the kindness of strangers {day 75}

Years ago I remember Mikey telling me he read somewhere that the way you change the toilet paper says something about your personality. This was long before the internet was an everyday part of our lives, so he must have come across it in a magazine or maybe it was an email chain someone sent. I don't remember, but that's not really the point.

It was time to change the toilet paper again last night, and as with every time I've done it since he told me that story, I thought of him and chuckled. We were opposite in so many ways, right down to how we changed a roll of toilet paper.

He was an "under" roller. I was an "over" roller.

I'm an "over" roller—it supposedly means one is an over achiever. This is no surprise to my close friends. My need for control and perfection is exacting, and only matched by my drive and determination.

The fact that Michael would've been measured as an under achiever based on his toilet paper changing habits, most certainly didn't match his accomplishments in life. He had drive and determination, albeit a more subtle, quiet one than me.

We were both city kids, from blue collar families who did "good" as our folks would say. Mikey grew up a hearing son of deaf parents. There were many challenges to overcome being dealt such a hand. His parents were also depression-era kids, so they lived a very frugal, but decent, middle class life in the Bronx.

When it came time for college, Michael applied to NYU. He'd always loved film and television, and started making his own Super 8 movies long before I was even born. He talked about the day he got accepted with such pride. That joy quickly turned to sadness and anger, though. His parents grew up in a time when people didn't trust the government with their information, so when it came time to fill out the financial aid forms, his father said no.

As Mikey's best friends went off to Cornell, Brown and Northwestern, he remained in NYC and attended City College. That only lasted a year or two, and he decided to venture into the real world and continue his education on the job. It was probably one of the best professional decisions he ever made. Mikey had a kickass career for a kid from the Bronx without a college degree.

Remember MTV's Choose or Lose campaign with Alison Stewart? He edited much of that campaign. If you watched MTV News back in the day with Kurt Loder, then you likely saw his work too. When we met he worked the night shift one day a week, cutting—that's television edit speak, packages for the show. Remember the show Win Ben Stein's Money—yep, he cut that show open. He also edited a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit show—yeah, there were perks to his job.

He was also an award-winning editor, his earned his first one for a breast cancer PSA featuring Veronica Webb. Before this starts sounding too much like an obituary, though, I should get to my point.

Mikey so wanted to give Isabella and Virginia the opportunity he was denied 33 years ago. He wanted his daughters to have a college education, if that was the path they chose.

He didn't want it to be dependent on a financial aid application.

He didn't want them to juggle school and work. He wanted them to be able to focus on their dreams.

This is a matter we often didn't see eye-to-eye on. I went to Brooklyn College, mostly on financial aid, the rest was paid for by working two jobs. I was the first person, and to this day only member of my family, to graduate college. Much as I want my girls to have the same opportunity, I know part of the reason I value my degree so much is because I earned it in every sense of the word.

So, consider this my long-winded way of saying thank you to everyone who contributed to A Fund for Jennie. The money raised will be tucked away in their 529A college savings accounts. Ten years from now when Isabella leaves for college, know you had a hand in helping her discover her dreams. In 15 years, when Virginia embarks on that same journey, it will be partly because you showed such caring and kindness during such a difficult time in her life.

Their memories of Mikey may feel distant by then. The moments they shared may seem intangible. The love that he inspired in our lives, and your lives, will live on forever. And as they grow to become the amazing women I know is part of their destiny, I thank you for the gift of learning.

You will forever have my deep gratitude. I thank you for carrying The Perillo Girls in your hearts and minds every day.


UPDATE on 10/27/2011: As noted in the comments below, it came to my attention that people were under the impression my financial situation was dire in the days after Michael passed away. I say dire because that is the exact wording Bloggers without Borders used in their initial post.  A post which was not sent to me for prior approval, and one I didn't read when it was originally published because reading any posts related to his death were just too emotionally difficult to read.

Bloggers without Borders has since edited the initial post, in essence to cover the mistakes they made. In the business world, I'd say they have further compromised their integrity. They have shown no public remorse for the ongoing trauma they have caused to me, and have instead left me feeling more victim than the recipient of goodwill.

So how do we move forward, because heaven knows I need to not devote any more time and attention to this matter? I need to continue my healing process. I need to be allowed time with my daughters and to try and focus on work.

Before I suggest a solution, I want to clear the record once and for all. I want to tell you the truth, which everyone deserves for the sincere care and effort put into trying to help the girls and me.

