Gifts for Dad ➔

I didn’t choose to be a member of the Thin Blue Line, it chose me. Growing up my father was a proud United States Army veteran who supported our men and women in blue. As an adult, I am choosing to share my life with a man who is a kind, honest upstanding citizen. A man who also happens to be a police officer.

We are living in a world where men and women are performing a career that is a calling, a thankless job that could take their lives at any moment. Our mainstream media is constantly villainizing our police officers. There are the black sheep in every profession but cop-bashing, especially on social media, is a great injustice to the whole force and their families. We often forget that our police have a job to do, rain or shine, and they are at our beck and call 24 hours a day. What many refuse to see is all the good our men and women in blue do. 

My Dad was a proud United States Army veteran who worked two jobs much of his life. He had a strong work ethic and bled blue. Towards the end of my father’s life it was difficult for him to leave the house. One of his last outings was when he proudly stood in the courthouse as my better half took his oath to serve and protect. That August afternoon my Dad posted on his Facebook page, “Proud moment in our family, just witnessed my future son in law take an oath to serve and protect as Lisa stood by his side.”  

On January 17, 2016 my Dad passed after a long battle with Stage IV base of the tongue cancer. His funeral was four days later. Friends and family tell me it was a beautiful funeral. For me it was like an out of body experience. When I saw my father’s lifeless body I cried enough tears to fill the Hoover Dam. Family viewing time ended and the room began to fill with countless guests. As I sat next to my mother I felt like a Jack in the box getting up and down to hug people. People with tears brimming in their eyes. Grown men weeping over the loss of a great friend. I began to see the massive impact my father had on so many people, some people I never even met.

As I scanned the room, I began to feel a great sense of pride. I realized these people drove from near and far to pay respects to my father. A four hour car ride to say your final goodbyes to a friend is nothing short of magnificent. These people loved my father and were taking time out of their busy lives to pay their respects and offer condolences to Al’s girls.

What happened next was truly amazing. I was making my way to the ladies room and I saw a group of uniformed police officers. Please understand I felt like a Clydesdale horse walking around with blinders on. I walked directly into the officer and he proceeded to hug me and offer me his condolences. Wait what?  I rubbed my eyes and realized that this officer was one of my boyfriend’s officers. These men all took time out of their busy schedules to drive to headquarters, put their uniforms on and then drive another hour to my father’s wake. One by one each officer walked to my mother then my father’s casket and paid their respects. I was overcome with gratitude and pride, I watched the entire room grow silent and observe a single file of uniformed police officers pay their final respects to my Dad. I was moved to tears of pride.

It was at that time I was positive I felt my father touch my shoulder. I know he was proud.

The outpouring of love and grief was apparent throughout the evening and into the burial the next day. My father had an amazing send off, complete with The NJ State Police guiding our procession to the cemetery (special thanks to my brother in law) and the United States Army playing Taps at my father’s grave commemorating his service.

These are days that I will never forget. They were the saddest days of my life, but they also opened my eyes to the kindness of others. Kindness that police officers, some of whom my Dad never met gave my family. Kindness that was given to us during a time when we had nothing to offer. 

You never forget the people who pay their respects to a deceased loved one. I will never forget the officers who came in full uniform to pay their final respects to my Dad and give my father a hero’s send off. I hope their behavior will help me to display acts of kindness towards others and remember that under the uniform is someone’s loved one performing a tireless job. 

To our men and women in blue, your job is incredibly exhausting and demanding, you deserve to know that your work is appreciated. You have made a difference in countless lives. You have made a difference in my life. Thank you.

Lisa Ingrassia

Lisa is the Director of Events at Zenith Marketing Group, an insurance brokerage firm located in Freehold, NJ. She is passionate about sharing her father’s journey with cancer and bringing attention the difficult path a caregiver must walk. She has written guest articles for the National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders, The Mighty & Her View From Home. She is also a guest blogger for The Huffington Post. Fun fact: She’s obsessed with her Boston terrier Diesel and loves the color blue.

If Only My Mother Were Still Here

In: Grief, Motherhood
Mother and daughter on beach at sunset

My strongest memory of my momma is more of a feeling than a memory. I can see myself standing in the bright kitchen of our big yellow house looking up at my beautiful momma surrounded by sunlight. I think she was handing me a glass of saltwater for a sore throat. But the feeling is what I remember in the most detail . . . I felt safe and loved, known and seen.   I knew that even if I didn’t know what I needed, she would always know. A hug, a song, a gentle nudge of confidence, a silly kitchen...

Keep Reading

How Grateful I Am for a Mother Who Believed in Me

In: Cancer, Grief
Mother and grown daughter, color photo

It was a hot summer day sometime in the middle of high school. I was young and naive, but the ugly six-letter word was looming over our family: cancer. Although I didn’t know it then, this would be our last normal summer before my mother’s health would worsen. Cancer would give way to terminal cancer. It’s funny how something so big can seem so small in those moments. My mom and I were sitting on our back porch, encased in a narrow hedge of yew bushes. It was a yellow, lazy Saturday, and my brothers and father were at Cub...

