Mattie Miracle 2021 Walk was a $125,000 success!

Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation Promotional Video

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 7th anniversary!

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

We are a 501(c)(3) Public Charity. We are dedicated to increasing childhood cancer awareness, education, advocacy, research and psychosocial support services to children, their families and medical personnel. Children and their families will be supported throughout the cancer treatment journey, to ensure access to quality psychosocial and mental health care, and to enable children to cope with cancer so they can lead happy and productive lives. 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

December 27, 2019

Friday, December 27, 2019

Friday, December 27, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2008. Mattie was in the hospital. He received Christmas stockings, a magnetic Santa and a frosted donut from friends. Technically the stockings were for hanging! But Mattie decided to put them on instead. Mattie liked to see everything around him decorated. Which was why I always decorated his hospital room (regardless of season), his IV pole, and wheelchair. 

Quote of the day: Land was created to provide a place for boats to visit.  Brooks Atkinson

We arrived in Martinique around 9am today. This is our very first visit ever to the island. As we approached it by ship, it was clear that this is a very developed island in comparison to Barbados, St. Kitts, and Antigua. As of 2010, there are 402,000 people on the island. 

The French claimed this island in 1635, and it has been a French territory ever since. In fact, as our tour guide, Judy, stated today, Martinique is basically France in the Caribbean. The island follows French government and the educational and health care systems.

Martinique has a very distinguished dock. I will never forget the curving green and blue board walk from the ship to the port. 

The Island Language is French and they use the Euro as their currency! They define themselves as a mixed race, comprised of White (European), African, and Indian.

A photo of my mom and me in front of the Caribbean Princess. 
St. Louis is a Catholic cathedral. It was built in the late 19th-century in the Romanesque Revival style. The church is situated in the downtown area of the capital Fort-de-France.

The construction of the cathedral began in the mid-17th century and it opened in 1657. Due to the natural disasters that have plagued Fort-de-France over the years, the current structure dates back to 1895 and was built with an iron frame in order to withstand these calamities. It is the seventh church to be erected on the site; it was designed by Gustave Eiffel (YES the person who designed the Eiffel Tower) and built by Pierre-Henri  Picq.
The beauty of Fort-de- France, the capital of Martinique. At one time St. Pierre was the capital, but it was destroyed in 1902, by the eruption of the Pelee volcano. 
The color and vibrancy of Fort-de-France. 

It took about 25 minutes to get from the dock to our touring destination, the Balata Gardens. 

However, our drive put us on this windy and narrow mountain road, known to the locals at the Trace. The Trace is an original road carved into the landscape by 18th century Jesuit priests (according to Princess Cruises). Keep in mind that  our tour guide told us that this road was made from traces left behind by the Carib Indians. So you pick which one you believe.

The Sacre-Coeur of Balata is situated on a spectacular summit, surrounded by a tropical forest, just outside of town. The famous Sacré-Coeur Basilica in Paris inspired this smaller but equally impressive Roman-Byzantine structure, which was built in 1925. The views are incredible from this high vantage point, as you can see a panoramic view of Fort-de-France as well as of the surrounding countryside.
Inside the church.  
The ceilings on the church. 
In the USA, lighting candles in church is prohibited. Yet in Martinique, the tradition lives on! For a $5 donation, we received a big candle and lit it. 
The candle in the center was lit in memory of my grandparents and Mattie.

The Arawak and Carib Indians first called the blooming paradise of Martinique Madinina, which means "the island of flowers." The beautiful Balata Botanical Garden has 3,000 varieties of tropical blooms. 

Landscape architect and botanical collector Jean-Philippe Thoze developed the gardens in 1982, and they were opened to the public in 1986. Considered one of the best botanical gardens in the Caribbean, this magically serene place also features tranquil ponds punctuated with lotus blossoms and water lilies. Graceful treetop rope bridges provide aerial views of the lush foliage. Hummingbirds dart through this lovely scene, dramatically framed by beautiful mountain views. 
The garden grounds house more than 300 types of palm trees alone! They also contain impressive collections of bromeliads, cycads, anthurium, begonias, bamboo, and much more.

Judy, our tour guide, explained the clothing on display in the Grounds' house (the house belonged to the grandmother of Thoze - the garden designer). Apparently the material came from India and was very popular and fashionable with woman at one time. In fact the number of material knots found on the head scarf, could indicate if you were single, in a series relationship, or were married. The mannequin on the left is wearing BIG gold chains. It is said that you can still find women on the island wearing these large gold chains. To signify a form of rebellion, as 21st century women dictate who and what they want to wear. Whereas in the past the large gold necklace symbolized a chain, put around a woman's neck as a reminder that the master calls the shots. It apparently was an honor back then for a "slave" women to receive such a chain necklace gift. It basically meant she was the slave master's favorite and as a result other slaves would become jealous and competitive with her.   

Do you see this wonderful hummingbird? There were several of them fluttering all around us. 
Judy gave us a two hour walking tour of the gardens. A photo of my mom and me in the gardens. 
This is an Alpinias plant. One would think that the pinkish part of the plant is the flower. However, Judy educated us today and let us know that these pink rubbery leaves are actually an extension of the green plant. They are NOT the flower. Do you see the SMALL white flower at the 7 o clock location? That is the flower. She said that plants do not flower that much in the Caribbean, and that this pretty colorful extension protects the plant. She also let us know that most flowers in the Caribbean have NO fragrance. It is the spice trees instead which give the island their memorable fragrance. 
I couldn't help but snap a photo of my green friend. I also forgot to mention that while in the Armory yesterday in Barbados, two wild monkeys happened to walk in while our tour guide was lecturing us. The monkeys were smart enough to leave quickly and did not stay for the diatribe. 
Judy shared with us the story of the fern. A prehistoric plant, dating back to the dinosaurs. She says that this fern really has no roots and what keeps it alive is the moss that grows all around it. So in essence a fern is an epiphyte. An epiphyte is an organism that grows on the surface of a plant and derives its moisture and nutrients from the air, rain, water or from debris accumulating around it.
The garden even has a Tree Top Trail. Which is a narrow suspension bridge hung between mahogany trees. Given the long lines and the fact that we did not have much time left at the gardens, we never ventured up top. 
The beauty of the landscape which can be seen throughout the gardens. I would say that these were probably the BEST gardens we have ever seen in the Caribbean. They are immaculate and beautifully manicured! The gardens host plants from all around the world, NOT just Martinique and the Caribbean. 
Isn't this stunning?! This plant is called the Porcelain Rose. It doesn't share any similarities with a rose, other than it has a beautiful shape and color. It isn't fragrant, and just like the Alpinias, the red part of the plant is an extension of the leaves! It isn't the flower.
Thoze even designed a zen portion of the garden. In this part of the garden you can find a pond, water lilies (a Monet favorite), and plants without much color. As the garden is supposed to instill peace and tranquility. 
No garden is complete for us without a puss sighting. This orange tabby owned the gardens. He wasn't at all bothered while Peter approached for a photo. 

We are now setting sail for Trinidad and Tobago. Another set of islands we have never visited. 

But cruising is not for the meek, especially if you want to explore each port. It means early mornings, lots of walking, following schedules, tons of people, and finding times in between to eat. I used to get frustrated in the past because there is never down time, but I have come to accept this after many many cruises. 

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