I hope you dance

It’s taken me a long time to put this together because I simply couldn’t find the words.  I know some of you don’t follow us on Facebook so you may not even know but I lost my sister almost two months ago now.  “I Hope You Dance” was played at her graveside burial.  From now on, every time I hear that song, it will take me back to that moment in time.

Cathy passed away on August 2nd, 2017

Six years earlier on that very same day, Cathy and I unveiled our first pieces of painted furniture.  Ironic, isn’t it?  That debut happened at Holland’s Art in the Park in Holland, Michigan in 2011 and every year since, we celebrated lunch in Holland on August 2nd..

Boatwerks on Lake Macatawa ~ Holland, Michigan  2015

Never did I imagine that August 2nd would take on a whole new meaning 


Cath’s battle with Cancer began on Thanksgiving 2016

Horrific back pain led her to Urgent Care the day before Thanksgiving.  She was diagnosed with Stage IV Extensive Small Cell Lung Cancer with mets to her spine and skull on Thanksgiving Day, 2016.  We were all shocked to find out her back was broken in eight different locations.  How she even drove herself to ER is beyond me.

Cathy’s journey with this damn cancer would prove to be eight months of hell on earth.  Her vocal cords were damaged during one of the very first tests they ran over Thanksgiving and we would never hear her real voice again.  There were countless oversights, delays, screw-ups, mixed-up patient files and mis-communications between departments, insurance companies and the lead oncologist.  I wouldn’t wish her experience on my worst enemy.

If I hadn’t gone through this with her, I wouldn’t have believed it was true.  

This isn’t a post about the horror of Cath’s journey though, it’s a post about the good times, those diamonds in the rough that we so desperately sought out along the way.

Cath on the way to her first chemo appt

She felt good during her first round of chemo

Don’t let it fool you, it’s poison!

Christmas Day 2017 ~ a few good hours

She loved her grandchildren more than anything!

She was in so much pain Christmas Day but had a couple decent hours to enjoy the kids opening gifts

I love this shot of Cathy and all her mini-me’s

God spared Cath her hair long enough to celebrate Christmas Day.  The next morning, most of her locks were found on her pillow.

January 2017 – We moved our Jenison Shizzle Shop to Grandville

With my arm completely immobilized for two months and Cathy’s terminal cancer, we had to think fast.  It just didn’t make cents (pun intended) to keep our Jenison location open with that kind of overhead.  We moved out of Jenison and Hudsonville and moved into Changing Thymes at 2900 Wilson Avenue in Grandville.

Together, with the help of many friends, customers, volunteers and our landlord, we were able to dramatically downsize and move the business back to my home.    My eyes were blurry from failed Lasik surgery and my arm literally immobilized.  Even with all the volunteers, I seriously don’t know how we did it.  We resigned as U.S. Distributor for Frenchic  in exchange for just being a retailer, sold a lot of furniture, donated a bunch of projects we never started, gave things away, and filled our dumpster – twice.  After a month of  very hard work, everything was moved out.  I am STILL sorting through boxes and trying to organize everything so I can work at home again.

What do you do when you have four hours to kill between total body bone scans?

 Why you go for a pedicure of course!  Kell  had gift certificates and treated all of us to twinkle toes.  Thanks Kelly!

Cathy’s Surprise Birthday Party at Rob & Kelly’s

It was so bitter sweet.  We all knew it would be her last but she truly was surrounded by all who loved her.

Easter 2017 at Pat & Angie’s

Cath getting chemo with her little sidekicks

One of the highlights of the 8 month journey was a road trip to Uniquely Chic.  Cath was in her glory that day feeling well enough to help Karen paint signs while Karli and I worked on our new website.  Have any of you checked it out lately?  New layout, easier shopping, easier navigation and a whole new look!  Ummm yeah, I kind of forgot to announce that upgrade with everything else happening.

Our Day Trip to Uniquely Chic ~ Brushes & Timber

Cath was able to visit the new Shizzle Paint Booth at Changing Thymes

2900 Wilson Avenue, Grandville, Michigan 49418

She was also able to watch both her sons play a game

Cake Pop’s at Metro

Somebody was getting her last chemo treatment so she passed out treats to everyone.  Cath was planning to switch to Metro after our vacation but it wasn’t in the cards.

Our Last Hurrah ~ Trip to Leelanau Peninsula – July 2017

We rented a great cottage for a week in Interlochen, Michigan.  Cathy, her daughter, son-in-law, grandchildren, myself and girls were all able to stay together.  Cath reserved it months earlier so we would all be up there for my other niece’s wedding.  Our mom planned to go, but was too sick battling her cancer to go with us on this trip.  Mom continues to battle her cancer to this day.  Prayers are definitely appreciated for our dear mom; she’s simply the best!

