Happy Birthday Sweet Son

I would like to let anyone know that this post and is picture heavy.
A large part of these were before digital cameras and my scanner isn't working
so most of the pictures are taken with my phone of old pictures that
have darkened over the years.                                     


This is one of the days I've been dreading.
The first of each holiday since you've been gone.

I felt your birthday would be the hardest but as I look back on Halloween, Thanksgiving, 
Star Wars Opening, Christmas and New Years…. I just wasn't sure there could be "harder".
I was wrong.

I miss you so much.

I've been looking through pictures of your birthdays.

….heart breaking and heartwarming at the same time….

The day you were born was one of the happiest days of my life
and I thank God everyday for picking me to be your mom.

This was your actual birth day just hours before you were born. 


January 29, 1981

One year studio picture.  Adorable!


Your First Birthday theme was Winnie the Pooh.
You didn't want to wait for your first piece.  You tried to dive right in.
This still makes me smile.

Not sure what to do with your presents.

You caught on how to open quickly with all of your cousins there to help you.


Mickey Mouse was your theme for number 2.  What else when you live in the land of Disney World.


McDonalds is where we had your third birthday.
This was the first year you picked and apparently you 
choose well.  You really loved it.


Your fourth birthday was a party at our house.
I put you in your sweet vest and bow tie that your Nanny gifted
you, not quite sure if you'd like it but you were so proud of it.
I'm pretty sure it would not be the your first pick in later years  
but I know if I had asked you, you would of definitely worn it.
You look like the sweetest thing. 


Your 5th birthday was Chuck E Cheese.
I think in those days a CEC birthday was a rite of passage.

6th and 7th

Your sixth and seventh birthdays were parties at the house in North Carolina
with your best neighborhood and school buddies.  It included with lots of
running around playing army afterwards.  Your favorite thing to do at that time.


Your favorite things were super heroes,  pizza, cake. 
The park was your choice that year. 


This is the year you had a home party and because it was actually warm enough to swim
afterwards, that's what you choose.   Which is unusual for a January birthday but also 
one of  the benefits of moving back to Florida.


I'm pretty sure as soon as I took this picture I was instantly screaming for you
to take that money out of your mouth.  Yuck!
I love this picture.  Your presents of choice at this particular stage
of  life were comics and money (to buy comics).

You and your best buddies.
(insert smile and tears here)


This was the beginning of a long string of going out for pizza, a movie
then home for cake and a sleepover of game playing.
"I remember trying to keep you and John from eating all the pizza before the
rest of your friends arrived"

This was the party you requested until you were 18.





I love this picture.  First because we cooked out instead of pizza (again) and second,
even though you and your friends (and cousin) would always try to give me the
"we are too cool to smile" look,  at the last minute you gave me a sweet "I love you Mama" smile.


and we are back to the "cool looks, pizza and movie out.



You still like your superhero, star trek and star wars themes.

Your requests for birthdays in your 20's and 30's were usually
just dinner at home with the occasionally lunch out just with mom
and a movie with Mike  This was because of your busy schedule.
You always requested Lasagna, Mountain Dew and homemake Chocolate Cake with
Chocolate Ice Cream.  EVERY YEAR.
Never a menu change.




Your 34th birthday was a quick lunch with Mom.  On a later date, a movie with Mike and Austin.
 One of those years you couldn't get away.  I can't believe this is your
last birthday picture.  It's very precious to me.
We talked about how you'd let me through a big party this year.
Your 35th.

That party will never be here on earth but I hope your are having a big party in heaven.
I can't imagine how wonderful that must be.

This year you and Jesse will be back together again celebrating your birthdays together.

We miss you everyday, every hour, every minute.

Happy Birthday Sweet Son

I love You


Getting through Halloween

Getting through Halloween has been rough.

Ryan loved Halloween.

He was one of those "tall" teenage boys who still trick or treated.

He dressed up as an adult (even at work) when he could.

I miss him everyday but today is particularly hard.

When they were young there was no Party City or  Halloween stores.
They usually made up their own costumes with what ever 
we had at the house.

I want (really need)  to post a few of his Halloween pictures I have.

My Favorite

thanks to Aunt Gail's sewing skills

Army Man

Karate Kid
with his first carved pumpkin

Karate Kid (again)

Fifties Dude
 In this picture he is 13 and going to a family
Halloween Party with lots of younger cousins.
He didn't really want to dress up for it but I
told him he should so he put
on his leather jacket and said he would just be
a Cool Dude.

Yes Ryan, you are the coolest dude ever.

I don't believe I ever took pictures of him and his teenage friends before
they headed out.  I don't know why.  I think I thought they were too old
and was probably a bit embarrassed.
Another regret……..

I so wish I had more.
I encourage everyone to take pictures all the time of your family.
Whether they make a fuss or not.
There is no such thing as too many pictures.  

This year when you have older boys coming to your door,
remember they are just trying to hold on to a small piece of their childhood.
Boys take a little longer to grow up.

I miss you Ryan.




Ryan is the kindest person I know.

From the moment he was born he was a sweet baby who grew into the sweetest boy 
and remained that way throughout his life.

He is a mama's boy which of course I love.

Of all of my pregnancies, it was the only one that I prayed for a boy.

I was so happy when he was born and am so grateful that God let me be his mom.

As a baby he loved to cuddle.

He needed to be rocked and sang to sleep and I happily obliged.

I loved to read to him and his love of books grew strong even before he could read.

He fell asleep more times than I could possibly count with a book on his head.

From the time he learned to read he would pick a subject and then absolutely devour every
book he could find on the subject.

