The Mattie Miracle Walk and Family Festival was a $55,000 success!!!

The Mattie Miracle Walk and Family Festival was a $55,000 success!!!
Thanks to all who attended, contributed, volunteered, and helped to make this day possible! More psychosocial miracles are bound to come!!!

Mattie Miracle selected to be the Flame of Hope award recipient!!!

Mattie Miracle selected to be the Flame of Hope award recipient!!!
The Georgetown University Hospital board nominated and selected Mattie Miracle to be the recipient of the Hospital's highest honor, the Flame of Hope award. The Foundation will be bestowed this honor on March 29, 2014 at the Georgetown Pediatrics Gala.

Mattie Miracle's Interview on Fox 5 -- 3rd Annual Candy Drive is a 2000 pound success!

Mattie Miracle's Interview on Fox 5 -- 3rd Annual Candy Drive is a 2000 pound success!
Thank you for making our candy drive a major success!!!!

4th Annual Walk & Family Festival -- A HUGE Success!!!

Mattie Miracle on Fox 5 News -- Candy to Remember Mattie--November 15, 2012

Mattie Miracle on Fox 5 News - May 11, 2012

Thank you for keeping Mattie's memory alive!

Dear Mattie Blog Readers,

It means a great deal to us that you take the time to write to us and to share your thoughts, feelings, and reflections on Mattie's battle and death. Your messages are very meaningful to us and help support us through very challenging times. To you we are forever grateful.
As my readers know, I promised to write the blog for a year after Mattie's death, which would mean that I could technically stop writing on September 9, 2010. However, at the moment, I feel like our journey with grief still needs to be processed and fortunately I have a willing support network still committed to reading. Therefore, the blog continues on. If I should find the need to stop writing, I assure you I will give you advanced notice. In the mean time, thank you for reading, thank you for having the courage to share this journey with us, and most importantly thank you for keeping Mattie's memory alive.

As Mattie would say, Ooga Booga (meaning, I LOVE YOU)! Vicki and Peter

The Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation celebrates its second anniversary!

The Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation was created in the honor of Mattie.

We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit and tax exempt charitable organization dedicated to finding better treatments and a cure to Osteosarcoma and Childhood Cancers. We help build the awareness of osteosarcoma and childhood cancers, and educate the public and medical professionals about the realities of childhood cancers. We advocate for the psychosocial needs of the children and their families who are fighting this terrible disease. Please visit the website at: and take some time to explore the site.

We have only gotten this far because of people like yourself, who have supported us through thick and thin. So thank you for your continued support and caring, and remember:

.... Let's Make the Miracle Happen and Stomp Out Childhood Cancer!

A Remembrance Video of Mattie

Random Shots of Mattie, Family and Friends

Number of Visitors Since October 12th, 2008

August 21, 2014

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in March of 2003. Mattie was 11 months old and in my parent's living room. Mattie saw me approaching with a camera and this caught his attention. He opened his arms out wide. I am not sure whether it was to give me a hug or to reach for the camera, but either case, I captured him in action! 

Quote of the day: The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths. ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

We went to see an exhibit today at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) entitled, Expressionism in Germany and France: From Van Gogh to Kandinsky. This is a fascinating title isn't it?! I know the Van Gogh part just jumps off the page at you! I am a Van Gogh fan as so many of us are! Which is why I am sure, people ran to LACMA to see this exhibit over the course of this year. However, I love how the LA Times described this exhibit! They say, "visitors who come to LACMA attracted by the title's celebrity names might be in for disappointment." I can appreciate that, because in all reality you are really not seeing Van Gogh. You are instead getting a cultural lesson on France and Germany and how Van Gogh's art may have touched France and thereby influenced Germany! LITERALLY! This is my synopsis in a nutshell. Putting that aside, and my suggestion for a name and title change to the exhibit, the exhibit has some fascinating lessons to be captured! Unfortunately because the rooms in which this 14 year display (with 90 paintings and 45 works on paper) is so cavernous, if you do not catch the 11:30am docent tour, you will totally miss the true nature of the exhibit. Thankfully we were able to take the tour because I honestly would not have had the foggiest notion of the connection among any of the pieces I was seeing. Things are NOT well sign posted and there is NO audio tour!

