Many of you, particularly my social media friends, have already seen this story, but I’m sharing it here to reach a wider audience to celebrate the love that has been showered on my friends. To those who are familiar with my friend Kellee, her battle with cancer and her journey to Disney, I ask you to continue spreading this type of joy. To those who are just now discovering this tale, I realize what follows is lengthy, but the payoff is worth it as, at least for me, it has helped reaffirm my faith in humanity.
Today marks the end of No Shave November, the annual month for men to grow facial hair as a way to promote awareness of men’s cancers (or, most likely, a chance for men to be lazy and not worry about a razor for 30 days).
My parents hadn’t given up on me, even though by all accounts they probably should have. I hated them, for no good reason, other than the fact I was in my early 20s and they weren’t.
They tried to reach out to me. I refused, time and again.
Then someone reached out to them, they graciously accepted the offer and I was fortunately too young and dumb to realize I was being parented by proxy. I’m not sure when Norman Watson called my mom, telling her he’d talk to me, try to make me be less angry, less sullen, less bratty, less negative.
I’m just glad he did.
I knew I made the right choice exactly 74 seconds into my run.
Prior to Saturday’s annual Powell County Kiwanis Club 5K at Natural Bridge, I had debated which album to play during the race, wondering if I should listen to the old standby Born to Run, which would help me focus more on lyrics and music and less on pavement and burning lungs.
Just 74 seconds into the race (I had fast-forwarded through some introductory ambient sounds), running as the morning sun slipped through the trees, the lyrics kicked in and I smiled. Continue reading
On May 7, I’m going to once again take part in the Powell County Kiwanis Club’s annual 5K at Natural Bridge. Last year, I did it as a goof, mainly proving to myself that I could do it. This year, I have a deeper reason: I’m running to raise money for Powell County’s Relay for Life, in memory of my late friend, the inestimable Norman Watson.
If you feel like making a charitable donation (I think it’s likely tax-deductible, too, but I’m not an accountant, so you probably want to double-check that), please message me to work out the arrangements. You can sponsor me per mile (3.2 in total) or K (5, duh), by time (last year I finished in 29:53, so you can put money on me beating it) or any other way you choose.
Thanks for considering this.
We buried Norman today.
His friends and family gathered in Stanton for his funeral, and I’m fortunate enough to have been invited to be part of the service, both as a speaker and as a pallbearer. It was a touching tribute with kind words being shared about the man (or, perhaps more appropriately, The Man) we all loved so much. I was especially fond of his son-in-law Barry’s talk, which included a quote from Yoda (“Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed that is.”) and this essay by Robert Hastings called “The Station”:
My emotions will be running high the next few days as I head back to Powell County for the visitation and funeral of my friend Norman, who died early Sunday morning following a battle with cancer. As usual in times like this, I’ll turn to my favorite counselors to help guide me through. I’ll be relying on names like Springsteen and Tweedy, Lennon/McCartney and Earle.
The text from his daughter arrived early this morning.
My friend Norman died at about 1:30 a.m. June 28, taking him on to the next part of his journey. Today, I’m thankful not only for Norman’s life but also because he got the chance to say farewell. He got the chance to celebrate his life with his loved ones, and in doing so, gave us one final opportunity to let him know the impact he has had on us.
The sign, black magic marker lettering on pink construction paper, tells you everything you need to know about how he has handled his life.
And for Norman, as he sits up in his bed, sucking on a piece of ice, the sign tells you more about how he is handling his death.
Norman has cancer, which started in his stomach and has spread to inoperable levels in other parts of his body. He is dying.