Wishing all Hero Protective Mothers, their children, and supporters a safe Thanksgiving, filled with love. We love you. The PMA International Team.
One Missouri woman came up with a unique way to cherish her family’s Thanksgiving memories each year — and she couldn’t be more grateful that she did.
In 2000, Deb Mills of Clinton began the holiday tradition of having each person who joins her family’s Thanksgiving dinner sign her white tablecloth.
“We are a blended family, and we set out to make some very special family traditions that are all our own,” she told ABC News of her unique idea. “Back in 2000, I got out this plain white tablecloth, and put it on the table, and my teenage kids looked at me like I was crazy when I said, ‘I want you to sign this tablecloth.’ Then a few years later, the [grandchildren] came along, and now we have 16 years of memories on the tablecloth.”
There is one memory that is perhaps the most sacred and special: the signature of their daughter Mary, who died suddenly of a ruptured aneurysm three years ago at the age of 44.
“The most important thing is we have the names, the signatures of those that have been dear to us through the years that are no longer with us,” an emotional Mills said, fighting back tears. “Particularly, we lost a daughter three years ago, and it is very special to be able to put that tablecloth on the table each Thanksgiving and there is Mary’s name and she’s among us. As well as my mother and my husband’s father. Those three signatures are irreplaceable to us at this point, and I’m sure that tablecloth is irreplaceable to our four remaining kids and 10 grandkids and anybody else that has sat our table.”
The close friends and family all sign their name using the same colored pen, which alternates each year.
“Each year is done in a different color, and along the edge I have the color code,” Mills explained. “For 2015 we have royal blue because the [Kansas City] Royals won the World Series. Then I hand-embroider it through the winter months. That makes it much more durable.”
Footprints of newborn babies and a drawing of a graduation hat also emblazon the tablecloth to mark each generation’s celebrations. Although there are some names included that are better left in the past.
“When the kids were younger, they would say, ‘If we invite so and so and we break up, then what?’” Mills said, laughing. “And that has happened. But we have gravy boats strategically placed for just that reason.”
The proud grandmother is flattered that several of friends heard about the tradition and started tablecloths of their own.
“It’s just a little special tablecloth to us. It’s no big deal,” she said. “But people are now planning on starting it this Thanksgiving. These are younger girls, and I’ll have them over to show them how to embroider it for years to come.”
More than anything, Mills said, “We are so blessed with such a great family. Families are of extreme importance, and making memories and traditions that carry on to the next generation are so irreplaceable.”
To my little birds, for whom I will forever ache, missing under my wings since 12/13/2012… gone, but always on my mind and in the hole in my heart that can only be filled by you, A, R, r, Z. You are forever in my prayers and thoughts. My hope is that you are truly happy, genuinely allowed to enjoy your childhood, and that you do not suffer paralyzing grief because of our separation. I hold hope in my heart that one day we can sweep up the pieces, laugh and cry about all we have lost/missed, and can never again be forcibly kept apart. This poem is by Emily Dickinson…and is my dreaded, daily reminder of you, my sweet angelbabies…love you to the moon and back, more than ice cream, and forever and always…
Quite empty, quite at rest,
The Robin locks her Nest, and tries her Wings.
She does not know a Route
But puts her Craft about
For rumored Springs
She does not ask for Noon
She does not ask for Boon,
Crumbless and homeless, of but one request
The Birds she lost.
Encapsulated years, formidable age
Broken matrimony, a mother’s steel cage
Freedom envelops, took him years to creep back
Empirical deception, a predatory attack
Tainted menageries beckon, billowing dreams
Porcelain souls chatter, archaic ghastly screams
Resurrected reprieves, fragmented years
Demons shrouded, the least of our fears
Poised misperceptions, orchestrated hate
Our living testimony, up for a slanderous debate
Peaceful years churn, into marshmallow smoke
Emotional vampire, in his gregarious cloak
Obscured corruption, his maddening gaze
Entitled resurrection, a jesters charade
Acrid words congeal, asphyxiated voice
Best interests presumed, counterfeit choice
Strangled hands clamor, a fight for their rights
Held hostage by venom, blackened by might
Darkness provokes, prevaricated concern
Coagulated combustion, gentle souls yearn
Calculated control, deafening pleas
Bruised hands praying, on calloused slate knees
Disjointed disdain, forced to engage
Court ordered abuse satiates, his sanctimonious rage
(C) 2018 CM
This story was originally published on September 11, 2014
“Remarkably it survived when so much else did not,” said businessman Raviv Shtaingos about a red envelope he decided to pick up on September 11, 2001 as he fled from Lower Manhattan. We first encountered the story of the letter that survived 9/11 last year through this video made by Stephen Farrell for The New York Times, but we thought it would be appropriate to share again today on the fourteenth anniversary of the attacks. Read on to watch Farrell’s short film about the tenacious letter.
The letter — which was actually an invitation to a wedding rehearsal dinner — was supposed to go from Maine to California. Lawry Meister’s aunt dropped the red envelope addressed to her Los Angeles-based niece in the mail in Cape Neddick, after which it traveled to New Hampshire and then to Boston, where it was loaded onto one of the two LA-bound planes that were hijacked on the morning of September 11, 2001.
We all know the next part of the story. The planes never made it to their destinations, and the mail aboard them, including the invitation sent to Lawry Meister, ended up littered on the streets of Lower Manhattan. That probably would have been the end of the tale for the red envelope, except that a London-based businessman, Raviv Shtaingos, spotted it amid all of the chaos and picked it up. But even after making it to safety and returning to the UK, Shtaingos did not forget about the letter. Without even knowing what the message inside might say, he decided to overnight it to its intended recipients in Los Angeles.
Lawry Meister was wary of the packet at first but when her curiosity got the better of her, she and her husband Charlie were amazed at the contents — a tattered and torn envelope addressed from her aunt but that somehow came from Britain. They were even more astonished after they read the short note Shtaingos had tucked inside explaining what the letter had been through.
“What’s always struck me is that someone who was leaving this, you know, this crisis, fleeing for their lives, would take the time to pick it up… and then to return it,” Charlie Meister told The New York Times.
“I think it’s actually a symbol of hope,” said Lawry Meister. “I think that, you know, it wasn’t an ordinary letter or something. It was something to celebrate and the fact that that made it through…”
The Meisters donated the letter to the 9/11 Memorial Museum, where it serves to share a tale of human resilience to all that visit.