My financial future was never in question. It was never dire. I knew within a few days exactly the financial condition Mikey left us in, and I wasn't surprised. He’d been working since he was 11 years old delivering newspapers, and often joked part of that paper money probably went into the apartment we currently live in. After 20 years working as a freelancer, Mikey took a staff job working at BET Networks in the fall of 2009. He did this to provide for his family. It was an amazing opportunity, and we talked long and hard before he took the job. We knew the trade-off to a company job, good salary and benefits would be less hours with his family. In the end, knowing Mikey would reach retirement age just as the girls went off to college, we knew the staff job was the financially prudent choice.

To say that my financial situation was ever a concern was not only a blatant misrepresentation—it’s dishonorable to Mikey’s memory and how hard he worked to provide for us. This is why the situation has me so enraged. I will fight every day, with every will in my body to preserve the integrity of my husband because he was one of the most sincerely good people that has ever walked this earth.

This is why I implore anyone who donated to A Fund for Jennie to please request your donations be redirected to The Liz Logelin Foundation. I have put a hold on the girls 529A accounts, so no contributions can be made without my prior approval. Bloggers without Borders will have no place to put these funds unless you a) ask for your money back or b) request the funds to be diverted. I also will not accept any checks from them, so if they are thinking they will continue to brush this under the rug, that won’t work either.

Lastly, I want to say that some of the information they provided in their initial post was indeed accurate. I am not eligible for widow’s benefits because I make more than $14,160 a year. Yes, my health insurance runs out December 1st, and the monthly premium will be more than $1,800. If I could stop having my time spent arguing with BwoB, then maybe I could look into other more affordable options. Finally, there is still a chance I may have to payoff my remaining mortgage balance, but as I told Shauna on a conversation I clearly remember having as I walked home from the estate attorney’s office before the campaign was launched, the silver-lining is my apartment hopefully has a good value and will help provide for our future as well. I wasn’t at risk of losing my home from a financial perspective—it was more an emotional issue.

I hope everyone who genuinely gave from the heart understands just how thankful I am for your kindness. I know my story made many of you rethink your daily lives, and it still resonates loud and clear for you. Your caring for a virtual stranger gives me hope for the world my girls will one day go off into on their own. There is hope and faith for humanity in the kindness you all displayed.

I am choosing to close the comments on this post because I need to move forward. I need to make chocolate cupcakes tonight for a Halloween party I promised the girls. I need to heal my heart, and now that the truth is out for you all to know, that is just what I intend to do. Peace, my friends.


  • Kelly

    Much love. I’m so glad his dream for them was fulfilled even though he can’t be here to see what amazing women they are sure to grow to become (just like their mother).

  • Gail

    At this point, it doesn’t matter how I put the toilet paper on the holder. I’ve ripped the entire roll off so I can mop up the tears that are streaming down my face.
    You and Mikey have laid a strong foundation for your girls. I have no doubt that they will grow up to be amazing women who appreciate everything their parents did for them.

  • Marie

    Hey Jennie… I’ve been a silent follower of your journey (“lurking” sounds so creepy), but this post moved me to comment. As someone who funded just about all of their own education with working/loans and dealt with parental financial issues, I’m like a mix of you and Mikey. Everything I’ve earned is that much sweeter because it’s mine, but at the same time, my goal is that my kids won’t have to deal with the same situation. It’s amazing that the money will fund your daughters’ education and I think, no matter what they do in the future, they’ll be incredible people because of their parents. Hugs to all three of you.

