A smile that lights up the room

Today, she filled a void, a void that I knew was there, but obviously did not  comprehend the full extent.

A few days ago, I received a text from Judy, “see you in a few days.” I cannot even begin to share all the emotions that took hold of me at that very moment. Excitement only touches the surface of what I was feeling.

This wonderful woman entered my life almost three years ago unexpected. A bus ride to downtown Fort Myers ignited a beautiful friendship! She was instrumental in getting me through so much, much more than I think she realizes over the past few years.

When I said goodbye before Jason and I moved to Tennessee, it hit me like a brick. I cried as Jason pulled away, which continued down the road. I was going to miss this best friend of mine.

Judy always knew when to pop in the office unannounced, or just lend an ear when I didn’t know I needed someone to listen.

Friends are sometimes hard to find. Good friends are sometimes hard to come by. Judy and I had an instant connection, one that only grows.

Her smile, oh my gosh, Judy’s smile lights up the room. That is one thing I miss the most since moving to Tennessee. All I had to do was see her smile and my whole mood would change. If she started laughing, yep, say goodbye to the bad mood or stress.

Judy has been an incredible friend.

We have kept in touch and talked to each other on the phone, and yes, I could feel the smile coming through the phone . . . the laughter too . . . She definitely helped in getting me through some trying times when I was adjusting to the new life Jason and I made in Tennessee.

I missed this friend of mine.

So, as I got in my car to drive to Johnson City to meet Judy and Dave for dinner, my heart was happy. When I walked into Olive Garden and saw Judy smiling at me, my heart was singing.

It was so good to see her, so good to see her smile. If that wasn’t enough, just to be together once again, her compliment touched me beyond words. To hear, I look the best I ever have, made me smile.

Judy and I being together in the same room talking as we always have, was so overdue. It was nice to soak up that positive energy again.

Dinner was wonderful. I got to spend time with some of the board members of Wounded Warrior Anglers and learn about the continued success of this wonderful organization. An organization that I am honored to be a board member for.

After talking with Dave, I’m even more excited about being involved.

When I lived in Fort Myers I was constantly in the mix of everything that involved WWAnglers. Now living in Tennessee I hear about it over the phone. Tonight over dinner, I felt that connection once again. It felt so good to share ideas. It felt so good to see the expressions and emotions take hold as stories were shared.

I truly felt like I was apart of it all again.

Let the networking begin.

I absolutely loved having friends here. I have to be honest it made me miss Fort Myers.

As we said our goodbyes and I walked away, my eyes became watery. I had to sit for a moment before backing out of the parking spot.

I sure hope I can make it back to Fort Myers soon. I need to see family and friends.

I love you Judy and treasure our friendship.

‘Tee Up for Heroes’ to benefit WWA

A fundraiser for Wounded Warrior Anglers will be held on Monday, Nov. 10, at Pelican’s Nest Golf Club, at Pelican Landings in Bonita Springs.

battle of matlachaKathy Swift, who is putting together the event, said the golf tournament, “Tee Up for Heroes,” is completely filled as of Monday, Oct. 20. She said they have 30 foursome teams participating.

Wounded Warrior Anglers Vice President Judy Souders said they have 10 veterans golfing in the tournament, as well as six veterans volunteering the day of the event.

“We are literally maxed out. For the first one here we are doing fine,” Swift said. “Hopefully next year, since this is the first time, we will be able to use both courses.”

The inaugural “Tee Up for Heroes” golf tournament begins at 12:30 p.m.

It will include MREs, meals ready to eat, for the golfers, to keep with the theme of the day, honoring veterans.

“A lot of these guys when they are out in battle they carry these MREs because they can be gone for a few days,” Swift explained. “So they open these packets up and that’s their meal.”

On the day of the tournament, the golfers will receive their very own MREs, or a boxed lunch, of a chicken wrap, fruit, cookies and a drink.

Instead of having the normal flag at each hole on the golf course, kids will be standing at each hole with an American flag.

The dinner, which will begin around 5 p.m., will include hors d’oeuvre, the main course, a drink, entertainment and a silent auction.

Tickets are $60 per person and can be purchased at http://www.woundedwarrioranglers.org, or by calling Swift at (239) 948-8478.

Swift said she has room for approximately 50 more people.

Former private musician of President Eisenhower, John Felice, will provide the entertainment during dinner. Felice, who performed in the Navy band is 83 years old.

“Boy can he play,” she said.

