Bouncing around trying to address bartering requests through The Pawning Planners while running here, there and everywhere, I was (as usual) surprised to have a unique booking come through for Destin, Florida. This will be my third trip for a Destination Event with my Team to Florida.
This Dream Event request is “different” than the traditional event booking in sunny Florida though. The client is booking a Baptism for his father first to be followed by a bedside wedding ceremony for he and his partner followed by a celebration of life for his father.
Apparently, my Florida client had been sent my blog regarding the Villarreal Family and the tragic story of Baby DeLilah. He knew far more about me than is usually the case. He had also researched me and understood my reasons for becoming involved in one the saddest event services I’ve ever done and in 9 years and over 2k events, that’s saying a lot.
Cindy and I had expected little baby DeLilah to make it. When she didn’t, the loss was so great that I felt as if I had lost my own child. I’m an emotional person. Composing myself for that Memorial was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do and may be one of the most emotionally debilitating things that I will ever do.
I knew Deanna and Burt because I had been referred by a friend at Carswell AFB who met me while performing a marriage ceremony on the Tarmac in a C-130 at Carswell.
The “creative request for a wedding on a plane” and Team of four handling the Carswell Event included our Officiant/Coordinator/Photography/MakeupPackage at Carswell AFB.
The Tarmac/C-130 Event was also the last event my stepdaughter, Anne would join my Team at before losing her this past year.
Over the past 2 years, the loss of Baby DeLilah was a shocking blow followed by the death of my stepdaughter, ex husband and three friends.
Officiating a funeral or memorial for an adult who at least had the opportunity to live a full life isn’t nearly as difficult as saying goodbye to a baby or young child.
But, I am not discounting the fact that whether the loved one was young or old loss is easily accepted because it isn’t.
Loved ones left behind are often in a grieving stage for months and in rare occasions, years.
Grief is a process but Complicated Grief Syndrome is a medical condition that requires counseling and occasionally even medication for the survivor who cannot accept the loss of a loved one.
Death is a dark stranger that brings a jolting and unexpected “blow” when the deceased happens to be a family member close to you, friend or especially your own child.
The death of a child is so tragic that I’ve seen couples divorce over the tragedy they can never accept or endure. Parents never expect to bury their child.
Divorces after the loss of a child do occasionally occur because the couple blamed each other. The “blame game” can destroy a marriage. While both parents struggle to accept a loss of such great magnitude, one parent may cope better than the other.
In this unique situation, the coping parent must also soothe the other parent who assumes that the coping parent doesn’t care. This is not the case. While one parent is “programmed” to mask their feelings and grief, the other parent assumes that their “coping partner” isn’t in as much pain. They are. They simply put their feelings aside to care for their partners needs first.
Understand that your spouse may be grieving differently than you but, they’ve suffered a tragic blow after losing a child themselves. Everyone grieves differently. There is no timeline on Grief.
A few years ago, an older couple that I had married (a second marriage for both) contacted me to Officiate the funeral of their son.
The son was also an addict. The wife resented the constant baggage that her stepson brought into their lives and often blamed the husband for “enabling his son.”
The son had also broke into the home of his father and stepmother stealing numerous items from (for the most part) specifically from his stepmother.
The stepmother called me to tell me the situation. “I cannot understand why my husband pays for Uber’s and hotels for his son. He’s an adult and my husband is enabling him. After breaking into our home and stealing from us while we were out of town for the Christmas holidays, I can’t even speak to my stepson. I’m actually considering a divorce because I cannot continue to live like this.”
The wife (and stepmother) had no children. My former client also had never dealt with an addict. I have. I asked her to meet me for coffee and a shoulder before considering a divorce.
But, due to my hectic travel schedule, our meeting was put off for ten days. Less than a week after the phone call though, the stepson overdosed. His father suffered a heart attack due to the shock of losing his son and I also officiated the stepsons memorial. The stepsons addiction consistently disrupted the marriage of his father and was also the sole reason his parents had divorced years prior. Why? The mother took tough love classes and the father continued to enable the son. The mother and father both took separate paths and in the end, blamed each other for having a child with addiction issues. The end result all those years ago was a dissolution of a marriage.
My “opportunity” to discuss the dynamics of parents or family members who enable addicts would come at the wake of my clients stepson who was suffering with the guilt of not speaking to the stepson prior to his death.
Theirs was a unique situation. After all no one expects to marry into a family that cannot change the path of addiction. My husband didn’t. My brother in law didn’t. My siblings didn’t. My father didn’t either. My mother was a heroin addict.
Personally, my view of addicts is dim and I must always set my personal feelings aside but, now and then, my experience with a drug addicted relative helps me with clients who cannot accept the damage addiction brings to their marriage. This particular situation needed to be addressed before my client filed for a divorce hastily and blamed herself later. For months, she nursed her husband back to health. For months, she called me or visited me.
For months, my niece had relapsed. My client began to understand the pain and sorrow that trying to “fix” an addict brings to their families. I explained why enablers harbor hope. I also explained how tough love is tough to do because it is.
Compassion for an addict (especially if they are from a second marriage and not your child) is difficult.
