish was to be home to see the girls open up their Christmas from Santa. We were lucky enough for Santa to come the night of the 23rd since Jeremy had to work on Christmas day. So we opened up presents and Mom was so happy and had a wonderful time. Christmas Day is when we really started noticing some changes in her. She was having a hard time holding things and grasping. Her mind was having a hard time focusing and thinking logically. At first we thought it was just the amount of pain meds she was on. Each day started getting worse and by that next Tuesday we decided to call Hospice in and have them start coming to the house to help us.

Like I said each day got worse...couldn't feed herself, no strength in her that Wednesday I called her sister and told her to come down. Once she got here we decided to call Mom's other siblings to tell them to come into town. Things weren't going well. By Saturday, Jan. 1, everyone was in town and at that point Mom was no longer eating and was slipping away. We sat in her room for the next three days with her holding a "vigil" so to speak. My brothers, husband and I along with Mom's 2 brothers and 2 sisters sat in the room with her and told stories. We laughed and we cried (a lot). It was such a wonderful bonding experience with everyone that I will never forget. It was so special to me and I thank her siblings and mine along with my husband for giving that to her and to me. It's what we all needed.

Early that Tuesday morning her body had enough and she left us for Heaven. I have never been more proud of her. She is such a strong, courageous woman. And I am so proud to be her daughter. I hope I can be 50% of the woman she was. I miss her...I miss her terribly. I'm heartbroken. She was my go-to person for everything. We talked about everything. I have a wonderful support system around me. But nothing is like your Mom. However, what is getting me through is that she's healthy now and she's happy. I can just see her in heaven with her spiky, fun hair again, and that makes me excited for her. She's not hurting anymore.

Thank you to everyone for all your outpouring love and support! That warms my heart and I am eternally grateful! Much love to you all!

To visit her video montage, go to and click on play video in the middle of the right hand side of the screen.

Monday, January 03, 2011


Just so I don't forget... Ella was eating yogurt at the kitchen table the other day and she screams, "Mommy! There's blood in my yogurt!" Me being so curious walks over and says, "Where?" And she points to where the "blood" is. You know what it was? It was the strawberry particles that they put in yogurt. Hysterical with a capital H!