January 3, 2022

That wasn't Mary Ann, and Violet

Thanks again for all of the sweet birthday messages. I'm so grateful for all of you, truly. I was thrilled that a few readers decided to comment on my birthday for the first time ever. Thanks for coming out of hiding. 

One new commenter told me that she is nearby *I jerked my head to my study window, in case she was hiding in the bushes, but all I saw were our half-ass Christmas lights.* 

I have to wonder if she is indeed Mary Ann disguised as a friendly person. Kidding. Mary Ann would never bother with a disguise. Wink, wink.  

My birthday went well. In summary:  one kid cleaned a toilet, one kid made my salad for lunch, one kid purchased a short list of groceries. No one gave me grief when I asked them to do stuff. What more can I ask for? 

I'll share more about my day soon, but I do want to tell you about Violet.


I've written in the past about the family, the Maplewoods, that I babysat for ions ago. I started when I was 12. When the Maplewoods moved into the neighborhood, my mom arrived on their doorstep with a plate of cookies to welcome them. She also offered our home phone number and a promise of three babysitters. I was the most available sister. My sisters already had 'families' that they were busy babysitting for. This was my good fortune. 

I gravitated towards this family. Oh how I loved their 8 children. When I met them there were only 3 littles, but the family grew fast. I learned so much about how to care for newborns. I was hooked. They were crazy about me. 

My family often glossed over me while raining attention down on my brothers, particularly Pat. When I was at the Maplewoods, I was the center of their universe. I mattered. I was important to them. They helped form my sense of self, my self esteem. In a word, they were instrumental to me. 

Fast forward to present day. Lad sells cars for one of those 8 kids, Stephen. Stephen has been really good to Lad. Lad really likes working there - he'd started out at a different dealership working for Stephen's cousin, who I also once babysat for. In April, Lad will be at this dealership for a year. 


Violet had JUST turned 4 years old. 

I assumed Lad didn't have the info correct. I hoped he was wrong. Not 10 minutes later, Stephone's sister, Beth, who is the Maplewood that I keep in touch with the most, texted me. She asked for prayers for Stephen's daughter, Violet. She'd been diagnosed with a brain tumor and the outlook was grim. 

Then she described it as a DIPG tumor. I froze. This was the same type of tumor that a little boy from our local Catholic school had died of a few years ago. It is an aggressive tumor. The child usually doesn't live more than 12 months after being diagnosed. 

This news. Well, it hit me at my core. How could this be? She's just a little, tiny, sweet child. She has a sister who is 2 years old. How will she ever remember her sister? 

By Curly.
This was just weeks after the young man who Tank knew well was crushed to death at the Texas concert. Sometimes I would cry so much at Church, that Coach would ask me:  VIOLET? JAKE? It was both. So much loss and heart ache. 

One of Stephens' brothers texted me the next day about a physical therapy issue, needing Coach's phone number. I told him that I was praying hard for all of them. He thanked me. Then he let me know that Stephen had said that Violet was thrilled to get birthday cards in the mail. If anyone wanted to send her a note or a card in the mail, that would be a great way to show them your love and support. 

BTW:  Violet likes unicorns, rainbows, Nickelodeon, and Disney characters. 

This horse, OK, so not technically a unicorn,
 is the softest ever. You'll have to take my
word for it. The tiny penguin
was for Violet's sister, Rose.

Well, say no more. I emailed everyone I knew. Invited people to send her cards, etc in the mail. Asked everyone to pray. I have not been able to pass up a unicorn themed anything without buying it and mailing it to her. Von Maur, my fav store, ships for free. She's gotten unicorn finger puppets, stuffed toys, etc. Just before Christmas I bought her a unicorn sweatshirt - with a unicorn horn on the hood. I still have to drop that one off for her. 

I drew this the weekend after we learned
about the tumor. Mini colored it.
She didn't trust me not to mess it up. 
Hey now, Mini, give me some credit.

We've drawn pictures. Sent stickers. Colored cards and sent messages. Her favorite is probably the story Tank wrote for her the day after he came home from college. It was about a unicorn named Violet who saved the day and helped Santa when Rudolph caught a bad cold. All the people knew that Violet the unicorn had helped Santa because she pooped out colorful sparkles that landed on the snow as the sleigh flew overhead. I stuck a note in that one for Stephen and his wife, explaining Tank is our resident comedian. Stephen has only been at the dealership once since the diagnosis. His brothers come in and cover for him as needed. One of them told Lad that the Shenanigan's cards, gifts, messages have blown them away. I just wish we could do more. 

When I found out Joe died a little over a week ago, I was still sobbing, leaning across the kitchen counter, when I put him to work. I begged him to help. 

Send Violet a miracle. Please, Joe. You've got this. 