To give you some background on what the whole exhibit was about............................

Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Neo-Impressionism, Symbolism, Fauvism — wave after wave of artistic ideas from Paris broke on Berlin's shores. The show opens with Modern French paintings acquired by collectors and museums in Germany. German artists, understandably tired of not being given the time of day, finally had enough. It's a story familiar to locales outside any powerful center for the production and distribution of important new art.

In 1905, Fritz Bleyl (1880-1966), Erich Heckel (1883-1970), Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938) and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884-1976) formed Die Brucke, which means the Bridge, as a Dresden avant-garde painters group with a mission. Emil Nolde (1867–1956) and Max Pechstein (1881–1955) joined soon after.

Except for Nolde they were all kids, the oldest barely 25. To oversimplify a bit, these young German painters kept the French feeling for color and threw away the rest. Color's irrational, unruly powers, which they felt were being restrained by stuffy, bourgeois proprieties, were unleashed.
The "bridge" they meant their art to build stretched from past to present — from the anguished bodily distortions of medieval Gothic sculpture to the stylish, pleasure-seeking denizens of urban boulevards; from the great German tradition of carved woodcut prints to the emotional tensions of convulsive modern experience.

Expressionism, an artistic movement in which pictorial imagery is depicted through dramatically expressive colors and brushwork, digresses from traditional representation in which artists attempted to recreate a likeness of reality; instead, the movement gives form to artists’ individual perceptions, feelings, and psychologies. While Expressionism has come to be recognized as a predominately German movement, this association evolved gradually long after the movement had begun and is partially attributed to the first book on 
Expressionism, authored by the German art critic Paul Fechter in 1914 and on view in the exhibition. The publication imbued the movement with a national identity, commensurate with the patriotic tone in Germany during World War I. 

In reality, Expressionism was born from a shared advance toward modernism among French and German artists as the latest French trends reached Germany through a network of collectors, critics, and art lovers, creating a mutually rich cosmopolitan milieu. Expressionists discovered new artistic possibilities through the first modern masters. They recognized expressive gesture and color in Van Gogh, nascent abstraction in C├ęzanne, and a new 
approach to the decorative in Gauguin and Matisse. Expressionism in Germany and France brings together significant works that Expressionists would have seen and carefully studied in exhibitions and collections of the time throughout Germany as well as Paris. Through a process of give and take, the Expressionists moved toward an international art while also seeking to maintain their national cultural heritage, combining tradition with aesthetic evolution.

Curators Timothy Benson and Frauke Josenhans talk about the exhibition, their research, and the impact of avant garde art being shown in France and Germany in the early 20th century:

Upon entering the exhibit you see this wonderful Quote: I once heard it said that in order to see good French (art) one has to go to Germany. ~ Max Pechstein

Van Gogh - Restaurant de la Sirene
Van Gogh painted this piece while living in Paris. This painting was quite unique and shows a very different style than we are accustomed to seeing, with Van Gogh's other works...... which usually feature heavy brush strokes, vibrant colors, and swirling patterns! 

Erich Heckel: Fear, The Prisoner, and the Prison Guard
These are woodcuts that depict the Expressionist period, evoking the pure emotion of inner turmoil and fear! The expressionist movement was designed to be a sharp contrast to impressionism! Who painted from perspective of what they saw in their environment, rather than what they felt from inside! 

Matisse: Open Window
This exhibit was enormous in size and displayed various works, which is what I am trying to show you through my photographs. I wasn't allowed to photograph many of the works on display. But hopefully the ones that I did capture, you can get the feeling for the vast array of genres here! The exhibit covered 14 years of art! This painting I share, through a power point slide show, with my kindergartner class every spring, so it was delightful to see it in person! That was a first for me. I know quite well that Matisse is the father of the Fauvism movement. Meaning that he believed in using vibrant and rich colors, but in imaginative ways. The colors did not have to be realistic. A banana did not have to be yellow for example, it could be however one imagined or wanted it to be. Which is why in this "open window" Matisse saw the ocean as pink and the sky as purple. Why not? On some days, given our mood, it may look and feel that way to us. 

