Monday, May 4, 2009

Relay for Life and Game 7

There are no two more magical words in sports than "Game 7" or "Swimsuit Issue" for any male sports fan!!! I have had a subscription to Sports Illustrated for about 2.5 decades now and I think the next Swimsuit issue will be as tough as Mother's Day for me (by the way I'm taking the kids to Disney for the first time in case you missed the last blog). Hope and I had a tradition that she would get the magazine first from the mail and then go through it and edit the pics. She would draw in stitches, eye patches, more bathing suit than I wanted to see, blackened teeth, or captions like "I despise global warming" or "You wouldn't have a chance with me anyway." I never enjoyed the Swimsuit issue as much as when she did that. It's amazing, while you miss the person so much it's the little things you miss more and when things like the Swimsuit issue come out you remember some of your favorite memories about the dumbest but most important little things. This year no blacked out teeth, no eye patches, no bikinis turned into a one piece, but at least I have the Celtics and Red Sox (don't get me wrong, I'm not turning gay yet despite Anna's urging---not that there's anything wrong with that!).

Two words, Game 7 BABY! Okay that was 3 but once again as the Celtics seem to always do they pulled out another game 7 (I had to watch it Sunday morning recorded from Saturday night because of Relay for Life --- more on that in a minute --- I would not take any text messages like from my brother, and when I answered the phone I would say, "Hello don't tell me anything about the game.") The Bulls were worthy, we were down our best overall player and our best big man off the bench but still prevailed like the Superfriends always found a way against the Legion of Doom. By the way my favorite Legion of Doom character (and do you really have a chance of being a positive influence with a name like that?) is Bizzarro Superman. He was all rigid like rock, could do everything Superman could do, but within 30 minutes he always escaped but was always defeated. I also love how they always had to explain what they were doing, almost like Captain Kirk over acting. "Must block out sun to take strength away from Superman, then must have lunch and remember to call Supergirl to see if she likes rocklike Superman." One more Superfriends side note, what's up with the Wonder Twins? You can only turn into water or an animal, and you don't pick a Tsunami and Superman everytime? And what the hell was Gleek, a monkey that did nothing but hit the wrong button every time they were in trouble? By the way, when we were growing up with 4 teenagers in the house at once all in high school we were particulary brutal to each other all the time which is why I'm sure nobody can hurt my feelings much anymore no matter what they say. But for some reason many people remember my nickname was Clucker. That evolved from Gleek (yes the same Wonder Twins monkey), then Gleeker, and then Clucker. Many have asked over the years so now you know.

Since the C's had no legs for 2.5 quarters to go down by 28 points in game 1 of the next round against the Magic, then roared back to be within a Ray Allen jumper that rimmed out of one of the greatest come backs in history. Tonight we took care of business, and meanwhile my Red Sox are 5-0 (that's right freaking 5-0) against the evil Yankees with two wins being more amazing then any I can remember (that the good guys won) in the history of the greatest rivalry in sports.

While the C's and Sox were making me proud, we had our Relay for Life event from Saturday at 8 AM until Sunday at 8 AM. Cancer never rests so we did not either (okay I did a bit because I went home around 3 AM). Both boys had soccer games Saturday morning so we got to Relay around 1 PM. I brought Frisbees, soccer balls, footballs, etc. and there was already a bunch of kids there. So while everyone else walked laps I ran for hours playing ball with anywhere from 5 to 20 kids. We had a blast playing for hours. We even played some water balloon dodge ball (yes it is as good as it sounds), real dodgeball (apparently in our county this game is banned from schools which is criminal in my opinion---how else do you determine who will get to date in high school and who will be a loser with no friends without dodgeball??? Damn political correctness!), and then watch Just Jake run away from a dozen kids until he's caught out of pure exhaustion, taken to the ground, and in full Macho Man Randy Savage WWE style (or Sean Michaels for you younger readers) getting elbows like they were off the top rope.

Thanks to all of you, Hope and I (she was truly with me every step of the way) raised the most money by more than triple at almost $7500 and our team by far raised the most at over $17,000! The entire event doubled last years with over $60k. They had events throughout the 24 hours but a couple of my favorites was honoring all of the cancer survivors (Hope was a 3-time survivor for the record, how many people do you know that can say that???), the lumineria that included candle lit bags all the way around the track with friends/family names including Hope, and then in the two stadium seats the word "HOPE" on one side and "CURE" on the other lit up like the HOLLYWOOD sign in LA. The entire event was dedicated to Hope and another cancer victim with a big sign at the entrance including her name. They made the mistake of letting me speak to everyone, which was incredibly emotional. I kept it together and afterwards hugged my kids like I just came back from WWII. Those boys are all my strength, and I know Hope hung in there long enough for all of us to be ready to take things over just the three of us. When they let me speak to the crowd, I of course could not let go the opportunity to talk about how once you are diagnosed you have to instantly become an expert in the illness like when Hope was first diagnosed with breast cancer. I offered at no charge mind you to use my expertise to help others by providing breast inspections but nobody took me up on it. I am willing to extend the offer so any of you reading that are local or those that want to fly down I will continue to do so at no charge for the good of the people.

