Over The Rainbow Memorials

Almost five years ago, an amazing and beautiful friend named Krista entered my world. We have shared a lot in our short journey together, and I feel so blessed to have her in my life. Aside from being one of my very best friends, she is an amazing artist. I was immediately drawn to her work, and knew that being brought together was not a conciendence.

Krista, through her company Over The Rainbow Memorials, makes handcrafted glass memorials to help us honor and remember our loved ones.

I went to Krista and asked her to make me a pendant in memory of Vicki. Typically, she takes ash or hair from your loved one and uses it to create a memorial. I had neither to offer… just two trunks of Vicki’s personal things that mom had kept through the years. When we discussed what was in the trunks, I mentioned that I had the outfit that Vicki came home from the hospital in and her “Brownie” uniform.

Krista immediately had the idea to take snippets of her clothing, two things with so much meaning, and use them to create my memorial.

She made me a pendant with seas of blue that can take me right into Vicki’s eyes. Sparkles of pink, her favorite color, as the snippets of fabric run through the glass. Just holding the pendant in my hands fill my heart with an amazing amount of joy and comfort.

We have asked Krista again to make a few more pieces for loved ones, and when she finished this heart pendant for my sister, Carie, I was amazed again. She not only captured the blues of Vicki’s eyes, but colors that fit Carie’s style so well. I am anxious to see the rest of the memorials as she finishes them.

Krista continues to amaze me with the compassion and love she puts into the memorials she makes for us to remember our loved ones by. It is a gift and talent that is treasured.

You can view Krista’s work on her website at  www.otrmemorials.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OTRMemorials.

A heart for Carie in Memory of Vicki Lynne

A heart for Carie in Memory of Vicki Lynne

Vicki Lynne Mile Clean Up, Court Hearing Update

Just a reminder  SUNDAY, MARCH 17th is the quarterly clean up for the mile in Memory of Vicki Lynne.

I can not say thank you enough to our family and friends in Arizona who help us give back to our community in honor of Vicki.

I originally posted the information on this clean-up on February 28th. If you have any questions regarding this upcoming date, please feel free to contact me.

Last week there was a hearing in U.S. District Court on Atwood’s Motion for Reconsideration based on the Martinez vs. Ryan claim. The Martinez vs. Ryan claim has affected many death penalty cases, including ours. The court took the hearing under advisement and is waiting for a ruling by the United States Supreme Court in another case before it will issue a ruling in this case. It may be mid-summer before we know the outcome.

If the judge rules against Atwood, it will go to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and onto the U.S. Supreme Court.

Here is a link to the article from the Arizona Daily Star on the hearing: http://bit.ly/YfW3pB

As we wait for the final months of this story to unfold, all we can do is pray and wait. I look optimistically forward, and feel so incredibly blessed by the amount of support we continue to receive.

I will keep you posted as soon as we have any new information.

Vicki Lynne Mile Clean-Up

It is time for the quarterly clean up of the mile in Memory of Vicki Lynne.

Vicki, Age 4

Vicki, Age 4

As you may know, our family has joined with two others to keep three miles of highway clean in north Tucson in memory of our loved ones. We break into groups, if you show up to do Vicki’s mile, you will actually be cleaning up her mile.

The date has been set for Sunday, March 17th at 8:00 am. 

My sister, Carie, has taken over the primary responsibility for the mile in honor of Vicki as our parents are now here in Montana. She has the support and help of our brother, Brian as well. We ask that if you can attend that you meet at Anthony & Crystal Cillittos house at 8:00 am. You can shuttle over to the mile sites from there.

Crystal will go over the rules with you before you start. Remember to bring gloves, a garbage picker upper (if you have one), hat, water etc. Safety vests will be provided. No children under 12 allowed. (State rules…sorry) wear good shoes, no sandals or shorts.

Anthony’s address: 15431 N. Coronado Forest Dr. in Catalina.

The clean up normally takes about 1- 1 1/2 hours depending on the number of people who show up to volunteer.

Our family is so incredibly grateful for those who can help us give back to our community. I wish that I could be there to participate in the clean-up but can not make it this time.

Please do not hesitate to contact me directly with any questions you may have.

Thanks again for your continued love and support!!!

 

Speck of Evidence

Tonight as I was searching the internet, I came across a show my mom & I did in 1999 for The Medical Detectives, Forensic Files Series. It covers the forensic science that linked Frank Atwood to the murder of Vicki.

