Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bittersweet Birthday

With great anticipation, I traveled back home to Ohio last week to visit my family. My agenda was full and a variety of important events were scheduled making this an especially jammed packed trip.

Five months ago I made my plane reservations so I could attend my great niece's first birthday party on Saturday. As I've said here before, she's the first of a new generation in our family and the joy she has brought us all has been endless since the day she arrived....

It's been nearly six months since I saw our now still tiny 16 pound sweetie-- all 27 inches of her in person, but her mom, my oldest niece, sends me daily "pictures of the day" to keep me in the loop with her progress through the first year of life. Those photos fill my heart with love and have me checking my iPhone each morning the moment I open my eyes.

Our birthday girl 1 year old!

The birthday bash was filled with friends and our great big, loud family. Held in a beautiful park with old fashioned games for the older kids to play and plenty of food to keep everyone well fed. Our party girl did a great job of smearing cake all over her face and never fussed once at the sweltering hot temps or being passed around to all 45 guests to receive kisses and hugs.

It was a glorious day but one wonderful person tugged at my heart strings as we celebrated-- Did you know blogger Kathy from Four Dog Day? She last posted gorgeous photos of her first grandson, four week old Graham on October 22nd. The week prior to that, Kathy posted about her struggle to keep up with blogging, working full time and the tug of war of activities that come with life in general. And we hadn't heard from her since.

Kathy and I wrote numerous baby related comments and emails as we anticipated our bundles of joy. She could not wait to be a grandmother and share her love with the next generation which is why I thought she had been too busy to blog for the past six months.

Sadly, that was not the case.

Recently Kathy's children posted her farewell. As Kathy questioned the time to blog in October, she also sensed something wasn't quite right and scheduled a doctor appointment.

In a heart-felt message from her family, we learned that appointment lead to not great medical news and of Kathy's brave but short battle with cancer. After four surgeries, 2 trips to rehabilitation plus radiation and chemo, Kathy lost her battle.

My eyes stung as I read the post and the sadness between the lines as her family told her brave story. Kathy was a wonderful, creative, positive person who I miss deeply even though we never met in person.

As I watched my great-niece celebrate with her first birthday cake, I know how thrilled Kathy would have been to participate in baby Graham's first birthday this coming September 24th.

Although I have no doubt Kathy is looking down on her family with pride, I so wish she could be here in person for her grandson to know and love.

If you have a moment, please stop by Kathy's blog and show her family some love. I'm sure it will mean the world to them.

Welcome to - Joanna Jenkins


  1. That is so sad - it reminds you of priorities. Glad you were able to spend that important time with your family and your beautiful great niece!

  2. How sad. I am waiting for some news about a friend, that could possibly be a cancer diagnosis. It is breaking my heart.

  3. A beautiful baby...and such sad news....I am truly sorry....smiles.

  4. Bittersweet indeed. I'm so sorry about your blog friend. And also, have to say what a beautiful little baby. I love that all babies start out with the little folded arm jackets and striped hats.

  5. so sad to hear about your blog friend Joanna. Bittersweet indeed.

  6. Oh I am in tears. So sorry for the loss this family and you are facing!

    I want to say that sweet little one year old baby you have posted pictures of is a bundle of sunshine!

    She radiates "HAPPY" when she smiles!

  7. it was sad to hear of her passing, i did not know her, but have lost several blog friends...i am glad the family shared the news...

    happy birthday to your where has the time gone...

  8. What a darling wee baby girl! so teeny tiny.
    And how very sad for Kathy and her family.

  9. What a wonderful tribute to your dear friend! I'm sorry to hear she lost her battle but it sounds like she was a blessing to everyone while she was here.

  10. Your great niece is just a little darling. I am glad you were there for the big celebration. I am sorry to hear about your friend Kathy. I did not know her, I am saddened to hear the news. I will visit the blog, sending a big hug to you dear friend.

  11. what a princess!

    Aloha from Waikiki :)

    Comfort Spiral




  12. Has it been a year already? She is such a cutie! I bet it was wonderful seeing the family again!

  13. Oh, my gosh.

    I have a lump in my throat.

    That was so fast.

    So sad...

    So very sad. I will stop by Kathy's.

  14. The loss of Kathy was a shock. I couldn't believe it when I read that post. I remember her giddy anticipation of her first grandchild, and how much pride she had each time she shared stories and pictures of Graham. I knew that she was having some medical issues, but the last time she posted, she was giving her time and attention to her business. I just thought that she was busy with that. She will be missed.