Understanding the dynamics of the parent of an addict and their strong desire to “fix” their child or parent or other relative isn’t easy. The person on the outside looking in often becomes angry at their spouse for not giving up.
It’s essential for the spouse without children to “change places” although the role of a parent when you’ve never had children is difficult. Love is sacrifice. For parents of addicts, love is also pain.
The couple that lost the child who couldn’t stop using to the extent that he eventually overdosed are still together and I’m happy to say that they’ve moved on from an unexpected death and the subsequent heart attack of his father.
No one expects a heart attack or stroke however, stress and other factors of trying to save a drug addicted relative can and do often put “the enabler” into a health crisis.
If you are dealing with an addict, I strongly suggest you visit your PCP on a regular basis and get regular check ups. It might just save your life. If you are struggling emotionally and/or blaming yourself for having an addict as a son, daughter or stepchild, visit a psychologist and get anxiety medication.
No, I’m not suggesting that you take drugs. I am suggesting that you have something on hand to help ease your anxiety in the event you need it. Trust me, without anxiety medication, I would’ve lost my sister years ago due to her daughters addiction.
Sixteen years ago, my twin didn’t have hypertension or high blood pressure. Having an addict for a child is not only painful and emotional. Having an addict for a child is physically disabling. The stress, shock, surprise and consistent disruptions an addict brings into your life can cause a number of health issues to loved ones of an addict.
Sixteen years ago my twin sister couldn’t have anticipated her daughter becoming addicted to meth. No one could.
Occasionally, my twin asks “why we were forced to deal with a mother who loved heroin more than her children and now her daughter who chooses meth over her family?” It’s a question that I secretly wonder myself.
I often suggest Grief Counseling to parents who have lost a child as soon as possible in order to prevent them from placing blame on one another.
Funerals and/or memorials are final. There are no “do overs.”
At the time I married Deanna and Burt they were Military Members. Deanna was so devastated by the loss of DeLilah that she is now on permanent disability. Burt is still serving our country.
It’s well known that I offer year round Military, Fire, Police and First Responder as well as Teacher (Active or Retired) discounts year round.
Deanna had seen photos from a Military Couple I had met at the courthouse in Grapevine to obtain their license and marry on the courthouse steps and loved the park we had the wedding ceremony in the following day. Deanna and Burt were (like all of our couples) thrilled to finally be marrying. They had met years prior at another base and literally “ran into” each other at yet another military base years later.Deanna and Burt were ecstatic about Deanna finally becoming pregnant a few years after their wedding with me. But, when Deanna contacted me again a few months after retaining me to Officiate a Baptism for DeLilah, it would be a Baptism followed by a celebration of life due to DeLilah being diagnosed with Trisomy. Like Deanna and Burt, I was devastated to hear this.
It’s far more difficult to plan and prepare for a funeral than it is to plan a wedding, Vow Renewal or other celebration. For months, I hoped for a miracle and for months, I held out hope that a miracle would save Baby DeLilah. But, God had other plans.
Holding that tiny baby in my arms at Harris Hospital was the saddest thing I’ve ever done as a Minister. Knowing a few days later that I would be memorializing DeLilah kept me from finding the peace to sleep.
Burt and Deanna have since decided to adopt. If you or someone you know might need a fantastic set of parents, contact me because Burt and Deanna are willing to meet you anywhere and discuss giving your child the home that they had carefully prepared for DeLilah. They are amazing and loving they are also committed to finding someone serious about adoption.
Burt and Deanna tried IVF but, sadly at 41, Deanna cannot get pregnant in the way she and Burt had hoped for. Adoption is literally their last chance.
My Florida Baptism and Celebration Of Life is significantly different. How so? Unlike DeLilah, the clients father has lived a full and joyous life. DeLilah never had the opportunity.
This booking won’t be filled with sadness. Instead, the client wants Mariachis and a virtual party celebrating the life of his father. Due to his father’s declining health, the client will also be marrying his partner of many years at his father’s bedside.
Although I’m certain that this wasn’t the type of wedding my client had initially planned, we are also planning a Vow Renewal one year from the date of a hastily planned wedding ceremony due to the declining health of my Grooms father.
I’ve had numerous questions regarding how and why I created Texas Twins Treasures in 2009. Today, I will address those questions.
My husband is a real estate developer and builder. Matthew has been in this industry 50 years. Like many others, my husband was never prepared for the “crash” in 2008. He had been finishing The Estates Of Lakeside when the bank called the paper.
In order to close out the development, my husband built an oversized home on the last lot. Did I ever imagine that we would have to buy that house? No. I’m not a country person and the Lakeside development was twenty miles from the city. But, life happens.
Rambling around a home that was four times bigger than we needed, we would be forced to stay in Lakeside until the real estate market picked up again. I reference that home as “my pretty Prison.” Why? Because we literally couldn’t leave it for years.
Developers and builders generally sell their “temporary homes” every 2 years. My pretty Prison held us captive for 6 years. During that window with my husband unable to find work for three years, I began “flipping my furs, jewelry and upscale furniture” in order to cover our loss of income due to my husband’s unexpected unemployment.
