About Me

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I am a below knee amputee. More importantly, I am also Mommy to two boys, a very active 10 year old (Robby) and an mischievous toddler (Timmy). I have learned that being a parent with a disability can create some unusual and sometimes humorous situations. This blogger is available for hire! Let's talk and learn how a blog can expand your business.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Prosthetic Discovery

Timmy is crawling, pulling up and cruising like a champion. He is both adorable and mischievous, taking the slightest lapse in attention as an opportunity to get into something. It turns out that he has quite the pallet for pet food, which judging by his actions is his snack du jour. 

He is not only my little mischief maker but he is also an amateur spelunker, loving to crawl into tight spaces and between legs. Unfortunately his coordination is not entirely honed and he often bumps his head against whatever he is exploring. Needless to say, he discovered my prosthetic with his face when venturing through my leg tunnel.  Unlike everybody else, my leg is hard and leaves a mark when headbutted. 

Poor little Hamlet! He seemed so confused by the experience, as if he was trying to figure out why one leg was hard and the other soft. I know that he isn't able to rationalize the oddity, but it definitely looked like he knew something was amiss.  I suspect that this little bump will be the first of many prosthetic encounters in his future.

Thursday, April 02, 2015


Yesterday was as emotionally and physically draining as I anticipated.  I am waking this morning with a heavy heart but also happy for closure. Perhaps closure is the incorrect word though, because what I am happy about is the fact that my Dad is finally at peace. I know that he would have hated lying around unburied for over a week!

Robby accompanied us to the funeral, which was his choice. He was my stoic little man, covering me with hugs and kisses whenever I appeared sad. Needless to say, I was hugged a lot. He opted to avoid the interment service, which was a relief. I knew that watching his beloved Candy Papaw lowered into the ground would have become a source for nightmares. 

I was away from my computer most of yesterday, which means that I have a lot of work waiting for me.  I am going to be busy, which might be a good thing. As long as I'm working I can avoid thinking about the death of my Dad.  Again, avoidance is becoming my preferred coping mechanism.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Final Goodbye

This is the day I have been dreading.  Today my father will be laid to rest in his hometown of Butler PA. We will have a small funeral service for family and close friends, followed by his burial at the cemetery.

It feels surreal to know that I will watch my Dad being lowered into the ground. It has been an extremely long and exhausting week since he passed, and I know that it is time to let him go. Of course rationalizing something does little to temper the emotions.

Between the shock of his death and the memorial service in Texas, I feel like my head hasn't had time to catch up with my heart. After today there will be nothing left to do except grieve.  I am not looking forward to today as I say my final goodbye. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Easter Bunny Fun

So much of my mental and physical energies have been consumed with disease and death, yesterday I needed to be reminded that life can be happy and carefree as well. It was comforting to wake up with everybody under the same roof. Timmy and Robby both woke with smiles on their faces. I guess I am not the only one who has missed the normalcy of our lives. 

In the morning, before the sun warmed everything and while it was still chilly, we packed up and headed to the mall.  We were on a mission: Timmy needed to meet the Easter Bunny. (I suspect that Robby no longer believes in the Easter Bunny. Whenever the rodent is referenced, Robby includes air quotes before and after his name.) Even though my little Koopa may not believe, he played along beautifully for his little brother. 

We dressed Timmy in the same outfit Robby wore during his first Bunny encounter. I was taken aback looking at Timmy in the bunny outfit. I felt like I was looking back in time at Robby. Hair and eye color is different, but they have stunningly similar faces. 

Dressed adorably like a little bunny, we were prepared for Timmy to melt down. After all, being put on the lap of a giant furry rabbit would be terrifying for a baby. Apparently not for my baby though; he seemed to thoroughly enjoy the interaction. We set him down in the photo lounge and Timmy took off  like a flash, crawling towards his new furry friend.  The Easter Bunny, seeing a cute little bunny crawling towards him, rose out of his chair and started to crawl towards Timmy. I am so happy that Scott managed to snap a picture!

Robby in 2007

Monday, March 30, 2015


I wanted to share the eulogy I gave for my Dad this past Saturday.

My Dad asked me several weeks ago to give his eulogy on behalf of the family. I immediately agreed, after all it was hard to say no to my Dad. But inside I was filled with dread.  You see, I have always been more comfortable expressing myself in writing. My Dad knew this and was one of my biggest blog fans, reading it religiously and sharing it often.  He also pushed me towards public speaking, claiming it would be good for my career.  Knowing my Dad, I suspect that this eulogy request was another gentle nudge in that direction.  In my Dad’s honor, I am going out of my comfort zone. I hope to not cry, and I will do my best today.

I am an independent woman with a family of my own. I love my parents but I am no longer dependent upon them. This being said, right now I feel like a little girl who is losing her Daddy.
My Dad wasn’t always the highly respected professional we have gathered to honor today. I remember when my Dad worked at a dog food factory in the evenings and steamed carpets on the weekend. During those lean years he accepted almost any offer for employment as long as it brought in money for the family.  