  • a member of the community

    I am happy that your children will be able to go to college without having to work for it but, if we are being honest, that is not why most of us donated.
    We donated because we were told that you were going to be homeless and the girls without medical insurance. There was talk of you having to pay off the mortgage on your apartment in a few months because Mike didn’t put your name on the deed.
    The presentation was DIRE and effective. 80k in this economy is a nice chunk of change.
    But honestly, I have been unable to afford to bankroll my own child’s college education (which is in progress) and had zero intent of doing do for anyone else’s kids.
    I feel burned by this entire thing. I haven’t bought new boots in years, nor taken a trip that wasn’t to see a dying relative. You seem to be having no problems financially, even without the donations.
    I guess I hoped you were actually as needy as portrayed and, if not, would have the grace to give the money back to someone who needs immediate help to survive now.
    I doubt this will be published but even if you only see it perhaps it will make you think long and hard about all those people who couldn’t really afford to give but did anyway.
    Ashamed to be part of this community today,
    A blogger you know
    JP’s note:
    Dear Blogger I Know,
    I sincerely wish you had left your name instead of hiding behind an anonymous one. The only way to achieve true action and results in life is stand up for what you believe in, and that cannot be done in the shadows as you are choosing.
    I had hoped to not have to disclose any of the personal dealings I’ve had with Bloggers without Borders over the last 72 hours. The coordinators no doubt had sincere intentions when launching the Fund for Jennie campaign, but you should be aware that I had no involvement in how the project was presented to the general public.
    As you might imagine having lost my husband I was a little busy grieving and caring for our daughters. If you hadn’t noticed I still am grieving, yet choosing to share my experiences in hopes it helps others. To make an accusation against me without asking is a bit unfair, don’t you think?
    That said, I am sure this is a question others may be wondering. It is for that reason that I will share with you my own disappointment in the misrepresentation of my financial situation. When the idea of a fundraiser was first mentioned to me, I said repeatedly that I was in no immediate financial need. I said there were many other people suffering far beyond myself.
    Still, I was told people wanted to do something, to help me directly in some way, so I said if it made people feel like they could help, donations could be made towards my daughters’ college education. I do not know why the initial post didn’t reflect the reality, but you need to understand that I was not involved and cannot bear any responsibility. Would it have made a difference in the amount raised had the post been written to accurately reflect the fundraiser—that is something I can’t answer. I do know, and agree with you, that people had the right to be better informed
    Unfortunately, none of this came to my attention until after the fact. I asked BwoB to donate a portion of the funds to a foundation that helps widows and widowers in true financial need. As of this past week, I even implored them to please donate all the funds to that charity. My request was denied. I was told by their Board of Directors that by law they were legally bound to distribute the funds as the donors had directed. If you contributed, or anyone else who reads this comment donated, you should contact BwoB regarding a refund. I do not know if this possible.
    In sharing this information, I will also say that I will not publish any further comments of this nature. My blog is not the place to have this conversation. Any issues with how the fundraiser was presented, is an issue the donors need to discuss with BwoB. I regret having to cast any doubts on BwoB, but my feeling is that if even 1% of the people who donated to the fund feel betrayed, then they deserve a proper explanation. I wish you peace, love and happiness—life is too short to settle for anything less.

  • Cheryl S

    THANK YOU Jennie for such a heartfelt message! I’m so thankful to have been able to contribute to the fund for your girls college education, and wish them all the best for a bright and happy future ahead… <3

  • Peggy

    I am so glad to hear that his dream of the girls going to college debt free will be fulfilled! I think of you daily… not in pity but as the inspiration you are. The love you have for Mikey humbles me and made me take a closer look at those around me. I lost my father this summer… after being estranged for 5 years (his choice) so it hits even closer to home.
    You are an amazing woman and your girls are blessed to have you as their mother!

  • Patty A G

    Wow. I am so sorry you are being put through, what I am sure, has resulted in addtional emotional stress. Not deserved or remotely acceptable, but your handling of it is admirable, heartwarming, and on point. Your writing and recipes are nourishing to the soul. You are at day 75 and I am at year 3, knowing you will get here, and sending prayers of strength to you and your daughters.
    JP’s note: Thank you Patty. I can’t imagine three years from now. There’s a part of me that still expects to wake up from all this. You know best the huge hole that aches in my heart. Much love and peace to you too.

  • Anna Palmer

    Hi Jennie,
    Your blog has replaced most of the blogs I followed before. It is the real deal, because you are the real deal. It has helped me to refocus on what is important and has been a deep watering hole, if you will, for my spirit when I am needing that reminder of what really counts. Someone once said that wounded healers are the best kind. I feel that. All this to say that I am proud to be a reader and to see the way you so graciously handled the upset anonymous commenter regarding the college fund. I have been in his shoes in the sense of made a donation with expectations and strings attached. It’s easy to do, and unfortunately, I myself stand guilty of it. It’s almost subconscious, but nonetheless wrong. We can’t give to someone else if there are conditions of any kind attached. While I understand that there was a miscommunication by BwoB, a good rule of thumb for the giver is to be prepared for whatever may be and not to have exacting conditions. Someone once said do not loan money if you expect, furthermore, absolutely need it to be paid it back.

  • Dawn K.

    Dear Jennie ~
    I was introduced to your blog when the author of ‘Pink of Perfection shared your wish for people to make a peanut butter pie. I cried over her post & have cried or come close to tears while visiting your blog in recent months.
    Your writing is superb and I am happy I found your blog, albeit I wish had been under different circumstances.
    I am divorced, but was married for over 11 & 1/2 years. I can’t fathom what it would’ve felt like to lose a spouse…
    Your response to the blogger above was beyond gracious. Thank you for sharing your journey, Jennie. It keeps my life in perspective–truly. And, I still have the PB pie recipe in my purse. I know I’ll make it someday…..
    Take care.

  • Sarah

    I found your response to the anonymous commenter to be very eloquent and fitting. Good for you. I am sorry to hear that you were disappointed in the way that your fund was presented, that is very frustrating. That being said, I am in full support of what you have chosen to do with our donations. The education of your girls is clearly something that you and Mikey prioritized, and I am honored to help your family achieve these goals. Keep your chin up, gorgeous!
    JP’s note: And I am honored that you cared enough to help, and still feel good about your contribution to their future. I’ll be waving “hi” to all of you on graduation day in my heart.

