Let me start by saying, I'm terrible at washers. Not a fan of the game to be honest, don't get it and don't care for it. Here is a list of other things I don't care for...country music or loud music or any combination of loud country music, not a fan. I also don't really enjoy picnic food and I hate being outside when it's hot or cold...or being outside in general. And since I'm being really honest with myself I must say, I truly don't like being away from my tv on a Saturday...Specifically, I don't like being away from my tv on the first Saturday in May as the Kentucky Derby runs that day...one would say that's God's day. Thou shall not do anything else then gamble and watch the ponies go round is somewhere in the bible I believe.
Having said that, I have Saturday, May 5th circled on my calendar so I can go play washers outside in the heat miles away from the nearest television while loud country music blares and as always, I can't wait to be a part of it!
So after that quick introduction, I already know what you are thinking...what a catch this guy is, how fast can I swipe right on my snap tweet face blog thing-a-ma-gig to meet this dreamy fella (do the kids still say dreamy, I'm asking for a friend)...regardless, sorry to disappoint you ladies, but I'm taken.
You are probably also thinking, why is this guy so excited to spend one of his favorite weekends of the year playing washers as it sounds as though he will be 2 and bar-b-que (for you fellow non redneck, softball/washer playing people reading this..."2 and bar-b-que" means someone that will play 2 games and lose both then will be designated to eating his/her lunch and calling it a day). I find the term catchy and use it all the time now. I fired a guy at work last week and used that term, he didn't get it...he didn't get much which is the reason he is no longer employed with us but that is neither here nor there...to answer your question of why I'm so fired up for May 5th to arrive is because on August 8th of this past year, cancer decided to make this event and this fight personal to me but I'll get to that in a minute.
It is funny how things change in life, I wasn't always this way, there are pictures of me fishing in the Colorado Mountains as a kid. We'd go horseback riding, hiking, and biking up the Rocky Mountains seemingly every summer and you know what...I hated it. So scratch that, nothing much has changed. Every time I look at those pictures I think to myself, the Denver Horse track and several Indian Casinos are just a few miles away...why the hell were we wasting our time fishing, you can buy fish at a store, in fact, add that to my list above, not a fan of fishing, not a fan of fish and certainly not a fan of hiking...Its several decades later but I can still picture my Mom yelling for me from outside our cabin...
"Hey Peter, I know it's cold and damp outside and no one can breathe in this mile high altitude but would you like to take a walk through the muddy forest that is on the side of a mountain and look at nature and stuff so we can increase our possibility of running into wild animals instead of watching your meaningless August Atlanta Braves baseball game"?
What simpler times. Boy I miss those days, where the only tough decision I had to make on any given summer day was deciding if it was worth my time to get up and walk all the way over to the tv to turn the channel to WGN to watch the Cubs game or should I just watch Ferris Bueller's Day Off for the 9th time..."9 times".
If you have not pegged me already, I obviously grew up in a very sheltered protected environment that turned me into the nonfishing, nonhunting, nonbuilding, nonfixing, nonadventure, noncooking, nondoing anything really man that I am today (seriously ladies, sorry, taken). But I wouldn't trade it for the world. I loved growing up sheltered and innocent, clueless of the world around me. In High School I remember a few of my friends making fun of my "All American" family..."Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, Apple Pie and the Riepes"...I know, I didn't get it either. But I didn't mind it. I loved that my Mom was some sort of character out of a 1950s sitcom and my Dad played the funny, smart, nerdy 9-5 working role to a tee. I grew up with two brothers all of us aged 3 years apart. Almost all of my favorite childhood memories are playing some sort of sport with them on the lot in between my house and my best friend Matt Nowak's home. I introduce that name to this story for two important reasons, first, he is the reason I have what I call my second family (the beautiful Darilek family). I have exactly 0 first cousins and both set of grandparents were a couple states away so I didn't have many family members around growing up but always felt like I did as we always worked our way into any Darilek family function. As most of you reading this know, it was always a fun party not to be missed.
I also introduce Matt to this story as we all knew that one kid growing up that in the middle of a game would get mad all of the sudden and take his ball and go home...To be clear, that was not Matt but I wanted to use that reference as that's what Cancer did to my friend Matt years down the road.
Hey Ohh! Sorry couldn't resist that joke, more on this in a minute.
I remember my first introduction to Cancer was when I was much younger and my Mom and Dad pulled my brothers and I into the kitchen to inform us that my teenaged second cousin, Clay Barton, had just passed away from cancer. His sister, Shara, would pass away from the same deadly disease just a few years later. As a parent of two children now, I can't even imagine going through something as horrific as what my Aunt and Uncle had to go through all those years ago.
Then several years later, I had to endure the pain of seeing my second family lose a beloved member of their family when Aunt Joyce (that's what I had the privilege of calling her) passed away after her long battle with Cancer. Leaving behind a young family of 8 children and a husband who has become the hero to a countless number of people including myself for his strength throughout.
Then another few years later that SOB Cancer showed its ugly head again, this time taking my Grand Father, the honorable Judge Patrick Kelly, robbing my children time to ever get to know him. I constantly tell my kids stories of all the times my brothers and I would go up to "Camp Kelly" each summer...here was one of the most powerful men in the state of Kansas serving us "soda pop" in his bathing suit, playing games in the pool like he was a teenager with my brothers and I and generally doing anything and everything in his power to make sure we knew we were loved.
The years after his death, I absolutely loved that my mother took over as "camp counselor" for her grandkids. She had that same goofy I'm not afraid to embarrass myself or you mentality that I absolutely adored. Mom had this special talent about her to make anyone and everyone feel so welcomed and loved. After she retired from her Teacher position in Waxahachie she uprooted her life to move back to the Houston area to be closer to her kids and grandchildren...I always loved that she did that and was secretly jealous of my kids for getting to spend so much time with their "camp counselor" compared to the once or twice a year I was able to get with mine at their age.
But that all came to a halt in June of this past year when my Mom called my brothers and I up to Conroe for "an emergency meeting"...Now I'm sure most of you have heard the term..."Cancer hits home with so many people as we all know someone that has been effected by Cancer"...With all due respect to my cousins and my Aunt Joyce, they both simply fell into this category to me based off of the I loved them from a far relationship that I had with them...Having said that, I hope none of you have to ever go through watching your own Mother muster up the strength to tell you that she has developed an aggressive form of cancer and the outlook does not look good.
As you can probably detect from the past tense I was using in the paragraphs above, my Mom lost her short, elegant to the very end battle with that ugly disease at the young age of 64 this past August.
I'm a 41 year old man and it is nearly a half a year later and there are many days I still walk around confused, angry, and in disbelief that it happened so fast. Life can be some damn unfair sometimes.
So why I am telling you all this? I'm telling you this because by my count (my cousins, my Aunt, my Grandfather, my friend's ball, my Mom, and countless others) for too long Cancer has been like the f'ng Harlem Globetrotters and we are the Washington Generals, undefeated against us all.
Cancer is like a bully in Jr High School, in fact, I specifically remember my Mom and I having a conversation about a bigger kid in my Jr High that use to pick on some kids (not me of course, because well...I'm me) but I remember talking to her about it and she looked me dead in the eye and said Peter, I don't like fighting but if anyone ever picks on you...you punch them right in the nose.
So that's what I'm doing Saturday, May 5th...In honor of my Mom...I'm attempting to fight back and punching cancer right in the nose.
Cancer it's your turn to be 2 and Bar-B-Que.
If you don't have plans and are able to join Team ReJoyce and I the weekend of Saturday, May 5th we could use as many people as possible to stand up and fight with us that weekend.