I remember the exact order when he was little.
First Dinosaurs
then Indians
… Space
…Cowboys in the West
…American History
…Ripley's Believe It Or Not
…Random Facts
…DC and Marvel Comics 
…the list goes on

I always see him in my mind's eye in underoos and cowboy boots.

His favorite at home outfit.

As a child he loved his Sunshine Bear, his Ernie, match box cars,
Tyco blocks, ninja turtles, transformers, batman and models.

The boy loved his toys and comic books.

He loved his cousin Ben like a brother.

He was saved and baptized as a young boy at West Side Community Church.

He liked watching professional wrestling on TV.  He just knew it was real.
The only sports team he really liked were the Miami Dolphins.

He was never big for playing sports but he did enjoy playing soccer when he was younger.

He was a cub scout and boy scout and it was a great fit for his personality.
He continued well into high school, long after his friends had already quit.

He loves camping and out door activities.

He loves all the rides at amusement parks.  Especially Roller Coasters.
The faster and higher the better.

He is as smart as they come.  

In High School he ran cross country and he even tried wrestling for a couple years.

He made his best life time friends in high school.  Especially Zach and Jason.
He treasured those friendships.

They shared a love of  pizza, movies and RPG's

He really enjoyed the ROTC.  Loved it in fact.
He wanted to early enlist in the Marines at 17 of which I talked him out of.
Something I have second guessed my decision about more than a few times.

These are memories about my Ryan while he was growing up.
But I want you to know who he is.

His name is Matthew Ryan "Bubba" Mercer.
His extended family and my friends called him Ryan.
His sister and their friends called him Bubba.
His school friends and adult friends called him Matt.
His girl friend and her son called him Matthew.
He answered to all of them.

He was a people pleaser, especially for his Mom.
He would never say no to anyone who needed help, whether  he had the time or money to do it.
He wouldn't let you know if things were going poorly.

He would tell you what he thought you wanted to hear so you wouldn't worry.
Something I'd find annoying but endearing because I know he truly didn't want anyone to worry.

He would start buying Christmas presents in the summer so he was sure he wouldn't
leave anyone out.  Whether he could afford it or not.  How many young men
do that?   I would suspect not many.

He always remembered  birthdays or special occasions.
  His family, friends, work friends and even my friends.  They would usually get a call
on their birthday or out of the blue just to ask about them and their families.

He'd always ask how my friends or neighbors that he knew were doing, and not
just to be polite.  He would listen and ask questions.

Growing up his sisters took great joy in embarrassing him and driving him crazy.
  They called him Bubba and even their friends called him that.
Even though it wasn't his favorite name he never tried to get anyone to stop.
He took it well and love them unconditionally.
He especially had a soft stop for his baby sister and affectionately called her Babes.

I've heard from people he worked with who absolutely loved him and even if he
hadn't seen them in years, they told me he still would call a few times a year just to catch up
and make sure they were doing okay.

There were numerous people that told me he was their best friend.

I've heard from friends in high school who would tell me stories of how they had
always remembered Ryan because of some kindness he showed them while they were in school
together.  One in particular told me how she had put herself in a precarious situation and Ryan always made sure that no one took advantage of her and made sure she got home.

I was told of how his friends would have  parties and drink
way too much.  Ryan was the one who choose not to
drink quite as much and made sure they were safe.  On one occasion he realized
that one of his friends got so drunk that it might be life threatening and made the decision to call an ambulance even though I'm sure they thought that they would get in trouble.
 They think it saved his friend's life.

These stories and others are things I never knew about Ryan.  How did I not know?
He never came home and told me because
I'm sure he thought it would worry his mom who made worrying an art form.

There have been numerous stories about his kindness that people have since told me
and I cherish everyone of them.  I encourage any of his friends to let me know the things
 about him that a Mom of a grown son may not know.

His girlfriend has a son (Austin) whom he treated and loved like his own.
His girlfriend has numerous health issues and he worked 3 jobs to make ends meet.

He had plans and dreams that he wanted to accomplish
as soon as Austin was grown.  Plans and dreams he will never be able to fulfill.

Because of his work schedule and obligations he wasn't able to make quite
 a few family celebrations and trips.  I know that he tried to come as often as possible.
 He loved the family parties and celebrations.

He loved going to movies with Mike or Carrie even though they rarely got to go.

He loved to travel even though he hadn't been able to for quite a while.

Gulf Coast 

New York City

He always wanted to go to Japan some day.

Ryan and Mike talked about and planned for a trip to Williamsburg and Gettysburg.
They both love History.  A trip they will never make.

He and I loved our lunch dates and he really liked coming over for home cooked meals.
Neither of which we had nearly enough of.

 He had pets that he took in that always seemed to end up having large vet bills.
Even though he couldn't afford it he found a way to make the money because
he couldn't bear not to.  It wasn't a burden to him.

The last years of his life were full of long hours of  hard work and many, many responsibilities with
little leisure time for fun.  It's not the life I wanted for him.

But I will tell you that is not how Ryan felt.  He just knew his time
would come and until then he had responsibilities.   He always had a smile
on his face and offered kindness to everyone.   He forgave quickly.
 and could never let any person or animal flounder or suffer without trying to help.

His life may not of been successful in worldly terms but I believe God would
be proud of the way he put others before himself.  How he would help others and
give grace so freely.  One of my biggest regrets is not praising him more often for those
 qualities.  What quality could be greater than putting others before yourself.

 I'm determined to continue showing kindness and forgiveness in honor of my precious son.

If Ryan has touched your life with his kindness I hope that you will take the opportunity
to return the favor to someone else in his honor.