  • Laurie

    “Their memories of Mikey may feel distant by then”
    This was hard to read.
    Beautiful as always
    JP’s note: It was hard to write too Laurie. Every moment something else happens to remind me he won’t be here to see them grow up. Tonight it was those words. Thank you for being here with me.

  • Auntie Joan

    I’m sure the person who wrote the statement above does not know the Jennifer Perillo we know. Our Jennifer would not intentionally mislead anyone for any reason, even if she were in “DIRE” need.
    All this blogger has done is point out that there truly are kind, caring and loving people in this world, and if I may say, the true unsung heros you never hear, see or read about and so much of what this world is missing today.
    While this community may have given materially, it’ll never match what they have given Jennifer spiritually. Good begets good and she is always ready to do what she can for others.
    Those of you in the cooking community who truly know Jennifer would agree.
    I for one am grateful that she has had so many friends to comfort her and get her through one of the most difficult times in her life. Family can do so much, but it’s been the love of the Food Blogging community that is getting her through the tough days and nights.
    I wish you well, anonymous blogger and hope someday that you will feel the warmth of this community as Jennifer has, hopefully not because of a tragic situation!
    Love, Auntie Joan

  • anon

    I realise this won’t be posted (although I’m not sure why you selectively post only they ‘happier comments’ – if you agree with us then you should post them all) but I want to offer my support to the anonymous blogger above.
    I have wondered all along if bloggers without borders had it right; your posts and tweets spoke of farmer’s markets, flights, trips away, shopping, meals out etc., none of which smacked of destitution.
    Claiming you had no part of it is no excuse. You could have turned down the money. If they already had your bank details and put it there without your consent you could have donated on to charity. You could have stood up when you first read their description of your situation and made a stand. I KNOW you were grieving and I can’t imagine what you’re going through but it would have taken a minute, and I’m sure from the internet involvement I have seen from you these past months you were aware of the situation.
    I came to admire your strength over these past weeks, but hiding comments like this to hide from this topic is a cowards way out.
    Still wishing you all the best in this dark time.
    JP’s note:
    Dear Anon #2,
    I’ll show you a bit more compassion than you’ve bothered to show me, and post your comment. You should know, though, that I don’t just post the “happier comments”. I post the polite ones. I had no problem publishing the first anonymous comment because even though it was accusing before asking, it had a modicum of civility to it.
    The comments I don’t post are the ones from strangers telling me they’re are glad my husband is dead and believe my daughters would be better off when I go too. I’m sure friends would discourage me from even engaging you, and allowing this comment but I really do value and believe in transparency and the right for people to know the truth. So here are some answers to your questions.
    Why didn’t I know what the initial post said, or why don’t I know the content of almost every Pie For Mikey post that was published around the world? How about because on the heels of losing my husband so suddenly it was too difficult to re-live the loss that was so fresh?
    I do not wish what has happened to me to be the fate of anyone, not even people who choose to live life in the dark instead of happiness. That said, can you even imagine what is was like to run down a block and see my husband crumbled in a ball on the street? That is the last memory on my mind every night before I go to bed, even 75 days later.
    Do you know what it is like to tell your three-year-old daughter her daddy can’t come back, even if she offers to draw him a pretty picture?
    Do you know how it feels to know I can’t wash away the memory of our 8-year-old watching her father die right in front of her moments after he said he just needed to take a breath?
    I was trying to find the path to healing. If I wanted to escape vicariously through twitter, or find comfort from people who had love and support to share 140 characters at a time, that is my choice.
    As for the funds, I have not received one cent from BwoB. I gave friends my daughters’ 529A account numbers in good faith before the fundraiser was even established. I trusted them to use them wisely. Now that they have that information I’ve been told I cannot stop them from depositing it in the accounts. You actually have more power in this situation than I do, so why not channel it towards something more fruitful like requesting your donation be refunded if you made one? I hope you find some resolution, so you can move forward.

  • WhiteOnRiceCouple

    As the say goes, ones metal only truly shows in the face of adversity. The grace, kindness and beauty, and inner strength that you’ve carried through all of this mess is inspiring. I feel so lucky to know you as a friend and have you in our lives. I am fiercely proud of you, Jennie Perillo.

