My Dad – Memories of a Great Man

Today, we might feel sad about what is now missing from our lives: the wonderful, loving, caring, fun, intelligent, gentle, sweet man who was so much more than husband, dad, grandpa and friend. But we know that while we may miss him, he is where he wanted to be. So today, we want to celebrate his life with us and share some of the special memories, the gifts that he left for us.

"Richie Dicky Dale"

“Richie Dicky Dale”

Dad loved to tell us stories of his life, and it was fun to hear stories about where that started… on the farm, a big ten pound baby boy born on the kitchen table during a blizzard. As children he and his siblings Ed, Violet and Vivian bathed in a tub out back of the house. Being the youngest, he had to go last! As a special treat sometimes they got to have toast with sugar and coffee poured over it. They also shared a horse that they took turns riding to school. We recently found a story he wrote about a large black horse purchased by his grandpa:

“…As I bent down to pick up the rock, I heard hoof beats coming behind me. I turned to see the black (horse) coming toward me full speed with fire in his eyes. I quickly dropped the rock and ran to the fence and rolled under it just in the nick of time. I thought grandpa was going to kill the horse, but instead sold him the next day.”

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He also told us of the many adventures he had in the Air Force. As a medic, he drove an ambulance in France. He had wanted to be a doctor but got dizzy at the sight of blood! I imagine this is probably what fueled his decision to become a pharmacist instead. Dad enjoyed dazzling us by speaking and singing in French, which he learned while stationed there. He also knew some German and Italian. After the military, Dad went to pharmacy school where he met our lovely mom, Barb… he just might have tried to impress her with those language skills! During their schooling he was her teacher’s assistant in chemistry – and found that their chemistry led to marriage. Mom’s special memory of Dad was when they were with a group of people and he said, “I just want to be the best pharmacist I can be”. We know that he achieved that goal.

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We mostly remember what a fun dad he was and the adventurous things we did together! With Jennie and Stephanie each on a knee, he would let them ride the “horses” Blackie and Whitey. I can just imagine their giggles as they held onto his fingers for reins and he bounced them in a horse race. He also had a very big spider (hand) that came down from above and made us squeal in anticipation of getting tickled. His grandchildren, who each had a special relationship with him, also remember fun times with their “Bumpa”. Bumpa loved his Jenna, Caity, Melissa, Adam, Brian, Ashley, Zachary, Courtney, and Michael!

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Imagine driving out to the country on summer nights, lying on top of the car and looking at the stars… I could always find the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper. One of Mike’s favorite memories is of fishing with him at Tub Springs, Nine Mile Creek and Box Butte Reservoir. The family would often hike and cook out at the Wildcat Hills, and he even took us to the dump to search for additions to Mike’s beer can collection. Olde Frothinslosh was by far the best can in the bunch! We remember trips to Alliance to see Grandma and Grandpa, and vacations in the station wagon to Yellowstone, Wisconsin and Illinois. Dad supported us in all of our band concerts, musicals, sports events and coached Mike’s Little League team. At my first basketball game when I scored a basket for the other team, he wrote a funny poem to make it all better. “A tisket, a tasket, she scored a great big basket…” I wish I could remember the rest!

There’s no denying that our dad was a funny guy. We have many photos of him in funny hats and making funny faces – even one of him wearing a dress for a Lion’s club play. People often speak of Dad’s jokes and his smile. He liked to occasionally embarrass us, too! He would honk and wave driving down Main with the girls, trying to see how many honks and waves he could get! Silliness aside, Stephanie’s favorite memory of Dad was when he taught her to drive.

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Being a service-oriented man, dad was an active participant in the church, serving communion and greeting members. He also participated in the Lion’s club – a reminder of that is the Lion drinking fountain that they installed at the zoo. When one of Stephanie’s friends needed scoliosis surgery, it was our dad who spearheaded the effort to raise the money to make that happen. For that, he will be remembered also.

