My daughter wrote this and she said I could share it.

Beautiful on the outside, but shattered within. As things appear to be broken, they build as something new as time goes on. You can bring on new glory, from terrible events of the past. Life is like a puzzle, finding one piece at a time. Building up the courage, admitting this life is mine. I’m not alone, as my mind seems so distant. I have to bring that happy child back.

I dedicate this poem to my sister Amber, I miss her dearly, for these times I need her. I know she is with me, but not in form. Just like the painting, not all is there. The pieces that broke, will repair. With my guardian Angel by my side, my life, my goals, my achievements, can not, will not, become deprived.

Amber – One Year

It has been one year since we lost her. One year full of tears. One year of missed talks and time together.

I think about Amber every day. I always have a very special relationship and loved spending time with her so much. We would have very deep talks about so many subjects. She would teach me about her feelings and I would share mine. Amber was more than a niece or Goddaughter to me. Amber was part of me.

Amber was loved by so many people. She was a big part of so many lives. Seeing her brought a smile to my face even when times where tough.

Today, as I think about Amber and the deep love I and so many others have for her. I just want to see her again, but that is not possible.

Now, we try to remember the good times and the joy that she brought to our lives. She was a beautiful person inside and out. I think of the free soul that Amber was. I think of the song “Dancing in the Sky“. I believe that she is dancing in the sky now, she is dancing in the clouds and with all of the loved ones that have passed.

I was love to take pictures and videos. This video is from Amber’s 23rd birthday, taking her to eat and be sung to. I have many videos but just haven’t been ready to go through them yet…

I will.. She is always in OUR HEARTS!

In her short life she touched so many people and made so many connections. Connections and building relationships is what life is about.

13321947_881624948648025_6144795738528172072_ni woke up today thinking 1 yr today my daughter left my appt. to go somewhere .i wanted her to go for wings with me that night .She decided to go get well from her addiction .She left saying i love you mommy .and i had a smile on my face not knowing they were here last words . I am going today stay strong and remember good times .i want amber to look down at me and say I’m proud of ya mommy she will always be in my heart (6/1/2016):


12400687_10206173400313845_5370386953871072394_nFrom Mom F(6/1/2016) :
I remember that last week. Amber was struggling and really wanted to get it!!! I am blessed to have had so may years and time with Amber. I am even more glad and blessed to have seen Amber and her mon reunite so closely the last 4 months. What a blessing God gave us all time with Amber . I love you Janine. Your post just brought me to tears. Pap Pap Bob is also feeling such a big hole in his heart. Amber always respected her Pap and looked up to him. Her uncle Lou , Rhonda and the girls were like mentors too. They stepped in when the going got tough for Grandma (Nana) Thanks Lou Jr. for all the help. Also Thanks to Pap Pap Rainaldi . & Grandma Cathy When Amber was very young he took her to give (Nana) a break. Oh how I appreciated the help. We had such a beautiful and loving relationship with Our Amber, I am sure Amber is looking down and saying. Wow!!! I’m at peace. Also thanks to all her close relationships Amber had. She love everyone. May you all find peace.
Also Amber’s dad did the best he could. And Grandma Jan and pop pop. Always tried to help. Thanks  (6/1/2016)


13332798_10208137654497638_386180493503331093_nAmber – My Child, Grandchild – It has been a year since your earthly journey ended. There is seldom a day that I don’t have a thought about you or find something that reminds me of you. Some of those little projects you made while growing up are still on or in my work bench along with several pictures from different ages. I often see signs that remind me of you like the bright pink feather that appeared out of nowhere when I was tearing the old kitchen apart. It seems at times that you are watching over me now. I have a lot of good memories of you from an infant through a young adult that I will hold onto forever. I thank God for giving you to me as a child, trusting me to help you grow, and letting me have those years with you. You will forever be a part of me. Amber – I love and miss you. (6/1/2016)


21211371599_3848cd8079_zone year ago today God decided He wanted more laughter & dancing in heaven. He took my granddaughter Amber Mersing into His kingdom, we only had her for 24 years but she put so much joy & happiness into my life. i think of her every day thankful for all the joy she brought into my life. i miss her every day & wish i had her back. i miss you & you will always be with me. until we meet again love you pappy (6/2/2016)

I ask you all, please remember that tomorrow is not guaranteed. Remember to tell people you love them and more importantly SHOW them your love.