Kandinsky: Murnau
Starting in 1908, Kandinsky began spending his summers in the Alpine village of Murnau. In this mountain village with its intense sunlight and deep shadows his painting style underwent a revolution. During a recent trip to Paris he discovered the style of fauvism, and it was at Murnau, that he began to perfect his own use of that style with flattened forms and vibrant colors.  

Franz Marc: Stables
Another painting group formed in Germany besides the Brucke (the bridge). They were called Blaue Reiter (or Blue Rider). They formed because people like Kandinsky were being ostracized and his paintings were being rejected from exhibition. Blue rider believed art had a spiritual dimension and the spiritual dimension many times was connected to animals. In fact, horses and riders were very much an important motif. As Marc's painting depicts. Marc was one of the founders of the Rider movement along with Kandinsky.

On our ride back to my parent's house I had my first Black Tail Deer sighting, or as I call them the LA Cappuccinos! These deer are bold and brazen, walking right in the middle of the street and eating the roses on the front lawn of a neighbor's house. 

When we returned home, awaiting us by the front door was this Lizard. Mattie would have LOVED this! In fact on the dash board of my car I have two plastic lizards of Mattie's. He loved lizards and he would have gotten a kick out of seeing the real thing just hanging out basking in the sunshine. Of which Los Angeles has plenty of.... a given and consistent truth. 

August 20, 2014

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in March of 2003. Mattie was 11 months old. We took him to Los Angeles for the first time. Since LA is three hours behind Washington, DC time, this subtle change confused Mattie's sleeping schedule. He was literally up at 4am. Not only up, but raring to go! I was less than thrilled and Peter was a good sport about it. As you can see Peter had a smile on his face! These 4am wake ups happened for a few days until Mattie got used to LA time, and back then I thought this was challenging. But these normal parenting issues paled in comparison to what we later faced when Mattie was diagnosed with cancer. It is unfortunate that we have such comparisons to pull from now. 

Quote of the day: Remember that the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless; peacocks and lilies for instance. ~ John Ruskin

It is ironic that I am posting this photo tonight! Mainly because at 4am this morning I too woke up and in my mind I was ready to start the day. It seemed like it was time to get up to me, except of course it was pitch dark out. So I very much related to exactly how Mattie must have felt in the photo above (totally disoriented to LA time), however, unlike Mattie I was able to go back to sleep! 

My parents and I went out to lunch today and we sat outside in the garden area of a restaurant called, Stanley's. Stanley's has been serving people in the valley since I have been in high school. Needless to say, that is a long time! I remember going to this restaurant with friends of mine, however, at that time, the restaurant had NO garden patio! Check out the beautiful symbols hanging on the wall of the patio?!! Wonderful Mattie suns. They caught my attention today most likely because I was sitting facing them directly! The patio also has a fountain. If Mattie were with us, he would be sticking close to the fountain, playing in the water. Mattie wasn't into eating, as he was into checking out his environment and playing in it. Of course Mattie would be 12 years old now, so I can't even imagine what it would be like going to a restaurant with him as a pre-teen! In my mind Mattie will always be seven years old and a little boy playing with Legos. 

I am signing off for tonight! More tomorrow. I find that I am very tired from writing and from time spent at a computer this summer. I am headed to a museum exhibit tomorrow, so I am sure I will have commentary to report!

August 19, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 -- Mattie died 258 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in March of 2003. Mattie was 11 months old and we took him to Los Angeles. I had a conference to attend in Anaheim and we decided to turn it into a family trip to visit my parents. That was Mattie's first airplane trip! I was worried about how he would handle such a long journey. Mattie did not sleep throughout the entire flight. He was FULLY on and playing the whole time. Fortunately I had my bag of tricks with me. With Mattie you could never travel empty handed. I always had to have books, puzzles, games, legos, and lots of things to keep his mind busy! Without that there was going to be trouble for us and everyone else around us. Unlike me, Mattie did not mind motion at all, but seemed to like adventure and the stimulation of new surroundings and places.... just like Peter. 

