Sunday, November 13, 2005

Missing Someone You Never Met

Yesterday afternoon I watched the NBC coverage of the 2005 Ironman World Championship that takes place in Hawaii. Of course they had the personal interest stories that all good sport coverage takes care of. They really all bring a tear to your eye...but there was one of personal interst to me, Jonathan S. Blais. Jon was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gerig's disease) in May, but decided to compete in this years Ironman competition. My grandmother (my Dad's mom) died of this disease when I was 9 months old. I have heard so many stories, and seen so many pictures of her that I really wish that I would have had the chance to meet her...at least at an age when I would remember meeting her. When my Dad talks about her, I feel that he is telling a story that I could envision myself doing. For example, she used to play in a volleyball league at the junior high one evening during the week, that is until she found out that her daughter and all her friends called it the "old ladies gym club" (or something to that effect). So she never went again.

She was also an avid bowler (as Dad says, "I didn't see my mom one Friday night my entire childhood"). My dad and stepmom recently moved out of their house and onto their sailboat (read about their adventures here) and of course I got a lot of stuff since they cannot take it with them (which is great for my tiny 1 bedroom apartment) . But he said, "Do you want my mom's bowling ball? It has her initials on it" I said, "Sure, how heavy is it," thinking that I could use it when I went to play. He said, "16 lbs". I guess when she went to buy it they asked her how heavy of a ball she wanted, she asked how heavy do they get, they said 16 lbs, she said I'll take that.

She was 5'11" tall and wore size 10.5 size shoes. These are exactly my propotions (well 10.5 for running shoes 10 on all others). Apparently her good friend once gave her bowling shoes for Christmas, size 7.5. When my grandmother asked what the hell was wrong with her as obviously these weren't going to fit her, her friend told her that she just wanted to see her have to return them for a bigger size...a bigger size by 3, not just a half a size or something.

I think it was very hard for my grandfather see his wife take the turn that she did with the disease. I don't know if I could imagine watching someone that I loved who was so active in sports and life in general get a disease which cuts off your ability to move. He told me that they had stopped at a restaurant and she couldn't walk up the stairs to the entrace and had to go through the kitchen entrance. He said that's when he realized that something was really wrong.

I grew up Ukranian Catholic and when I couldn't sleep or something, my mom would say, pray or talk to God or whatever. Well I never really was into the God thing, but I would try and talk to my grandmother. I always thought that she was watching me and just hanging out. I am sad that I only know her through the stories and not her personally. I think that we would have been good friends if she were still alive.

As far as grandparents go I am pretty lucky as my other 3 are still alive and are 3 people that are truly spectacular. They have lived lives and come from a time that I can't even fathom. But after watching the Jon Brais complete an Ironman with this horrific disease I cannot help but to think of Lucille Welty, a woman that I never got to meet, but miss all the time.

1 comment:

partyrunner said...

that's a sweet post. people you admire aren't always the ones tv zooms in on. they're our grandmas, friends, sisters, etc...

and im so bummed i missed the telecast!