Monday, April 7, 2008

S for Strange, Sweet and Second Half.

Speaking of light (metals cleansing gone supercharged)... the 2nd day of this week week FedEx delivers this fabulous, top of the line, dream bike from SLaB sponsor GT. Yup, a "Zaskar Team". A hardtail (for those learning the bike ropes, this means it only has a front shock, not rear)... hardcore... top of the line... gorgeous... light bike, to balance out my hard core... light insides.

So far it's balancing out. 
I don't feel the energy to do any training, which I'm feeling the just over 2 weeks before the race jitters or wishing I had or could have prepped more. But I just got the cheating advantage of losing a few pounds off my bike, even though my previous machine was a top of the line gorgeous full suspension number - I am excited to have the advantage of the very latest and greatest for this "coming out of retirement" racing attempt.

So we've covered "L" in SLaB, or have we? I bribe a mechanic friend into doing the once over on my new bike, and into going for a quick spin up at a favorite trail called "Saratoga Gap". All well and good, fantastic little ride, and I can see some tweaks from a different saddle to handle bar adjustments to perfect the comfort. I arrive back home, and my husband gives me this strange look. "Gary Died" he says. I say "What?". 

L is for loss. Our next door neighbors are Cathy and Gary. Gary, a dear 50 year old man that only recently I have gotten to know, as we removed some overgrown shrubs that completely shielded our front lawns from each other. Learned he had a stroke this February when we saw Cathy at Whole Foods one night. Trouble fighting her tears as she shared that he has no strength on one side, and that he had fallen the day before, didn't have his phone, and remained on the floor the whole day. 

I asked what I could do to help, I'm working from home, and am RIGHT THERE... and can come visit and help anytime! So I begin 
stopping over at their house randomly. First stop, I hear a thump thump as I walk across our lawns to their door, and he had seen me coming, tried to get off the bed, and come to the door, and fell. Well the comedy resumed from there. Visualize a 5'6" girl, trying to lift a football playing, football coach 50 yr old probably 6 foot man that has no strength - up off the floor. I think we both laughed at the predicament, in his embarrassment and humbled, dear and frustrated world. We made it up, to his walker, and we got him settled in the living room to await the Physical therapist's arrival. The next times I checked in he was not stuck on the floor, and I would quiz him on when he would come riding with me, and that I looked forward to getting him on a bike, and his recovery. He kept saying he was missing football practice, which clearly bummed him out, and that he will come riding with me when he can.

I once went by, and was surprised that the door was locked, as they left it unlocked so I could enter if he couldn't answer it and was stuck somewhere. I went on my merry way, decided they would call if they needed me. As Cathy would call from work if he wasn't answering his phone.

Turns out around Easter he had a seizure and ended up in the Hospital. An infection took over his lungs, and that in this strange week, middle of the week, we lost an incredible inspiring man. He coached multiple sports at the local high-schools, and helped too numerous to mention young souls, to find a better path, keep positive, and not to quit. 

I only new him this winter/spring, and was sorry I didn't know him earlier, as he lived right next door. But I'm so thankful that the Universe introduced us, and that I got some intimate time with this inspiration.

I'm typing this Blog as cars are parked in front of both our houses, post the funeral today. We went to the wake last night, and I went to the funeral/burial today. I saw people trying to be Strong, I saw people praying to the light, I saw a beautiful community of family and students and friends. Huge groups of kids, girls basketball, boys track and football, and more. Dressed with effort, with respect and intent to be respectable to their mentor, their adopted dad, my neighbor. He was for sure smiling upon them, and still inspiring them to do better with their lives. I was overjoyed with the "love you brother" energy - the gospel singing of a The Jackson's song brought on a little portable - of "Good Times" - and Gary's brothers singing arm in arm. I  hesitated to go today, as I was feeling drained, and like I didn't need to be around more strangeness, and boy am I glad I went.

Not being of the "religious type", but believing in a higher energy, a power, mother nature - I was so touched by their faith, commitment, and strong love. I cried, I laughed, I wore my sunglasses for him (as he always wore them), and walked away, in the sunshine, with a group of folks wearing black behind me, and green green grass in front of me. Lucky to be alive, pretty darn well, and to have known and been a part of that and this community!

So now I leave you with Gary's motivation, and positive attitude. If his team was down 0-14 at half-time he'd say... you are going to go out and win this game in the 2nd half. Maybe I'll live to be 82, and that means, I need to go out and win this 2nd half! Not that I was losing in the 1st - just I have the opportunity to create my "2nd half". 

Gary, I'm going to plant that watermelon plant we talked about - with Cathy - where those darn shrubs used to be, and will ride my little tail off at the Sea Otter, hearing your positive coaching words.

Oh yeah - S for Sweet, L for Life, and B for Beautiful.

1 comment:

Alex said...

Bev, this is beautifully written.