Monday’s posts are usually reserved for a quick recap of my training from the week prior. However, this Monday is going to be a bit different. This Monday I kick off my fundraising for Our Clubhouse as a 2017 Pittsburgh Marathon charity runner.
There’s a reason I chose this date to kick fundraising off on my blog. Today, unfortunately, is a day I will never forget. On this day 9 years ago, I lost my grandfather, better known as Daddyjack. As the first born grandkid, I somehow came up with that name and it stuck. I think it had to do with the fact that Daddyjack was more than just a grandfather to me. For so many years, he was like a dad, my grandfather and my buddy.
Daddyjack and I were best buddies. Since it was just my mom and myself for many years, I’d often spend a lot of time at my grandparents. Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved my grandmother, but there was a special bond between me and my grandfather. I would follow him around like a shadow. I always wanted to be doing what he was doing. We would play cards, eat vanilla ice cream out of styrofoam bowls so we didn’t have to do the dishes and would watch M.A.S.H. reruns.
When I was 13, things changed though and I moved away from TN. I didn’t get to see Daddyjack as much, but as soon as I graduated high school, I moved back to Knoxville to actually live with him. His address became my permanent address. I loved it. That was one of the last longest times I would spend with him as college neared and well, essentially once I started college, I moved to MD.
But even in college as a crazy college student, I always found time to call or email my grandfather. I always loved hearing from him and he even more so loved hearing about my college adventures. I was the first Prior to go to college and graduate. Then things changed. Just prior to my college graduation he got sick. It was best advised from his doctors that he not travel to MD for my graduation ceremony. I was crushed. Still to this day, it’s the one thing in my life I wish I could change.
I moved to Pittsburgh after graduation and he was still sick. It wasn’t until late summer that we would find out the true cause of his illness. He was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer. I believe he was given maybe 12-18 months to live, but he didn’t make it that long. I don’t want to say he gave up, but he knew he lived a wonderful life, had wonderful kids and grandkids and had lived without my Grandmother for nearly 5 years. I tell myself he just knew it was his time.
I remember going down to visit him in these last weeks. I was basically told to go then and to remember him as he was. I certainly do remember that time, but I won’t lie.. I also remember his last hours. I got the call to get to TN immediately. We booked a flight and I was on my way from Pittsburgh. My mom had been living with him for awhile to help take care of him and while the whole family was with him, I was greeted at the airport by a family friend. We headed to his house and that’s when it hit me this would probably be his last night with us.
The hospice nurse we had was just wonderful. I honestly could not say enough about her. I sadly do not remember her name, but she not only took care of Daddyjack with dignity, she helped us all. One by one we also got a chance to be by his bedside to say goodbye. I recall me being one of the lasts, if not the last. I told him it was okay to go and that I knew he was waiting for me to get there and that I was right here. Well, shortly after that talk, he passed.
Everyone takes death in their own ways. While some of my family members sobbed, shouted and even became just hysterical, all I could remember is a complete numbness coming over me. I couldn’t cry. Like I couldn’t do anything. While my mom was on the phone with my stepdad and my aunt and uncles on the phone with others, I just sat there. The nurse must have noticed this as she asked if there was anyone that I could call at this time. I looked at her and said the only person I’d call is the man that just died.
The days that followed were hard. The months that followed were harder. The first holidays that followed were horrible. I didn’t do well after his death. I never could get through the grieving process. Eventually I sought counseling through a local hospice group in the Pittsburgh area. In the group with me was the therapist and 2 other older women. It was finally through that group that I really began to grieve. I remember when I finally broke down and that had cry that was long overdue. Now, when I think of my grandfather, I can’t stop crying. In fact, I have been bawling my eyes out as I have been writing this post.
So you might be thinking to yourself what does this story of my grandfather have to do with me signing up as a charity runner for Our Clubhouse. Well, back in 2007, I wish I had known about Our Clubhouse. It was under a different name back then, but I really could have used their services.
They want to be able to help everyone touched by cancer. Of course they want to support those battling cancer in any way they can, but they are also there to help family members. The services they provide are outstanding. They do dinners, yoga sessions, art therapy, counseling sessions and so much more. There are groups put together to help those battling a certain of cancer or perhaps for parents who have a child battling cancer.
I want to bring awareness to what they do as one of their charity runners. In fact, in February when I did my burpees I completed them at Our Clubhouse. One of the men supporting me that night was George. In December 2015, George was diagnosed with cancer and I knew Our Clubhouse could be beneficial to him. I didn’t want to be pushy, but I was happy to show him Our Clubhouse and the things they offered. A month or so later, I happily learned that George became a member. One by one, Our Clubhouse is there to help everyone touched by cancer.
Right now George is going through his chemo regiment and let me tell you, he’s one determined man. He is facing cancer head on and not giving up. He’s truly an inspiration. He isn’t giving up and as much as he tells me I am his inspiration with all of my running, I have to tell him just the same number of times, he’s one of my inspirations for fighting this battle head on.
So here it is…. October 17, 2016. This is a tough day. Nine years ago, I lost Daddyjack, but on this day I want to honor him and everything he ever did for me. I want to kick this fundraising off with a bang today! Last year I raised $$2,361, but this year I want to do more. I not only want to bring awareness of Our Clubhouse to everyone, I want to help them continue to provide these amazing programs to everyone. Everything raised through this fundraiser helps do just that.
So, HERE is the link to my fundraising page. On THAT page you can help me get to my fundraising goal of $3000. Wow. That seems like a lot, right? Well, let’s break it down this way. That is just 300 of my amazing friends giving just $10 to this amazing cause. That’s it. Just $10. That’s giving up Starbucks twice during a week. Or maybe giving up 2 pints of beer. If 300 people donate just $10, I’d hit that goal. Now, of course any and all donations will be welcomed to help me hit that goal of raising $3000, but know that giving even just $10 would mean the world to mean.
As I always say, “This one’s for you, Daddyjack”, but this year is also for George. Fight that fight, George! Don’t ever give up!
Again my fundraising page can be found HERE. Thank you all for your love, help, support and everything else during this fundraising campaign.