Rest In Peace Amber. Jan 2 1991 – June 4, 2015

11 Month Ago Today… End This Health Crisis!

I have been personally affected by the opiate epidemic. It is a health crisis that is affecting everyone in some way. This past weekend our community lost several more people to this crisis. Losing someone young is a heart ripping feeling. Watching someone struggle with the grips of addiction is living a nightmare.

You see the person you love and know slowly disappear. You see the change in their eyes. Looking in their eyes you want to reach in and hug the person you love so much but the person on the outside is different. They are fighting a battle that many people can never understand. You hug them and try to reach for that person inside to come out.

I have heard people say let the addicts die, they chose this lifestyle. Addiction started with a choice, a choice that every one of us makes. The difference is that a person with addiction can NOT stop without a lot of help. They have a need for the drug and they will do anything to get that drug like it is air itself. Addiction comes in many forms, some people over eat, so people cut themselves and there are so many other addictions. The addictions they are battling are very REAL. Like a monster inside of them that they have to fight every day, every hour.

Drugs and alcohol are so common in our society that you are confronted with it on a daily basis. Drugs may be legally prescribed by a doctor. Alcohol is at just about every event. Children are trying substances at an earlier age than ever before. Many people use substances to cover up the feelings that they are dealing with such as depression, mental illness and chronic pain. We all know that these are very real illnesses, but we don’t treat people with addiction as an illness. There is a change occurring right now where addiction is starting to be treated like the disease it is.

It’s been 11 months since we lost Amber. She was the light of my life. I remember the minute she was born. The excitement and love that filled my heart at that minute. My life changed with her birth and I learn what unconditional love is. You do NOT just stop loving someone because they are ill. You love them more.

Addiction scares me. I have two children that I am so afraid could be affected by this horrible disease. We teach them about addiction, drugs, bullying and so many other aspects of life. We want to give them the tools they need to say NO. But, saying NO is just not enough. We need to provide tools for them to use when, (yes when) they are confronted in these situations.

So, how do we do this. INVOLVEMENT. Yes, being involved in our community and our FAMILY. We must be involved and teach our children how to handle these situations. Don’t just tell them drugs are bad. Help them know what to do when they are in a situation that will pressure them. This is not easy. But we must remember that they need our help. It is much easier to help them before they become addicted than after. Sadly, we can give our children all of the tools and resources available and they still may be gripped by addiction.

Open your eyes and be realistic. Don’t think “Not My Child“, this can happen to ANYONE. Addiction does not discriminate. Addiction can affect the young and old, the rich and poor.

There are many resources available to help someone in addiction,  education people to prevent addiction and also support people who love addicts. I would like to hear what resources you know of and why you feel they are valuable.

Some resources that I know of and support are listed below. Please help build this post up with valuable information for someone trying to fight addiction or to help education others to prevention drug abuse.


Reflecting On 2015 Loved Ones

As I reflect on 2015 I think of much sadness. Our family lost several people that we love very much. I think of each of them and the joy they brought in my life.

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Each of the loses this year was hard and sudden. We did not expect any of them to occur.

Aunt Ginny 3/18/1955 – 2/16/2015

My Godmother, with her wonderful sense of humor, always bringing laughs to people. I will never forgot her dressing like a nun for Halloween or having a giant ear when she first started cutting hair. She laughed and just wanted to be happy. Now she is happy and with her young son who past at the age of 10.

Uncle Ray 12/17/1949 – 3/27/2015

My Uncle losing his battle to cancer, visiting our cottage is not the same without him there. His cancer progressed fast, getting worse and limiting him. We had hoped to get him to our cottage one last time but we couldn’t. But, he is now at rest there by the boccie court and I am sure he is happy and at peace.

