Today we had the wonderful opportunity of meeting Angel Dominic's family here in Iowa. He also battled DIPG but unfortunately passed away in September 2009, only a few months before Oliver's diagnosis. Dom's grandma, Marla, painted many eye patches for Dominic, I think she said over 70, and after Oliver's diagnosis we received a box in the mail with a few, featuring - Spongebob, a guitar, baseball glove and bat as well as a smiley face. She's painted hundreds of them for kids that have struggled with double vision because of this type of tumor. He loved them. After a while I started to paint him some as well.
It took far too long for us to get out to visit Marla and her family on her farm, about 2 - 2 1/2 hours away from us. She had called me early on in this journey and I was so grateful that she reached out. We talked for a long time and I was so happy she called. She told me a lot about Dominic and the one thing that stuck out was his love of eagles. Every time I see an eagle, I think of him.
Unfortunately I didn't get to meet his parents since they were working, but I got a chance to meet several of his cousins, his aunt, grandparents and his brother and sister. Marla said it was the first time they'd ever met another child that had the same thing Dom had. I just kept shaking my head. It doesn't seem real. It just doesn't.
The minute we got there, we were greeted with a hug. The kids immediately started to play with one another and we were shown all around the farm. We all got a ride around the place on the golf cart which unfortunately broke while we were there! Eden clicked right away with Dom's cousin, Hailey who was close in age to Eden. They jumped on the trampoline together all day long! The kids jumped on the trampoline, they played video games, picked some vegetables from the garden and saw all the animals of course! Marla had two new piglets that she wanted Oliver and Eden to name and they came up with the highly original names....... "Babe" and "Wilbur". They had chickens, two horses, several cows, kittens and the piglets. Oliver LOVED it. I knew he would because he loves animals so much. He told me he would love to have a place like that.
Marla and I got to talk a lot about the journey. As horrible as it is to talk about, there is a great comfort sharing thoughts and feelings with someone that 'gets it'. I felt so comfortable there... like we were family. It was such a wonderful visit. I hope that we can go and visit there again soon!!!
Chasing the chickens!
Finny playing in the sand where Dominic would always play.
Oliver -- one of the wild animals!
I LOVE this picture of Lennon smiling, bringing the chicken around for the kids to pet.
It was surprisingly soft!
Buddy and Anne - The horses
Lennon, Ollie, Eden
Lennon, Ollie, Eden
Eden, Hailey, Jaren and Finn with Babe and Wilbur
Cute lil' pig butts!
Katie, Dominic's aunt, Eden and one of Dom's cousins. Eden was driving the golf cart for the first time! WATCH OUT!!!
Hailey and Eden
Finny eating his ice cream cone. Why he scooped it out of the cone with his hands to eat it is beyond me!
Picking some veggies from the garden.
Playing with a caterpillar
Logan, Dominic's cousin and Oliver
Trying to blow on a blade of grass to make it whistle.
I LOVE this picture.
I love how Finn is just hangin' with the boys. Finn with Hunter, Dom's cousin, and Lennon, Dom's brother.
I hope Marla doesn't mind me posting this sweet memorial in Dominic's memory. You can see it as you drive up the driveway next to a shed on the land. It choked me up quite a bit to stand there in silence and think of what Dominic was like and what he and his family have gone through. I thought of my own journey with Oliver and couldn't help but cry thinking of him and all of our DIPG family. It was certainly a very special place.
Oliver and Marla "Granny on the hill" :O)
Ed getting jumped on by all the kids! He's my big kid!
Oliver taking some time to see the animals again before we left. Here he is trying to bond with the chickens... walking like them... :O)
Oliver and Babe
Babe and Wilbur
A perfect end to a perfect day.
THANK YOU, MARLA and FAMILY!!!