Jennie’s favorite memory of our dad is of him dancing at her wedding. He loved to dance and he loved music – everything from CCR to Tchaikovsky! Mom and he took country swing dance lessons and had a great time together! Stephanie and Dad were regular musicians at Saturday night mass at St. Agnes, as well as playing the guitar and singing at home. At just about any time he could be heard singing or whistling a tune in his own special style. He liked to start a phrase about a half beat behind everyone else, and we could pick out his voice anywhere. Dad especially enjoyed making up funny lyrics, such as “50 ways to love your liver”. Customers at Taco Town were in for a treat when he sang along with the Juke Box!

I will always remember Mom and Dad singing in the car in perfect harmony…

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“Tell me why the stars do shine. Tell me why the ivy twines. Tell me why the sky’s so blue, and I will tell you just why I love you.”

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We love you, Dad. Shine on.

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Bike MS

bikelogo

Do you know someone with Multiple Sclerosis?  Perhaps a coworker, friend, cousin, aunt, niece or brother?  I do, and I’ll bet you do, too. 

I’m not going to pretend to know much about MS.  My very limited knowledge was gained from the sidelines, witnessing two friends as they each began to have symptoms, when they received their diagnoses, during times when the disease was more debilitating and those times in between when the MS was quiet and a stranger might not have even suspected.  But I knew. 

I just didn’t know what I could do to help.  I mean, I donated to the MS Society, but never really quite felt like I was helping. I was aware of the MS 150 bike ride, but at the time wasn’t aware of my ability to do it.  It sounds scary, right?  150+ miles… in two days?  Since then, I’ve discovered that I love to ride!  Even better, I love to conquer big goals, especially if I can help someone else in the process.  It makes it feel so real and worthwhile – and not just about me.

A couple of months ago, my friend Jim asked me to participate on the Christian Living Communities http://www.christianlivingcommunities.org/ Bike MS team.  He hadn’t signed up yet, but was trying to find out if I was interested.  Little did he know… I was so excited (and scared) that I badgered him until we both signed up for the team.  Commitment made – and not just 150 miles, but 160!  Part of that commitment is raising at least $400.00 each for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.  

Someone is always fundraising for a worthy cause.  They are all important.  It’s difficult to ask people to choose and to give their time and hard-earned money, but I can’t express enough that every little bit counts.  In fact, I was slightly afraid that this would take me away from my favorite local charity, Athletes in Tandem, but I know I can do both! (you can read about AiT in my posts under the category “My Friend Zachary”).  

My first donation was from a man I haven’t met… yet.  His daughter has MS.  Thank you Clifford!  My second is from a friend who just wants to help.  I didn’t ask about her connection to MS but I truly appreciate the donation!  Thanks, Jackie! 

Since committing to the team, I’ve learned of two other people I know and love who have MS.  It’s so unpredictable.  I can help.  WE can help.  Please visit my personal page to learn more or if you would like to make a donation.  

http://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR/Bike/COCBikeEvents?px=11865454&pg=personal&fr_id=20901

Thanks!

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January Challenge – Fundraiser for Athletes in Tandem!

BRRR! Hi friends!

I’m glad it finally decided to act like winter here in Colorado! The only downside that I can see, is that it makes it really difficult to go on walks with Zachary and enjoy long bike rides!

So that I don’t completely become a couch potato and to support Athletes in Tandem (AiT) I’ve decided to join the Facebook IronDistance challenge fundraiser! https://www.facebook.com/groups/305338199577851/?fref=ts

From Coach Wendy: “A triathlon ANYONE can do – a self-paced triathlon completed incrementally throughout the course of the month. From January 1st – 31st, participants will strive to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles. The goal of this event is to encourage consistent exercise and rack up the miles!! Register NOW!”

If your participation in this challenge is not your type of gig, please consider a pledge per mile, such as 10 cents per mile and I’ll do my best to complete the IronDistance and then some! All proceeds go directly towards AiT.

That will probably mean that I will spend many mornings on my bike trainer using “The Sufferfest” dvds, finding time to get to the pool and going out for brisk runs. My hip has been really hurting so I’ll have to take it a little easy on the running! This will be my biggest challenge!