  • Amanda

    You, Jennie, are a phoenix.
    Rise above the hate. Jealousy–that you know love as deep and as true as that you feel for Mikey (and he feels, wherever he is, for you), that you have a community of people who love you enough to try and help in the ways that they know how, and that you have two beautiful daughters who will make your days brighter and your nights more peaceful even though the grief. Jealousy is the motivation for people who begrudge you for things that are out of your control.
    I am proud to have donated to your girls. As a law student who has paid every cent of her undergrad degree (or, will be paying in student loans 30 years from now) and who continues to pay all of grad school–I know your side of the argument. I also know Mikey’s side, because it is the one my parents wish they could have fulfilled for me. I am proud that your girls won’t have to worry like we did, like you did, like Mikey did, that the funding won’t be enough–that they won’t get loans for the part that they can’t cover. I am thrilled that they will have true choice for education (a dream which for most non-upper crust people is floating away).
    Keep your chin up and know that the rest of us are wishing nothing but good things your way.

  • Aggie

    Oh JP…I came here to comment on the heartwarming words of your posts but instead got sidetracked by ugly. I’m so sorry for the ugly.
    I know Mikey is so proud of you right now in so many ways. You have been a true example of grace…and your love for your daughters shines through in everything you do.
    As for the angry anons, I’m completely appalled. When you give you give out of the graciousness of your heart…and you don’t question it, no matter how you feel afterwards. That’s just tacky. If you feel “cheated” it’s much easier to just swallow it and move on…instead of spreading negativity and such ugliness around. Really now, haven’t we all learned life is too short.
    Stay strong sister. Love ya.

  • Stephanie

    When you donate to a charity, you should only give what you can afford to give. And once you give, you have no control over how that money is spent. You should always do a good deal of research before donating because many ‘charities’ are scams. There are people earning executive salaries consisting entirely of charitable donations.
    The only crime I see here is that a college education in America is out of reach for people without significant means. I married a Frenchman and after our sons were born insisted that we move to a civilized country like France where education is the first item on the national budget.
    Good luck Jennie. This horrible nightmare will make you stronger and your daughters are lucky to have you.

  • Cheryl Arkison

    Another “over” toilet paper person here. And like Mikey, my husband is an “under” but also driven and determined. It’s funny, but these are the debates in a relationship that we will remember more than anything!
    Happy to see you set the girls up, despite any controversy. You deserve a comfort like that and I, for one, was more than happy to contribute regardless of where you chose to direct the money. Well, unless it was for booze or crack or out of season tomatoes.

  • Emily

    My father was not able to attend the college of his choice due to financial restrictions–and although I wouldn’t have been born without that limitation, he always made it clear that a) college was not a choice–I would be going there and b) I could go anywhere I wanted. He wanted for us what he couldn’t have. And all three of his children graduated from colleges of their choice and have made their way into the world successfully. Speaking from experience, I wish for nothing less than that for your children–and am glad that I could be a small part of making that wish of your husband come true.

  • Christina

    Jennie, I’m only 17 but I am inspired by you and your story. I discoverd your blog because of the Peanut butter pie recipe Mikey that was posted on another blog I found this summer…I’m kind of addicted to any type of cooking. Anyways I just wanted to say that honestly donations should be given out of the goodness of your heart and what they go towards should matter least of all as long as you feel you did a good deed. I know I’m young so my opinion probably matters least of all but I say this truthfully, I would have donated to you for Isabella and Virginia’s college fund, I mean these days everyone needs college to get a decent job and every parent wants their kid to do well when they get out on their own. My parents have the same kind of mixed views that you and Mikey had about paying for college for my sisters and I, so when I read this post I could relate to what you were saying. I hope that one day I will find a love as wonderful,sweet,and strong as what you and Mikey had. You are absolutely amazing and stronger than anyone I know! I wish you much joy and happiness
    Hugs~Christina 🙂

  • Nina

    I’m happy to know that the fund is reserved for your girls’ education. They deserve the best that you or anybody can give.
    I’m sorry to hear of the mess that has unfolded. As other readers have pointed out, when we truly give we must give without any expectations attached to it. There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward. Je vous embrassse.

  • Elizabeth A. Summers

    I am so sorry about ANY negative comments on this blog or anywhere that you have received. I’m sorry about that for any blogger at any time and I have no comprehension of what drives people to be mean-spirited or just plain mean. And particularly at this time for you specifically.
    At any rate, your responses have been gracious and thoughtful and I believe, honest. I am another who contributed – and I happen to be thrilled that it might help any child…now or future. And I loved your thought to those of us who had the opportunity to give that it will be not only a help for your girls, but also a reminder to them of their father and what he wanted for them.
    I’m sorry I found your blog only via your personal tragedy, but I am glad that I now know it. I’ve been through some of the past recipes and although I consider myself a fairly accomplished cook, one of the gifts I found was your scrambled eggs – I like them “soft” and your method of low and slow and WITH butter – PERFECT!
    My best wishes and prayers for you, your girls, your family and your dear friends.

