Preparing to join the Dark Side

SWDS medalsMy dad was very proud of me and my sister for our dedication to running. We both won some local awards and he told EVERYBODY. That’s how I know he’d be very excited about our new adventure.

We’ll spend our next sister weekend running in the Dark Side Challenge at Walt Disney World. Five weeks to go!

This will be our first challenge – 10k one day, half marathon the next. Plenty of good food and wine, and nerds. Like me.

I saw the original Star Wars in the theater, and it has remained my favorite movie. The characters have been a part of my life since I can remember. They’re my fantasy family. I was less than thrilled that the Empire Strikes Back, and couldn’t wait for the Return of the Jedi. I really needed to see Luke again. No joke. I don’t have a brother. I have Luke.

So yeah, my sis and I will be in costume. Nothing elaborate. I’ve seen that picture of the runner dressed as the Death Star, wearing a big spherical object. Or the other runner with the keyboard attached to portray the member of the Cantina Band. Our costumes will be a lot simpler. But my love of Star Wars is unconditional, and I’m so excited to be part of the inaugural Dark Side weekend at WDW.

I’m also REALLY looking forward to sampling the food and wine at the Flower and Garden Festival.

Most of all, can’t wait to get my Grand Marnier slushie near France. My personal favorite beverage in all of Disney World. Just don’t ask me to talk about the musical Billy Elliot after I imbibe, because it’s very hard to correctly say all of those syllables! It’s like saying “sea anemone” or “scientists.” It’s hard to know when to stop pronouncing those repetitive sounds.

I miss you, Disney World. See you soon.

Grief and living

N&G.exportingMy father died 9 days ago. He had a massive heart attack on Jan. 14 and then spent 50 days in ICU. Here are the lessons I’ve learned from this experience and from his life.

*You build a legacy through simple things like keeping family close and living with nature. We owe our beautiful life in the woods to him. He brought us up in the country and asked us to visit often, and eventually we moved onto his property and built a house of our own. My sister’s family lives less than an hour away and often stay with us. Her kids and mine are close friends/cousins, and we celebrate every birthday and holiday together. We have an amazing web of support and love, and I am unfathomably grateful for it.

*Humor is vital to life. My dad was a stellar patient. Determined, tolerant, and congenial. I was honored to be a family member of such a man. But he also laughed at the weird and unpleasant moments of hospitalization (and there were many). His eyebrow expressions became some of our favorite moments of the day. He couldn’t always talk due to some of the procedures, but he showed us how he felt with his eyes. And he cracked us up. The world is a weird, sometimes unpleasant, and remarkable place. Find something to enjoy.

*Never stop taking care of others. He tried to make the jobs of the staff members easier whenever he could. He worried about us and would send us home or to work when he thought we were tired. He also helped us understand that there is no bottom to the vast well of time and care that you want to give to those you love.

*Do what you love and SHARE IT. He often asked about his “babies,” his grandchildren. He was so concerned that they are happy in their pursuits. He wanted them to find what they’re good at, to work at it, and to contribute to their world through their gifts.

My dad never believed he would live a long life. His parents both died before he was 20 years old. He was incredibly thankful for his family and his home, and he told us so every day. I still imagine that he’ll be sitting at his computer, working on a new story when I walk over to my parents’ house. But I know with every fiber of my soul that he is standing right now beside his mother and father and sister. And he is still taking care of us.