Hey ya'll and Happy November! It is so hard to believe that 2018 is coming to a close. This year has been such a joy filled year for me - but I also experienced some heartbreak. I know this is supposed to be an inspirational post and I'm hopeful that by the time you finish reading this.. you will be inspired. If you are new around here - first, WELCOME - second, once a month I share things that are inspiring me. Hope you enjoy. :)
Let me start at the beginning. In January 2018, my boyfriend and I completed our very first half marathon at the happiest place on Earth - Disney World! We ran on behalf of Team Fox (The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research grassroots fundraising program) where we exchanged free race registration for fundraising efforts for crucial research! This event was so inspiring as there we were running alongside people with parkinson's disease, care takers and those who just want to see a cure for PD. Around mile 7, I pretty much wanted to give up and have a sweeper come get me (LOL) but JW reminded me of WHY we are doing what we are doing - and we ran our little hearts out until the finish line!
In April, I was awarded the opportunity to fly to New York City and attend the Team Fox MVP Awards Dinner. This is an invite only awards dinner for the top fundraisers at the beautiful Chelsea Piers in NYC. Talk about INSPIRATIONAL. Keynote speakers included folks living with Parkinson's that climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. INSANE! Can you imagine? I was fortunate enough to bring TWO GUESTS - so I brought my mom and my sister - who both enjoyed meeting all of my foxy friends from around the country!
July brought along our family vacation to Table Rock Lake. This year, my sister and I surprised my mom with family photos. (She has been begging for family photos for a loooong time!) We chose the perfect evening during the golden hour for some professional shots of our family. They turned out SO GOOD! This vacation is important to me because its uninterrupted, quality time with my family. The location is important to me because we have been going to Branson every year for as long as I can remember - back to when I was a baby.
August and September basically flew by - we celebrated my sisters birthday, our 2nd Annual Parkinson's Symposium in Charleston was the best ever....
And then, October hit. On October 17th, 2018, the world lost the most incredible man - my grandfather. While the last couple of years had been tough on him as he was getting older - he was in great spirits, healthy and had great caretakers. Late Wednesday evening, he had a heart attack - one that took his life. Now, when I received the call, I was in shock. I know everyone says that - but my mother was so calm on the phone. (IDK how she does it - but that woman continues to surprise me in how she handles everything life throws at her) JW was out of town for work - so I had no one there to talk to. I called my best friend - who happens to be my cousin - and she listened as I cried. The next several days were dark for me - I don't remember them much. All I know is that I felt an immediate feeling of regret. I was home the weekend before for a concert and even told my mom I wasn't going to visit with my grandparents because I was going to be home for Thanksgiving and I'd have much more time to visit. This picture is from the last time I saw my grandpa in August. Look at that smile. :)
His services were very traditional. Mass of Christian Burial was held at his church with Father Mark preceding the service. Since the services were during the middle of a Monday morning, we didn't expect the crowd to be big - but it was quite the opposite. The turnout was remarkable. MUCH bigger than any of us could imagine - but that's how my grandpa was - he was larger than life. It was very touching to see so many people turn out and give their condolences.
During Father Mark's sermon, I couldn't help but smile. Father Mark knew my grandfather just from their time together in the church. He knew that my grandma was beside him for better or worse - good days and the not so good days. And she was. My grandparents were married for 58 loving years.
In this time of grief, I heard what Father Mark said and it made me smile from ear to ear. Love is real and those vows should be taken seriously. Its amazing what faith in a marriage can do - and that simply put - is what is inspiring me. Faith in marriage.
I will also say this. Looking back at old photos, it is so clear that my grandparents not only loved each other but they made a DECISION to always put their marriage first. They made a decision to love each other. And that, I really believe, is what faith in a marriage can do.