While everyone was incredibly gracious at the event, my highlight was two high school kids that tracked me down, said I inspired them with what my story, and they were honored to be part of the event. That got to me, two high school kids half my age (I know that freaking hurt to say because I still feel like I'm 18 most of the time) caring that much about a short impromptu speech someone gave. I've always been positive about everything, and events like this just bring out the best in everyone. They have asked me to chair the event next year, I think maybe I'll have to pass because I just can't keep up yet with my other activities like bills, work, the house, and the kids. Those are minor details, but still somewhat important don't you think???

I can feel myself struggling again lately, mostly getting to things that I would otherwise have taken care of. I'm not feeling sad or depressed, just not fulfilled or complete. Things like Natedog's school project, laundry, bills again are the worst because I think Hope always handled them, certain work things I just don't want to deal with like not making any money, blogging more, and getting back in touch with some friends. I know I'm a lucky guy, but I still don't have "it" back yet all the time. "It" is my drive, my passion, and what has brought me success in the past. Tonight when I was tucking Nathan in, we were talking to mommy as we always do when I started saying how much I miss Hope. Nathan was surprised by that (which shocked me when he said it), as he said Daddy you always seem to have such a good time and do so much I didn't think you always missed Mommy.

It broke my heart a bit, but I could see why he felt that way. I explained to him that I stay so busy so I'm not always sad but that certainly doesn't mean I don't always miss Mommy and that I'm not sad in the inside. I'm fooling my children, am I fooling myself too? I'm not sure, maybe I'm intentionally not getting things done to keep myself so busy and behind I can concentrate on that and not Hope. I've been so ridiculously social lately too that the kids ask me every day when I pick them up from school, who's coming over today Daddy or who's house are we going to? I need to find a better balance to be a better Dad, and that is the most important job I will ever have.

Maybe now is my game 7, my round 15 against the Russian in Rocky IV where "there's no pain and I have to punch and punch and punch until I can't punch no more", my final round of celebrity Jeopardy with Sean Connery on Saturday Night Live, the last two minutes of Superfriends before the uncomfortable joke that gives everyone a belly laugh but wasn't funny, or when the six-fingered man decided to turn and run after Anigo Montoya spent a lifetime learning to sword fight to finally track him down for revenge of his father's death in the Princess Bride. It's been 4 months, I need to step it up, no more excuses, no more turning and running from Anigo Montoya. Two magical words, "Game 7" (and don't forget "Swimsuit Issue"). Suck it up Jake, this is not a game or movie and the children are affected by every bit of success or failure now. I've never feared pressure, bring it on, I'll step up. Game 7 Baby!!!


Jennifer P said...

Jake - I would be happy to draw hee-haw teeth and nasty scars all over your swim suit issue... though I'm sure it wouldn't be the same. (By the way, it was the 6-fingered man in Princess Bride... not 5.) I'm glad you are searching for the right balance in your life. I wish you the best as you try to find it. Love you! Jennifer P

J said...

I love reading your weird writing. :) And I mean that in a good way.

AnnMarie said...

funny enough i think of hope too when i see the swim suit issue....we laughed over what she was going to do every year! she was great at that.

i talked to Reese about how much i missed Hope while at relay. i think they like to hear we all miss her :)


Jennifer Nifakos said...

Hi Jake, I'll be thinking of you three on Mother's Day. I know it will be a hard day for all of you, but I think you've made great plans and I hope you have lots of fun together. Say Hi to Mickey for me and give yourself a break...two sweet boys trump a stack of bills any day of the week.
I'd say your priorities are definitely in order!

Daddy-O said...

Best of luck to your mailman Jake.
I'm sure you're bound to receive several edited Swimsuit Issues in the mail after this post.

Oh, and you may just get a D-Bulls hat in the mail too if you're lucky!

Your C's may be getting a little old and weary as the play-offs continue but we all know that you still have plenty of mileage left in your tank. Finding the right balance for you will happen. We all know you can't keep a good Nole down (even the ones that can't pass an online music class)!

Trish Scholer LeBouef said...

What an great way to make use of the swim suit issue. Bet you never thought you'd get more pleasure out of seeing the drawings than the actual models. I see in your writing how very much you all loved each other. It's definately encouraging - thank you!

Don't beat yourself up about Nate's comment, in do time you'll look back on this and see it was a stepping block, because now you have a better idea of what he's thinking and feeling.

Thinking of you all - hugs

rach said...

The Princess Bride..another favorite classic! I will have to have some fun with the Swimsuit issue here as well...I wonder if Brad will notice. :)

Keep on talking with those boys and how they is the best thing you can do to help them through all of this. You are doing an amazing job with them. We're rooting for ya!

J said...

Itchin' for an update, dude.

Jennifer P said...

Jake - I check this all the time for updates... and I want to know you are doing ok... as do many others, I'm sure. Even if you are not doing ok, you should write... you used to feel like it helped. Anyway, just wanted you to know I'm thinking about you!