Quote of the day: Every person needs to take one day away.  A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future.  Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence.  Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.  Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us. ~ Maya Angelou

I woke up this morning before the sun came up in order to get ready and pack up for my flight to Los Angeles. Before I left our home, Peter told me to come outside to our deck. To my surprise the White Ginger Butterfly Lily had opened up even more than yesterday and with its unfurling also came that intoxicating fragrance that was promised us!!!! When we bought this plant at the Elizabethan Gardens in the Outer Banks, I remember the ground's keeper telling me that the fragrance of this plant was unforgettable. He wasn't kidding. It is a mixture of jasmine and honeysuckle. It is intoxicating and you wish you could just bottle it up! I can imagine a whole field full of these flowers! No wonder he was encouraging me to buy one. This is the same man that lost his grandmother, and then turned to flowers to cope and manage this great loss. A man I can relate to! I am so happy I did not miss out on this special moment this morning. Of course when I saw this flower it was in the dark! Later in the day, Peter sent me this photo so I could actual see what the flower really looked like when the sun came up!!!

My flight to Los Angeles was over five hours long. Typically I do not sleep a second on a plane, but I am so exhausted, I would say I slept more than I was awake on this flight! A true first for me! Sitting across the aisle from me was a mom and her two children. She had a boy and a girl. Both preschool aged! I hate to say it, but typical gender stereotypes were playing out there..... the girl was sitting still and the boy was a total live wire. People next to me were staring at the mom and the little boy. I of course, did not bat an eye lash, because I knew exactly what she was balancing on that end of the aisle. The only difference between that mom and I was, as soon as the plane took off, her children slept for several hours! I couldn't get over what I was seeing! Totally out!!! Blankets, stuffed animals, and napping! A foreign concept to me!!!

When I got to LA, I met up with my parents at the airport. We had a full day together and even got in close to a 3 mile walk. Given that I have had a rather sedentary summer, walking feels good. At my parent's house, I was greeted by a Lizard who was literally staring at me when I opened the window! Signing off for today.

August 18, 2014

Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday, August 18, 2014

This photo was taken on September 1 of 2009. Only seven days before Mattie died. You most likely can tell that Mattie looks like he was in a lot of pain. He was attached to his black pain pump and though absolutely miserable, Jenny (his art therapist) tried to distract him the best she could by bringing in this battery powered dinosaur. Which did engage Mattie for a little while. By this point in time Mattie had already endured the impossible and was in tremendous pain. Recently I compiled two Power Point slides together that I now display at conference presentations. The first slide shows the psychosocial consequences of childhood cancer. On this slide I show visuals with photos of Mattie that clearly illustrate pain, anxiety, depression, isolation, and fear. On the second slide, I illustrate the difference that psychosocial support services can make in a child's life. This slide shows Mattie happier, doing more child like activities, even though in the hospital and undergoing treatment. The point of the second slide is that despite undergoing treatment, with support and addressing psychosocial issues, aspects of the "real" child can emerge. These slides are quite power displays for our attendees and have a way of conveying messages quickly!

Quote of the day: Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture the heart. ~ Ancient Indian Proverb

As is typical for this time of year, I travel to Los Angeles in August to visit my parents. So tomorrow I will be writing the blog from the West Coast. 

You maybe asking yourself what have I photographed here? Well this is our White Ginger Butterfly Lily! We purchased this plant at the Elizabethan Gardens in the Outer Banks in June. When we bought the plant it was small. It has been growing all summer. It is now about five feet tall and with a flower that is really starting to bloom. There was NO flower at all when we bought it but we were promised that it would produce a flower and that when it opens up the fragrance would be glorious. I clearly am going to miss this unveiling, but I am so happy I got to see the flower unfurl. Peter promises to keep me posted on its changes, since I have helped to cultivate the plant all summer long! Now this is what the flower looked like on Sunday!

But this is what the flower looked like this morning.... on Monday!!!! Pretty incredible, no? This is ONE DAY's worth of growth!!!! To me this is one remarkable plant and the fact that it is a perennial is wonderful, we shall see if it will actually make it through the winter. If we have a winter like 2014, and it makes it, then I would say this is one hardy bulb!

It has been a pleasure not writing a chapter or having to proof it today! I have been doing this for the past three months. It has become part of my daily routine like brushing my teeth! So it has been a bit strange and foreign not to have to turn to this today but it is a break which is now long overdue. 