It shows the series is currently being aired on TruTV.  I am not sure how long it will be available to view on TruTV or via this website.

http://www.forensicfiles.com/speck-of-evidence.html **This link is no longer available, sorry!**

It is another piece of the puzzle that has spanned the last 29 years and very informative from the scientific perspective.

Still difficult to watch when they show Vicki’s remains but then I think of this moment…

 

Favorite picture of Vicki & I

Favorite picture of Vicki & I

Will you share with me?

It is incredibly touching when people take the time to share their stories about Vicki with me. Sometimes it’s just a brief encounter, memories from school, the softball field or family events. She touched the lives of so many in her short 8 years!

And, I will never be able to fully understand the magnitude of how her death impacted so many.

It’s amazing after so many years, her story is still alive and that is very important to me. I am reminded everyday of the gifts that she left behind, those are the very things that keep me going.

I’d like to invite you to share your story with me, whether it be a memory during her life or how her death impacted you. These are part of the gifts that remind me how special she was.

Thanks in advance! Feel free to share right here on the blog OR you can personally email me at ssmbrandt21@gmail.com, I look forward to reading what YOU have to share!!

Vicki & I Ages 2 & 5

Vicki & I
Ages 2 & 5

“Hound Hog’s Day”

Ground Hog’s Day, jokingly known as “Hound Hog Day”, is also my sister, Vicki’s birthday.

This week at school our girl’s learned about Punxsutawney Phil and what it means if he will see his shadow or not.  As we discussed the meaning of today, I shared with the girls that Ground Hog’s Day is also Aunt Vicki’s birthday. And how when she was small she couldn’t say her “G’s” very well so she would call it “Hound Hog’s Day”.

Madison & Mackenzie often ask me questions about Vicki. “Mom, Did Aunt Vicki like horses?” “Do you think she would like to ski?” “What was her favorite color?” “Did she draw well?”“Did she play with dolls?” “Could she run fast?”

These questions happen randomly and sometimes catch me off-guard. It makes me happy they are curious to know more about her, but it also has made me realize that sometimes we may talk more about what happened to Vicki than about her life.

Vicki's 8th Birthday Party

Vicki’s 8th Birthday Party

Vicki’s favorite color was pink and she loved Strawberry Shortcake.

She was a fierce competitor and would “scrap with the best of them” if you ask our elementary p.e. teacher, Coach Hall.

Vicki had a fire in her eyes that let you know she was serious, and a smile to go with her amazing blue eyes that would melt your heart.

She would light up a room when she walked in and entertained you.

Vicki did not liked to be teased about her freckles… aka… angel kisses.

Her nickname was “Oooggle Boogle”.

She wanted to learn to twirl a baton.

Vicki was proud of her younger brother, and giggled when we dressed him up in girls clothes and strolled him around the block..

She was proud to be a “Girl Scout Brownie”… we still have her uniform.

Vicki spent many Saturday nights cheering her Papas on at the race track, she was proud of him!

She loved tacos, but hated pizza.

Vicki was “Annie’s” double.

She loved her pink bike.

Vicki was a softball playing machine. And, she meant business on the field. This must have been a natural family talent.

She loved playing barbies and having sleepovers.

We loved it when our Aunt Kimmy made us spaghetto’s and french fries.

And, although I have many memories, one of my favorites is the times we spent out underneath the starry skies at the lake.

Today I hope that if you didn’t know her before she passed away, that you know a little more about her now.

Her life was short, but it was packed full of LIFE. And, I never want to lose sight of that or stop sharing our stories and memories of her.

Happy 37th Birthday Vicki… We love and miss you!

 

Vicki Lynne Mile Clean Up

It is time for the quarterly clean up of the mile in Memory of Vicki Lynne.

As you may know, our family has joined with two others to keep three miles of highway clean in north Tucson in memory of our loved ones. We break into groups, if you show up to do Vicki’s mile, you will actually be cleaning up her mile.

The date has been set for Sunday, December 2nd at 8:00 am. 

My sister, Carie, has taken over the primary responsibility for the mile in honor of Vicki as my parents are now here in Montana. She has the support and help of my brother, Brian as well. We ask that if you can attend that you meet at Anthony & Crystal Cillittos house at 8:00 am. You can shuttle over to the mile sites from there.

