Middle of the night, Oct. 30, 2001

From the depths of my dream, I heard the landline phone ringing on the side of my husband’s nightstand.

“BBBbbbbrrrrinnnnggg …. Bbbbbrrrriinnnggg …”

I grabbed it on the third or fourth ring. In a groggy voice, I whispered a simple, “Hello? …”

The person on the other end wasn’t as quiet. In fact, I heard fear and sadness in her voice.

“Melis … my dad died …”

I swore I was still dreaming.


“He and my mom were walking and he just had a heart attack on the sidewalk,” my former college roommate turned bridesmaid in my wedding (now the Godmother of my twins) said.

I quietly padded down the hall and down the five steps, into my living room, so as to not wake my husband.

There, on the couch, I just sat and listened to my best friend share the worst day of her life through the telephone.

Sarah’s mom was an OBGYN nurse. She had seen her share of scares, but this was something completely different.

Sure, heart disease ran in Bob’s family, but no one in a million years thought he would die from a heart attack. That only happened to “other” people’s parents.

Not a father of four grown daughters and a handful of grandchildren to boot.

Not to a man who wasn’t retired.

Not to a man who had yet to see his youngest daughter marry and have two girls of her own.

Not to a man who loved his wife and God.

But it did.

To this day, no one knows why Bob died on October 29, 2001.

But what I do know is the passing of Bob Bednarski shook my friend’s family to the very core.

It also opened my eyes to realize life is fragile.

And I never want to see anyone go through that again. It’s not fair.

For one Grafton, Ohio mom, she got lucky. Others aren’t so lucky.

On April 3, 2016 the mother and grandmother suffered what doctor’s refer to as the “Widow Maker” – mostly this type of heart attack hits men, but this time around, it hit her.

Her family called 911 and began CPR.

They did everything by the book.

Moments later, Brent Payne, a part-time police officer with the Village of Grafton, arrived. En route, he heard the words “full cardiac arrest” come across the scanner.

He knew what he had to do, and he was prepared.

Tucked away inside the trunk of Brent’s patrol car was an AED unit. The AED, or automated external defibrillator, is the device that may have saved the woman’ life. An AED is a portable electronic device that can automatically restart a heart rhythm.

“I always have it on my shift in case of incidents like this,” Brent said. “After speaking with paramedics on scene, they determined that if I did not have the AED with me and able to deliver the initial quick shocks, she may not have made it to the hospital with any signs of life.”

But, if any other officer had shown up at the Grafton woman’s door, no one is for certain what the outcome could have been.

You see, up until April 3, there was only one police officer on the Grafton Police force who carried an AED unit – Brent Payne. And, he was a part-time police officer. To say he was meant to be covering the night shift on April 3 is an understatement.

I don’t know if Brent truly understands the gift he gave to the family in Grafton, Ohio.

I hope he does, because in my gut, I know that rather than planning a Mother’s Day celebration, they would have been planning her funeral in early April.

I’m not sure if my friend’s dad would have survived his heart attack if a store nearby carried the AED units as some do now. But, that was in 2001 – and protocol is different now.

While Sarah’s dad is forever watching his family from Heaven, the Grafton mom has been given a second chance at life – that alone is the best Mother’s Day gift of them all.


About the author:

Melissa Linebrink is a reporter/bi-monthly columnist for “The Mommy Wars” printed in The Chronicle-Telegram. She has been featured as a blogger on the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Conference site, www.humorwriters.org. She also writes, edits and manages her blog, https://parenthoodthenewcrazytrain.com/. She can be reached at mlinebrink@yahoo.com.



Diaries hold the keys to the past



People often ask me how Seth and I have made it to 15 years of marriage.

There is no secret, only honesty …

As in I honestly have no idea, but for some reason, we have managed to make it work like a fine, oiled machine. Tinkering along the way, we have created a life together that now includes our three kids.

In those brief moments when we look at each other and wonder how we managed to get from Point A to Point B, I pull out my water-stained, waved-paged diary from 1995. It is the one place where I allowed my deepest thoughts and emotions to be stored away, hidden from everyone else – especially from my parents.

It’s too bad that many of today’s teenagers rely only on texting or Facebook; because my love story is found between blurred lines and pages of a diary. And, when I die, my kids will be able to read and understand what I went through to get a single date from their dad.

“December 2

D.D. (Apparently writing out Dear Diary took too much effort on my part in 1995),

Speaking of moving on (earlier in my post I wrote about a guy I liked who decided to re-date his old girlfriend), tonight, my mom and I went to a wedding for Sandi Klein’s sister. Sandi introduced me to this guy. I felt silly at first, but it got better. We danced like three slow songs or so. His name was Seth and he goes to Defiance College. He was really nice and I had fun. What was so sweet was before he left, he came over to where I was and said, “Well, I have to go to work in about an hour but it was really nice meeting you.” Now most guys I know just would have left without saying a word. Who knows, maybe I will get a date out to this. I DOUBT IT! Love, Me.”

