Posted in Dear Mom

Memorial Garden

I already learned that it’s still hard dealing with the fact my mom isn’t here….I realized that the 2nd year without was a lot harder than I anticipated. Even knowing all that, I wasn’t prepared for the emotions that would hit me today returning to my middle school. As soon as my sister and I were out of middle school, my mom became an Algebra teacher there. Today they dedicated the Patricia Gotimer Memorial Garden in her name. The garden came about as an Eagle Scout project for one of her students in her last year of teaching; even leaving school at Thanksgiving, my mom made a profound enough impact on this young man that he took the initiative to build a garden for her at her school.

Even knowing that I’d see her friends, colleagues and some former students, I wasn’t prepared for all the feelings – and that became abundantly clear as I couldn’t even get through my short speech I had prepared without tears, lots of tears…

Mom, this one’s for you. You always loved seeing your students succeed and watch them do amazing things…well Tommy knocked this one out of the park. The old beat up courtyard that used to just be used by skateboarders, well now it’s a permanent place for you at ERMS.

It has been said, “Being a good teacher is a lot like being a good gardener. Good gardeners are optimistic and patient. They are able to see the potential in those struggling young seedlings and enjoy watching them grow, develop and bloom. They give special tender loving care to those few plants that are struggling and not thriving.”

East Ridge was a second family to my mom; both the staff and students. My mother’s best friends were some of you here today. You were her friends, confidants and family when Sarah and I grew up and moved out. For about 1200 Ridgefield students, she was their math teacher who loved to teach Algebra and she was so fiercely passionate about her students’ successes. For 15 years, she started the school year by decorating her classroom with students’ favorite numbers covered in pictures of things that were important to them. I imagine if she created her own, it would be the symbol for Pi, adorned with math symbols, a deck of cards, a picture of Sarah and me, a Yankees’ logo, pictures of the beach and flowers. When she wasn’t preparing class plans or grading quizzes and tests, she always loved to garden.

I can think of no better way to honor my mom than through this garden. It is comforting to know that there will still be a little place in Ridgefield for her even though she is gone. On behalf of my sister, Sarah, myself and our entire extended family, we want to thank everyone involved in making this garden happen. We would especially like to thank Tommy for his idea and hard work to create this lasting memorial for my mom and thank the entire community for the love you have shown us over the past few years.

Posted in life

2017…another year in the books

2017 has reminded me just how grateful I should be, how thankful I am for the amazing people in my life and how blessed I am to live this life I have!

I’m not going to lie, 2017 started out as a rough year. 40 days in, my life changed forever. Dealing with my mom’s passing was rough, and I really thought it was going to define the year. While I am sure I will always remember that as the most influential part of my 2017, I have been blessed with a multitude of other experiences to make this year enjoyable in the days since. Here are my top 17 highlights from 2017:

  1. Monroe got a new yoga studio – Blue Lotus Yoga, opened by a dear friend of mine who has entrusted me with help her with her social media and website, and all the while it has only made Elaina and me better friends.
  2. My friend Mary came to visit from down south just to keep me company and be with me for a tough weekend. While it was a short visit, it is one I will always remember as she but her own life on hold for the weekend to be there for me at the drop of a hat.
  3. I got my 3rd tattoo – it’s my mom’s handwriting and says “Love, Mom”, taken off the Christmas card she wrote me last year.
  4. Tom and I went to see Jake Owen in concert! (I have to get at least one country concert in each year.)
  5. Once I finally had a chance to leave home for a bit, I visited Jenna and saw Oregon and Washington for my first time! We went beer tasting around Portland (along with whiskey and wine tasting) and even had a flight across the gorge in Washington! I was also able to see Mulnomah Falls and the Columbia River Gorge before they were hit with a devastating wild fire. Also, while in Portland, Jenna took me to my very first professional soccer game – and I will admit that I loved it!
  6. I spent Mother’s Day weekend in DC with Emily – wine tasting around Virginia and taking in another Nationals game.
  7. I completed my 2nd Warrior Dash with some awesome ladies from my softball team.
  8. I got a dirt bike!!!
  9. Spent Labor Day up on Cape Cod with Tom, Jenna and her family to wish her farewell before her next chapter of life and adventures in Cambodia! And since it was me and Jenna, rum, gin and wine tasting were all on the menu! Along with a 20+ mile bike ride on the rail trail. And we even caught a sight of seals off the coast in Provincetown.
  10. Finally took in a Bridgeport Bluefish game at Harbor Yard before they left town for good.
  11. And even though Hurricane Irma rained out the Tampa 2017 installment of #ktomandlamargotimlbtour, we booked a last minute trip to Cleveland where we saw the Indians win 21 straight games (and then break their win streak two days later). Plus we saw the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and cruised on the Great Lake to see a different side of Cleveland.
  12. I finally made it to Canada thanks to a work trip to Montreal. And though I didn’t have time for sightseeing, there was time to pick up pure Canadian maple syrup to bring home! Work also sent me to Atlanta, so I finally stepped foot outside the airport. And was able to experience some southern BBQ while we dined. My final work trip sent me to Torino, Italy for a week. And included a 7 hour layover in Frankfurt, which gave me ample time to go walk around the city instead of just hanging out in the airport.
  13. After wanting to learn for a long time, I dove in and took a calligraphy class at Joyful Noise Paper and have been enjoying practicing my new hobby ever since.
  14. I spent November writing my 30 Days of Thanks and looking back on all of the blessings I have in my life.
  15. I was elected chair of Monroe Youth Commission.
  16. I survived 3 straight days of Christmas baking – making 100 raspberry thumprints + 121 chocolate chip cookies + 3 Irish soda breads + 81 meringues + 45 chocolate covered pretzels…all for the weekend before Christmas. And that doesn’t include anything I made for Christmas itself, which we hosted for the 1st time this year.
  17. The Gotimer family grew again as Lizzie and Brian got married!
Posted in 30 Days of Thanks, Dear Mom