Crystal will go over the rules with you before you start. Remember to bring gloves, a garbage picker upper (if you have one), hat, water etc. Safety vests will be provided. No children under 12 allowed. (State rules…sorry) wear good shoes, no sandals or shorts.

Anthony’s address: 15431 N. Coronado Forest Dr. in Catalina.

The clean up normally takes about 1- 1 1/2 hours depending on the number of people who show up to volunteer.

Our family is so incredibly grateful for those who can help us give back to our community. I wish that I could be there to participate in the clean-up but can not make it this time.

Please do not hesitate to contact me directly with any questions you may have.

Thanks again for your continued love and support, I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!

 

258

That’s the number of unanswered e-mails in my in-box tonight. From the “Death Penalty” post on September 12th to today, that is how many messages I have not had a chance to respond to.

The number of emails, Facebook messages, posts, text messages and phone calls I have answered is easily been double that. I said today to a fellow co-worker that I might be “slow but sure” she said she would just call me a “turtle”. I liked that. Specifically because in my own chaotic world, I may not get to do things as fast and efficient as I would like to but I do get to “it”.

Thanks…

During the last two weeks, I have found it difficult at times to find the right words to express how I truly feel. Honestly, when I sat down to the computer late in the evening on September 17th and looked at my in-box & Facebook the only thing I could think to say was “My cup runneth over…”

Sentimental… overwhelmed… loved… supported… encouraged…

Yes, that’s me.

I’m finding more words…

To hit back on the last few blogs I have posted:

          The art exhibit for the Coalition of Arizonans to Abolish the Death Penalty has been cancelled.

http://azstarnet.com/news/local/crime/death-row-inmate-s-art-show-is-cancelled/article_001a181a-0101-11e2-974c-0019bb2963f4.html

           I’m not going to comment any further on this ridiculous event they tried to put on. 

           We are back in a holding pattern for the appeal’s process. All any of us can do is pray and wait.  I will keep you updated here.

           On the 28th anniversary of Vicki’s death, I shared my cousin, Michelle’s, blog. I feel as though it opened up a flood gate for people. I loved the thoughtfulness of the day, the stories, pictures and memories that people shared. I also deeply appreciated the fact that people could reflect back on a pivotal event almost 30 years ago and know that it continues to shape them.  

A few years ago someone said to a mutual friend of mine that they did not understand why I would want to write a book about my sister. Why can I not just let it go? As if I could just brush this under the rug and pretend it didn’t happen to me?

I have lived longer with the memory of Vicki than I lived with her. The emails, calls and texts I have gotten in the last two weeks prove that I’m not the only one who carries on her legacy, who will never forget Vicki Lynne and that terrible day that so many lives changed.

And I know if it had been me, she would honor my life just the same.

My favorite picture of Vicki & I…

September 17th

Always a day of reflection …from my cousin, Michelle’s blog two years ago.

Michelle and her brother, Sheldon, were close in age with Vicki & I, our mom’s have always been the best of friends. There are many treasured photos with the four of us together outside of church, on holidays or just goofing off together, the one she shares in her blog from September 2010 is one that I had not seen until that day.

Another memory, another story of Vicki.

I have revisited her blog from two years ago many times. On occasion to be reminded of another captured moment in Vicki’s life that I discovered so many years after her death, but also to remember how her life and death impacted Michelle. And how it continues to mold the path that Michelle lives with her family.

With Michelle’s permission I am reposting her blog from September 2010 today for you to read. A beautiful and honest reflection of how this day changed her…

http://dotsonourmap.com/2010/09/17/september-17th/

The Writ of Habeas Corpus

Vicki Lynne had a victory today that we all can celebrate for her. The US District Court denied Atwood’s appeal in his Writ of Habeas. 

Vicki, age 4, she was a comedian! Happy & full of life!

Atwood has until October 1st to make his next filing on what they call the Martinez vs. Ryan claim which he can say he had “ineffective counsel” at the Federal level. According to court documents all filings and responses are to be done by November 1 and any requests to continue are disfavored.

Again, we have forward motion and can feel a little justice in this crazy roller coaster that we have experienced the last 28 years. It is hard to explain the emotions that go on as we continue down this long and dusty road. Today I am happy to know that maybe, just maybe there may be a light at the end of the tunnel… and  her story continues…