Monday, May 28, 2012

Getting personal for glassybaby

On the last day of Blogfest (yes there is more to tell), we were given the sweetest little gift; a handmade glass votive with the most bittersweet story attached to it.  We then met the woman behind the story and learned about why and how her company glassybaby ( came to be. 

Lee Rhodes is a three time cancer survivor.  During her struggles she found that when these votives were lit, their color and light offered great hope and healing.  She wanted to share her story and her success, so she started to tell it and spread the love.  She talked of her family.  She talked of the artisans who make the votives.  She talked of how these little gifts of light can give the gift of hope.  And, she told us of how glassybaby generously gives back to the community by distributing 10% of their revenue as unrestricted funds toward the uncovered needs of cancer patients and their families - bus fare, a cool pair of jeans, new shoes, or even a glass of scotch on the rocks - because she knows first hand that only you know what you need when you are going through it....

Now, because they offered up a contest asking bloggers to tell their inspirational stories in hopes of naming a glassybaby themselves, I'm going to get a little personal.  I'm going to get personal because I went through it.  Not as a survivor, but because my dad wasn't one.  From my past posts, it's obvious that my dad and I were great friends.  He was a special guy - a cross between Rodney Dangerfield and Ronald Reagan - the life of the party with the gentlest of souls.  Nearly 11 years ago, he died of kidney cancer, and though it was a downhill battle from the time of the diagnosis, with nicknames such as The Jolly Green Giant and/or Jimmy-HaHa, it never seemed as hard on him as it should have been.

The name The Jolly Green Giant wasn't given to my dad because he was big.  On a good day, and in need of a haircut, he might have been 5'10".  It was given to him because he was a fan of Heineken before it was the mainstream yuppie beer that it is today.  Not that he was a big boozer, but rather, he was your quintessential "Wall-Streeter", who liked a beer after the bell.  And, if they didn't serve Heineken, it was all or nothing, and a Coke would suffice.

As a kid growing up on the Jersey shore, we spent a lot of summer afternoons scouring the beach for sea glass.  If you can imagine, the Jersey shore in the 70s and 80s had a lot of sea glass (yes, I'm admitting that there were probably other things to be found :).  My dad used to pick up the green pieces and joke that they came from Amsterdam, that the Dutch tossed their Heineken bottles into the sea, and they made their way across "the pond", rough and tumbled in the sand, to become these gorgeous soft pieces of sea glass that we would collect and covet.  This was our joke, a good story of upcycling if you will.  In college, while visiting Amsterdam, I even sent him a photo of me standing outside the factory, and that was a laugh even until the end.

I've written before that my that favorite color is green, spring-grass green - or now, that we're getting personal - the color of a Heineken bottle.  There are moments in your life that remind you of other moments and so on, and that green, especially when tossed and washed, reminds me of Dad; the days on the beach, the lobster bakes in Lavallette, Monmouth Park, and Harry's.  That green is fresh and new every spring, and re-launches memories of riding the big tractor around the yard, the time we tried to make a garden, and when we had a bunny named Clover.  It reminds me of playing softball on the Green Giants and of him trying to get home early to make it to the last inning.  It reminds me of MBBTC and years of swimteam and summer nights.  And mostly, it reminds me of home and the green leather sofa in our family room where we would watch the Buffs and Who Wants to be a Millionaire.  Those were our moments, my personal family moments... 

And so, in the spirit of competition, this is my submission; a new votive in remembrance of my late father; a votive named HaHa; one just for Jimmy Ryan.  And, if we don't win, at least you'll know why I like green and maybe you'll think harder about why your color is your favorite and if deep down, it really has a special meaning.

To find out more about this amazing company, please visit (and like) their facebook page!/glassybaby


  1. Dear Elizabeth,
    Thank you for sharing your story.. I know it is not easy. I guess when Lee began her speech about how everyone had been touched in some way by the Big C I guess she was right.
    I was very touched by this talk, & have been struglling about whether or not to share my own personal story and now you have given me the courage to do that!
    Thank you!! xo Jen

  2. Oh Elizabeth, do you have to make me cry over my coffee at this time of the morning dear?? As a person who lost her daddy at 11 years old, your story just pierced my heart. I hope you win a hundred of those lovely green votives. Kisses, Me

  3. As one who knew Jimmy and was given his first job by him and was trained by him....what a great guy. He called them like he saw them. Sometimes brutally honest to one who worked for him, but with a deeper caring for those who did the right thing and gave life their all. You hear people say "the kind of person you could call in the middle of the night"... But he was the guy you actually did that too. And Lizzy, he never stopped raving about you guys....
    A man who is missed every day....and I still think of him every time I see a green bottle too.