The funny Mother's Day card she'd expect any other year didn't arrive this year. In its place came a thoughtful card from her son's widow.
Mary Jane Pope was touched by the gesture. It made her think of what she has instead of what is missing. This is her first Mother's Day without her Danny.
Cincinnati Police Officer Daniel Pope was killed along with his partner, Spc. Ronald Jeter, as they tried to make an arrest on a frigid December night in Clifton Heights. Mrs. Pope, of Crestview Hills, went to Florida for three months and tried to escape the daily reminders of his death.
"I hold onto him being a hero," she said. "He was just the happiest person you'd want to meet."
She will think of him this week as she attends the dedication of an addition of Cincinnati's Police Memorial and travels to Washington, D.C., for National Police Week and a ceremony commemorating fallen officers across the country.
Like her son's funeral, the memorial celebrations will be ceremonies filled with pageantry and symbolism -- a flyover in the missing man formation, the playing of taps and a 21-gun salute.
Cincinnati will unveil its eternal flame, which signifies the undying dedication of officers, Tuesday at its memorial across from police headquarters on Ezzard Charles Drive in the West End. The event will begin with a parade at noon at Fountain Square, where local police will receive awards for personal sacrifice. The parade will travel to the memorial, where the names of Officer Pope and Spc. Jeter will be read along with other names newly etched into granite -- 16 officers from Hamilton County departments who also lost their lives in the line of duty.
"This is an opportunity for the entire community to come together," local Fraternal Order of Police President Keith Fangman said, "and for this city to never forget the sacrifice that all of these officers have made."
Mary Beth Fritz used to attend the annual Police Memorial Day parades when her father was a Cincinnati officer. Now that her husband is on the force, it has become more meaningful -- especially in a year of so much emotion.
"It's unfortunate that it's going to be this big because of something bad happening," she said. "But it lets the officers know that they have our support."
Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery visited with some of the victims' families at a state service last week. She gave the Pope family a framed certificate in recognition of their loss. "It reminds me why I do this business," she said. "It gives me a moment to stop. I try not to sound trite. I tell them words will never make up for their losses."
Sometimes people don't know what to say to Officer Pope's mother. Sometimes she doesn't know how to react.
She said she talks about her slain son because she doesn't want people to forget him.
She will get through this week as she has gotten through the last five months: with faith and prayer.
"Danny's in a better place," she said. "It's me I'm crying for, because I miss him."
She will spend today at a lake with her other two children and their families.
"We'll try to have a happy Mother's Day because I know that's what he would have wanted."