  • Kelly

    Whether with notes, or tears shed, or peanut butter pies or money, you’ve still given us all more than we gave. In sharing your thoughts and grief on your tragedy you have given us strength, inspiration and more awareness of how quick this short dance called life is over.
    You dealt with the ugliness with amazing class!
    Please keep writing and cooking,
    All the best,
    A Phriend in Philly

  • Diane

    Only Love and blessings to you and your girls!
    Life is way to short to worry over non important things!

  • Paula

    My two sisters and I were able to attend and graduate from college because, after my father died suddenly at age 41, strangers donated money to help my mother.
    They never asked where the money was going or questioned my mother to make sure she was really in desperate need. They simply donated money, sent sweet prayers our way, and trusted that my mother knew what was best for us all. This is one of the reasons your blog has meant so much to me.
    How very sad to read such cruel comments from the cynical few. However, it only makes me like you more, Jennie. And just so you know, as young as we were, we still remember my father, his laugh, his nicknames for us, and how his loved filled up a room.
    Chin up, sister.

  • Mary

    You brought tears to my eyes once again with the last photo of your daughter. I’m so glad to see that the savings accounts for your girls were made possible this way.
    Your explanations with regard to the above comments were both eloquent and kind. May you and your daughters find peace however possible today, tomorrow and in the following days.

  • Hope

    Oh, my. I’ve also been reading your blog only since the Peanut Butter Pie for Mikey post, but have been truly holding you up and wishing the best for you and your girls. So I wanted to chime in and say that no one (NO ONE) should give money they don’t have or can’t afford regardless of the story or request. And those who do should own their decision and not castigate you for their own choice.
    Nothing I say can bring Mikey back, but know there are many of us reading your blog and sending you positive energy every day.

  • Marilyn

    I agree with Hope. If someone can’t afford to donate, then don’t. On occasion, I have waited to donate, to see if the situation is as stated, then I decide.
    I know well the feeling of being out of your body. After my sister was killed, I slept in my clothes for an entire week because I couldn’t manage to change to pajamas. I’d change essentials, but lived in my jeans except for the funeral.
    I saw my grandmother die on our kitchen floor when I was 12, over 45 yrs. ago. I remember it to this day. Your daughter isn’t going to forget, but I promise the fear and shock will recede. It rarely comes to mind anymore. Unfortunately, she was thrust into the adult world, but she will be OK.

  • Rose Todd

    I remain so incredibly moved by your strength and vulnerability and beautiful writing. You have touched so many you don’t even know, and we send love and support to your family.
    I am appalled by the anon comments – truly the last thing I feel you should be dealing with right now. People have some grace, please.

  • Katia

    Dear Jennie,
    I’ve been a silent reader for the past few months, admiring your inner strenghth and how you open up your heart and soul through your writing.
    Don’t let people with limited minds shadow your day … there’s a saying in Spanish: “Don’t expect apples from an elm tree”!
    Every day you and your girls are on my mind, sending you good thoughts and energy – all the way from Argentina.
    (BTW, loved the toilet paper theory – does it apply to kitchen rolls as well?!)

  • abby dodge

    Dearest Jennie Perillo,
    I am proud supporter of the Perillo girls – large and small – in any and all ways I can.. I was the day I first met you, and the day I donated and still am today.
    As I’ve said to you, we all have your back .. and that goes for the girls too.. always.
    ~ an over the roll-er, too.

  • Anne

    People can sometimes be so cruel. I am not sure what they were trying to accomplish by sending you these mean spirited comments….It must be hard to read these emails in light of what you are going through…I am sorry…
    Big hug to you and your daughters.

  • Mimi

    God is GREAT
    Beer is good
    and people are cRAzY…
    Jennie you hang in there girl…
    and to all the haters out there…don’t be so stinkin jealous…

  • Mary

    Dear Jennie,
    I have been following your blog for about two months now. I was scanning food blogs and clicking links to find new recipes when I stumbled upon your blog, shortly after Mikey had died, and recognized a strip of land in a picture as a place I have been going my whole life: North Truro. In fact, I had literally just returned from Truro- we may have even overlapped in summers past. I spent hours reading your blog that day, and come back most days checking for an update. Your writing is beautiful, both heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. My heart goes out to you and your daughters. You are quite incredible.

  • Sue

    Jennnie, I am proud to be one of our readers. Your grace in spite of those hurtful comments is inspiring. I’m sure Mikey is proud of all the Perillo girls!

