Friday, May 29, 2009

Goodbye to our friend - Big Jim Sollinger

It is with sadness, that I offer the poem below. Our dear friend Jim Sollinger, or as his "bar friends" affectionately called him Toby, passed away last Saturday night at the age of 67. Jimmy fought a brave battle with lung cancer. Diagnosis to his final passing happened quickly taking only 8 weeks. We were rather shocked to see how quickly the cancer spread. His cousin Carolyn and her husband Bob took wonderful care of Jimmy through his illness. They will miss him greatly.

As my blog is often a memorial tribute ... I wish to share Jimmy with all of you.
Brian has known Jimmy since he was 12 years old. Jimmy used to work with Bri's big brother Lenny at the time. Through the years Jimmy and Brian remained very close friends. Jimmy helped work on both of our houses. When we had a dog that didn't quite fit into our family, she chose Jimmy to be her new Doggy Daddy. She followed him around our home, constantly looking at him with those big expressive eyes, begging him to save her from the chaos that is a home with 2 boisterous boys. LOL We thought she was a good pet for our family but she did much better with an older owner with no children. Trixie and Jim remained good buddies through the past 5 years and I know she is missing him big time. Luckily Jimmy's other friend Scott was kind enough to adopt Trixie into his family where she is now being loved with their other dogs.
Brian was a pall bearer at the funeral and Carolyn asked if he would say something at the funeral. Brian is not a person to speak in front of a crowd. As I watched the color drain from his face at the mere thought of doing that, I stepped in and offered to do it for him.
I hate attending a funeral, where nothing personal is said about the person who has died. They lived a life full of friendship, family and fun. While it's always difficult to say something at a funeral... Jimmy was worthy of being shared. Being quite the character, I decided to write a poem about him and include some pictures. His face is dirty in the picture with the other gentlemen, one being my husband Brian (with that late 80's perm! LOL) and the other their friend Mike, because they were working on remodeling our home in Etna. They were obviously in the demolition phase. The other is at the housewarming party for the same home and Jim is making one of those classic goofy faces.
He was a kind man, a funny man, a man with a big heart and even heartier laugh. He will be missed by many friends in Lawrenceville and especially by my husband, his friend for always, Brian. I was very touched with my husband's reaction to Jimmy's death... he cried more than I had imagined he would. A true testimony to his friendship. I present to you now, the poem I wrote about Jimmy and read at his funeral. It's a tad humorous too, so you will get a better idea of the man he was. Thanks for letting me share Jimmy.

Whether you knew him for many years,
or if you had only just met.
Jimmy is one of those crazy characters
you could never ever forget.

With a happy twinkle in his eyes
and the heartiest laugh you'll ever hear.
A cigarette in one hand
and in the other an Iron City beer.

Some folks called him Toby,
while others called him Big Jim.
It matters not which name you chose
You always had a friend in him.

He was a rather well known man
a self made king of Lawrenceville
and when he hit that football poll
it gave him quite a thrill!

Spinning records to the masses
He was our DJ man.
He even DJ'd our wedding
with a mike and a beer in his hand.

Always hanging and eating with Billy
even fighting with him too!
But they loved each other anyways.
Their friendship was true blue.

Hanging out at Salac's bar
and even some bars in between.
You would really him holler,
when he won on that poker machine.

Our Jim was always happy
you would never find him down
always smiling and laughing right out loud,
you would never see him frown.

He helped Brian build our houses
with his stong and loving hands.
You could always hear him coming,
in that beat up hippie van!

Years he spent working with Lenny and Brian
and Kevin & Bruce at First Glass
The upholstery store with his new friends.
Who knew it would all end so fast?

He loved his sweet dog Trixie
and boy how she loved him too.
Say a little prayer for his canine friend
though she now lives with Scott's family
I know she's feeling blue.

He loved his aunt and cousins,
they were there when things looked grim.
Caroline even gave him a bell,
so she and Bob could take good care of him.

We sadly now must say good-bye
Your soul now heaven will claim.
I know that our hearts and Lawrenceville
Will never be the same.

But our Good Lord made us a promise.
That who so ever believes in Him.
Will one day be reunited
With our friend and brother Big Jim.

And when you get to heaven
as you near those pearly gates,
There Big Jim will stand
with a beer in his hand
laughing out loud as for you he waits.

written by Tammy L. Tobac
for our dear friend Jimmy Sollinger

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bonnie & Clyde - the Birdfeeder Bandits ;o)

HMMmmmm.... just what is that sticking out of my birdfeeder, made by my older son Zane?
Why it's the Birdfeeder Bandits! Caught in the act!
I swear I am going to have the fattest squirrels in West Deer Township, because this thieving duo has wiped out both of my bird feeders of ALL content, several times over this winter! Somewhere is a squirrel lair filled with about 50 pounds of birdseed!
Nothing deters these little buggers. I even pulled one of their tails when I got close enough, and they still came right back!