Keep Reading

A Medical Diagnosis Challenges a Marriage

In: Cancer, Living, Marriage
Bald woman holding clippers over husband's head, color photo

It is no secret now that Albert Pujols and his wife have announced their divorce shortly after she had surgery to remove a brain tumor. As a breast cancer survivor, this news hit me in a special way. As I was reading through an article from Today, there was a quote that hit me hard, “But a marriage falling apart is far more common when the wife is the patient, researchers have found. A woman is six times more likely to be separated or divorced soon after a diagnosis of cancer or multiple sclerosis than if a man in the relationship is...

Keep Reading

Dear Grandmother, I’m Not Ready to Lose You

In: Grief
Elderly woman and granddaughter touch foreheads

I had a visit from my grandmother the other day. It wasn’t a regular sit on the porch with a cup of tea kind of visit. It was more of an “I have something I need to tell you” type of visit. She’s been unwell for some time, and I guess I had sort of hoped she would get better, and she would be back to herself soon enough. I noticed when she sat down and tears filled her eyes that it wasn’t going to be a normal conversation. Her eyes widened and she struggled to get her words out without...

Keep Reading

Love Carries On in the Ones We Raise

In: Grief, Motherhood
Mother and son hug

From a very young age, two of the most important men in my life were my grandpa and my brother. I never could have imagined that I’d lose them both within nine months, nor could I predict the profound effects the magnitude of those losses would have on my life. My grandpa was my father figure and shepherd. I have endless memories of him— from splashing in the ocean together to shopping each Easter season for my Easter dress. He was always there. Every choir concert, musical, or school ceremony, I could easily find his face in the crowd. I...

Keep Reading

Friends Can Be a Sanctuary

In: Friendship, Grief
Group of friends hugging

A sanctuary is defined as anywhere people go for peaceful tranquility or introspection. My friends became my sanctuary when my husband, Frank, died. They became my refuge and my safe place. Friendship is one of the most wonderful gifts in this world. It is beautiful, comforting, ever-changing, and, for me, a fixed point.  My friends seemed to know exactly what I needed and when I needed it. Their love and constant support got me through the worst of times and gave me the courage and confidence I needed to move forward.  I could never give an adequate thank you to...

Keep Reading

All I Wanted Was For My Baby To Stay Alive

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Sad woman with head in hands

Today is the day I’ve dreaded and resisted for almost a year: the day I face going through the white plastic bag the hospital sent home with me after my D&C, 10 months ago. This bag held my clothes, shoes, and wedding ring for the short time I was in surgery, but I rescued all of those precious items soon after waking. The items that remain show the paper trail of that difficult day—receipts from my hospital admittance and anesthesia, general post-operative care instructions, and a consent form for “treatment of incomplete abortion.” That last part brings tears to my...

Keep Reading

My Husband Makes Me a Stronger Woman

In: Grief, Loss, Marriage
Daddy standing over hospital crib with infant, black-and-white photo

A little over a year ago, my husband and I went through the unimaginable. We lost our child, Lillian, to a congenital heart defect. The days following that, and even to this day, people will comment on how strong I am. How well I’ve dealt with this darkness. How they can’t imagine what I am going through. The truth is I was never alone. From the day we found out I would give birth to a child who had complex heart defects, my husband has been there. Always in the background of what others saw but ever so present in...

Keep Reading

Mothers Don’t Teach Us How To Live Life Without Them

In: Grief, Grown Children, Loss, Motherhood
Woman in dress with corsage, smiling color photo

When you’re a little girl, you dream of marriage, children, a career, and memories that you will cherish forever—and you want your mother by your side at all times. Our mothers teach us how to live a life we will enjoy, but they never teach us how to live a life without them in it. Our mothers don’t tell us that one day they will not be here to answer the phone when we call or go on spontaneous dinner dates. My mother never told me there will come a day when she will be gone and how bad it...

Keep Reading

When Mother’s Day Feels Awkward, Find Comfort in Community

In: Grief, Living, Loss, Motherhood

Mother’s Day can be beautiful for some women. It can be hurt filled for others. Or in my case, it can just feel plain old awkward. I felt eight years of awkward Mother’s Days. In my late 20s to mid-30s, I felt like the woman no one knew what to say to or what to do with. I felt a double whammy on Mother’s Day. My mother was home in Heaven. My womb was empty and always would be. My desire to have a child was filled with an intentional choice to go a non-traditional route to motherhood and was...

Keep Reading

 5 Secrets to Connect with Your Kids

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Proven techniques to build REAL connections