The Pelican Landing Singers will also perform patriotic songs, as well as songs for each branch of the military.

The silent auction will include such items as paintings, golf certificates, a cruise, a three-day trip to the Kentucky Derby with all expenses paid, baskets of wine, and two dinners for six people at two different homes.

All of the proceeds from the tournament and dinner will be donated to Wounded Warrior Anglers.

“Wounded Warrior Anglers is very honored and fortunate to have that committee from Pelicans Nest Golf community to represent us and honor our veterans,” Souders said. “In turn Wounded Warrior Anglers can honor more wounded warriors through our organization.”

Although this is the fourth tournament Swift has held for wounded warriors, this is the first one she is hosting in honor of Wounded Warrior Anglers.

“Keith Campbell told me about Wounded Warrior Anglers,” she said.

Swift said she got started with the fundraisers because of her son Michael who was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq.

“(When) I got started, my son was a wounded warrior, but at the time I did not know it,” Swift said. “All these guys need our support.”

After hearing about her son having traumatic brain injury, it inspired her to keep going, so she can continue to help wounded warriors.

Over the years, through National Coalition for Patriots, she has helped raise money for Corey Kent, a Cape Coral resident who stepped on an IED while deployed in Afghanistan.

“He was at Walter Reed for almost three years,” she said.

She also helped raise funds for wounded warrior Josh Harwig, who her son Michael knows. With the help of the community, they raised enough for a $62,000 Toyota Tundra in three and a half weeks to help with transportation because his wife was having a baby.

Dave and Judy Souders, founders of Wounded Warrior Anglers.

Dave and Judy Souders, founders of Wounded Warrior Anglers.

Wounded Warrior Anglers of America, Inc. was founded in 2012 by Dave and his wife Judy Souders. Its mission is to “help rehabilitate the mind, body and soul of all service members who have been injured, wounded or disabled in the line of duty no matter what their era of service.”

The organization helps its warriors by taking them out on the water for a day of fishing. This outing helps promote a friendly and peaceful environment to help warriors heal.

Wounded Warrior Anglers also help the warrior’s caregivers by treating them to a day of relaxation at the spa.

Long over due

I find myself missing his laughter, his beautiful smile and his presence at home. Most of all I miss sitting on the couch with him and eating dinner together.

I love what he is doing for us . . . I am grateful he is taking care of us.

I miss him tremendously though . . .

Last night showed me just how much I miss spending time with him. It was definitely long over due . . .

The last couple of weeks Jason has been working nonstop doubles, starting his day early at one job, coming home sleeping for an hour at the most, before leaving for his second job. This week, he worked doubles Tuesday-Friday, which meant I barely saw him.

I treasure Jason for this simple fact, his work ethic, but boy do I miss him.

His last full day off was a week ago and we spent the day moving.

He came home in good spirits all week-long, considering how much time he spent on his feet and how little sleep he has had. With that said, I know it’s taking a toll on him. I know he is super sore, tired and ready for a day where he can be lazy and catch up on some much needed sleep.

So in an effort to tell him how thankful I am, I have been taking care of everything at the house. I have made sure everything we needed to get accomplished with our move has been done, as well as making sure he has clean clothes for work. To top that off, I make sure I have something for him to eat when he gets home, either dinner he can warm up, or making him something once he returns home. I want him to relax as much as possible when he is home. Plus, it’s kind of fun spoiling him.

The appreciation in his voice as he tells me thank you for everything, or the smile when he sees something is done, is all worth the effort.

The anticipation of last night was brewing all day long, especially after I got a text from Jason during the day asking me about an interview I had scheduled yesterday afternoon. I had to drive to Jonesborough to interview a 5th grader who is in the running of winning a contest – a $250 scholarship.

When I returned home from the interview, I was more than ready for our dinner date. Yep, a night out with my baby, there is nothing better than that!

As soon as we sat down at dinner, so many thoughts went rushing through my head as I looked at him from across the table. I love this man so much and I am beyond lucky to have him in my life. Sometimes that feeling consumes me in such a great way.

I feed off of Jason’s energy, I feed off of his good vibes. Sometimes just being around him, calms me and makes my whole body relax.

Laughter instantly started our night as Jason asked me “so how have you been?” and “Who are you?” Those comments set the momentum for the rest of the night.

It was then and there that the overwhelming feeling of how much I have missed him this week washed over me.

The conversation as we ate dinner was great, something I believe we both needed.