    Otherwise, how great that you got to see everyone again on your trip. Love those smiles.

  15. the great arc of life is contained within your post. I didn't know of Kathy or her blog, but it is still a heart-rending story. I'm getting ready for the birth of my first grand baby, so I can relate.

    Blessings to everyone!

  16. Oh Dear, although I never knew her as a blooger, my heart goes out to her family. Sadly, I also learned of the drowning death of a very dear fellow blogger of mine, just the other week. I understand how numb you must feel (hugs).

    Your neice is utterly adorable, and so loved!

  17. So sad... I have a lump in my throat....

  18. Joanna, thank you for letting us know about Kathy. She would stop by and leave comments on my blog often. I'm still in shock as I write with tears in my eyes. Just a few weeks ago I visited her blog thinking maybe she started again. This is sad...

    My good friend Catherine is battling this nasty cancer. Same thing 2 months ago was feeling something wasn't right. Now fighting stage IV cancer that started in her uterus now spread to her bones and other areas.

    Your great niece is beautiful and has such a personality. I can see it in her photo.

    BIG hugs... xo

  19. oh, my heart goes out to you Joanna.
    to everyone.
    life in all of it's ugly beauty.

    (and as an aside, I've been "doing" family stuff and it takes my blog voice away as well )


  20. How thoughtful of you to remember Kathy and her grandson in the midst of all your joy. At least she got to meet her grandson, though how sad for him to grow up without knowing her. I'll bet your niece got extra hugs from you.

  21. Awww hon I am so sorry. I don't care what folks blog friends mean the world to me. I have lost a couple over the last year..and was heartbroken by it really. Sending gentle hugs to you my dear friend and prayers to her family!
    The kiddo is darling hon:)
    Love, Sarah

  22. You are such a thoughtful and caring person, and as soon as I finish here, I'll head over to Kathy's place. It is a lovely thing to have your family tell your story.

    And congratulations on a one-year-old in your family. My niece has been doing the same thing (not so regularly) for my almost one-year-old grandniece!

  23. Such sad news about Kathy. My heart goes out to her family and friends.

    Your niece is just precious! I'm so glad you were able to be there for her birthday party!

  24. Your niece is precious, Joanna. I'm glad you got to be there to celebrate her birthday.
    It is so sad about Kathy. I am glad her family posted her farewell.
    Life has a way of coming at us from both sides.

  25. JJ happy pictures and sad news...I heard about Kathy form another blogger so sad. I'm glad you made it home for a's good for the soul! Have a wonderful weekend!

  26. I was so sad to read about Kathy, new baby in her family and BAM, just like that she found out she was so sick. What a heartbreak.
    I am glad you enjoyed your family time. That girl is precious.

  27. Jeez, sad tale. I didn't know her, but it's nice of you to remember her. Good luck to you and yours.

  28. What a cutie! So glad you had a wonderful time with your family.

    That is so sad about Kathy. I cannot imagine how hard it was for her family to post her farewell post.

    I hope you have a fantastic weekend!

    ~ Tracy

  29. Oh, Joanna, I am SO sorry! That was a wonderful post and testament to your friendship.
    I am sure you are very glad to have had this time with your wonder family and the newest member!

  30. One of the things that I love about blogging is the people that we are able to bond with...There are so many sweet and kind people in the blogging world.
    I am sorry for this loss of your dear friend...
    May God fill your heart with Peace and may you continue to find joy in the life of this precious child...
    Many Blessings.

  31. your one post has the ups downs highs lows of life. All the best to you and your blog friend's family. take care

  32. Your niece is amazingly cute! So sorry to hear about your blog friend. Bittersweet indeed.

  33. I appreicate you sharing this sad news with us!

    Your little niece is so cute!

  34. Oh gosh, I'm so sorry to hear about Kathy!

    Your great niece is adorable!

  35. Incredibly sad....and for me, in part, relate-able. I went over to pay my respects.

  36. I'm so sorry for the loss of your dear friend, Joanna. How tragic.

    Your little sweetie is just adorable. Bittersweet, yes but it sure does help to have the sweetness.

  37. How wonderful that you were able to share in this precious child's birthday. What a delight she is.

    I was saddened to hear of the death of your blogging friend. During my five days in the hospital, I did a lot of thinking about my own mortality and wondering about how/where/when my life will come to an end. Like most people, I pray it will be peaceful, without suffering. I am sorry Kathy went through so much at the end of her life. You were a good blogging friend!

  38. I did not know Kathy, but I read about her passing on Matty's blog and had to stop by and extend my condolences. So sad.


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