Remembrance trees event honors lost loved ones
— The holidays can be a particularly difficult time for those who are grieving, but the Remembrance Trees event on Friday gave many people a chance to honor and remember those they’ve lost.
Dec. 12 will mark four months since Carnation Short lost her husband Ted Short III to a combination of lung cancer and liver failure. Short and family members participated in the event to honor Ted, who
was a husband, father and grandfather.
“I’m hoping it will heal me,” said Short, of North East. “I’m trying to heal myself because it was always me and him; we were always together.”
Ted was close with his nine grandchildren and one of them, Austen Huff, 7, said putting a ribbon on one of the Remembrance Trees helped him deal with the loss.
“It will be on the tree and Pop-Pop will see it,” Huff said.
The Shorts were one of many county families who attended the 11th annual event. Held on the first Friday of every December, the event allows survivors to remember their departed friends and loved ones, whether those people died from illness, violence or other ways. During the event, people were invited to place ribbons on two trees set up at the the former office of the Chesapeake Hospice Foundation on Main Street in Elkton.
Carnation Chadwick, whose parents are Ted Short III and Carnation Short, came to the event along with Charles DeStefano, her fiancé, and their son Bradley to remember her father as well as a close friend, Jesse Veasey, who was murdered at the age of 16 in 2014. Veasey was like a nephew to her family, she said.
DeStefano said he has many fond memories of Veasey.
“I remember taking him hunting and we were in the woods 10 minutes and we shot a deer,” he recalled.
While it’s hard around the holidays, the event does help, DeStefano said.
“It keeps the memories alive,” he said. “It’s difficult for families to have a holiday where their loved one is not there when they’re usually normally there.”
Delaware resident Amber Burris said she and her Charles DeStefano and Carnation Chadwick both put up ribbons on the adult tree, one for Chadwick’s father, Ted Short III, and one for Jesse Veasey, a friend of the couple.
family came to the event to remember her brother, Gregory Sammons-Burris, who was murdered at the age of 24 in Elkton last year.
She said she and her family participated in the event to show him they still love and care for him.
“(We want) to let him know that we came here, that we still care and that
we love him,” Burris said.
The Remembrance Trees event dates back to 2005 and its goal is to give everyone a moment to remember lost loved ones before the “hustle and bustle” of the holidays, said Valda Rotolo, victim and witness coordinator for the Cecil County State’s Attorney’s Office, which organizes the
event along with several other agencies, including the Union Hospital Foundation’s Programs and Events Office.
“Before you start doing the gift-giving and parties, you can just remember your lost loved one,” she said.
For the event, one tree was designated for adult survivors and decorated with gold ribbons. On the other side of the porch, a tree for child survivors was covered in white ribbons. An estimated 300 ribbons were placed on the trees this year.
As people created ribbons, ate snacks and talked to each other, Elaine White and Quenton Clarke, music therapists with Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care in Havre de Grace, played their guitars.
The event ended with a remembrance ceremony, which lasted about 15 minutes. The ceremony includ- ed people saying the names of their loved ones. Rotolo, who led the ceremony, said she lost her cousin, Joe Fayer, in November.
Rotolo led the group in a “We Remember” call and respond reading, saying, “Remember me in your heart, your thoughts, remember the close, loving times we shared; the times we cried; the times we quarreled; the times we laughed. For in these times that you gently remember me ... I am not gone.”
Dancers perform during the Cecil County Christmas Parade on Saturday.
Carnation Short, a North East resident, and her grandson, Austen Huff, 7, make Huff’s ribbon to put on the children’s Remembrance Tree on Friday.
Santa Claus made an appearance at the Cecil County Christmas Parade on Saturday.
Stormy Oleo, a Rising Sun resident, and Cylus Oleo, 15 months, put a ribbon on the children’s tree for Cylus’ father, Corey Oleo, whom they lost in May of this year.