It gets better …

December 6

D.D. (Still too lazy I guess),

Well guess what! My mom heard from Sandi who heard it from Seth’s mom or sister that he is (was?) interested in me and that Sandi has to get more “info on Melissa.” So my mom gave Sandi our number to give to Seth, but so far I haven’t heard anything and probably won’t at this rate.”

For those of you reading this, you are probably a bit confused. See, back in the 1990s, we didn’t have cell phones, Facebook, email or the Internet. We had these amazing devices called telephones, along with landlines. And, if you wanted to talk to someone, you had to dial a seven-digit number. It was truly a scary time for guys who wanted to call a girl because chances are, if you called the number, the dad was going to answer it on the other end. PURE TORTURE I TELL YOU!

You know what else pure torture for me … back in 1995 … waiting NINE LONG ASS DAYS TO GET A PHONE CALL FROM SOMEONE WHO WANTED TO GO ON A DATE! NINE DAYS TO A 17 YEAR OLD GIRL IS A LIFETIME.

So, we didn’t even go on our first date until Dec. 15, 1995 – ate dinner at a local burger place called “Nancy’s” and saw “Father of the Bride: Part I” – Seth must have been desperate to go on a date with me since he caved and agreed to see that movie. I must have been desperate to go on a date with him a few weeks later when he took me to see Bruce Willis’s worst-movie-ever-made, “12 Monkeys.”

But even so, fate must have intervened because I had no intention of going to the wedding with my mom. My dad bailed on her, so she practically begged me to go. I worked my morning shift at McDonald’s that day, came home, took a nap and then got ready. I put extra hairspray in my hair that night so that my permed hair would stay “puffy” and not fall flat. I wore what I considered my best dress – a plaid, Amish-type frock with a white collar and clunky shoes. I was every guy’s dream girl.

In church, I saw Seth, only he had no idea I was scoping him out. He sat in between his parents wearing an olive green suit (which I finally made him donate to Goodwill, along with my Amish frock). After the ceremony, he and his dad were putting on their coats in the back of the church when his dad wanted to introduce him to a friend. Seth obliged and that’s all I remember until he hunkered down at my table and asked me to dance.

During the dance, I am pretty sure I shook like a leaf, burning 5,000 calories because I was THAT nervous.

We have often reminisced about that day, laughing at how we were set up at a wedding and how pathetic we both were being so nervous around each other for three slow songs.

Between the move from one side of our state to another; changes in jobs; kids; and countless laughs, we have somehow managed to become the conductors of our own CRAZY TRAIN LOVE STORY.

Dear Justin Bieber, I LOVE you!

Dear Justin Bieber,

I’m sitting at my laptop computer … trying to find the words to tell you how much you mean to me now. But, I can’t. I’m sorry. My kids are on the verge of starting World War III in the living room over a chair.

My husband is yelling at me to clean the kitchen. (I actually cooked tonight and you were there with me!)

And all I want to do is escape into a world that only revolves around you and your new album, “Purpose.”

Is it too late now to say I’m sorry?

I’m sorry that I it took me so long to become a “Belieber.”

I’m sorry that you are a mere 21-year-old with the sculpted body of a Greek God and I’m just a 37-year-old mom of three with my unwashed hair tied back with a pony-tail rubber-band, a face sans make-up wearing a hoodie and yoga pants.

I’m sorry.

Yes, you heard me correctly … I am a 37 year old mom of three kids who has simply fallen in love with you within a matter of days.

The blame falls on the American Music Awards I watched on Nov. 22 while folding a mountain of laundry. Socks, underwear, t-shirts, jeans have never been folded so quickly while you serenaded me. I was in heaven watching you dance in the rain … when I try to dance in the rain, I end up looking like a drowned rat but somehow you made it look sexy as hell. You were even fully dressed and I was still glued to my HD television, watching the rain cascade off your body.

My husband thinks I am delusional. He only likes musical groups from the 1980s … that was before you were born. Plus, he’s 40, so he doesn’t understand you like I do.

Your new album, “Purpose” has given me a new purpose in life …

I dance around my house, with my Bose speaker blaring as I roam from room to room with a dust rag in one hand and a can of Pledge in another.

Dinner time has become somewhat pleasurable as I continue my performance in front of my twins who have deemed me the “WORST DANCER EVER” as I moved from leg to leg doing my own rendition of “What Do You Mean?”

Your music has provided a bond between my almost 13-year-old son and me. He isn’t a fan of your new album, but that doesn’t stop me from signing out lyrics at the top of my lungs as I drop him off to basketball practice. Today, we actually communicated when I was driving my mini-van.