One of my biggest motivators is a challenge with a purpose! Enabling Zachary and others to experience the joy of movement and fresh air along with the thrill of race participation is indescribable!

Zachary at the Park

Zachary at the Park

Please message me if you would like to make a pledge!

Oh yeah, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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At the end of the ride…

I love to ride my bike!  Even when it’s difficult, and even when it makes my legs hurt!  So imagine I’m riding along, thinking, “Man, this ride seems unusually tough today!  My legs are working a lot harder and I feel kinda slow!”  I slowly look behind me, and guess who’s following me in a big bright blue and yellow trailer?  Oh yeah!  It’s Zachary!  It looks like he’s sleeping, but he is propped up well and looks very comfortable back there!  Now it all makes sense! 

Could I really forget that I’m pulling him?  No, not really, but I wanted to tell you that pulling Zachary isn’t really all that different than going out for a challenging ride.  I mean, I’d be lying if I said it was easy.  It is hard, but not something I can’t handle.  It is slower, but not boring by any means.  I always love a challenge, and pulling Zachary challenges me to try my hardest.  It’s awesome and rewarding, too!  Here are a few examples to give you a better picture!

Challenges:

  • Hoping I could keep up with Dennis and Nick, Sam and David – BA-HaHaHa!  Great job, guys!
Sam and David!

Hey, wait for meeee!

  • Realizing that the first support station was only at 9 miles, when I felt like it was about 15.
  • Taking a wrong turn (My bad, I didn’t review the map before the race – it was pretty much a rectangle, for Pete’s sake!)
  • Running out of water due to missing the second support station after the wrong turn.
  • Sore wrists and elbows during the ride, sore neck for two days after!
  • Angry man in his big white pick-up flailing his arms and shaking his head (I only let him mess with my bliss for about 30 seconds).
  • Forgetting to unclip one shoe and falling over when I stopped to check the race map!  No worries, the trailer stays upright even if I fall over!

 See?  No big thing, right?  It gets better…

Awsomenesses: (yep, that’s a word according to a couple unnamed internet dictionaries!)

  • Having the Athletes in Tandem “Cheering and Support Vehicle” (CSV) cheer us on and pretend to be our pace car!
  • Seeing Zachary’s grandma Mary and mom Sandy at the first support station!

First Support Station with Mary and Sandy!

  • Having my trusty cell phone so I could stop and look up the race map!
  • Having Nick’s mom Susan and Sandy come to the rescue when we ran out of water!
  • The mounds of food they offered me, but only needing a banana (only about four miles to go at this point).
  • Seeing an entire family riding together on the 35-mile course!  WOW!  Now, that’s an accomplishment!

 Rewards:

  • Have you heard Zachary laugh?  Yep, that’s number one!
  • Observing (in awe) the joyous interaction that Nick and Zachary displayed after the race!

Nick and Zachary ROCK!

  • Nick showing me his cool smiling skull bracelet!
  • Discussion with Sandy about the sometimes-delayed benefits of fresh air, movement, and being outside!
  • Hunger-Like-I-Earned-It, satisfied by delicious chicken gyro and coconut ice cream after the ride!

At the end of the ride Dennis said, “I knew you could do it, because you had the confidence.”  That meant a lot to me – thanks Dennis!  At the end of the ride, I felt like I had made new friends in Nick and Susan.  At the end of the ride, I was happy to hang out all afternoon with my Athletes in Tandem friends, and watch Nick and Zachary carry on and laugh together. 

What a Great Day!

At the end of the ride, it’s all about sharing life. 

Let’s ride together!

Posted in My Friend Zachary | 2 Comments

About Not Giving Up…

I ran into my friend Jeff the other day, who said very matter-of-factly, “You haven’t been writing in your blog.  I’ve been checking, and you haven’t written since June 27th.  Why not?” 

