Thursday, September 17, 2009


One of this year's highlights will always be a family reunion in July.

Nothing says summer like a reunion, with fresh Iowa corn-on-the-cob and shared stories that seem to grow funnier with time. We laughed, we ate, laughed some more, then would grow quiet for a moment before someone would say....'remember'....and off we'd go again. Part of the beauty, too, was the fact that the stories and memories were just as precious to the extraordinary women who'd married into our family than it was to the three of us who grew up with them. We love these women fiercely for this.
There was only one thing wrong with our reunion. We were missing a generation. My parents, who would have been the grandparents of six and great-grandparents of seven, had died of cancer by the time they were 60. My father died at 52; mother at 59. Yes, their lifestyle was outrageously bad. Horrendous, possibly. They were also part of their time, and truly, their combined genetic history was flawed.

Nothing brought this home faster than a visit from two of my mother's best friends (pictured above) Sitting with both of these articulate, gracious stateswomen (how many 80- year-olds do you know who can talk to you eloquently about 'The Laramie Project'?) and watching as they recalled what it was like to lose their friends-- my parents-- illuminated yet another shade of loss. For Lenora and Sonny -- the death of my mother was the loss of a friend; the end of an era.

My two brothers, sister, and myself are now walking a trajectory. We have arrived at and are passing by the age our parents were when they died. We have families, life-long friendships. Three of us are already SURVIVORS -- not victims -- of cancer, evidence to advancing science. To this day we have not left a path of early, unexpected loss in our wake. We are all healthy, strong, engaged, vital, loving adults with families and friends who depend on us, causes we believe in.

My cause is the awareness of and the fight against cancer. Not just for my family, but for yours, too. The generations have a season, and an order, and a rhythm. To lose a generation drastically upsets the natural order. With God's gracious mercy it takes time, and strength, to adjust. We share this era together. Your family is mine. We share this illness. Let's eliminate it, together. For once, and for all.
You can support my ride in the Live Strong Foundation;'s Austin Challenge. Go to:


Debbie said...

Beautifully written, thanks for sharing!

Annemieke said...

Dear Jody, you just brought tears to my eyes with this beautiful, well written blog! I totally understand what you mean when you talk about missing an entire generation. Looking back your mom and dad probably did things that we now know are bad for your health but they didn't know back then. And as in my family, the genetic make up played an important role as well. I lost too many family members to this disease and that is why I joined the LSA to support the awesome job they do. And as you have experienced longer as I have, in doing so I found a second family (on Twitter as well) that believes in the same things we do: that we have to put an end to this disease so no-one has to go through another reunion missing an entire generation. I will be cheering you on as you participate in the LSC, as addition to all the other great things you do. Thanks for sharing this with us! You're an awesome friend! Big hug, Annemieke

Jody said...

You both are awesome. Sometimes I discover things writing that I might not have realized otherwise. I do so appreciate your time and comment.

Anonymous said...

Powerful Jody! You brought the setting to life beautifully in the begining and then moved on to the poignancy of the reality of your family history. Incredibly moving.