Pap Balistrere (Balistrieri) 10/12/1922 – 4/5/2015

On Easter Sunday I got a call that Pap was taken to the hospital and not responsive. Rushing to get family together and make it to the hospital so he would not be a lone. He wasn’t. He was surrounded by family as he passed on. I was honored and sad to be there with him, just like I was with my Grandmother (his wife). I also discovered that he spelled his last name different than everyone else in the family, even his parents and his children. Correct spelling is in parenthesis above.

Amber (1/2/1991 – 6/4/2015

Losing Amber was and is devastating still. I have decided to speak out and try to help others in her memory. She suffered for a long time and is now at peace and no longer battling her demons. I believe that she is enjoying eternal peace and joy as she deserves. I miss her very much, we had so many wonderful talks together. She was a very intelligent young lady. Hearing her voice, seeing her smile and just being with her is a huge void in my life. Being around her filled me with happiness.

Then, two others not pictured, my cousins Ron and Johnny both also sudden and surprising to us.

Reflecting on 2015 is sad. Our family is strong and stuck together to comfort everyone.

Remember to live each moment, enjoy everyone you have and love. Tell them you love them. Be with them. As 2015 has shown you never know when you will lose them.


Amber … We Love You

18700358348_e179a4a757_oMy family is still in shock and can’t believe that we will not be able to see Amber again in this world. I know I just want to hear her again.. “Uncle Lou”, those words filled my heart with joy. We always said I Love You have each time we talked and hugged.


Below is the eulogy that was given by one of Amber’s Grandfather’s. Beautiful spoken and written.





Reading For Amber (Gia)

Below, is what my Gianna wrote and then stood and delivered to everyone at Amber’s service last Sunday. Savannah stood up at the podium to read a scripture with her Aunt Nina (Amber’s Mom). I am so proud of all of them.


Amber was like a sister to me. We had so much fun together with gymnastics competitions to dancing. I lover her so much. I loved how we were close cousins. And I will always remember all the fun we had. I am gonna miss her alot. And for everyone in this room to remember that she is looking down at us. One more thing in heave she is with Blaze who she would dress up with him and get a picture taken.

Life Is Short

This year started off very tough, my dad has been battling cancer and is doing great! But, my Uncle lost his battle, he will be missed so much. My Aunt suddenly passed and my Grandfather passed on Easter Sunday. To much sadness. Life is so short and you never know when it is your time. Take time and be mindful of what is going on in the moment. Spend time with the people you love and share the good times.

My dad is going in for bone marrow transplant this week and will be in isolation for about 3 weeks, but we are lucky that his cancer is very managable and it was detected early. I am running for school board and putting time in to help the district I live in and believe in. I am glad that both my parents and family are proud and standing with me. I wouldn’t want to do anything to damage my family.

This posts covered a lot in very short, but I wanted to get this out there. So I will leave the day with this picture of me and my dad behind a yard sign for my election. Please keep him in your prayers for a quick recovery.

Booptity Boop …. Rest In Peace Pap

This has been a tough year. My grandfather passed on Easter morning. Below, is the eulogy that I wrote and delivered

Pap, Nanu, Dad, Great Pappy, Uncle Tony, Tony

I knew him as Pap, I am one of his 20 grandkids and I remember so many fun times with Pap. He was a friendly and fun man, he made friends everywhere he went and everyone knew him. I was lucky that when I was young I spent a lot of time with him and my grandmother. Then, as I was older, my kids spent time with him at Norberts. I am truly blessed for these opportunities.

Those memories will be with me always and I would like to take some time now to share my feelings and memories of Tony Balistrieri, my grandfather.


(( I reached in and pulled out several packets of sugar. My grandfather always took them and saved them))

Well…. these are not notes….. I guess, I picked this up from Pap. I think I picked up a lot of his traits and I am happy to say that.

