Friday, September 9, 2011

A Few Words About The Most Amazing Friends and Family, Ever.

The Thanksgiving after Hanna's engagement to The Ninja, Dad sat the rest of us down, in true Jacob Marley fashion, to discuss his Vision of Christmases Yet To Come.

"As you guys get older and get married and especially after you have kids," he explained, "you'll discover that Christmas turns into a logistical nightmare. Everyone wants to see you within that same 4-5 hour window, so they can watch the kids open presents and stuff. So I'm going to make it easy on you by surrendering now. Instead of fighting to see everyone at the same time on Christmas Day, I'm staking out Christmas Eve. We can open family presents then and have dinner together, and then you can be free to do whatever else with whomever on the actual day. Your mother and I will go to the beach. Those of you who are free are more than welcome to join us."

To me, unmarried and childless with no real threats in either direction but a love for the beach almost as fierce as my hatred for winter, and a job (for KU) that let me travel between Christmas and New Year's, this was fantastic news. And for a couple of years, it worked out perfectly - we celebrated as a family Christmas Eve, then the rest of us would leave for the beach and Hanna would see to her in-law obligations in town. Then Mom's condition started getting worse and real life started getting in the way, and the Hodges Christmas Vacation, Dauphin Island Edition, was no more. 

Those last few family Christmases at Dauphin Island were, in fact, the last time my family traveled as a family. I see my family often, sure, but I miss the trips. So many good memories were made during those trips. So when Dad announced, shortly after my acceptance to Team Run2Remember, that he would come to NYC for marathon weekend, I was thrilled and my nerves about accepting such an enormous undertaking immediately began to recede. When he said he'd use his plethora of Southwest frequent flyer miles to buy a ticket for whomever of my siblings cared to join (duh - all of them!), the misgivings totally vanished and I started to get excited about another Hodges family vacation. The idea of a trip without Mom makes me sad, but the idea of a trip in her honor is the next best thing I could have hoped for.

So then, when some of my family's longest-time friends, Beth and Shane Coughlin and Tom and Gayle Baddeley, made plans to come join the party, it was icing on the cake. My best friend from high school, Megan, rearranged her plans to visit her boyfriend in NYC over marathon weekend so she could see me run, and the first friend I ever had, Elizabeth Baddeley, a grad student at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, is going to make me my first-ever race signs. And of course, Brian, the one who's seen the blood(y toenails), sweat (with the heat wave, a whole bunch), and tears behind each and every training run, will be making the trip with me and probably wishing he could run it, too. This, on top of the enormous outpouring of love and generosity I've received in response to my request for donations, has me thinking perhaps I was too pessimistic in my initial goal-setting for both running time AND fundraising. Two months out, I'm running better than I ever have, and at the moment, I'm sitting on a cool $5075 in donations - a mere $925 away from my goal of $6000.

Not bad for someone who's uncomfortable asking for money, right? Perhaps I'm warming up.

The other incredible thing about the donations I've been receiving is that although my fundraising has been immensely personal and geared mostly towards the people who know and love Mom and Grandma the best and most, 14% of my donations came from people who've never even MET Mom or Grandma and wanted to show their support for me and for the end of Alzheimer's Disease, and of those donations, 46% are from people who haven't even known me a year. (I even received a very surprising $25 online donation from someone I've never actually met!) I'm trying to come up with a good way to incorporate the names of all my donors - all my heroes - onto the back of my shirt. They carried me to the starting line; it would be my honor to carry their names on my back for the million or so spectators in New York City to respect and admire.

Seriously. Mom and Grandma would be proud. Of me, yes, but especially of all of you.

And in case anyone was wondering, it WAS Mom who schooled me in the fine art of a good thank you note. "It shouldn't be a form letter, it should come from your heart."

I received this photo (among others) along with a generous donation from Joe and Joanne Cox, Mom and Dad's roommates in Paris in 1976, when Dad was taking an international law class. This was also the trip they met my godfather, Uncle Jimmy (in the tie). Click to enlarge.

The city hasn't changed much...and I still have the most beautiful mom ever. :)

1 comment:

  1. I'm thrilled I can come watch you run and so proud of you for all your training and fundraising!