Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Mission of Hope

The boilerplate text from the Relay for Life is input ahead of time, to make it easier for people to create a web presence. It reads:

My Reason to Relay is to join people around the world in celebrating those who have survived cancer, remembering the people we've lost, and supporting the lifesaving mission of the American Cancer Society.
Please make a donation to me or join my team. You are helping deliver the hope that future generations will not have to endure cancer threatening the lives of their friends and family. You have the power to fight back against a disease that affects millions.

And I could just copy and paste that and be done with it, but my reasons are not boilerplate.

My father was a dreamer who wanted great things. He came out of rural Mississippi, and traveled to another continent during World War II where he met my Mom. That alone should be a testament to wonder, that a rural farmer from Mississippi, drafted and raised to the non-com rank of Sergeant, should meet a refined, educated and professional nurse from the North, and fall in love, and have that love, impossibly, returned. The love story doesn’t read as lovely after that. It ended with my father returning to his rural roots in Mississippi after I graduated college, to farm his ancestral land, where he would die. My Mom remained in Massachusetts, in the home where she raised their six kids, and where she would die. But for a few visits back and forth, and some last time together, which included attending my wedding, they lived apart, but never divorced. They shared a bond that was not quite marriage, yet something beyond it as well.

He died in Mississippi, in the double wide he purchased and set up himself. He wanted to leave it to his kids as a vacation property, expecting that we would have some kind of tie to the land his father and father’s father had walked, but which he had never instilled a love for, in his children. We were strangers to that land. My brother sold the property after his death. But that’s another story.

My father died of cancer. He died after a long battle (is there ever a battle like that which doesn’t seem long?). He went from a robust, strong, slightly overweight man to one on whom the skin hung, and in whose face only the grim determination of his eyes remained.

I walk in memory of him, because there was nothing I could do for him, yet all I do is because of him. I walk because my mother’s mother also died of cancer, leaving my mother as the adult woman of the house before she was even out of high school. I walk because both my wife’s grandmothers were taken by cancer, a fact that still chills my children to this day, and causes them to utter the word only with some trepidation. And I walk for myself, because I still can, and because I harbor the subtle suspiscion that it will likely find me as well, one day, despite my best efforts to hide from it behind exercise and healthy eating. It’s a grim, constant hunter that's easiest to fight against before it finds you, because there is no real way to hide. Only different ways to fight.

I walk for the hundreds out there who cannot walk because they are in the middle of that fight, and for the thousands lost to it, and the hundreds of thousands who have emerged from the other side, survivors, ever changed by the battle. Them I walk for, and will walk with on the weekend of June 6-7th on the Franklin County Fairgrounds. And I walk for my Dad, because we never had that last long walk together. He had to make that trek alone. But I never take my eyes off his footsteps.

My team is the Mission of Hope, sponsored by the UCC of Conway, and I invite you to walk with us by sponsoring us through the Relay for Life website, using this link.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

My weak.

Earliest I’ve been up this week: 4 am on Monday to drive into Boston, my regular 2 hour commute. I leave at 5. The wind was with me-I made it in at 7. I laid down in the car in the parking lot and slept until 7:30, before going in.

Wierdest thing I’ve seen this week:
An image from a Burger King commercial, with the guy in the big Burger King head and costume looking at this guy whose back is to the camera. He looks like he’s towering over him. The words superimposed on the screen: “Where is your God now?”

Most miles traveled in 24 hours this week: Western Mass to Boston on Monday. Boston to Western Mass on Wednesday, to see my two boys in their school play. Western Mass to Boston on Thursday, today.

First epiphany of the week: I will likely die in my car, from exhaustion.

Smartest thing I’ve done this week: Cancelling a business trip to NYC that I was ill prepared for, and would’ve taken me out of the office, during this strange crunch time.

Second epiphany of the week:
I don’t like crunch times.

Top accomplishment of the week: Apply for several scholarships, bringing myself one step closer to my enrollment at Savannah College of Art and Design, to finally begin my Masters. That, and hug my kids.

Strange realization of the week:
One of the ways I’m known at work is as “the salad guy” because I have a big salad for lunch almost every day. I do it because salad fills me up, and is low cal, and since I stay chained to my chair most of the day, I need low cal. At least until it gets warm enough to start taking walks and exercising again.

This weeks reason I am glad I don’t watch cable TV: I just watched the Flavor of Love podcast on iTunes, which gives you 20 minute versions of all the shows. I am amazed and appalled that this show could last 3 seasons, that this many women could be interested in this guy, and most of all, that any of them cry at being kicked off the show, and not becoming his third-season girlfriend. It’s like a train wreck that cars keep driving into. You just want to yell at them.

Second best accomplishment of the week:
Getting my taxes done and e-filed the day before the deadline.

Thing I’m most looking forward to this weekend:
Going to Comic Con in NY, with my oldest son. After another long car ride.

Thing I’m most embarrassed about this week:
Getting my taxes done and e-filed only one day before the deadline. I’m usually spending the money by late February.