Sunday, October 17, 2010


It was a heck of a week. I was in Cincinnati from Sunday-Friday for a business meeting. On Saturday morning we dropped Samson off at his happiest place on Earth for an overnight of boarding. After I dropped Samson off, Deirdre and I headed to Livonia for a wedding. The daughter of one of my cousins was getting married to a wonderful man named Stephen. Dee and I stopped in to see a couple of our nieces and a nephew, before we changed into our "Sunday go to church" clothes for the wedding.

The ceremony was officiated by my cousin Tom, who is a Catholic priest. The service was moving and the bride and groom could not have looked any happier. At the reception, I was hauled out to the dance floor my one of my aforementioned nieces, where I danced the Locomotion, the Chicken Dance and a few other dances I had never heard of before. All in all, it was a wonderful day.

Deirdre and I stayed at a nearby hotel on Saturday night, and we hit the road for GR a little after 8AM. As is typical for us with a morning road trip, we stopped at a nearby McDonald's to grab a quick breakfast. The McDonald's we chose was on the way to the freeway and I assumed that it would be like most other McDonald's we have visited. Well, I was wrong. I walked into the restaurant and there were two older men a head of me waiting to make their order. The first person, let's call him Dave, ordered his breakfast and then stepped back from counter. He made eye contact with me and said, "Is that your red car in the parking lot? It looks like the new Fiesta, but it is not." I told Dave, "No, that is not my car." Dave then walked into my personal space, tapped my arm with his hand and said, "Well, I have a Mercury Marquis, and it gets lousy gas mileage. They are discontinuing the car because nobody wants a car that gets 14 miles to the gallon. See that Marquis in the lot? It is like mine, but that is not my car. I am trying to sell it, but nobody wants a car that gets 14 miles to the gallon" I took a step back to re-establish my personal space between myself and Dave and said to him, "Thanks. I can see why you are having a hard time selling it."

The next elderly gentleman, call him "Bill," made his order then stepped away from the counter, and then it was my turn. I placed a breakfast order for myself and Deirdre and we waiting for the McDonald's employee to fill the order. I stepped away from the counter and Dave reengaged me. He said to me, "Yep, that Marquis gets terrible mileage. I want to sell it, but nobody wants a car that gets 14-15 miles to the gallon. I got a great deal on it, but now I just want to sell it. I can't keep gasoline in it for very long" Dave once again violated my personal space to share that information with me, and he touched my arm again. I tried not to look annoyed, though I was, as in the span of about 2 minutes, this person I did not know tried to strike up a conversation with me and he felt that it was perfectly acceptable to tap my arm to make a point about his trouble selling a Mercury Marquis. Once again I stepped away from Dave and said to him, "I am sorry to hear that you are having a hard time selling that car. Dave got his breakfast order and walked away from me... finally.

Now, it was Bill's turn. Bill got his order and started to walk out of the restaurant. Bill looked at me and said, "Is that your Fusion in the lot? I have a Fusion and I helped my brother buy one. I am a Ford employee and I got him a deal on the Z program." I told Bill that the Fusion in the lot was not mine and walking out the door he said, "It is a great car."

What struck me is that these two people thought nothing of asking me which car was mine and that Dave thought it was acceptable to tap the arm of a stranger. And to touch my arm not just once but twice. Maybe I am being too sensitive, but it was just plain weird this morning.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Another reason to Relay

A few days ago, I blogged about the 2011 East Grand Rapids Relay for life. Just a few days later, a good friend sent me the note below (names and locations changed to protect privacy):

Hi Paul,

Just wanted to give you an update, unfortunately a bit of bads news: a few weeks ago Amy noticed a lump in her right breast and had it checked out right away. She has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The good news is that every single subsequent piece of information since then has been the best that it can be, and her condition is expected to be curable. She is having three chemotherapy treatments, to be followed by radiation, and expects to be done by Christmas. Everything is being done at the hospital in Atlanta, which is simply one of the best places in the world for this kind of treatment. Also she has a very positive attitude and is not too crabby, which is a good sign! So while she can't travel overseas for a few months, she will basically be OK for other activities, and can continue to travel between Atlanta and Charleston. Her first session was almost three weeks ago and she did quite well despite a small adverse reaction to one of the drugs. The next session is Wednesday; I am heading out tomorrow to be with her for the treatment (she went back to Atlanta yesterday). We are coming back to South Carolina on Saturday and will be here until the next treatment in early Nov. The worst thing so far is that Amy had to get her hair shaved off today because it had started to fall out quite badly. More than anything this has gotten her depressed about the situation, but we keep reminding each other that it's a lot better than any of the alternatives. It is amazing how effective the treatments are today. Amy is lucky because she was an early stage one person when she started her treatment. The tumor, by the way, is now indetectable, after just the first chemo treatment.

Needless to say we have been crazy for the last few weeks. Amy got the diagnosis as our household goods were halfway between Atlanta and Charleston. Half of our things are still in boxes but we're getting there.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I wanted you to know what's going on. I will keep you updated. We are confident that Amy's condition is completely curable and neither of us is very worried that the therapy will not work.


I am reminded once again how fragile life is and how I must do everything I can so people like Amy can have more birthdays.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

More birthdays

Last night I attended the first committee meeting for the 2011 American Cancer Society East Grand Rapids Relay for Life. I will once again be the Logistics Coordinator for the Relay. 2011 will mark my third year as the Logistics Coordinator and I am looking forward to the Relay. For most of the rest of the Committee, their work happens before the Relay, but the majority of my work is done at the Relay. I am tasked with creating the field layout, communicating that layout to the teams and committee members, then I am in charge of executing the layout. The first year I did this work because one of my neighbors, who is a cancer survivor, asked me to help. She said to me, "You military people are always so organized. You would be a great Logistics Coordinator." I agreed to help, but I thought I would then move on to something else.

Well, I did move on to something else. I accepted a new position with GE Aviation which would take up even more of my time and I decided that my first year supporting the relay would be my last. Then, I found out one of my former shipmates and close friend, Bob, was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. Bob was diagnosed in November, 2009 and he was told that he had a year, maybe 6 months to live. The doctors were wrong. Bob passed away on 12 February, 2010. I dedicated my work for the 2010 Relay to Bob's memory, and I also decided that I would continue to work the East Grand Rapids Relay for Life as long as I am amble.

I am going to work the 2011 Relay and make it better than the very successful 2010 Relay. I am going to keep working to fight back against cancer so that there will be more birthdays for those affected by cancer.