  • Mimi

    after I wrote my words I started thinking…these people are jealous that money was donated (that Jennie didn’t ask for BTW) to a grieving wife and mother to help her in any way she saw fit, she decided to put the money aside for her daughters college funds. To the haters out there, I ask you this, would you like to walk a mile in her shoes? What if that was your husband? Or your children? (it breaks my heart that these two little girls at 3 and 8 have to go through life without their daddy) Really, is this what you are jealous of? Please people, show some compassion and empathy. The world needs to be kinder to one another…
    here is the song by Billy Currington…for the people are crazy reference…its a cute little ditty…

  • Patty at A Day in My NYC

    I could not be more amazed as to how you express yourself. You inspired me from the first moment I read your posts and you inspire me now even more when the uncertainty with my father’s health.
    Thank you.

  • Pattie

    What a lovely post. I think your girls will thank you for these someday. They may not be able to remember some things about their dad on their own, but your words will help bring those memories back for them.

  • Kristin

    I am so angry for you for those posts about how you misrepresented yourself and your situation. Your situation has been clear to me from day 1 – your husband died traumatically in front of you and your daughter. You were suddenly forced to face the world as a family of 3 missing one of the anchors of your world. Using money towards your children’s college fund is nothing to be ashamed of and those who take issue with this should wonder how those beautiful girls of yours would feel one day should they ever read these comments wondering how someone could care so much where there $20 went as opposed to the fact that their father was ripped out of their lives forever.
    And for those who write you even nastier comments you don’t publish shame on them for even entertaining such thoughts. It’s tasteless and heartless to say or even think such things.
    The world can be cruel sometimes but when you are feeling down remember there is more love than hate and love always wins.

  • Grace

    Jennie, I think your honesty and strength are amazing and I am inspired by you every day. When I graduated from high school, my parents told me that they hoped I would go to college but they couldn’t pay for it. I finally got to go at age 25. It took 9 years to get my B.A. because I could only go to a class now and then when I had the money. It was so hard! I was working, sometimes 2 full time jobs, while going to school. No one should have to go through that to get an education. I am thrilled to know that my donations will go toward your girls’ education. I am really quite proud to think that I have helped with that, even a tiny bit.
    Now please stop responding to those bitter, miserable bitches and get on with your day.

  • Carrie @ No More Tomorrows

    A little bit of information regarding the 529 plan from a former banker. It would be a tax nightmare that would fall on your shoulders if people were to request refunds.
    Lessons to be learned: In the interest of credibility and ethics, bloggers should always have all the facts before blogging, and especially if asking for money.
    I’m sorry that in the midst of everything you’re dealing with that someone else’s mistake is falling back on you. And to know you’re actually getting some of the horrific unposted comments you’re getting is mind boggling to me.
    You’re coping with something that few know about, and you’re making the decisions to heal the best you can for you and your girls. There’s not a handbook for this.

  • Rachel C.

    My mom was able to attend collge because of the kindness of strangers. Her father dropped dead in front of her, when she was 17 and finishing up her senior year of high school. She had already signed to attend the university and thought she would have to give that all up. My mom has her bachelor’s degree thanks to the church and community that donated money to my grandma for her to get an education.
    Now, two more bright, young girls that lost their dad too soon, get that same opportunity. And that is a wonderful thing.

  • RinnieEats

    Mikey was a CODA? WOW! What an incredible story! I’m an interpreter for the d/Deaf actually at work reading blogs between VRS calls.

  • Tammy H

    Jeanne, I have followed you on Twitter and this blog since I read my first “Pie for Mikey” post. Your ability to keep going no matter the circumstances is inspiring. Thank you for sharing your struggles with us, it helps me to know if I ever faced what you are facing (my worst nightmare) that I could make it, and that maybe I could find a host of people who would love and encourage me the way you have found them though your blog and Twitter. I’m so thrilled for you and the girls to have this scholarship opportunity. My husband and I are struggling to put our daughter though college right now…it is so much more expensive then we had planned for (and there are two of us). I’m glad that the BwoB were able to make a dent (and that’s all it will be by then) in the education that your girls deserve. This is a beautiful legacy for Mikey. All the other stuff is just noise, its not fair that you have to deal with it too. I hope for you that the noise turns off and you can enjoy some peace!

  • Vaishali Sharda

    Dear Jennie,
    As always this post has moved me beyond words and reading those comments made me angry but the courage and grace with you have responded is great. I understand that the world is full of mean people but still the number of people – your family, friends and strangers who admire you from across the world is wayyyy more than that. So keep feeling the love. Your precious girls are so lucky to have a mom like you and I’m sure your Mikey is proud of you.

  • Karen

    Dear Jennie,
    Perhaps you are simply reaping what you’ve sown. You are a stranger to me and yet you have been a part of such happiness and nurturing in my home (your ricotta recipe ended up in baked pasta tonight–ultimate comfort food). You’ve given so much to others, I hope that you find comfort in others giving back to you.

