Pizza in a Slow Cooker . . . Melting pot of thoughts, ideas, and stories of family, love and throwing everything in but the kitchen sink.

This is Leo....

... and what a man he was !!!  
Could a woman walk into a family and receive such welcoming?

     We met during a tragic time, his wife was losing her battle with cancer, and unfortunately it was impossible for us to meet.  I held his hand at her funeral, so sorry for all their losses: wife , mother, grand and great grand mother.  He had too many tragedies for two years straight.
Daughter-in-Law        2008
Wife                           2008
Nephew                      2009
Youngest Son             2009
Sister                          2009
and, his niece , Judy.

     Through all his losses he welcomed me with open arms and made me feel like family.  We built our friendship through visits that Dennis and I made a point to keep after losing Joann.  I had lost my father in 2000 so there was no hesitation in adopting Leo.

     We would take him to the Moose for Friday fish or steak and play pool.  We'd all have a few drinks, Leo liked his Jim Beam and water (no ice) and talk about anything that popped up.  Once in awhile we would pick him up for pool practice in the back room of our local pub.

     His birthday was coming up and I decided I wanted to throw him a surprise party with all the fixing's; balloons, streamers, horns and a big ol' cake.  His daughters brought him over through some sort of sham excuse and there we all were.  He enjoyed opening his presents and cards with cash ! Got pictures of the 4 generations (Leo, Dennis, Dennis Jr, and Dennis III). It was awesome !!!  And do you know? I only found out during the party that it was the only party he had ever had !!!

     It didn't take him long to decide what he wanted to spend his extra money on - his own pool stick.  He had been borrowing mine or Dennis'  at all the previous outings.  We took him up to the local billiard hall and he chose one with the suits of cards on the base.  He also had made us a pool stick holder so we each had a place to lean our stick.  A few days later he and I went shopping for a case and grabbed a bite to eat.
We engraved his stick and it hangs on our sports wall.
     Oh, the stories that man could tell !  Whether it was about a German soldier in hiding working as a cook or a personal story about the family- he kept you interested.  He had a quick wit, that's for sure.  Think Jeff Dunham and Achmed; the dead terrorist.
     Dennis and I were joking with one another, taunting "I KEEL YOU" (arms swaying at our sides) while we are shooting pool in that local pub back room.  Dennis, in deep concentration bent over the bank aiming to win,,,,  out of the blue - Leo did that same imitation and we both fell out!!!  We let Leo borrow the comics' DVDs so he could see where it all came from. By the way, I don't think Dennis ever made that shot.

     He was a very compassionate man.  I will never forget this: Leo's  youngest son, David, had had a stroke and we were about to learn he was brain dead.  You know how they gather you in a room? (I hope you don't.) He and I were the first two seated, waiting for the rest of the family to file in; when he put his arm around me, very teary-eyed, and said, "I'm sorry, Lora, that you come into this family with all this tragedy around you."  I was there to lend comfort and instead he was reaching out to me.

    We took a trip to the Detroit Zoo, renting one of those powered wheel chairs so he could get around.  I remember entering the polar bear exhibit - and couldn't believe the rudeness of patrons not yielding to an elder.  At that point, I became a mama bear and made way for my Leo to keep us all together.  I know it was his politeness and the fear of injuring someone with the unfamiliar chair, but still, it irked me.
     All of these trips became less and less as he got sicker.  Dennis tried to make the best of it for both of them on their chemo runs.  Going to IHOP or wherever he wanted to eat.  And we made sure to visit him at home when he was up to the company.  Watching NCIS... the man had a crush on Abby! Go Leo !!
      We had planned on getting married in May 2010 but Leo was getting steadily worse and January (16th on a Saturday) sounded just as good, as I had previously asked Leo if he'd give me away at the ceremony.  It was very small, 7 people, as we were afraid Leo would be too susceptible to viruses.  I stood by his side, in his 'rascal', as the preacher asked, "Who gives away this bride?" Leo, ever himself, replied, "Can I keep her?" Oh, Leo, I miss you so much!  We think he waited until Monday to call an ambulance- just to give us time with less fear.

     It was all downhill from there, we all knew what was happening. (Damn cancer!)  As I sat and watched with family gathered around, a huge oxygen mask on,  Dennis at his side, when he lifted his hand, motioning me to join them bedside, "I love you." He didn't want to suffer, or make us suffer, it's just the man I grew to know.  Bless you, Leo.

He left peacefully, while we were away gathered in a room.

     We got so close in such a short amount of time and while so much sorrow surrounded us - maybe that's why.  Something good to hold on to throughout it all.  He helped me help his son.

Thank you, Leo, for taking me into your life and for giving me two men to love and cherish for all time,

your son.



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