"Our Little Trooper"

"Our Little Trooper"
"Let me live, that I may praise you!" Psalm 119:175

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Art with Charlotte...therapy for me...


Rowan's sweet friend Charlotte brought him so many smiles, giggles and belly laughs when he was with her.  Whether they were having a picnic at Landa Park, visiting the zoo, putting on disguises at the Doseum, making animals at Build-a-bear and recording their voices inside them, or even if they were playing Life or doing art together in the hospital play room...they were both always smiling from ear to ear when they were together.  And she has the best smile ever!  Rowan even told me once that he thought her name meant "beautiful smile". 

I've missed that so much since Rowan passed away.  Yesterday, I got to go spend some time with her again by myself though.  At first, I was a little afraid it would be too hard...but it wasn't, not at all.  Just being with her brought me so much joy, and reminded me of so many happy times I spent watching the two of them together.  And Charlotte and I never stopped smiling, and shared many belly laughs of our own yesterday.  I'm sure Rowan was there with us, smiling from ear to ear himself too.

Charlotte loves loves loves arts and crafts! So I brought a water color pencil painting set, so we could do it together.  She was excited to try it out, so we got started on it pretty quickly.  She knows I love to take pictures, so she kept telling me, "Ok, take another picture of it like this", "we're almost done, take another picture", "ok here is the final masterpiece", etc.  I of course obliged, and I got these wonderful pictures of our day.  I will cherish them as I do all the photos I have of her and Rowan together.

The first step was coloring in the peacock with the water color pencils...and she did a great job...







Next, she used a wet paintbrush to turn the colored pencil into water color paint...



It turned out so beautifully vibrant.

Charlotte's sense of humor is so much like Rowan's.  She cracked me up when she asked me to take this following picture...


I showed her the photo and asked her what that silly face was, she said "It's my mean Italian man face, and that's me holding a pizza". 

Then she said "Ok, now you can take a regular picture."


Charlotte didn't want me to leave (and I didn't want to go), but I had an appointment I needed to get to.  I promised her I would bring back a different kind of art project soon, and we would have some more fun.  She gave me a big hug, and then her family gave me a wonderful surprise. 

They brought me this out...




Charlotte's older sister had drawn this portrait of Rowan and Charlotte.  It was from the last day they ever saw each other...just days before he left for Seattle.  She is so talented.  It is so beautiful. 


I cry tears of joy looking at it because it reminds me of such a fun day...such a happy time.



Even though Charlotte and Rowan can't have their playdates on Earth any longer, I thank God for how many they did share together over the past couple years, and that I witnessed and photographed them all.  And I thank Charlotte's family, for allowing me to remain in their lives, and for letting me spend my own time with her, even without Rowan.  It was more healing for me than they can imagine.  It was Art Therapy for my soul, and I can't wait to come back and do it again.


*Please continue to pray for Charlotte and she continues treatment for leukemia.  She relapsed after Rowan passed away, and is fighting for the second time.  She is doing well, but has a long course of treatment to finally rid her body of this disease. 


Friday, June 9, 2017

Rowan Windham Memorial Cereal Drive... fighting hunger, feeding Hope, serving humanity, honoring God, making the good...


Today the 2017 Rowan Windham Memorial Cereal Drive concluded at Methodist Children's Hospital in San Antonio... and it was a true honor to be a part of this amazing event. 

Walking in, Ian and I were emotional, but joyful.  There were blue t-shirts everywhere, bearing Rowan's name and the logos of this wonderful hospital system that cared for him for ten years of his life, as well as that of the SA Food Bank, whom he helped collect thousands of servings of cereal over the past 3 years.



A huge truck from the food bank sat empty outside, waiting to be filled with this years donations...


Inside, I saw this goal board, and I burst into tears...


I have never seen so much cereal in one place in my life...not even at the grocery store...




The collection boxes were so fun and creative!  Everyone did a great job.




I was able to visit with so many hospital staff members, get healing hugs from them, laugh with them and cry with them...just as I have for the past ten years...










Michael Guerra (CDO SA Food Bank), myself, and Robert Lenza (CEO Methodist Children's Hospital).  I am not sure I have met two more compassionate, Godly, hardworking businessmen.  Thank you for your love for my son, and your commitment to the entire community.  I am blessed to know you, proud to be a part of this event with you, and I look forward to all of our future endeavors!


The hospital asked me to speak, and as I've said before, I am a much better writer than I am speaker.  However, I tried to convey to them all, how much they have meant to Rowan and our family over the years...how they were his extended family, and how proud he must be to be honored this way...to be remembered for being a giver, to have inspired them to give back even more than they already do, and that I knew he was looking down, proud of everyone for "making the good".




Michael Guerra from the SA Food Bank spoke about how Rowan impacted his life, and how he shares his story often.  He called Ian and I up to receive a framed poster that the staff at the SA Food Bank had all signed, along with a note from him.  It was so special.



They had warned me ahead of time that they would also be doing a video presentation, sharing a letter from one of Rowan's long-term PICU nurses, along with photos of Rowan over the past ten years there.  It was the most beautiful dedication, not just to Rowan, but I felt it also showed the life they were able to help us give him in these ten (short) years, even though 1/3 of it was spent inside hospital walls.  He was smiling in every picture, whether he had tubes, needles, lines, or oxygen attached to his little body...those things were outshined by the smile, the smile that so many of the staff at Methodist Children's Hospital helped put on his face, so many times.  It was beautiful, and I was so deeply touched (and a blubbering mess:).  Thank you Trudy for the letter.  Thank you to Cheri and all who worked on the video and presentation.  I don't think there was a dry eye in the room, but I know that every heart was full... full of loving memories of our sweet Rowan.













  

Now, back to that goal board... 

Last year, the drive collected over 70,000 servings of cereal for the SA Food Bank, to help fill the gap of Summer hunger, for children who depend on breakfast at school during the school year.  This year the goal was 100,000 servings.  They blew that goal out of the water!

120,136 servings of cereal !




Thank you to every single person who helped...whether you donated 1 box or 20+ boxes! 

Thank you to Copa Wine Bar, Keller Williams City View, Woodlawn Theatre, GenCure/South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, Wells Fargo and every friend who dropped boxes off at one of those locations, mailed or sent me donations for cereal via paypal, etc.  We personally had donations come in not just from Texas, but all the way from Ohio to Seattle!!!  Ian and I took 2 van loads full of cereal to the hospital in the past 3 days.  Rowan's personal total was 6241 servings this year... which is nearly 1000 more than he brought in last year.  I know he is so excited about that.

Just look at all of this cereal being taken out and loaded into the truck this afternoon...






None of this could have happened without these beautiful people from Methodist Hospital, Methodist Children's Hospital, and the SA Food Bank.  You all help our children on a daily basis, and you still find ways to give back even more to children out in the community, with events like this one. 

God bless you all, for renaming the drive after our son, and for "making the good"... 


in memory of Rowan...


for countless others!


Rowan Windham Memorial Cereal Drive... (Methodist Children's Hospital, Methodist Hospital, SA Food Bank)... fighting hunger, feeding Hope, serving humanity, honoring God, making the good...