Money was tight during those years, something I have only come to realize after becoming an adult.  We were considered the “working poor” but I never knew it. He kept those worries to himself, and I suspect that these experiences strengthened his passion for helping families through his career.

We didn’t realize what was missing, but we did know that my Dad would give us a stick of gum if we stomped on his toes hard enough before going to work, and that every Friday night he would sneak out of the dog food factory and meet us for a “buy one get one free” cone. Our summer vacations consisted of camping. These treats were memorable because my Dad made them fun and special. 

He loved football, especially Penn State and the Steelers.  I remember one time, when I was little, I was sitting on his lap during a football game.  Penn State caught an interception and ran for the winning touchdown. My Dad, in his exuberance, jumped to the air. Unfortunately he forgot I was sitting on his lap and went airborne.  After that, I learned to sit next to Dad during sports, never on his lap.

He loved auto racing, especially the Indy 500.  Dad and his best friend Danny would trek to Indy every year. I’m sure that the process was as much fun as the event.  Danny died when I was 7, and even though I was young I knew that my Dad was changed. He had lost one of his best friends, and in many ways I don’t think he ever recovered from the blow.

My parents began living separately when I was eight. They have always maintained a comfortable relationship. My childhood was void of the stereotypical divorced parent conflicts. My father was often present at birthday parties and other celebrations. He came to my softball games and my school plays. They managed to execute what I have come to appreciate as the perfect divorce. 

In 1992 he married Jeanette, whom he has often claimed as the love of his life. He absolutely adored her. Together the newlyweds, along with her children, forged a new life. Their newly formed family moved to Seattle Washington. After flourishing professionally, he continued his career by moving to Texas.

I didn’t see my Dad a lot during this decade. He was busy with his career and strengthening his new family.  I was busy with college and starting my career. During these hectic years we became disconnected.

Late on a Sunday night in 2001 Scott and I heard a knock on our front door in Virginia. It turns out that my Dad accepted a position in DC (for APHSA) and had planned on staying with us for a few weeks until he “got settled.”  He stayed for 9 years.

My life has drastically changed during his residence in our basement. I bought my first house, Scott and I  we were married. I struggled through numerous surgeries and agonized with the decision to amputate my leg. My Dad was there for the surgery. Lying in the hospital bed, I remember him being furious because he was given a speeding ticket that morning as he drove to the hospital. He wasn’t upset with the ticket, he admits that he speeding.  He was upset that he had explained the situation to the police officer and was called a liar.  Questioning my dad’s integrity has always been unacceptable. 

My Dad became my cheerleader as I learned to walk again. He witnessed my journey from a patient with a bandaged and blood stump to a happy and active amputee. I started my blog. He encouraged my passion for reaching out to new amputees.  My Dad was there for all of it, a constant presence and unobtrusive support.

Some events, however, are etched in my memory. Neither Scott nor I will ever forget that cold night when my dad received the phone call that a lung was available for Christopher. (Christopher was my stepbrother who was dealing with Cystic Fibrosis.) My Dad began frantically pacing, wringing his hands and unsure of what to do next. In that moment I assumed the care-taking role, making his plane reservations and helping him pack. What a terrifying and wonderful night.

I became the conduit between my dad and the rest of the family during this time. He called me with updates on the transplant surgery as well as information concerning Christopher's recovery. I passed the information to concerned friends and family. Sadly, I resumed this role when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. 

I saw my Dad age greatly during this time as he struggled to stay strong for his wife and son. (Yes, Christopher was technically his stepson, but that was simply a label. For all intent and purposes, Chris was my dad's child.) I witnessed his true heartbreak and pain when Christopher passed away. I was angry when he received criticism from coworkers the weeks following the funeral. I learned that a daughter never forgets!
9 years after he moved in “for a few weeks” he accepted a position at Accenture. He moved back to Texas with a pledge of visiting often.  Again he became busy with his family and work, and we stayed in touch primarily through telephone. As my career expanded into new directions he became my sounding board, confident and consultant. He understood my passion and my need to give back to the community. I have lost my professional confidant and mentor. I find myself terrified about making professional decisions without his insights and advice.

My Dad was more than a professional. He was a husband, father, brother, cousin, friend and Candy Papaw. My Dad and his sister had a uniquely tight relationship. The pair forged a bond in childhood that was unbreakable.  My Aunt Judy wrote to me last night shared the following:  “My brother used to say the best insurance policy in life is having a big sister and I say the best gift in life is having a little brother to love.”  She could not be here today, but she loves him dearly and the loss is devastating.

My Dad adored his grandchildren and took pride in each one. He is called Candy Papaw because he always had lollipops in his pockets. Despite the weather or the hour, he would make sure that his grandkids had a lollipop as soon as he saw them. They didn’t see him often, but when they did it was always so very special. 

