July 14, 2012

Relay for Life 2012

Yesterday we had a blast at Relay for Life.  We've gone the past several years, but only to drop in, maybe walk a lap or two for our friend Monica's team, and spend a little money on some silly games in the name of cancer research.  But this year was surprisingly different.

Joe woke up feeling like he had a serious cold and said, "I'm not going to Relay.  I wouldn't even go to work if I didn't have a phone call that I just can't miss.  So I'm going to go in for a few hours and take care of business and then come back home and go to bed."  But by 11 the drugs had kicked in so he called and said he felt better and Relay for Life was back on! 

I knew we were going to camp out this year, but I assumed that we were still just going to go goof off, spend some money, and walk a couple of laps before going to bed and getting up and doing a little bit more of the same.

But as Joe walked laps and I asked Monica what the kids and I could help with, she said, "I don't know.  That's your booth.  Set it up, I guess."  Okay, then.  We suddenly had a booth, which I was standing in without even realizing.  Joe had brought his little putting green that he got for his new office, went out and bought prizes and made a poster with a reward scheme.  It was an ugly, dude-made sign with stuff scribbled out all over it, so my first line of action was to flip it over and remake the sign with a little art work and no scribbles. 

Hannah Jane set up the game and the table and by the time Joe got back we had his little dream booth up and running. It was totally fun to watch the kids get into "running a booth." Ultimately only 18 people came our booth before I left. But it was a blast.

We were supposed to make caregiver signs to hold up during the survivors lap, but I explained to Monica that I had never been anyone's direct caregiver, so I didn't have anything to write on a sign.  She said people made signs like, "I weeded your garden,"  "I made you laugh,"  and "I prayed for you."  Since we currently have 2 Baha'i friends dealing with cancer, I went with "I said the healing prayer a gazillion times."  Joe rolled his eyes and scoffed, "Baha'i propaganda!"  Haha!  But that was about the only way we've cared for anyone with cancer lately.  During the survivor lap, people who have survived cancer, from babies to old folks, put on their purple survivor shirts and walked the track to read the care giver signs.  It was really hard not to cry like a baby as they passed and looked right into your eyes and smiled.  Really made me consider how insignificant my problems are.

In the afternoon, a little girl who had played golf at our booth earlier came back by and just wanted to chill with me.  She was probably 3 or 4 and was wearing a shirt that said, "I want to have a bad hair day.  Fight childhood leukemia," and had a bald stick figure beside it.  I said, " I like your shirt.  Does someone in your family have leukemia?"  She shook her head like I was crazy.  Nope.  No leukemia in our family.  But one time sissy woke up and all her had had all fallen out and she cried because she looked like a boy."  Ahh...she just didn't know the work leukemia.  It was starting to make sense.  "Well did her hair grow back?" I asked.  She nodded a big nod and said, "Yup!  And now it's really really long and she looks like a princess!"  Seriously, there were so many cry-worthy moments.  It's a hard place to keep it together if you have any heart at all. 

While I was sitting there bossing the kids around and manning the putting green, my dearest gal pal strolled up and joined us for a spell before she headed to Feast.  Joe finally said, "You should go to Feast.  I've got the kids.  Just go and have fun and we'll see you when you get back."  So I gave kisses and headed off with Barb.  Just as we got to her car, a major wind whipped up and blew gravel bits against my legs that stung.  It was insane wind!  It really seemed like the wrong time to be leaving.

Feast hadn't even started yet when I got the call from Joe that Relay was being sort of evacuated due to the storm.  Apparently the canopies over all of the booths were being blown apart, putting people in danger of getting hit in the head with metal and pvc pipe.  So poor Joe had to get the kids through the storm to the truck, and then go back and pack up the tent, the cots, the food we packed for what we thought was going to be 2 days there, the putting green, and the prizes, all in high wind with canopies swirling around.  And then he went back to help Monica pack up the registration booth.  By the time I got home, the kids were fast asleep in a tent in the living room and Joe was all but passed out on the couch in front of a movie.  Poor guy.  I felt terrible about having left him in that weather, but thankfully he had a smile on his face and a laugh in his voice as he perked back up to tell me about the chaos. 

We were going to head back this morning, but his cold was back with a vengeance and so was mine.  I thought I had kicked mine days ago, but about 2am I was up shuffling around the house looking for relief in a cup of tea with honey and some pharmaceuticals. It's probably for the best that we didn't end up camping after all. 

Anyway, I was so proud of Joe for coming up with a theme and proactively doing something for his team's booth this year.  It was fun to see him get involved and get excited about it.  And he walked like a mad man in unusual humidity and heat for about 3 solid hours, since there were no other team members around.  The team showed back up around dinner time for a pot luck, and he sat to rest while other people made the laps.  He was just so stinking adorable out there, pushing himself in the heat, checking in on his little golf booth at each lap.  It was the most fun we've had as a family for quite a while.  Too bad we didn't make it back for part 2 today.  But I have a feeling we'll be back at it again next year!

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