Open letter to Caroline & Max

“Someday I'll wish upon a star…”

Dateline:  Love

Your Mommy, is now with my Mommy.

Both are safe now.

And watching over us.  You, and me.

Let me tell you about my Mommy. 

Her name, IS Helen Barone, I never say her name WAS Helen Barone because was means she is gone,

but she is not,

my Mommy IS always in my heart, always with me,

she is not WAS, she is still IS.

I wasn’t there when my Mommy went away, but the last words she ever said to me was exactly this. “I Love You.”

Max & Caroline, know this, “I Love You,” was the FIRST words your Mommy ever said to you.

The gift that God gave us, is not the bodies we walk around in,

the gift from God,

is found in the first word,

we whisper in your ear,


Our bodies are not made to last a long time,

love lasts,


Caroline & Max when you grow up to be as old as me your Mommy’s love will still be as strong for you as the day she first whispered it in your ear.

“…wake up where the clouds are far behind me…”

Here’s a secret I know is true, when you start feeling sad, whisper it to each other, whisper this secret, “Mommy is a part of us, always.”

You both have your Mommy’s eyes, her nose, her walk,

her heart.

I have my Mommy’s nose, not her actual nose, but my nose looks just like hers, my eyes look just like her eyes, my cheeks, her cheeks.

Every time I look in a mirror I see my Mommy, and you will too.

Mommies are forever in the mirror.

And in your heart.

Hearts are made for Mommies,

in your heart is where your Mommy will talk to you,

in your heart is where,

your Mommy’s love is found,

when you miss your Mommy do what I do,

put your hand over your heart,

and feel it beating,

every beat,

is because of your Mommy’s,


For you.

“…where trouble melts like lemon drops…”

It is okay to cry.

It is okay to be mad.

It is okay to be sad.

I was sad and mad when my Mommy died, and I cried when I wrote this letter to you, I miss her just like you miss your Mommy.

And when those times come when you cry, or get mad, or get sad, do what I do, I sing to myself the song my Mommy sang to me when I was a child,

or I rub the quilt that covered her bed,

or I take a whiff of her perfume,

or go lay your hand on the hand print she left for you.

My young friends, if you remember any of this, please remember this part,

love lasts forever.

One day, a long time from now, believe this, YOUR children will feel the love from your Mommy when you tell your kids about her, share stories about her, show your kids some of your Mommies stuff,

because a part of your Mommy,

will also be a part of your kids,

and a part of their kids as well,

and their kids, and on and on.

You are alive because of love.

The love of your Mommy.

The love of your Daddy.


God knew that at some point, our bodies will fail us and someday go away,

so he gave us the miracle we call love,

which he knew,

would last,


“…high above the chimney top that's where you'll find me.”

Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

Love Ya,



We are truly a family out here and the loss of Mark Menendez’s wife, Donna, has saddened us all, and while we can’t do anything to bring Donna back we can do something for Mark, and the two young children, Caroline & Max.

Many of us on the Elite tour are pledging to match the catch…with dollars for the Menendez family.

Here’s how it works, many of the wives have told me that they will match the total weight of Bass caught by their husbands this year with a buck a pound donation to the Menendez family.

Since my spouse Barb isn’t out here fishing, I picked Brandon Palaniuk and I will donate $1 for every pound of Bass that he catches this year.  When I told Brandon what I was doing he said, “Cool, I’ll match it.”

When I told B.A.S.S. owner, Jerry McKinnis what was going on he told me, “I want in…I’m going to pick that new kid, Justin Lucas, count me in for $5 a pound.”

You can also be a part of this, pick your favorite Elite angler, figure a sum of money you are comfortable with, multiple that at the end of the year by the total weight your favorite Elite dude caught and then send the donation to:

Menendez Family Benefit Account

Paducah Bank

P.O. Box 2600

Paducah, Ky 42002