Pedal the Cause

I'm riding: Big Hitter

Saturday Start time:

Sunday Start time: 8:00 am

Team: Bill Box's Blue, Red and Grey

ID: 94822

Lifetime total: $5,251.20


Forty-one years ago, at the age of six, I sat in my grandparent's living room, waiting as quietly as I could. I remember the black leather couch, the red Persian rug, and the crystal dish on the coffee table filled with hard candies. I remember hearing my grandfather calling to my grandmother, or maybe to my mother, to bring him something or other to ease his discomfort. The women of the family, all nurses, had transformed the spare bedroom into a personal hospice as pancreatic cancer pulled the patriarch closer to death and farther from us.

My mother must have called us all in to say goodbye to our grandfather one last time, but I do not remember it. To this day, my older siblings, my father, and my cousins tell me about my grandfather, about his energy, about his compassion, and about his willpower. But I remember none of that; I only know it from what they tell me. We returned a month or so later for his funeral, but I do not remember much of that either. I can recall only a horrible bewilderment as I realized that a powerful and loving presence in my life was suddenly absent.

Twenty-eight years later, our six-year old son Joe stood in the pews of St. Roch Church just before his grandmother's memorial Mass. He held a Mass card in one hand and a program in the other. He stood sobbing, tears streaming down his cheeks and the look on his face conveying that same horrible bewilderment as he realized in his soul that his grandmother had died. Even the colors were the same: the Mass card and the program both had a red background, and black suits and dresses filled the pews.

Just before Cristina's mother died, in the days before her daughter's birthday, she asked me for a favor. She wanted to give Cristina a bike for her birthday. Circumstances made that impossible, so our dear friend Kate Hannon wrapped up a tiny yellow bicycle so Mary could have something to give to Cristina. The bike came later, and Cristina will be riding it for Pedal the Cause.

It has become almost a cliché to say that cancer has touched all of us in some way or another. But that statement is a cliché not because of triteness or overuse, but only because of its truth. We celebrate our family and friends who vanquish cancer, mourn those who succumb to it, and pray for all of them. And always, we hope for a cure.

I ride as a way to remember my grandfather, my mother-in-law, and all those I have known who have fallen to cancer. I ride in case I can help, in even a small way, to encourage those who are facing this journey. But mostly I ride out of hope that maybe, just maybe, that by doing so there is a six-year old somewhere that might not have to face that horrible bewilderment at the loss of a grandparent, or a parent, or an aunt, or an uncle. That is why I ride.