August 17, 2014

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

Sunday, August 17, 2014

“You can talk with someone for years, everyday, and still, it won't mean as much as what you can have when you sit in front of someone, not saying a word, yet you feel that person with your heart, you feel like you have known the person for forever.... connections are made with the heart, not the tongue.” 
― C. JoyBell C.

Hi, it is Peter writing tonight.  Vicki needed a break from the computer, so I stepped up and did the blog.  

The shot below was taken when Vicki and I were in Fort Lauderdale this past April. We had just finished a nice meal together after a long day of travel, and had spent the meal processing the day, talking about the day (even though we had spent every minute of it together).... something truly special for me.

So tonight's blog is about relationships and connections one makes in life. What do relationships mean to me? I am not sure I can answer this in a single blog posting, but I'll at least get started.  Well, I must say relationships mean a lot more than they did in the past.  Perhaps loss does that to someone, but I am not sure.  All I do know is that it is important to me now, to connect with someone when I am dealing with them.  I am far from perfect at this, but I am trying.  As someone who has experienced great loss in their life, the natural tendency is to continually question the why and the what of what we do each day and how does this all fits within the the "grand plan" of life (whatever that is).  Does it make sense and if so, why and if not then why not?  Lots of questions yet few answers and even fewer good feelings.

Therefore, I have concluded that when someone is engaging me in a conversation, that I want to then reach out and connect to them.  Because connecting with someone and having a relationship with them is something real and important and unique.  It makes me feel as though I am not some isolated or alienated person who lost their only child to a horrific disease and traumatic experience, but rather, someone who is connecting with another human being.  A connection is made, a relationship started...

I posted tonight's picture because it is one of me and Vicki after having had a nice connection. You can tell by the look on our faces.  I know it sounds corny, but for those of you who know, having someone to connect to in a meaningful way means more than anything in this world.  I am so very fortunate to have someone like Vicki in my life to connect with.  I think the worst thing that could happen to someone is to be disconnected from their world, something I personally could not tolerate nor survive.

So, I say to you, reach out to people, no matter how awkward or silly it may make you feel or appear to be, because it is by connecting to people that you formulate meaningful and substantive relationships in your life, relationships that sustain you, but also forever change you, for the better.  I can testify that this indeed what happened to me when I met Vicki, and is something that forever changed me for the better.

August 16, 2014

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken on August 22 of 2009. What Mattie was holding in his hand was his tooth fairy box. He lost his front tooth that day and he put his tooth in the box with the hopes that the tooth fairy would visit that night and leave him a gift. Mattie did not want money. Instead, he would leave the tooth fairy a note with a specific request each time he lost a tooth. Sometimes he would ask for a Hotwheels car and I remember on one particular occasion he even asked for a necklace made out of raw pasta. A very interesting request indeed! I remember buying that tooth fairy box with Mattie on a trip we took to Florida together. He picked it out himself. I still have this box in my nightstand (with teeth inside), where I keep other mementos of mine. 

Quote of the day: If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else. ~ Booker T. Washington

This morning Peter was sitting at my desk proofing the book chapter. While he was there, he received a real treat! He got to see what I have been talking about..... he saw both a monarch butterfly and a hummingbird. He couldn't capture the butterfly, but he grabbed my phone and snapped a quick photo of the hummingbird in motion. If you look closely you will see the hummingbird is flying on in and targeting my petunias!!!! 

This afternoon, we went out for a walk. I feel like I haven't moved in ages, so walking is a great plan. We went passed Mattie's favorite fountain! I can't tell you how much water shoots up from this fountain, but the spray is INTENSE! The sky was a beautiful blue and Peter seemed to have caught the perfect composition with the Washington Monument in the background. 

At the very top of the fountain are these "Dancing Waters!" Or this is what I call them! Since this is what it looks like to me. It is mesmerizing and I suspect this maybe one of the aspects Mattie found so intriguing besides the sheer volume of the fountain's water.   

The fountain is also surrounded by roses! It is a glorious spot and people who pass by can't help but stop and want to photograph this space! If the water doesn't get you, then the flowers certainly will. 

We continued walking down to the Washington Mall. We spotted the US Park Police on horseback! I happen to love horses and Peter knew I rode horses in high school. I took a photo from afar but Peter suggested we go up to the horses and the officers. So we did. 