“Mom! This song sucks!” he quipped.

“OH, I’m sorry … What do you mean?” I asked him.

It was a two-second conversation that I will hold in my heart forever.

Thank you!

If you are ever in Ohio … look me up and “I’ll Show You” around town!


Mom of Three Living in BFE




Time to REBOOT

Sitting in the living room on a Monday night, my “favorite” TV show is on (Lizard Lick Towing) as my husband reclines in his chair.

As of lately, we have not been seeing “eye-to-eye” and I think it’s time for a REBOOT here in BFE.

His favorite pastime as of recent is “Bread Bitching” – this is where every other week, he bitches about the bread situation in our house. I either buy the wrong bread; bread that we have is not thawed (because I seem to be the only person in the house who knows that unused bread is kept in the freezer); or once in a blue moon, there may not be any bread (again, clearly I am the only one who knows where the store is in town).

But it’s not just about bread.

He also likes to screw around with my laptop – updating it; removing files I need; removing programs I use – he calls it “fixing things” … I call it “Screwing it up and now it doesn’t work!”

With spring slowly approaching (and by slowly I mean … I am starting to wonder if we are just going to spring into summer), that means our massive 2.5 acres of land will need attention; the pool will need to be summarized (that is always, always a trip … one where I would almost pay someone to come to our house to help); the garden will need to be rototilled (which takes longer to start the machine than it does to actually rototill the small area, meanwhile, I just stand there watching him curse); and of course, mulching is a day’s work.

Being married has its ups and downs.

I wish he would blog about me because I would love to know what goes on in that CPA-head of his in regards to me.

But since we know each other very well, I can already guess what his blog would say.

Let me try:

“Melissa, she is not a chef … she is not even a cook. She cannot cook. I eat what she makes, because otherwise, I would starve. She can make a mean taco and spaghetti, but otherwise … I wish she would stay out of the kitchen. The other day, she made fish … who screws up fish? Melissa, that’s who!

Melissa cannot write a check without screwing up the checkbook. She went to school for journalism, and she can write, but how many times can one person screw up the checkbook? Today, she voided her second check within a month. She just doesn’t pay attention to what she is doing. She calls is multi-tasking, I call it “fudging it up big time!”

She is loud. She talks too much. She is nosy – she may be the nosiest person on the planet. But, I knew all of this before I asked for her hand in marriage, and I went through with it anyways.”

And I think that is why our marriage works. I am his complete opposite. He is quiet, shy and intuitive. He never makes a decision without first thinking everything possible detail. I am loud, outgoing and pretty much go-with-the-flow. As a stay-at-home/journalist, I don’t have time to second guess myself … there are times I have to “act now” or risk it all.

I guess that’s kinda what I did when he got down on one knee all those years ago – I didn’t think about the future, I acted in the moment.

And, I am glad I did (most days!). 

Limitations on what we can do, but there are no limitations on love

Tote face
Tote face
It has been said that people should know their limitations on what they can do.
For me, it would be a combination of crafting and cooking – or perhaps, just all things domestic.
My first “wake up call” should have been the “C” I received in home economics in the seventh grade.
I only took that class because it was a requirement. After that year, I never touched another sewing machine – for the fear of sewing my finger to a piece of fabric. It was also in the seventh grade when I learned that I would never be a pastry chef, or a gourmet cook.
Despite being an “undomesticated goddess,” I am able to sew buttons on a pair of jeans or a shirt. And, I can prepare enough meals that we are not starving. (But no, the meals would never earn me a spot on shows such as “Chopped” or “Master Chef.”)
So, last weekend, I came up with a brilliant idea to commemorate my mom’s 60th birthday – a handmade tote with icons of children who were to mimic her grandchildren. I bought a sign that read “GRANDMA” and a “princess” holding a wand; a boy playing with frogs; and another boy kicking a soccer ball.
Today, I dusted off my ironing board and plugged in the iron – both of which perplexed the twins because they had no idea what the appliances are used for in a household.
I pulled the tote from the plastic bag, set it up on ironing board and placed the “GRANDMA” wording on the tote. I put the iron on what I thought was the correct setting. As the iron heating up, I cut out the cute little “children” and placed them on the tote as well.
I slowly placed the iron on top of the word “GRANDMA” and then … oh, the smell! Burning plastic tote! The iron not only melted the plastic, it scorched a hole the size of a 5×7 photo frame into the tote.
My brilliant idea for a birthday gift melted right before my eyes.
And, not only did I ruin the gift, but the expensive iron that I have had for years, and only brought out for special occasions is destroyed as well.
Yet all was not lost.
Before I tossed the tote, I had each kid hold it up to their face and I took a photo of a “face in a tote” and sent it to my mom for her birthday.
We both laughed. She knows it was the thought that counted. I am also pretty sure she will never forget this “gift.”