Day 21 – 💚Mom💚

Today I am thankful for my mom. Over the past nine months I have realized how much I truly relied on her in my day-to-day life. When I couldn’t find the recipe to chicken supreme last week, I wanted to pick up the phone and call mom for it – fortunately, I was able to call my grandmother to get it. But mom didn’t just give me my favorite recipes on demand; I used mom as my own personal google too. When I need to know how to get a new stain out of clothing, or get burnt off food off the bottom of a pan, mom always had some good tips – did you know that the granular Cascade dishwasher detergent can get almost any stain out of anything? I didn’t until mom suggested I use that to get grease out of a shirt. I am thankful that mom would always be there, any hour of the day, to answer the most ridiculous and obscure questions I might have.

Mom was more than my own personal google too; she was the woman who taught me how to be an independent woman. She taught me to hold my head high, to feel secure as a female in a male dominated field and to stand up for myself. She taught me to be respectful, to listen and not speak out, to learn and to love. She taught me that it was OK to not be perfect but also taught me to strive for perfection. She taught me to never give up and to always fight for myself, my loved ones and my beliefs. She taught me that family is important.

I am thankful that I celebrated her birthday with her last year. Two years ago, we celebrated Mom’s 60th at Gramercy Tavern in NYC with most of her family. She wanted a smaller brunch in the Rainbow Room, but we weren’t able to get reservations, but thanks to a suggestion from an aunt, we found an even better place that could handle a larger crowd too! I cannot speak highly enough of the people at Gramercy Tavern for the service we got that day. While we rang in her 60th in style, it is actually her 61st birthday that left a bigger impact on me. Last year I was unemployed when her birthday came around; while it was the end of my unemployment and I knew I would be starting a new job soon, I didn’t have much money to spend on going out for mom’s birthday. Tom and I invited her over for dinner, but she told me she didn’t feel comfortable driving home from our house in the dark, so instead we went to her. What she didn’t tell me was that she wasn’t feeling well and that was the real reason she didn’t want to drive to our house, on roads she’s uncomfortable with, where she didn’t know where she could stop on her way home. So we had her birthday dinner at her house a couple weeks early (eating our beloved chicken supreme), but at that time I didn’t know she wasn’t feeling well. A few days after the early birthday dinner, my Mom texted my sister and I to let us know that her sister and her mother (and possibly my cousin) were going to the Botanical Gardens for the Holiday Train Show and then out for dinner. I called my mom to talk about it, I wasn’t opposed to going, but didn’t think I could afford to go (and to be honest, wasn’t super excited to go) – I was on a tight budget, the holidays were coming up and I still had a number of presents to purchase, I didn’t have money in the budget to go out for a nice dinner, pay for parking, pay for admission, etc. Mom told me that since she was a member, she had guest passes, I didn’t have to pay to go to the gardens, and she’d cover my dinner, she didn’t want me to miss it. Even though I didn’t have a strong desire to go, I agreed and met my mom, aunt, grandma and cousin there on the Saturday before Thanksgiving to go see the train show. I am very thankful that my mom told me how much it meant to her that I come and be there, because if I’m being honest, that is the only reason I was going. I really enjoyed the train show – so much so that Tom and I are headed back there today, on what would have been Mom’s 62nd birthday to celebrate her!

After the train show. We went out for dinner in City Island. It was after dinner, while we waited for dessert, when Mom finally told me she wasn’t feeling well. We didn’t know at that time what exactly was the problem, but we would soon find out. In hindsight, I see how important it was that I went to celebrate her birthday that day. I am thankful I gave in and that she was persistent that I come. I am thankful that I had that day of fun with her. I am thankful I was there on her last big outing. I am thankful she enjoyed her birthday.

Every day I hope that I am making her proud. I hope that I am using the lessons she taught me. I am forever thankful for the time I spent with her, even if it was not nearly enough time to do everything we wanted to do.

Posted in 30 Days of Thanks

Day 12 – Family

I am thankful for my family, their unconditional love and support. I am also thankful I was born into two very large families! With 16 aunts/uncles, 17 1st cousins (plus their significant others and kids) and more 2nd cousins than I can count, family is not hard to come by. With such a large family, there is always someone there for any given situation – blood really is thicker than water and family comes together for good times, and to hold you up in the not so good times. God blesses each of us with the families we are born into and from the very beginning our families are there for us. Having such a large family certainly makes the holidays festive and allows you to celebrate over and over with different groups of family. This year I have been blessed with spending a good amount of time with some family members I don’t get to see as often, but even though we may live far apart and our lives don’t give us time to see each other frequently, we pick up as if nothing has been missed (and can thank technology for keeping us close even when there are many miles between us).