The officers were lovely and were very agreeable to take photos and to allow me to pet the horses. The brown horse's name was "Easy" and the bi-colored horse was "Magic." Easy couldn't take his eyes off of me and seemed to truly respond to my conversation with him. Beautiful animals and if you have never rode a horse, you are missing out on a special experience and connection with a wonderful animal. 

For quite some time the tidal pool has been drained and under renovation. We used to take Mattie down to this area often and we have many photos together with the Washington Monument in the background! 

To me no trip to the tidal pool would be complete without looking for ducks! Which is why it is so nice to see the pool filled back up and to have the ducks and the ducklings inhabiting the space again! This photo was taken in honor of Mattie, who loved looking for a mother duck and her ducklings. Mattie's comment would always be, "there is a mama duck and her baby.... just like you and me." Today while I was observing this wonderful sight of this mama duck and her six ducklings, I was watching a mom and her son interact. The little boy wanted to come over and watch the ducks. However, his mom pulled him away from the tidal pool and told him, "you have seen one duck, you have seen them all!" I personally was mortified! That is totally NOT the point on so many levels! What message is this mom sending to her child? No time to stop to watch the ducks? It is a sad commentary to me, and NO, not all ducks are alike! It is like saying all people are like and therefore when you have seen one person you have seen them all! But all of that is besides the point! The child is taking an interest in something in his world and that to me is where a parent needs to step in and embrace and cultivate that interest! 

August 15, 2014

Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday, August 15, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2007. This big chair is actually a rocker. We got it when we were expecting Mattie! Thinking this would be the perfect chair to rock Mattie in! The irony was Mattie did not really like sitting or being rocked in a chair!!! I still have this chair, it seems to have migrated around our home. It is now in our bedroom. It was funny that I captured Mattie sitting on this chair because he really did not sit in it much, in fact, I would say Patches (our calico) spent more time in it! I happen to LOVE this chair and as I reflect on this photo, I remember what Mattie was wearing so vividly! It was his summer Scooby Doo pajama set! Mattie was in love with Scooby Doo and though his legs are blocking the picture of Scooby, I remember it well!

Quote of the day: Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. ~ Benjamin Franklin

I think Benjamin Franklin said it so well!!! I usually do not sit back and take kudos. In fact, it is quite the opposite. I am usually hard on myself. But I would have to say in two months time, I not only wrote something worth reading, but I did something worth writing about! I can't take credit for the latter. 

Mattie unfortunately developed cancer and as such, Peter and I were placed in the situation of learning about childhood cancer and being his caregivers under the most dire of circumstances. Of course, how one chooses to be a caregiver is ultimately a personal decision! I would like to think that how we chose to perform our roles however was exemplary. I had no control over Mattie getting cancer. Nonetheless, he set the stage for providing me with something very meaningful and heart wrenching to write about. That did not mean I had to pursue it and do anything at all with this content or my feelings. I could have tried to put them somewhere and navigate through the world without focusing upon them. Like so many people would have liked me to just LIVE A NORMAL LIFE. The problem is once you lose a child to cancer, your life is NOT normal anymore. Instead, you really have to work hard at figuring out what life will look like for you again. You have to reinvest or recreate yourself. 

In any case, I am mentally tired, emotionally worn out, and physically spent from sitting by a computer for so long this summer. I can say that the chapter is done. I will be proofing it this weekend, but there is no more original content to write and NO MORE re-writes! I am beyond thrilled!!!

This evening I was outside watering in my garden and I could hear people were trying to get my attention. So I looked up! The next building over to me were two women looking down at me and into my garden. They were admiring the garden and they were clearly not from this Country. The first question they asked me was WHERE WAS I FROM?! They truly felt that I could not be from AMERICA! When I insisted I was and that I lived in this particular location for almost 18 years, they were in shock. They did not think that someone from here could put such a garden together. I wasn't sure how to respond, but I knew they meant it as a compliment. When I told them that I call the garden my "secret garden" they smiled and said they could see why! They made me feel very good tonight! I work very hard on the garden and it brings me joy, but I also think seeing this piece of happiness in an area filled with concrete has got to bring sunshine to others. So when people stop me to tell me they notice, it is a gift.