When you go from a joint income of $600k to $200k, you sink or swim. You figure it out. I did. You become a survivor. You think outside the box.
My twin sister and I have been flipping items for years. In fact, Cindy’s ebay storefront was opened years earlier than mine in 2003. My twin and I have extensive appraisal knowledge.
In 2014, I decided to merge Texas Twins Events and Texas Twins Treasures to create The Pawning Planners. As usual, this “rocked” the events industry. Such a “move” had never been done before but, I’m a pioneer.
In 2010, my husband had taken on an Airport in Parker County and was again a genius at tuning it around. How so? The airport sat on 40 acres. My husband sees things I don’t. Driving me over to view the airport, I had said “why would anyone want to fly in here? This place is a mess!”
But, my husband saw the airport differently. The same way he saw the Estates Of Lakeside when I saw nothing but a field and poison ivy.
My husband’s plan was to sell lots for private hangars right on the airport property. This genius move was the first time I realized that my husband is pretty damn smart himself.
The airport opened a window for us to never worry about money or having to “sell everything on eBay” to save our pretty Prison. Our joint income was finally back at where it had once been. In fact, I no longer needed to work.
Because I was also shocked to learn I had thyroid cancer, I quit my job. We sold the pretty Prison and I quickly became bored. I’ve worked all of my life and I needed something to do. Some way to occupy my time.
I thought about my wedding. The minister had charged $450 for the wedding ceremony alone. I’d struggled though my husband’s unemployment and we had sacrificed to save the farm.
There HAD to be others in similar situations? What if I created a People Over Profit based Events business to address others in similar situations?
The idea for Texas Twins Events was born. Although I continued to work as a consultant in the sales industry, I needed something fun that also helped others to give me something to look forward to.
I was in the hospital about to undergo a full thyroidectomy when I “pitched” my twin sister, Cindy about my idea.
As usual, she was “all in.” It was perfect. Cindy could bring her twin grandnieces to events with us. Cindy could also finally get out of the house.
Cindy had adopted her twin granddaughters and subsequently had been forced to give up her “day job” and her income. Her husband, Steve, took a job in Iraq as a fuel tank driver after being laid off from Albertsons. Two years from his retirement at Albertsons with two young babies to support, Steve made a difficult choice.
The photo below was taken on his first visit home again. Steve would later be diagnosed with PTSD after the roadside bombing near Camp Anaconda occurred.
Steve became known as “Real Fast.” The reason was that the drivers panicked while Steve who had never been in battle instructed other drivers to “drive real fast.” Steve spent 8 years at Camp Anaconda and was struggling with survivors guilt when he returned home to see his grand twins for the first time.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Good Friday roadside attack on fuel tank drivers, I am adding the link about Steve and the struggles he faced in Iraq with thousands of other drivers who had never encountered mortar attacks as well as the many military members who were heroes to the Government Contractors taking on dangerous jobs because they couldn’t find work in the states– Steve Real Fast Daniel- Caught In The Crossfire.
My family know hardship. My family circled our wagons to give the twins the life Cindy and I had never had. Together, our families have made sacrifices.
Perhaps, if we had been without hardships and endurance, Cindy and I wouldn’t care as much about our clients as we do but, life wasn’t easy for us and we therefore, understand our clients situations and circumstances far better because we have had a few years of struggle ourselves.
Hardships empower you or break you. Our hardships made us survivors. Our hardships taught us empathy and compassion. Our hardships were overcome and by overcoming them, Cindy I learned to think outside the box. Resilience and passion are the sole reason that we have dedicated clients who refer us over and over again.
We earned our clients dedication because we always strive to exceed client expectations.
Being the person you’ve never met is enlightening. Ask me or Cindy because we know all too well about helping others. We know what dedication really is. At the hospital and concerned that I wouldn’t survive this invasive “C” word, I decided to tell Cindy my idea. “If I survive this surgery and dreaded disease, we can do this” were my last words before being sedated. We became a Twin Team and while doing so, we also became friends of the friendless.
Our journey and constantly changing client base shocks people. We have never advertised and in certain situations, volunteer our efforts. Why? Because we can and because we care.My “idea” was one of the best ideas I’ve ever had. We were different in an industry that was all the same. No one cared about others.
Other vendors had no idea how to establish “relationships” rather than treating clients as numbers. Cindy and I did.
The tiny Texas Twins AKA Little Pawners are now 14 years old and work as princess characters at birthday parties. Makenna also enjoys photography on site and Maryssa enjoys videography and helping with young children on location.
My niece, Leigh Ann handles photography and my son and his wife work as an Officiant and Photography team together. I handle Texas Prison Weddings during the week while my son and his wife and niece, Leigh Ann handle most jail or “traditional” booking requests.
Cindy and I work as a team at Appraisal Appointments and traditional events on weekends. Four generations of my family now work with me and our amazing client base. My twin and I had a history of sales and marketing but more importantly, we were focused on finding unique ways to make Dream Events a Reality one family at a time from Fort Worth and, we have….