That's my Dad on the left, and my Uncle on the right.
I was born in 1965, my Mother was a victim of teenage pregnancy in her senior year of high school. Back then teenage pregnancy was virtually unheard of, but there I was. From what I can gather, they got married begrudgingly and was divorced two years later. I never had much contact with my Father, maybe a year visit around Christmas,....maybe not. And, he lived no more than 45 minutes away in a neighboring town. My Dad was the high school super jock, and local stud as he was a lifeguard at a very popular swimming hole back in his early days. From all accounts he was a self-centered, materialistic man. To this very day, I don't speak to him or see him unless I put forth the effort. This has always left me confused, and with a deep emotional scar. I could go on, but I won't...
Now, on the other hand there was my was my Uncle. The compassionate nerd who lived at home with his parents well into his thirties. He was an exceptional man to say the least. A straight "A" student in high school & college that choose a career in education. I believe he taught 5th grade and history was his thing,...he loved history ! While he was a mild mannered man, he was also adventurous. Once driving a mini pick-up truck ( converted into a one man camper) from Toledo to Alaska one Summer. Another Summer he went to Europe with nothing more than a backpack and a bicycle ( go figure ). And, as the story goes, he left many a impression on his students as he was a passionate man.
Anyways, he left home and moved to California, only to end up near his Brother in Nashville 20 years later. In all that time, whenever he cam home he made sure to get together with me. Wether it was just stopping by to say hi, getting lunch, or even coming to some of my hockey games. He always was there. As I got older, we would discuss my situation with me and my Father. Because for many years, I just didn't want to be bothered with the heartache as I would repeatedly reach out to the man only to never have my expectations realized. My uncle was a calm, rational man that helped me in many respects. A bridge to form a relationship with my Father, all be it with low expectations. He was also the keeper of so much family history,.....history now lost. The things he remembered and the stories he would tell were,....personally amazing to me.
When I started traveling I stopped by his house in Nashville for a few days. He had done well for himself. 15 years in California had left him finically set from a housing point of view. When he sold his place out there he quadrupled his money, so he was able to buy a huge place in TN with cash. He had a wife and two young daughters, he started having kids later in life,...his mid to late 40's. Maybe later,...I'm fuzzing on the details. Anyways it was a nice visit and we proceed on to Texas after that. From there we went to,...where else, Florida. I called him upon our arrival to check in and it was there I was informed about him having cancer. Having not yet found employee in florida I dropped everything and made my way back to TN. He told he he just didn't have the energy to take his kids trick or treating. That seemed to mean the world to him that I could come there and do all things halloween for his kids.
It was nothing to me, as a matter of fact I gladly offered to do anything he asked. I was glad to help, and grateful I was able to do so. He was optimistic about beating cancer from what he heard from his doctor, but it wasn't to be. He lost his battle not more than a month later. I miss him. Where my father was absent, he was there. A caring man want nothing but the best for me, and trying to help fill the void left by my own Father.
So,... cancer is a bitch for taking him from me, and more importantly his Wife and children. But, where this is my story, it is not unique. Cancer has affected many of us. I see it everyday as I working in long term care facilities as a therapist. So, I will ride. And ride long ! If any of you has every been on a road bike, you know that 100 miles doesn't come easy. Nor will the 70 miles the following day I plan to ride. I don't do it alone, I do it with memories of love ones lost. Not just mine,....everyones ! So,...if you are able please help out because together "we can beat cancer, one mile at a time".
Griffin AKA Ohiofinfan4life