11th an­nual Re­mem­brance Trees event set for Fri­day



— Valda Ro­tolo’s grand­par­ents, Bill and Hazel Rot­tluff, died within two months of each other in 1981. Some 35 years later, Ro­tolo still misses them — even more so dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son, a time when fam­ily gath­ers.

For more than two decades, Ro­tolo ex­pe­ri­enced a pe­riod of un­der­ly­ing sad­ness that started right around Thanks­giv­ing and stretched through New Year’s Day be­cause of the loss of her grand­par­ents.

But in 2005, when the Union Hospi­tal Foun­da­tion and other Ce­cil County agen­cies and or­ga­ni­za­tions started the Re­mem­brance Trees event, Valda adopted a more pos­i­tive ap­proach to miss­ing her grand­par­ents.

Ev­ery year, Ro­tolo places two gold rib­bons in re­mem­brance of her grand­par­ents on one of two Christ­mas trees, which are called Re­mem­brance Trees, dur­ing the com­mu­nity event, which in­cludes a cer­e­mony, light re­fresh­ments and mu­sic.

“I cel­e­brate them. It’s ther­a­peu­tic be­ing around oth­ers who are cel­e­brat­ing loved ones they are miss­ing, too. You don’t feel so alone in your loss,” said Ro­tolo, who is the vic­tim/wit­ness co­or­di­na­tor for the Ce­cil County State’s At­tor­ney’s Of­fice, one of the event spon­sors. “It ad­dresses the loss in a pos­i­tive way, at the start of the hol­i­day sea­son, so the sad­ness doesn’t creep up on you.”

Ro­tolo had ex­pe­ri­enced the way sad­ness can sneak up on a per­son who is miss­ing de­parted loved ones dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son,


she said. Ro­tolo dealt with that for some 24 years, be­fore she took part in the first Re­mem­brance Trees event.

“I got a lit­tle bit of de­pres­sion when the hol­i­day sea­son was ap­proach­ing be­cause the grief and loss is so much heav­ier. It would just creep up on me and stay,” Ro­tolo said. “This event is so ben­e­fi­cial be­cause it al­lows peo­ple to ad­dress their losses up­front, to­gether, in such a pos­i­tive way. It truly is a cel­e­bra­tion of their lives.”

Ro­tolo in­vites any­one miss­ing de­parted loved ones to par­tic­i­pate in this year’s Re­mem­brance Trees event, which will be held on Dec. 2 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 229 E. Main St. in Elkton, the for­mer of­fice of the Ch­e­sa­peake Hospice Foun­da­tion. A brief cer­e­mony will be held at 12:45 p.m.

For peo­ple who will be un­able to at­tend but still want to cel­e­brate their de­parted loved one, rib­bons can be picked up ahead of time and brought back with the loved ones’ names writ­ten on them, so they can be placed on the trees.

Those wish­ing to do so can call Ro­tolo at 410-9965342 or Gabrielle Old­ham at 410-620-3702.

Those who can at­tend will be given rib­bons on which they can write the names of their de­parted loved ones and place them on the Re­mem­brance Trees. Gold rib­bons will be avail­able for adults to cel­e­brate their de­parted loved ones. White rib­bons will be avail­able for chil­dren and ado­les­cents to write the names of their de­parted loved ones be­fore plac­ing them on a sep­a­rate tree.


Valda Ro­tolo, vic­tim/wit­ness co­or­di­na­tor for the Ce­cil County State’s At­tor­ney’s Of­fice (back to cam­era), and Elkton-area res­i­dent Sharon Foster embrace dur­ing last year’s Re­mem­brance Trees cer­e­mony.

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