Gosh, I really didn’t know where to start!  I told him that I didn’t want to sit there and make a bunch of excuses, but it HAS been a rather busy summer!  And yes, I did feel a bit overwhelmed and frustrated over things I could not control!   Sometimes when that happens I start to shut down.  Sometimes I start to give up.  Not on everything, but on those things that feel the most difficult to me.  Sometimes, even things that are the most important to me.

What’s up with that?  When Coach Wendy asked me what was going on, I told her I just needed to get my “stuff” together, only I’m pretty sure I used a different word.  OK, it was a different word.  About that time, Dennis posted on Facebook that he was looking for people to participate in different events.  When I saw the Colorado State University RAM Bicycle Classic, my eyes lit up!  After checking it out and discovering that the 35-mile ride was not up the Horsetooth hills I said, “I can do this!”  (LOve, LOVe, LOVE those hills, but I’m not ready to pull Zachary up -or down- them!)

 It had been awhile since I had taken my buddy out for a walk, so I thought that would be the best place to start – to remind myself how special this friendship is.  It was a Wednesday night, a little later than I had planned but I told myself that I would not give up!  I would be patient and make the best of the time we could get together.  All I can say is WOW!  Zachary was in a great mood!

Zachary looking at the pond

In case you don’t know, Mr. Z loves the water!  We have visited this little pond several times, and it just seems to make him happy to hang out there under the trees and look at the water.  Just look at his face!  🙂

We were out for about 1.5 hours, it was dark when we got back, and Zachary seemed very tired.  I thought I had worn him out!  However, when I got home I had this text on my phone!

This is so great!

You know, Sandy and I had a discussion today about what others might see during races and what they don’t see.  Often times when Zachary is at an event he might not always be smiling, or he might fall asleep so the benefits are not necessarily immediately obvious.  What you and I might not see, are the after-effects of the fresh air and being outside!  I know how it makes me feel, but imagine it for a person whose world is different from ours!  Imagine how it must feel for someone who can’t just walk outside or take a run whenever he wants!  There are benefits we probably can’t even fathom.

Anyway, at that time I really needed the boost that this one little text gave me!  Not necessarily validation, but more of a reminder of the positive.  This made me so happy! 

The following week I got to go to Zachary’s SECOND 21st birthday party!  (we won’t talk about the first ~ahem~ “Hooters” party, although I’ve seen the pictures and he was in heaven!)  There were so many wonderful people there – I loved meeting Zachary’s family and friends – such wonderful people!  Then there was getting out on the dance floor with Zachary surrounded by a bunch of ladies dancing with him!  It really was a magical night!  One that came from such loving friends and family!  Zachary’s Aunt Kathleen took these great photos!  Thanks, Kathleen!

Great Party, Zachary!

Zachary’s Brother Taylor!

 

Dancin’ the NIght Away!

 

With Zachary and Stephanie on the dance floor!

Awesome.  I have so much more to write about, but I think it’s past my bedtime!  I really want to tell you that I have not given up!  I have not given up on making time for people and activities that mean so much to me, and I have not given up on taking care of myself!  Zachary and I rode in the RAM Classic 35-mile ride today, and I’m beat! 

So, I guess you will have to wait for my next post to see the photos and hear how our day went… and I promise it won’t be two months before I fill you in on the details!  Cheers, friends!

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Waiting… waiting… he’s home!

So, while waiting for Zachary to get discharged from the hospital, I signed up to do the bike potion of the Loveland Lake to Lake Olympic tri.  It was an Athletes in Tandem relay team, and I was so excited for the opportunity!  I love cycling!  The planned race route was 30 miles that went from Loveland towards Fort Collins, up the hills on the south side of Horsetooth Reservoir, down and back to Loveland… pulling a little guy named Logan (so cute!) in a bike trailer!  However, the people in this area had been evacuated and the roads were closed, so I had no idea what would transpire when race day came.

I didn’t have long to train, so I had to make every ride count!  Coach Wendy told me to ride hills.  Lots of them!   Wednesday I drove to Loveland and rode 28 miles including a really steep 4-mile hill called Pole Hill (a.k.a. the Rattlesnake).  The uphill was tough, but the downhill was fun!  And a little scary (yes, I used my brakes)!