  • Tammy H

    Jeanne, I have followed you on Twitter and this blog since I read my first “Pie for Mikey” post. Your ability to keep going no matter the circumstances is inspiring. Thank you for sharing your struggles with us, it helps me to know if I ever faced what you are facing (my worst nightmare) that I could make it, and that maybe I could find a host of people who would love and encourage me the way you have found them though your blog and Twitter. I’m so thrilled for you and the girls to have this scholarship opportunity. My husband and I are struggling to put our daughter though college right now…it is so much more expensive then we had planned for (and there are two of us). I’m glad that the BwoB were able to make a dent (and that’s all it will be by then) in the education that your girls deserve. This is a beautiful legacy for Mikey. All the other stuff is just noise, its not fair that you have to deal with it too. I hope for you that the noise turns off and you can enjoy some peace!

  • Tammy H

    Jeanne, I have followed you on Twitter and this blog since I read my first “Pie for Mikey” post. Your ability to keep going no matter the circumstances is inspiring. Thank you for sharing your struggles with us, it helps me to know if I ever faced what you are facing (my worst nightmare) that I could make it, and that maybe I could find a host of people who would love and encourage me the way you have found them though your blog and Twitter. I’m so thrilled for you and the girls to have this scholarship opportunity. My husband and I are struggling to put our daughter though college right now…it is so much more expensive then we had planned for (and there are two of us). I’m glad that the BwoB were able to make a dent (and that’s all it will be by then) in the education that your girls deserve. This is a beautiful legacy for Mikey. All the other stuff is just noise, its not fair that you have to deal with it too. I hope for you that the noise turns off and you can enjoy some peace!

  • Bevi

    Hi Jennie,
    It’s really a shame that some posters can’t be more compassionate. To have experienced the trauma of Mikey’s death, and to have your little girl carry around that memory is devastating. You are carrying on admirably and I hope you really believe how many of us adore you and wish you only the very very best.

  • Shelby

    Hi Jennie, I have not yet left a comment here but I feel compelled to do so tonight. I’m glad to hear your girls have a 529 savings going for them and that they will have an opportunity thanks to the love and support of your blogging friends. It also touches my heart to read the love in your post for Mikey. Although he is gone, the presence of him won’t be forgotten and the love you have for him doesn’t go unnoticed. God bless you.

  • Cyd

    Dear Jennie,
    Like many others, I was made aware of your blog, and your loss, by a mention on a couple of other food blogs I read occasionally, and like many others, I have followed your story silently over the past couple of months. But the cruelty of some of the comments here has compelled me to speak. I am furious at those who have intensified your suffering, and hope that the rest of us can do something to alleviate that added and unnecessary pain. I hope that for every unkind comment you’ve received, you receive 100 more that tell you how much we grieve for and with you, how much we admire your eloquence, your strength, and your honesty, and how we wish only good things for you and your daughters.

  • paula

    My donation came freely from my heart to you and your girls…for whatever was needed. A true giver gives and NEVER asks…no strings attached. I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to help you.
    ‘Give of yourself, for the cause, the person…not for yourself to truly receive anything back in life’ Good luck to the questioning givers.
    The money given to you was a gift…not a loan. so the giver may not question what is done with it. Continue to move forward Jennie and look straight ahead.
    paula in california

  • Amanda in St. Louis

    I, like many others who have commented, found your blog through another blog after your husband died, and have never before commented. But the sheer meaness and lack of compassion demonstrated re A Fund for Jennie made me speak up. I’m a mother of a 2 year old little girl and am married to my best friend. Your posts leave me staggered, and have brought my husband and I even closer, as after 14 years together, we had been taking each other for granted. Your blog has made me realize how unacceptable that is. And for that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Hang in there. The vast majority of donators just wanted to help you and the girls–and college for your babies?–I can’t think of a better way to spend that money.

  • April Peveteaux

    As a mom of two who recently moved from Brooklyn to LA, a food writer, and wife; I made a peanut butter pie for Mikey after finding your story. I also won an auction item for the fund, which I’m very excited about, and want to explain what support is all about to people who seem a little bit, oh, I don’t know, cold-hearted. Misled? Angry? I’m not sure what drives them to write on your blog in this way, but I can tell you what drove me to bake and then bid.
    I see you, and I think of me. I hear your story, and I think of my own. Reading about your pain makes me hurt. Reaching out to support you makes me feel better. So regardless of where the donation goes (bills, college, dinner out), it goes to you — who I want to support.
    Incidentally, after reading this post I asked my own husband if he knew Mikey, as he also worked in production and at MTV for some time. He did, and had no idea that’s who had passed, and why he got a peanut butter pie a few months ago. We’re both with you, and hope you can accept help unconditionally.
    Good luck.