Friday, 6 June 2008

Racing for lives and memories

Tomorrow my team and I (dubbed the Duchesses of Hazard) will be running in the Race for Life 5K. It’s an all-female race raising money for Cancer Research UK. The Duchesses have done some great work these past few weeks, collecting 345 GBP in sponsorship funds. I couldn’t be prouder of our efforts and plan to make a good showing in the race, for no other reason than I’m the duchess who’s been running the longest and I can’t let those upstarts beat me.

The race organizers sent each of us not only our bibs but also back signs on which we can write who we’re running for. I knew the moment I signed up who I would be commemorating—my friend Margaret, my grandfather and my Aunt P.

Margaret was one of my blogger buddies. We’re members of a wonderful book- and chocolate-crazed community called the CBs. Margaret chronicled her battle with cancer on her own blog as it was easier for her to communicate her progress to friends and loved ones that way as opposed to wasting her energy repeating herself ad nauseum. Then she would make her way on over to the Bar & Grill, the CBs’ home, and chat and laugh about anything and everything. Margaret passed away on October 31 at the age of 48. I was never fortunate enough to have met Margaret in person like some of the other CBs, so I run this race not only for Margaret, but those CBs who knew who better and feel her loss more deeply.

me and Grandpa back in the day

My mother’s father was the salt of the earth: a farmer, railroad worker, WWII vet, father of seven. He was a true southern gentleman who always held the door open for my grandmother. He put great thought into all his words and would speak in a slow Tennessee drawl. I loved listening to him talk. When I was little, I would wear one of his Stetson hats and sit on his lap while he entertained me with stories or by poking fun at Grandma. He was the one who got me interested in our family genealogy which I continue to work on today. Grandpa had lung cancer, the result of almost a lifetime of smoking. Even towards the end, when he was in hospice care, he was still himself. Unable to talk and barely move, he tried to tug Grandma into bed with him for ‘one last go’. They did end up having seven kids after all. He passed away in the spring semester of my senior year in college. I’m running this race for both him and my Grandma, who still misses him terribly.

Aunt P kissing the Blarney stone in Ireland

Last but certainly not least, I am running this race for Aunt P, my mom’s eldest sister. She’s the one who got me into quilting. She even made me a quilt, the center square of which was taken from one of my grandpa’s shirts. Aunt P found out she had the latter stages of uterine cancer when she nearly hemmoraged while driving from Missouri to her home in Iowa. She had surgery, went through chemo and has now been in remission for over six years. When her hair started to grow back after the chemo, Aunt P and my mother celebrated her recovery by going on a road trip together from Iowa to Vancouver where they then took a cruise to Alaska. A few years ago, Aunt P completed her goal of visiting all 50 states. Two years ago, she applied for a passport and, at the age of 61, left the US for the first time ever to come visit me in England. Since then she’s visited Ireland with me and been on a cruise to Mexico. This coming spring she and my mother are set to invade the UK again so that I can take them on a tour of Scotland. My aunt continues to be an inspiration to me and a constant reminder to always live life to its fullest.

So on Saturday I’m going to run, I’m going to remember and most importantly I’m going to enjoy life. Because that’s what these three individuals have taught me and I want to prove to them that I was listening and have taken their lesson to heart.

Have a good weekend everyone.

18 comments:

Katie said...

Thanks so much for the post yesterday, I appreciated it so much! Everytime I think I can't do this I know I'll read that post, look at my progress pics, and re-read those encouraging comments. I really can't tell you how much it helps! Also, awesome work fundraising girl! I know what it's like to lose a loved one to cancer and I'm so glad there's events like these because I think they help us find cures, but also help us heal ourselves a bit in the process. I'll be following your blog and hoping to hear from you again sometime! :) Good luck to you and your team!

Crabby McSlacker said...

Wow, that was really moving. Such great reasons to run! Good luck on Saturday, and thanks for the reminders to cherish every moment.

Marcy said...

What an awesome post :-) And a great way to pay tribute to those you love! Good luck this weekend!!

Viv said...

Wonderful post, and I could not think of a better tribute. Sweet pictures, such a cute little girl! Have a nice weekend!

RazZDoodle said...

Wow. What a post! Those types of runs are the best. Have fun!

Nitmos said...

This should be a special race for you no matter your time. Good luck and remember these fantastic memories during your run!

Lily on the Road said...

You have a lot of courage to run this race and yes you will be allowed to shed tears, tears of joy, for loss and for rememberence.

Don't forget to run for yourself too while having fun...enjoy the day and always smile. It is the smile we all remember, right???

ps. I will send you a training schedule this weekend for a Half (I have it at home) and YES, you will be able to do it....talk with you soon...have a great run!

Merry said...

Go Xenia! I'm sure Margaret would have been touched by the thought (though like you, I never met her face to face).

And best of luck to all your team!

P.O.M. said...

That's awesome! Have a fantastic run - for them and for you!

rssasrb said...

Beautiful post. I have tears in my eyes as I remember my Uncle Bud who lost his fight with lung cancer but never his spirit. Every summer when I watch people water skiing on the Chesapeake Bay I think of him, 69 years old up on ski's crossing the wake with a cigar in one hand and holding the ski rope with the other.

Run like the wind Xenia. Run for them all.

orangehands said...

That was extremely lovely, Xenia.

Those will be good memories to run with, and run for.

WapakGram said...

That was beautiful. Run for the life you have and for the lives they showed us how to live.

Please report in!

Scope Dope Cherrybomb said...

Xenia that gave me goose bumps and made me cry. It also brought to mind the memories of my parent and my sister all who died from cancer.

Margaret would have been so touched I'm sure even though I never met her face to face. I judge that on how she lived.

Just do your best. That is all anyone can ask. You duchesses (or is it Duchi? :-) )have done a great job of fund raising.

Enjoy your run. We will all be thinking of you and wishing you well.

chia said...

Hope the run went well! Brilliant post, what a great testament to the ones you love and have touched your life :-). Love it!

Jamie said...

Sounds like a great run I hope it went well. Great post and thank you for sharing the stories of these fabulous people.

cc said...

it's a good thing

Ted said...

Xenia - the post was incredible! Thanks for sharing and I hope you had a terrific run. The three that you have mentioned in your post are truly incredible and it's very touching.

BCB said...

I've been putting off reading this post because I've been busy (insanely so) but also because I knew I'd get all choked up (I did). The sentiments you expressed were lovely and, as I did know Margaret, I know she would have felt so honoured. But she also would have been absolutely dumbfounded to know that she'd touched or inspired someone that way. She was one of those people who vastly underestimate the effect they have on others. She never would have thought of herself as special, in any way. She had a core thread of steel running through her and she was a fighter who LIVED her life. She would have been very proud of you and your attitude. I have a feeling she was there cheering you on that day.