View from the Rattlesnake!

Saturday I rode 30 miles that took me along a good portion of the race course, only with more hills.  Some of the area residents had been allowed to return to their homes, and the roads were open to them only.  It was so eerie to see the lack of cars, the thank you signs hung up for the firefighters and the military police parked at locations along the way.  I thought I would get scolded, but they didn’t seem too concerned about a cyclist who was clearly crazy enough to be out in the mild, albeit present haze.  The smoke burned my throat and sinuses again.  Hmm… the County issued health advisories for outdoor activity but I ignored them so I guess I can’t really complain!  Besides, I loved that bike ride!

Sunday I was in Nebraska to wish my dad happy Father’s Day.  I had always wanted to cycle Western Nebraska, so this time I did!  I went around the Scottsbluff National Monument and the Wildcat Hills – 33 miles!  Whew – and that was the first day of the current hot weather streak!  The temperature reached over 100 degrees and the hot wind kept blowing up my nose!  The goal was to fatigue my legs (not my sinuses) – mission accomplished!

Scottsbluff National Monument

I was supposed to get one more easy bike ride in after this, but my mom injured her leg and I hung out with her instead – it was time well spent!  I was glad I was there with her.  My last workout before the race was the Horsetooth Triathlon swim and run training.  I did the short course, which is a 750 meter swim followed by a 5k run – good workout!

Saturday’s race came in a flash!  I was on a relay team with Steve, and there was one other relay team and two individual racers, all racing for Athletes in Tandem!  These people amaze me and I felt so privileged to be part of the team!   Everyone was so helpful and the families were great!  My partner Steve was awesome – he helped me in the transition area and let me join him and Logan in the last stretch to the finish line!

Athletes in Tandem at the Loveland Lake to Lake Triathlon!

As I took off on the bike ride, every time I went over a speed bump or swerved a little, I could hear Logan yell, “Yay!  Yay!  Yay!”  His parents thought he would fall asleep but he was awake every time I checked – which I didn’t have to do often because I could hear him having a good time back there.  🙂  Yes, I just used a smiley-face in my blog.  Because it’s my blog and because I’m smiling!  Seriously – this is what inspires me!  I can’t wait to have Zachary join us for some events, but all in good time!

Speaking of Zachary, HE’S HOME from the hospital!  YAY!  His recovery will take a while, and we are looking for some caring individuals to help promote his emotional, physical and spiritual well-being as he heals.  Sandy’s friend, Marsha is working on a calendar for friends, family and caring people to sign up to spend 15-45 minutes with him at a time.  If you are interested, please contact me.  More details about how to connect with Zachary will follow soon!

Can’t wait to see you, buddy!

He is not ready to go on runs, but he can go for short walks – I’ll be happy to do that!  Sandy has also suggested many other ways we can connect with him and, I’m not gonna lie, they all sound pretty fun!  Think water.  Think pantomime.  Think outside.  Think outside the box…  Then think about my friend Zachary and seeing his awesome smile and knowing you have brought some joy to his day!

P.S.  It rained this afternoon!

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When it doesn’t rain…

Hi friends.  Sorry to have left you hanging!  Like I said, when it rains, it pours!  There has been so much happening in the past couple of weeks, I’m going to try to catch up in the next couple of posts.  Why? Because Zachary is coming home from the hospital soon!  I want to move on, to start fresh and help him with his recovery!

It’s interesting how certain events in our lives truly leave an impression in our minds.  The sights, the sounds, sometimes the smells all linked to the chain of events.  Like a photo, only more.  Certainly the emotions.  Click.

Saturday after Zachary’s surgery I was at my son’s baseball practice when we noticed a little smoke coming from the foothills.  That image is still pretty clear in my head.  It looked like just a little puff.  We contemplated calling 911 but figured someone had already done so.  By the end of practice, the smoke cloud had grown exponentially.  Everyone seemed to be looking towards the mountains.  There was a man on his motorcycle stopped in the middle of the road using his phone… probably calling 911.   Click.

After practice I went to register for the Greeley triathlon, which was the next day.  Due to the previous week’s events I just I didn’t know what sort of emotional state I would be in and I hadn’t trained much…  I had almost talked myself out of it, but once I heard Zachary had made it through his surgery I had a renewed motivation!  I would do it – for him!  I repeatedly told myself that practice will make me stronger (especially while swimming)! 

From Greeley I watched the smoke cloud grow.  By that evening it was so thick it covered the sun, making it appear that the sky was on fire.  Click. 

When it doesn’t rain, we have fire.

Sunday morning at 3:00 A.M. – loud, loud, crazy loud wind woke me up.  I looked to the west and could see fire on a not-so-distant ridge.  Andrew was awake too, and called his brother, who lives in the foothills.  He had been told to evacuate.  Guess who else’s home is in the foothills – Zachary’s family’s home!  Oh man.  It’s 3:30 A.M. and I’m worried about my friends and the fire, I’m worried about getting sleep for the race and worried about everything!  Click. 

Well, I managed to get a couple hours of sleep before I dragged myself out of bed and drove to Greeley for the race.  The smoke was so thick at my house it felt like it was burning my sinuses!  On the way I called Dennis to confirm that Zachary’s family was okay.  They were at the hospital with Zachary when they received their evacuation notice.  How scary for them!  I’m so grateful that they were out of harm’s way!   Mike had to drive back from the hospital to evacuate their animals while Sandy stayed with Zachary.  I can’t even fathom the stress. 

Despite getting little sleep, I focused on my friend and had a pretty decent race!  I earned another finisher’s metal for Zachary and sent a photo of it to Sandy along with a message for him.  I hope it made him smile! 

For Zachary!

On the way home I stopped by the evacuation center just in case Mike was there and I could offer my assistance.  I didn’t find him, but I witnessed so many locals there to help.  People dropping off supplies, people offering to help with the animals, and the Red Cross folks there to handle it all.  Click.

The next few days were more of a blur to me…  Wednesday’s swim/run event was canceled due to the fire, smoke and more evacuations in the area.  The smoke was terrible – it still is!   But that’s a minor detail compared to all of the people whose lives have been directly impacted.  Friends and coworkers were evacuated.  Some lost their homes.  I won’t give you all of the details on the fire, but you can check it out at http://www.inciweb.org/incident/2904/ .   At the time of publishing this post it’s over 83,000 acres and 45 percent containment.  So sad.

That Friday, through my work I was able to I volunteer at the fire information hotline.  All I can say is WOW.  So many people wondering about their homes, a young girl looking for her horse, someone who only knew the lot number for her cabin.  It really brought perspective to the magnitude of the situation and in my three-hour shift I was able to help eleven people.  There was a lot of information to learn, but luckily there were several of us answering phones.  As I studied the details written on white boards covering nearly every wall in the room and answered questions, I couldn’t stop thinking about my friends.  Overwhelming!  Click. 

I had been checking my email frequently for updates.  To my surprise, Kathleen sent me a picture that really cheered me up! 

Yes, I Wanna Run!

This made me so happy!  I know I’m probably missing important details (besides the “click” moments) but the most important thing is that the family’s home survived and Zachary is out of the ICU and will be coming home soon!

It hasn’t rained in a long time.  And there are even more fires now in Colorado.  But we can focus on the important things, the people, and show our love and support in whatever ways make sense.

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When it rains…

Oh My.  For those of you who don’t know Zachary or his family… well, I’ve got a lot of updating to do!  So, last time I wrote, Zachary couldn’t join me for the triathlon because he had a fever.  Actually, I did write a little after that but I didn’t post it in my blog out of respect for Zachary and the family’s privacy.  Feeling helpless and anxious, I finally asked if it was okay to write about what’s been happening, and I’m happy to say that Sandy was OK with it.  In fact, she seemed more than OK with it.  Thanks Sandy.