Hey, maybe these angels get special privileges right when they arrive . . . last year my brother in law's mother died way too young. Covid played a role in her death. It was the end of January and as Coach and I drove away from her funeral, I asked her to help us with Lad. 

Lad came home a week or two later. He said something hit his car on the expressway. It scared him and he decided life was too short. He was done with the nonsense. He's been home ever since . . . and now we have a dog. 

I believe in the power of prayer. Please pray for Violet, or send good wishes her way, or whatever works for you. My heart aches for all that they are going through. 


Katie said...

Belated happy birthday, Ernie. Newish reader here. You can count on many prayers for this sweet girl and her family--so young! Showering her with love, gifts, cards and notes will surely lighten her burdens.

ccr in MA said...

Oh, so sad about Violet! Definitely sending unicorn prayers for her.

Kari said...

Sending love to Violet and her family.

Anonymous said...

My heart breaks for Violet and her family. My daughter just turned 4 and her hair is the color of the girl riding the unicorn you drew, I can’t even imagine what Violet and her parents are facing. Holding my girls extra tight as we pray for little Violet.

Suzanne said...

Belated birthday wishes to you and ALL the prayers for Violet!

Beth Cotell said...

I will add Violet to my prayer list. I'll ask my little saint, Rebecca, to pray for her too. And I love Tank's story. I think you should get it published.

Jenny in WV said...

It so so lovely of you all to send cards, stories, and every unicorn item in existence!

I will be praying for little Violet.

Ernie said...

Katie - Welcome, thanks for introducing yourself. Don't be shy now. ;)

Thanks for adding Violet to your prayer list.

Ernie said...

ccr - Thank you. Much appreciated.

Ernie said...

Kari - Thanks very much. I think I need to shift my gift focus to rainbows, since I've cornered the market on unicorns. I was thinking maybe she'd like the rainbow window sticky things. I plan to look back in your posts for the link, but if you see this please feel free to send that link my way.

Ernie said...

AM- I no longer have a 4 year old, but I know what follows that year . . . so much joy and laughter and adventure. I hate that this family will potentially be robbed of all that the future was to hold for them. Hugs to you and your girls. Thanks for thinking of Violet.

Ernie said...

Suzanne- Thanks so much.

Ernie said...

Beth - Thanks. Yes, we need Rebecca's help here, too.

Oh my gosh, what 4 year old doesn't enjoy a good poop story? Add sparkles and it could be a best seller.

Ernie said...

Jenny - Yes, it does make me wonder if her parents are a little overwhelmed by the unicorn build up in their home. Switching gears to focus more on rainbows, I think. (After I send the two unicorn items I still have saved up from when I stumbled on them during Christmas shopping).

Thanks for your prayers. Praying for a miracle.

Pat Birnie said...

Ernie I’ll be praying for young Violet and her family. You have had a lot of sadness around you this year. Hugs

Ernie said...

Pat - Thanks. It certainly does feel that way. So very young and so incredibly sad.

Nicole MacPherson said...

Oh, Ernie. How incredibly sad. Sending love and hoping for a miracle. xo

Unknown said...

Happy Belated to you! I’m a lurker, but wanted to let you know I’m praying for little Violet

Ernie said...

Nicole - Thank you. Wouldn't a miracle be amazing?

Ernie said...

Amie - Thanks for saying hello. So appreciate the extra prayers.

Anonymous said...

Praying for sweet Violet and her family.
I just can’t imagine having that devastating news about your toddler.
You’ve got some good angels up there, praying they can call in some favors.


Ernie said...

Suz - I agree, I just can't imagine how a parent deals with that kind of news. Seems impossible. All power to those angels.

Charlie said...

Heartbreaking Ernie. I’m so so sorry to read this. I’m going to include Violet and her family in my prayers and send all the healing vibes and wishes I can. So lovely of you all to send cards and gifts, what a comfort they must be to her family. Sending hugs to you too as you’ve been through too much loss over the past few months x

Ernie said...

Charlie - It is so heartbreaking. I remember the worry when my guys were so young and helpless, then as they age the worries are just different. This, though, just unimaginable.

Thanks, the last few months have felt very heavy, and yet I'm so grateful for the fact that Lad is in a better place than last year. There really is so much going on though. My kids make fun of me, but it is hard not to worry. I don't know how I would survive some of what people are dealt with.

Maddie said...

Oh that just breaks my heart. Sending prayers for Violet and her family.

Bibliomama said...

Of all the wrong things in the world, the fact that children can get life-threatening illnesses is the wrongest. Sending good thoughts.

Ernie said...

Maddie - It really is heart breaking. I try to put myself in their shoes and all I can do is imagine crumbling. They can use all the prayers. Thanks.

Ernie said...

Ali - You are so very right about that. So senseless. Thanks for the good thoughts. This reminds me, I need to send over my latest installment of unicorn finds.