He shared with everyone and was willing to give anyone anything. When I was a child, he was always reaching in his pocket and handing me and my cousins money. He also gave to other people; just to be nice and helpful. He was that type of man. It seemed that he was always helping someone out or giving someone something

We lived across the alley from my grandparents and I was there all the time or playing in the alleyway with my friends. Everyone stayed close and family was very sacred

Even when my my parents moved to the South Hills, we still would be at Sunday Dinner every week with my aunts, uncles and all of my cousins. Of course there was a lot of extended family and friends stopping in often. The house was always full of people and it was a fun time.

Pap made his own wine, he had these huge barrels under his porch with wine in them. I don’t ever remember being able to try it, but I know my dad, aunts & uncles drank it with him often. Sharing a glass (well, more than one….) with family and friends and eating while having a fun time. That is how I remember Pap. Sharing food and wine around a table with many many laughes. My cousins and I would play in the yard but always stay clear from where the wine barrels where stored, there was always a nest of bees there from the grapes.

I remember one time I got my foot stuck in a trap and he ran out to get me freed or another time when I got a fishing hook through my finger. He rushed to take care of it. He was a great man. I feel he was proud of all of his family.

Family, that he had lot of.

7 Kids:

20 Grandkids:

26 Great-Grandkids

Then there are his brothers, sisters, in-laws, and close friends; who I still know as Aunt & Uncle…. and the number just keeps growing.

Pap had a…..a …. colorful life I would say. He told me about a time during WWII he left for a little to see a girl and then returned, he said it was okay and normal. He defended our country, part of the greatest generations of all time.

I didn’t know it was normal to have a back seat in a car for so many years, we kids always wanted to ride in his car because the back seat was removed. His friends included police, FBI agents and so so many people. His best friend, Bob, was the cheif of Allgheny County Police. Then, there was his friend “Dough Dough” who sounded & looked like Luka Grossi. I heard one story about Baby Face Nelson visiting him, my gram didn’t realize who it was until after

Our family is very proud of our Italian heritage and that is because of Pap. He lived and breath our heritage. He welcomed people in his home and just made them feel at home and of course offered them some wine….

He was a produce man, with his brothers. They had a shop on Liberty Ave with fresh produce and they also had a truck they would drive to sell produce. People would come in and Pap was known for letting them fill a bag and his reply was “just give me a buck”. His kids would run through the store with friends an grab fruit as they ran to the local swimming pool and he would yell at them not to take anything. Oh, and the back rooms. Seems like there where back rooms in many different places…

They lived in a different time than we do know.

But, he was also intrigued by some of the technology. I would see him and my daughters on their iPad and he just looked and swiped away. He was just amazed at some of the new things we could do. He seemed to enjoy video calls on the phones

Pap was blessed with 7 children, each one of them cared about him very much. They brough a special joy to him in different ways. I am lucky to be able to call them Aunt & Uncle.

A family that I am so happy to have. I offer my deepest sympathies to each of you

In closing, I would like to remind you of something that Pap told my cousin Stacy. He said not to let anyone or anything ever bother you. If something or someone does, then simply say “la de da de da de da, booptity boop

Let’s get the hell outta here….


Rest In Peace Uncle Ray

It seems there has been so much loss in the family lately. Uncle Ray, passed yesterday after battling cancer for a long time. He fought a great battle. I have many great memories of him, we are a very close family and spend a lot of time together. Summers, just about every weekend we are at our cottage. There, we work hard and have a lot of fun together.

This summer will be very strange without Uncle Ray there. I always enjoyed talking to him about all kinds of stuff. We talked about Savannah’s cerebral palsy, we talked about politics and current events. He was a very good father and family man.

Uncle Ray painting at the cottage with Blaze by his side.

As we prepare for his visitations and burial we are remembering his life. I will be working on a memorial video to share with the family. My Aunt, his sons (my cousins) and other family members will be providing me with pictures to use.

Always remember that you don’t know when you won’t see a person again. Each day of life is a gift and you should treat it that way.

Rest in Peace Uncle Ray, we will miss you and love you always.