Cottage on Bass Lake – Interlochen, MI

Puzzles help take her mind off the cancer

I think we all had fun on Cathy’s motorized scooter.  I’ll try to add some of the videos from our vacation.

Somebody’s pouting, lol

Our First trip ever to Moomers

Talk about Farm Fresh Dairy ~ YUM!

We brought some back for Cath the first night; she loved it so much Cath and I went back the next day.


Cath loved Petoskey Stones!  She had all of us hunting for them in Glen Haven

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Shoreline

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park ~ Empire, MI

Great Candy Store / Ice Cream Shop at Boondocks in Glen Haven

Maritime Museum

Cathy and I enjoying the BEST Raspberry Moscow Mules with lunch at Boondocks

Lunch at Boondocks


Duck Lake



Kelly and Cathy sampling wine at Cherry Republic in Traverse City

Lunch at La’ Senoritas in Traverse City

July 22, 2017 ~ Angela & Tyler’s Wedding

The Dance

There wasn’t a dry eye in the place

Of course our brother had to try out Cath’s Scooter

We’re cracking up because he managed to pop a wheelie

Checking out Steve n Joyce’s new home

I have no idea, lol! 

They have quite the view though

August 2, 2017

Cathy passed away peacefully on August 2, 2017.  Minutes later our sunny skies had turned black and it rained cats and dogs for 30 minutes.  This is the view out her kitchen door that morning.

Cath’s Celebration of Life Party

We gathered some of the things Cath had made for each of us and displayed them at her party.  This was the last piece of furniture she painted.  She worked on it from her couch at home, little by little as pain permitted.  It is not finished but it is absolutely perfect.


Unfinished Works of Art Frozen in Time

Here’s another blanket she putted around with when she felt up to it the last few months.

The blanket she got on Christmas was on her bed the morning she passed away

It reads “Let our love surround you”


Things Cathy had made for us over the years lined the walls

Cath was laid to rest next to her husband on a beautiful August day

Everything is still so surreal

It seems like all we did over the course of those eight months was run back and forth for daily appointments at Lack’s Cancer Center.  As I look back on these pictures, I am very thankful for the things we were able to squeeze in between.  Our hearts are sad but she’s in a much better place.

A hui hou kau Cath!

We miss you like crazy!  Your little sister ~ Shell

a hui hou!  Shelly

36 Replies to “I hope you dance”

  1. What I see in these photos is Cathy’s courage, strength, and love of family. I know how I felt when I lost a close sibling — finding a new equilibrium takes time. Thanks for sharing — you and Cathy remain amazing women in my eyes.

    1. She was the strongest person I’ve ever known. I still can’t get over her courage through all this. I, on the other hand, am a zombie muddling through one day at a time.

  2. Shelly, I am so sorry for the loss of your sister. Y’all were always included in my prayers and still will be. My first encounter with Shizzle Designs was the peacock blue buffet (side table) . I finally painted a “show board” (for my granddaughter for a livestock show) with those paints and thought of you all more the whole time I was working on it, and now it means a whole lot more to me. You and Cathy have put a lot of inspiration in my life (I lost my husband in 2012, at only 59 years old) I have spent a lot of time on your web site just looking for inspiration and your smiles were so much help. You were a wonderful sister to her and I thank you and her for helping me through my tough times. Maybe I’ll eventually get that buffet done, along with any other piece I do, I’ll always have y’all on my mind. You are truly a wonderful person ! Thinking of you always ! Libby (from Texas)

  3. My heart is full for you and your family. Next month will be 8 years with out my big sister. Your post is beautiful and I’m sure she is proud of you. Take care.

  4. Shelly, I am so very sorry for the loss of your sister, Cathy. I can empathize with you as I lost my mothers to the same cancer three years ago. I never had the opportunity to visit your stores, but what I can tell from your posts, you both were extraordinary artists. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this time. May your memories of your sister help you through your pain. Sandy from Ohio.

    1. Hi Sandy, so sorry for the loss of your mom. It is an awful disease! I’m finally painting again and have a whole lot of catching up to do. One day at a time as I’m sure you already know.

  5. Thank you for taking the time to put this together. I looked at every picture. Love the predominant theme. I am so sorry for your loss. I will continue to pray for comfort. You have a wonderful family. And YOU are a fantastic sister. (((hugs)))

    1. Awe, thanks Rita! I’m so scattered in my thoughts lately, I’m sure there are many more pictures out there either on my phone or camera but if I waited until it was perfect, it never would have been published. I actually started this shortly after she passed. It still hasn’t really hit me.