He frequently used his hotel reward points to treat his grandkids to a night at a hotel. Staying in a hotel with your cousins is a very big treat when you’re a kid. The grandkids all looked forward to these special nights, and would light up for months afterwards whenever they talked about it.  I know that they will miss these special hotel night experiences as they mourn their candy papaw. 

My Dad came into town every December so that he could take all of us shopping for our Christmas trees.  Schlepping into the woods, through the mud, carrying a saw, my Dad’s smile never ceased. He loved these simpler moments with his grandkids, and they will always think of him when cutting down their trees from now on.

I am grateful for the time I have spent with him, and I know that our relationship is a gift. Not many parents and children get the opportunity to forge adult relationships with each other.  I am proud of my dad's professional and personal accomplishments, but I cherish our family memories over his professional legacy.

When my dad became sick and I learned that he was terminal, I was devastated. Again, I tend to express myself better through writing, so I penned the following letter to him.  He asked me to read it here today.

Dear Dad,

I feel heartbroken when I contemplate the possibility that you will not always be on the other end of the receiver when I call you. I have become so accustomed to calling you throughout the course of my week, sometimes to exchange work stories (good and bad), to ask for advice, or just to complain. I have learned to rely upon your professional guidance as I navigate through my career. You have always understood my passion to help, and you have fostered and nurtured me as I stumbled to find my way.

Even though you may not always be on the other end of the receiver, rest assured that I will always carry your wisdom with me. As I find myself at professional crossroads, I know that I will continue to be guided by the advice and insights that you have already imparted.  You told me to become the co-worker that brings donuts to the office. "It never hurts to have people like you, and spending a few dollars for a dozen donuts every now and then will go a long way."  Well Dad, I've been taking the donuts (and cookies) to work ever since and that isn't going to change. 

Although you moved away to Easton when I was in the second grade, you remained present in our lives. You weren't there for everything, but I can promise you that you were there for everything that was important. I don't remember the highlights you missed, but I vividly remember looking into the bleachers at my All-Star softball game and seeing you cheering me on. You were there when I won Miss Tip-Tam, when I was "girl #2" in the school play and for my graduations. You took me trick-or-treating, and endured more than your share of  WWF wrestling matches.  Remember you were given a speeding ticket as you drove to my amputation?  But you made it in time to see me before the surgery.

You probably don't remember my 14th birthday, but it ranks among my favorites. You had just moved back to Harrisburg and drove over to Mom's house before I caught the bus for school. We went to breakfast for my birthday, just the two of us. Sitting in the booth at Burger King, happily munching on my french toast sticks, I felt like I was the most important person in the world. Although our relationship hasn't been perfect, I never felt abandoned or unloved.

I smile when I recall your reaction upon learning that you were going to be a grandfather again. You uttered the exact sentiment when I called you to tell you the same news 7 years later. "Holy shit. Are you shitting me? You're pregnant?"

You were at the hospital when Robby was born, passing the hours I was in labor by filling out crossword puzzles and chatting. You were the second man to hold my son, which in retrospect is appropriate. You were also the second man to hold Timmy. The stars certainly aligned that day, didn't they?  You happened to be at a meeting in DC when he was born. I loved that you could visit us in the hospital that first day. I probably never told you how much seeing you meant to me, but please know how happy it made me.

I feel like our relationship was taken to a unique level when you moved in and lived with us for 8 years. I enjoyed putting dinners in the refrigerator for you to eat when you came home late at night. When we moved and were no longer near the donut store, I had fun baking you cookies to take to work. More than anything, I just enjoyed seeing you and having you in our lives. Robby adored having his Candy Papaw live with him. Remember the games the two of you would play? His face still lights up when he sees you!

Dad, there is so much that I want to say. There are just too many memories to recount, and I feel too much love to put into words. I think what I really want you to know is that I am lucky to be your daughter.

Please know that you will always remain present in our lives. Robby and Timmy will know their Candy Papaw and will learn about the impact he made on millions of people through his career. You could never be forgotten.

I know someday I'll pick up the phone to call you and you won't answer. I also know that you will still be with me, even when we can't converse. I will remember all of the professional advice you have given and will always consider what you would do when I am contemplating a professional decision. And yes, I will always bring donuts to the office. 

Someday I am going to be overwhelmed with grief. Losing you will cause a hole in my heart that will always remain vacant. But please rest peacefully knowing that I will, eventually, be okay. I will keep it together for Jae, Sheri, and Jeanette. I know that you would want me to become their rock, to support them through their grief. I promise you, I will be there.  After all, I'm your daughter.

Thank you, Dad, for everything that you have done for me and for all of the love that you have given me. I'm now 40 years old, but I've come to realize that I will always feel like your little girl, your Gupper.  I love you, and I will always try to make you proud.