Care for a look at my friend Clyde from a ... uh, more pleasing perspective rather than bottoms up!
He's rather darling, even if he is a petty thief for a living!

Here he is with his accomplice, the fair furred Bonnie, helping themselves to not just one birdfeeder, but two! They think it's their own personal buffet. ;o)

How can I stay mad at one of God's sweet creatures? After all.... look at that sweet little fuzzy face!
And that very full tummy. ;o) I think he was posing for me to show me how he'd won the battle! They have won! My birdfeeder sits empty, until we can find some way to keep them from emptying the entire thing in one sitting!
We made it far too easy as it's right at their level on our deck. LOL
Anyone out there have any ways to keep my Bonnie & Clyde out of the birdfeeders?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Happy Mother's Day, Update on my Dad, and the Blog goes on....

I wish all of you fellow Mommies out there a very happy belated Mother's day! I hope that you got breakfast in bed, or brunch out with family (what our family did) and hand made cards and gifts that touched your souls. My son Shane made me a lovely computer created chart denoting that he thought I am Loving, Friendly, #1 Mom, Very Craftsy (lol-new word, don't you love it?) and Fun to go to Concerts With (My favorite!). I love the thought he put into it. My older son, well, let's just let that one go, shall we? What can we do to make our boys be more thoughful and caring? LOL My hubby has lovingly allowed me to go for a facial (which I will blissfully submit to once my business slows down a bit!).
I attended a mother/daughter banquet at my Mom's church (my old childhood church) this evening. It was delightful to visit with old friends and to share an evening with family and my darling goddaughter Brianna. Dinner was delish and cake from the Oakmont bakery was the perfect end to this perfect evening!

Mother's Day was also a day for me to think about my dear friend Shelly and the first Mother's Day her children had without her and her own mother who struggled to survive her first Mother's Day without her daughter in it. My heart broke at the thoughts of 4 children who I am sure felt a huge void in their Sunday. I watched Good Morning America on Friday morning followed by Regis & Kelly and all of the worthy moms they honored. One of course had me sobbing aloud as I heard the letter from a Mom who knew she had little time due to the cancer that ravaged her body, but had written and asked for a basketball court for her sons and husband. She had taken the time to set up little boxes for their future milestone moments where they were to receive gifts from a Mom who would no longer be here on this earth, but chose to gift them from beyond the grave at their graduation, wedding, etc. She sadly died, before Regis & Kelly were able to grant her wish, but her children and husband were thrilled at the new basketball court that was given to them. There wasn't a dry eye in the house.
It made me grateful to just be here... here with my sons. Able to hug them. Able to see them grow into young men. Able to care for them, despite my own health issues, into the future. There but for the grace of God, go I. So this Mother's Day I was grateful to just be with family and friends and to share hugs and smiles. What could mean more?
(singing like Sonny 'n Cher!- you know you were too!)
I am reviving this tired blog after a lengthy time of solitude. I have decided, that though I have very little time to play with my rubber stamps and create cards, which was what this blog was originally intended for... I am still living life and feel a need to share good things and thoughts and perhaps it's time to bring this blog back to life with a new purpose! A daily gratitude journal. A place for poems and thoughts and prayers. A place to catch my breath and share just LIFE.
Though I won't be sharing cards for a while, I am grateful for the work that has come my way in the form of my calligraphy business. I am happily snowed under in wedding orders. While it is often overwhelming and no one can really help me with the writing aspect of it, I am happy to pay others to help with folding and ribbon tying and even today paid my nephew to chauffeur my tired, lagging butt around town to deliver artwork to a gallery who requested art of me to display in their church gallery. It was an honor to be asked and a challenge to complete the task during this very busy time of year. But it felt good to finish it at last this morning and to see it hanging on the walls of the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Upper St. Clair. Jenny Gallo, the curator found my art online at my calligraphy blog and asked me to be her artist for the month of May. No one has ever considered my work to be a collection, so it was truly a privilege!
UPDATE ON MY FATHER -- After a recent trip to Florida with his sister to visit their southern brother Joe, he is feeling quite well! He was allowed to have a 3 month break from all chemo treatments and welcomed it quite willingly! No medical tests, no needles, no blood giving, no chemo for 3 whole months. I am glad he got this reprieve and glad he used it to it's fullest with a plane trip to Florida and a joyful time with his siblings.
I still have other friends who are struggling with health issues, such as Jeff who needs a kidney transplant, Mary Ellen who is being treated for cancer and our dear friend Big Jim, who now also has lung cancer and various cancerous spots throughout his body. I ask that you just take a moment and say a little prayer for these kind people as I thank you again for praying for my father.
So, as the blog goes on... I will be here more often, not with cards, but life.
la de da da dee.... la de da da daaaaaaa... and the blog goes on, and the blog goes on.....