Its been a tough winter here in Beeson Camp. Off-season training has certainly taken more of a back seat than usual. Our weather hasn’t been nearly as bad as the midwest, east coast, or even southeast. But we’ve had an unprecedented run (for my life) of other life-events that have left me preoccupied with lots of things other than triathlon racing and training.
My grandparents (mom’s parents) health had been in decline for quite a while and in early November my grandma passed away. I think it would be best described as natural causes. We knew it was coming, but it didn’t really make it any easier. It’s always great to spend time with family and friends at the Holidays, but it seemed even more important this year.
Then my grandpa passed away in early January, also of natural causes. I’m happy that they were at home and comfortable until the very end. But very sad that they are gone. I spent A LOT of time with them growing up. I worked on the farm with Grandpa every day of every summer beginning after 5th grade and continuing until I went away to college. Technically, Grandpa was ‘retired’ those last two summers, but I saw them every day for lunch if nothing else. I feel very fortunate to have had that time with them. Grandpa especially, has always been, and continues to be a major influence in my life.
I guess I should count my blessings that I’ve made it to 38 years old without having to deal with many of these things. I’m really not sure if I’m better, or worse, equipped to handle them now than people who deal with them earlier in life. But when it rains it pours.
The day after Grandpa’s funeral another round of terrible news arrived: my Rev3 teammate, David, had suffered a terrible accident at home. He would die a day later. I suppose it was the timing, but it hit me pretty hard. We had a lot in common, similar age, married, no children. At the time, I was spending a few extra days at home helping my mom and uncle begin dealing with my grandparents estate. I thought a lot about his wife and the importance of having your affairs in order.
I’m thankful for the sound advice I received several years ago and feel compelled to pass it on. Have a will prepared. The unpleasant nature of such things is no excuse for burdening your survivors with the uncertainty and legal headache that will certainly ensue. Grant someone the power to make medical decisions for you, and make sure they understand your wishes, in the event that you cannot communicate for yourself. Make sure that the same someone will have access to your financial resources to pay for your care if you are incapacitated. Once you do it, don’t forget to update it. And that’s enough of that, just do it.
I returned home to find a belated Christmas card/letter from a childhood friend of mine (and college friend of my wife’s). It stated, in a very factual, and surprisingly positive way, that his wife has been diagnosed with ALS. That most ALS patients can expect to live 3-5 years. But that because other health issues, she has likely been living with undiagnosed ALS for 1-3 years. While I was amazed and encouraged by their family’s attitude toward the diagnosis, it was a really hard week for me.
I’ve tried to process these events individually, give them their due, do what I can, not rush things, etc. But normal creeps back in, whether you think it should, or not. Generally speaking, ‘back to normal’ is a good thing. I think. Training certainly helps, especially when its going well. There has been time for a few fun training outings this winter too. Planning races and booking travel help too. I hope to get caught up writing about those in the next couple weeks as well.
As for now, my mom is in the hospital with a serious intestinal infection. Things could get a lot more serious if they have to operate before they can get the infection under control. Obviously, we’re hoping for the best. They say bad things come in three’s. I’m not sure when I’m supposed to start/stop counting, so I’ve decided not to count at all. I think I’ll go for a ride instead.