  6. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ve followed your journey with hope and am saddened to hear of her passing. Blessings and hugs to you, your mom, and the rest of the family. It is evident through your posts and pictures that the world has lost a beautiful human being and a gifted artist.

  7. Shelly I couldn’t be more sorry to read this message. I truly didn’t know. Your sister relationship was to be envied! I met you and Cathy when a small group of us ventured over to the west side of the state, when you were still working from home, years and years ago for our first exposure to chalk painting. We raved about you and Cathy the entire way home. Your talent, your gift for making everyone feel special and important, your incredible attention to detail and for sharing every tip you could think of. You both are amazing ladies that we will never forget. I’m so very sorry for your loss. It’s truly one of those you don’t understand. My heart goes out to you!!!
    PS I still have the buffet that I believe Cathy told me was one of the first she ever painted. It’s a stunning olive green/dark brown.

    1. Oh Carla, I remember you! I had forgotten though that you bought that buffet. Hope you and your family are doing well! I’m pretty much in survival mode. My garage once again is full of furniture that I’m working on and as soon as I get caught up, I’ll start hosting, small intimate paint classes in my living room. I’m still unpacking boxes from the shop and have to get things sorted, cleaned and organized before it gets cold. It’s been a tough few years.

  8. Shelly,

    I’m sorry to hear of Cathy’s passing. Thank you for sharing all the lovely photos of Cathy and your family with us. She never seemed to lose her beautiful smile or her courage, and you can see that she was surrounded by love . Please know that you are in my thoughts.

    1. She really didn’t. I am in absolute awe at how strong and brave she was through it all. She never complained from the day she was diagnosed.

  9. So sorry for the passing of your sister, but what a beautiful tribute to her. Her love of family is evident in her courage and fortitude she exhibited, and all that love came back to her many fold. Prayers for strength and peace for all she left behind.

  10. My heart goes out to you, Shelly. I can’t imagine losing my best friend and sister (which I know Cathy was to you). I’m sure it’s difficult, at times, to not selfishly want to steal her back from heaven.

    1. Thanks Christine! My niece posted a cool picture the other day on Facebook of a stone staircase going up a hill that said “I wish Heaven had visiting hours”. The picture in and of itself spoke volumes!

  11. Thank you Shelly for sharing everything about Cathy’s life with us…who knew that one day I would click on a site to check out the after pics of a beautifully restored dresser and run into so much more! I have seen so many furniture restoration sites on the internet but there was something about shizzel-design that I just kept coming back to again and again. It was the STORIES! As I said before your sister and you are true trailblazers! Thank you Shelly and Cathy for sharing your talents with all of us from the bottom of our hearts. I have a feeling that Cathy is up in the skies teaching and showing the newbie the ropes on how to paint the most awesome furniture to perfection!

  12. Shelly, thank you for sharing. What a beautiful tribute to Cathy, I’m just weeping. You and she have touched so many lives through your painting and support of your painting community. You’ve shown me what grace looks like, how to carry on through really dark days. I feel privileged to have meant you both. Keep doing what you’re doing, you’re a light in this world.

    1. Awe thanks Martha! It was nice getting to know you in our class as well. I’m not sure how much grace I’ve shown. Most days, I feel like I’m barely going through the motions. So many things to do. I’m still need to haul everything out of my garage workshop that was crammed in there in January. It’s going to take me a long time. Wish I could wiggle my nose and have it done or that one day I’d come home and a crew from HGTV would be busting it out for me. I can dream right, lol. SOOOO tired but I appreciate your kind words.

  13. Dearest sweet Shelly, I never met either of you in person, but certainly feel that you are friends. I have followed your posts & website and marvel at the restoration you & your dear sister created. I also love to restore/reimagine furniture as does one of my sisters…so you & Cath felt like kindred spirits of ours. I can’t express how sad I am at the loss you and your family are experiencing. I too lost one of my sisters, she passed in Nov.2016 after 8 mos. of suffering (she was waiting for a liver & kidney transplant)…..she also never complained. We had awesome sisters! I know how surreal it all seems & how distracted you feel, I/we feel the same way. You & I are blessed with loving supportive families & know we will all be together again someday. May God bless you with His grace, strength & peace to meet each day’s need. Debbie from Michigan (my Mom has also been battling cancer)

  14. I’m so very sorry for your loss. Your love for Cath and family comes shining through in your words and photos. Thank you for sharing your heart so openly. Prayers for healing for you and your family. 💕

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