That was sometime last week and I’m finally settling down to face my thoughts and put them into words.  I’m not even sure I’ll remember everything exactly how it happened or how it was relayed to me, but I do remember my feelings.  Fear.  Worry.  Anxiety.  Stress.  And that’s just me – just someone who cares about these people I’ve come to know a little bit and their son, my walking (and sometimes running) partner, Zachary.  My friend.  I can’t even imagine the intensity of feelings that everyone else has experienced!

Do you ever feel like you’re on the outside of a scary situation just waiting to help, just wanting to do something, anything to help those in need?  But you wait.  And you’re relieved to receive updates.  And you pray that everything will be alright.

When I saw Zachary after the Pelican Fest, he seemed uncomfortable but I got him to smile some so I thought he had a little virus that he soon would get over.  Wrong.  After a few days Sandy called to let me know he had gone to the ER.  Next thing I knew he had gone to Children’s Hospital.  Then Zachary’s aunt Kathleen called to update me – I’m so thankful!  It was comforting to hear a real voice letting me know what was going on, even if the news was scary.  And it was.  They had found a small mass in Zachary’s heart and were scheduling him for open heart surgery.  Doctors thought the source of the fever was the mass.

That night I had my first Horsetooth Tri Series swim and run event.  I really need to work on swimming, because I want to be comfortable and strong enough to pull Zachary in the raft.  I had just gotten over a 3-day migraine, at least the pain part of it, but I was exhausted and worried about my friend.  I hoped that the endorphins from the exercise would bring me out of my funk, but I was just too tired.  I cried when it was all over with.  Sometimes crying is good.

His surgery was two days after that, and that’s when I had to write –

Friday, June 08, 11:30 AM

As I am writing this, Zachary is going into open heart surgery.  He has had a fever since the day of Pelican Fest, about two weeks ago.  The doctors found a 1-3 cm mass in his left ventricle.  I don’t really know a whole lot more right now but am thankful that Kathleen included me on the email update list.  I can’t stop checking it.

I’m having trouble concentrating at work, so I’m taking my lunch break to deal with my feelings.  I just looked though some of my videos and photos of Zachary.  I feel so helpless – all I can do is hope & pray that the surgery is successful.  That Zachary will enjoy many more years of life and Athletes in Tandem races.  That his family will be blessed with more time together.  That we will all get to see his infectious smile again.  That I’ll get to do that triathlon with my partner someday and hear his happy voice – his “words” to tell me how much he is enjoying himself.

There, I prayed again.

In my mind I’ve always been that sort of awkward person, the one who has good intentions but maybe doesn’t say the right thing at the right time, or whose words come out differently than intended.  I find it easier to type, read my words, say, “Oh – that’s not what I meant!” and then I get to try again.

If I could speak to Zachary right now I’d tell him, “Hey kiddo.  I know you haven’t been feeling well and I’m so sorry to hear that.  You have an amazing family here to show you their love and support!  You have friends and followers who love you and who are praying for your recovery.  You are full of life and I can’t wait to see the sparkle in your eyes as you smile and laugh!  Hang in there, buddy.  You will get through this.”

If I could talk to Zachary’s mom right now I’d say, “Hi Sandy.  I’m so sorry for what you are going through.  I wish I could take away your pain and worry and tell you everything is going to be alright.  Try to focus on the love, the happiness, and the light that Zachary brings out in those around him.  Hope.  Pray.  Then let others hold you up the way you’ve always held up that sweet son of yours.”

Are those the right things to say?  I don’t know.  But they came from my heart and I truly wish I had the opportunity to speak them.  I don’t know if I’ll post this blog or not.  I’m trying to respect the privacy of the family and not intrude, as I am really just a newcomer.  For now, I’ll continue praying and sending my unwritten thoughts of love and support for my friend and his family.

Love, Susan

Are you crying?  Because I am.  But Zachary made it through the surgery like the champ that he is!

Only a few days after surgery, Zachary enjoyed a root beer float in ICU!

