Thursday, January 31, 2008

Remembering Hal

I post many kinds of pictures here, many of them having not much to do with training to walk 60 miles. This is one such photo. Pictured above, in December of 2006 with us in Philadelphia, are Naomi and Harold Schedl. She is an artist, a painter, a native of South Africa, who taught for many years at the University of Iowa. He is one of the most kind persons you could ever meet. You can see that in his face, in that open smile, and from the eyes. He is also a physician, former head of Internal Medicine at the University of Iowa Medical Center. Their oldest son Paul is married to my sister, Mary. And Leroy and I have known them for 40 years. Though we are related only indirectly, I certainly have thought of them as part of our extended family and as close friends -- of the type that you simply pick up the earlier conversations with when you do meet. We have stayed in their home, know all their boys, and share so many interwoven memories.

Naomi told me last night that the two of them had been out cross country skiing last Friday, Saturday and Sunday. That's entirely typical of the active inquiring life they have led since retirement. He and Naomi had breakfast together yesterday morning (he cooked, his job) and then she went off and came back around noon, to find him on the floor, still breathing but unable hear her. He had suffered a massive cerebral hemorrage. Not a bad way to go, all things considered, given, as she said that he had no desire to ever live in an assisted living center. The boys and their families are with Naomi now, and Hal was taken off life support systems earlier tonight. He will be missed by many more people than myself to whom he was first of all kind and courteous, and then whose medical problems he solved -- or to the medical students he taught over the years, many of whom practice with the same form of humanity as he did. I will especially miss the charming long narratives, wonderful stories he could tell, always with humor and an ear for the absurd.

Of him and his many kindnesses to her, my mother once said, "I think of Hal as a prince among men." She was right, and oh how we will miss him.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Ready to rumble.

I just finished sending out emails for support on this year's walk, and I've already had over $900 donated online. I'm shooting for $30,000 this year, and hoping to have close to half of it by SuperBowl Sunday, which is the first day we train.

The photo above is from the first day of last year's walk. The woman in the wheelchair is but one of hundreds of folks who held up signs like this as we walked in their neighborhoods. If she could have walked, she would have done so. This was a recurring scene over all three days, reminding us why we walked: little girls serving us at handmade lemonade stands...surgeons waving at their patients from the whose wives were memories only making us laugh as we passed by...cops saluting us...the guy with the "save the coconuts" stand, wearing coconuts...everyone thanking us. Emotions entwined with fierce commitment make this endurance event possible.

Monday, January 21, 2008

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Martin Luther King Jr.

I remember how far I walked that day: the heat and the mud, the mind-numbing number of people, and the way his words lifted us up. Then and now.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Start me up!

Here we are coming into Memorial Stadium for 2007 closing ceremonies. You can recognize the Kindred Spirits team at 100 strong by the pink thunder sticks we are waving over our heads. Penny Kellam has led this team for several years and has completed 8 walks, after recovering from both cervical and uterine cancer diagnoses in 1998. She will do both the Seattle and the San Diego walks this year. Here's an excerpt from her diary, the easiest way to show why she is our leader.

"The understanding of what I had almost lost to cancer came to me on the top of a nearly deserted ski run a couple seasons ago. It was a cold, clear morning - the first time I'd been able to get back to the mountain since my surgeries. I stood on top of the run looking across the valley to the mountains. The sun was shining, the wind was calm and I was one of the first to come down this particular run. It was one of those moments of perfect calm that don't happen nearly enough. Looking around it came to me in a rush just how fortunate I was to be standing there. I had been given a second chance on life. Suddenly the things that are really important to me came into clear focus - my family, friends and the opportunity to experience every single thing that makes up our life. This moment of clarity continues to impact the decisions I make every day. I share this experience with you because the only reason I was able to stand on top of that mountain was the early detection and quick treatment of my cancers. Without that the cancers would have spread and my choices would have been much more limited. Early detection quite literally saved my life. I want everyone to have the same opportunity to be screened and treated if necessary. Screening is so important and unfortunately not nearly as accessible as it needs to be."

Penny's invited us to a kickoff walk on SuperBowl Sunday and just posted up the training schedule for 2008. Seeing everyone early in February is a great way to cement us together, recommitting to the basis for this walk: to find a cure for breast cancer and, until we do, to keep raising monies for early screening, detection and research.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Cassandra and Sabrina

Meet two women I've been honored to know for nearly 40 years: my stepdaughters, Cassandra and Sabrina, who both live in Phoenix. These are their 2007 holiday photos.

Cassandra is a professional soprano, who sings with the Phoenix Bach Choir and Conspirare, and records Grammy-nominated albums with both. She sells real estate on the side with her husband Richard, who also composes and arranges music. They have three children: Matthew (right), Jeremy (left), and Rachel, next to her mother. Not surprisingly, they are all musical.

Sabrina has taken her work in psychology and statistics and become an outstanding entrepreneur in the areas of into home design and architecture -- note the building behind the family in the photo, which she envisioned and imagined and oversaw every detail of. She and her husband Reed head a large home building company, and have three equally amazing children: Alexander (right), Katie (front), and William, gifted musicians and athletes.
We're looking forward to late February, when all four of us spend a weekend with them in Phoenix.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

"The ancestor of every action is a thought." Emerson

I am back on my regular asthma medication and pleased to report that walking two miles this morning did not cause me to cough. I took it easy, with lots of stretching and a steady gait, so that I can do it again tomorrow morning.

Everything is possible when you walk.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Suck it up.

It's been a hard slough since we got back. My wheezing increased, and the cough caused a lot of pain. Evidently cold air and airport floors are not good for asthmatics. Dr. Harris put me on prednisone on Thursday last, and some of the symptoms have receeded. I go back to work tomorrow. Hoping that it will accelerate recovery, I've started today on an ultrasimple diet of brown rice, steamed vegetables, salads, broth and soy shakes. It should clean out the gunk.

It's hard to think of yourself as an athlete when coughing bends you over.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Takin' the long way home...

We had a good amount of time on Sunday before we flew, for Leroy and James and Lauren to load up at the conference's book exhibit, and then to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art on the north end of Michigan Aveneue, as well as as incredible full floor of eating called "Food Life" in the new Water Tower Building. Our trip back to Seattle took longer than expected. The plane was late out of Chicago, then we sat on the next plane in Las Vegas an extra 30 minutes or so before they decided that an "operational hold" had been put on the flight. We spent the rest of the night in the airport, with improvised sleeping spots -- and came back on New Year's Eve around 2pm to sunlight, and soft air.