The stress of the week vanished at that moment. I was spending time with my best friend, the love of my life and loving every minute of it.

Jason always knows when I need time with him, just the two of us.

Last night was perfect, our service was excellent and the food was pretty good. The Bacardi and coke wasn’t too bad either 🙂

The whole way home, the car was full of nonstop laughter.

As the night dwindled down, we both laid on the couch, my head nestled on his shoulder, as we both started drifting off to sleep. As his breathing deepened and his body starting to relax, I got us up and to bed where we would both be more comfortable.

Before going to bed, I told him I loved him. The look in his eyes and the compassion in his voice made my heart skip a beat. Still after five years, hearing those words . . . .

The best sisters

Last night was a ton of fun as Jason, Emily, Maureen, Phil and my parents and I sat around the kitchen table laughing.

With our move only three days away Jason and I are making our rounds to say goodbye to everyone. Last night my two younger sisters joined Jason and I at my parents house to have one last dinner together before we leave.

The traditional homemade pizza, courtesy of my parents, was the wonderfully tasty meal we all had. Jason and I have many memories of mom’s pizza – one being our high school homecoming dinner. We all wore bibs, so we wouldn’t get our “dance” clothes dirty.

When we arrived at my parents house and opened the garage door Emily told me I couldn’t come in yet, so I closed the door laughing. She made us a goodbye cookie, super sweet and thoughtful.

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From that moment on we laughed continuously as the night went on, a perfect way to start a weekend of saying goodbye to everyone. Stories were shared, memories were made and games were played.

I love how close my family is, how we all have a great time when we gather in one place. It was a wonderful night, a great time with my younger sisters and the man I love. I sure am going to miss my sisters!

A week away

I cannot believe tomorrow marks one week until we pack the cars and leave Fort Myers for our new home!

The goodbyes are in full swing …

Today while I was at work, residents of Pine Island started calling and stopping in to make sure they gave me a hug, as well as send me off with good wishes. I was so excited to see one particular resident stop in this afternoon, especially since she recently went through surgery. She said she couldn’t let me leave without saying goodbye. Again, another person who left an everlasting imprint on me.

I can only imagine what my remaining four days at the Pine Island Eagle will contain.

My editor, who puts my paper together every Monday, faxed me a copy, so I can look it over before it’s sent off to the printing press. Tomorrow’s paper includes an invitation for the entire community to come and say goodbye between specific hours at the deli down the boardwalk. Wednesday is going to be overwhelming, very overwhelming if a crowd makes an appearance.

With our days counting down, I am trying to make time for as many friends as possible before we depart.

Tonight I had dinner with a childhood friend, a friend who I spent every waking hour with once upon a time. Our dinner was such a fantastic way to kick off our last week in Florida. Erin showed so much excitement for our move and was so incredibly supportive and encouraging. When we left the restaurant I was on such a natural high from sharing our plans.

I didn’t think it was possible to become anymore excited about our move than I already am.

Crunch time is here, the packing begins and the phone calls to turn off services and begin services is in full swing … which reminds me I should probably stop writing and start filling boxes.

Wow next Tuesday Jason and I will be driving away from Fort Myers. Our adventure is almost ready to begin …

Homemade

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Although my boyfriend typically spoils me with a wonderful meal every night when I get home from work, this past week the roles have changed.

Due to him taking on a second job and working about 70 hours a week, I decided to make sure he had a meal every night already prepared, so when he arrived home from working a double all he has to do is warm it up and enjoy. I figured that was the least I can do for this man who is working doubles almost every day just to give us an opportunity to achieve our goal.

I love and admire his determination to make things happen. He is a man who does not sit still, but rather takes action.

The appreciation I received last night as he was warming up the honey chicken I made from scratch and taking a bite of a corn muffin was incredible. His gesture only makes me want to continue to surprise him with a new meal every night.

It has been a ton of fun finding recipes every day and duplicating the meal for us to enjoy. The best part is tasting the creation I threw together and wanting seconds because it tasted good.

Tonight I made baked ziti with chicken, which was incredibly easy to throw together, put in the oven and forget about until the buzzer went off. Food that is made from scratch, instead of already prepared, always tastes a million times better. I always feel so much better once the meal is finished because I know every ingredient that is thrown into the recipe.

I think I may have found a new joy, which I’m sure my boyfriend will be thrilled about . . .

Maybe it is time for him to be spoiled for a while . . .