So much more happened after that, though.  When it rains, it pours.  When it doesn’t rain…

I would continue telling this story tonight, but it’s late and I’m very tired.  June has been an incredibly eventful month.  Zachary is still recovering, so send him all of your thoughts of love, hugs, prayers and wishes for a speedy recovery!

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Pel-I-Can! Fest – Plan B

Remember how I told you about a plan B?  Well, It’s a good thing I had one!  I wish I had photos of Zachary to share with you today, but I’m sorry to say that he was sick and unable to join me for the triathlon.  I hope he feels better soon!

So, what was Plan B?  It was to do my best in my first Tri in Zachary’s honor, cheer on the other Athletes in Tandem and get a finisher’s medal for Zach.  Andrew was there to take tons of photos and support me.  Jen and Bill even came to cheer me on!  I can’t tell you how much I appreciated the support!

Team Tandem

There were three other Athletes in Tandem teams there yesterday:  Blake and Nick, Dennis and AJ, and Steve and Jack (his first triathlon)!  Congratulations to all AiT participants!  You inspire and ROCK!

Getting Ready to Swim

Excited and Ready!

Readying the Rafts

bike to run

Bike to Run Transition Area

Off and Running!

Heading to the Finish Line!

They Did It!

Happy Finishers! – Photo Courtesy of Cindy Dallow

JOY!

Did you notice how happy these guys are? I can’t even begin to describe how much I love seeing their smiles!  It is so amazing to be a part of an organization that provides them the opportunity to compete in races and be part of the excitement!  If that is not motivational, then I don’t know what is!

There’s something awesome about being outside, getting fresh air and sunshine, being part of a big event, and doing something that promotes fitness and wellness.  What’s better than that?  Being able to share it with others!

Pel-I-CAN!

Smiling before the swim

that swim was hard!

Crying after the swim!

OK, once again, I KNOW it looks like I was crying, but I SWEAR I wasn’t!  I think I was just communicating my thoughts of how much harder that would have been pulling the raft!  I could have done it, but I feel like I might still be swimming!

Besides, you have to admit, it’s a pretty funny picture!  It’s good to laugh at ourselves once in a while!  I’m still laughing!

So Happy to be Getting on My Bike!

Final Stretch!

I Did It!

I was even smiling here!  I was so happy that my training paid off and I earned a finisher’s medal for Zachary!  Thanks to my awesome coach, Wendy Mader of T2 Coaching for providing me encouragement, training plans and a great event to participate!  Thanks to Dennis Vanderheiden and Athletes in Tandem for providing great opportunities to all of the athletes!

After eating, showering and returning my wetsuit, I went to visit Zachary.  He was still not feeling well.  I told him about the race, seeing his friends there, and gave him a Pelican Fest race shirt and our finisher’s medal!  Despite being sick, he was happy to hear about his friends and especially happy to get the medal!  Gretchen hung it on his wall in his room!  I told him I’d be over soon to take him for a walk.  I think it all cheered him up a little, which reconfirmed that today was totally worth it!

I look forward to participating in my next event with Zachary!  I’m not sure which one that will be, but it’s time to start planning!  Who wants to go biking with me tomorrow?

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Ready, Set, Go!

Well, almost ready to go!  It feels like I’ve been trying to make sure I have everything in order for the past two weeks, but this it it!

I just wanted to check in with y’all and let you know that we are still on for tomrrow’s Pelican Fest!

I hope I didn’t forget anything!

Checklist:

  • USAT card & ID
  • tri suit
  • race belt
  • wet suit
  • goggles
  • ear plugs (for my sensitive ears!)
  • swim cap
  • towel
  • biking shoes
  • socks
  • bike helmet
  • Athletes in Tandem shirt
  • energy chew thingys
  • running shoes
  • 2 water bottles
  • sunscreen
  • sunglasses
  • Garmin!
  • bike
  • patch kit
  • tubes

Is that it?  I hope so!  Sandy and Mike will be bringing Zachary and his jogger, and Dennis will be bringing the bike trailer!  Andrew will be there for general support and to take pictures!

Zachary would love it if you came & cheered him on!

Hope to see you there!

Susan

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