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: