Eyes blurry, I found myself dazed waiting in the Gilda’s Club lobby while my wife was inside taking a Qigong class. My wife had recently been diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. She “beat” cancer six years prior, but it was returning like a two-headed monster. And it was bad.
Ever wonder what it’s like to be a caregiver for a loved one with cancer? Imagine you're riding in a plane (your life) without a care in the world and all of a sudden the pilot comes on the intercom and says, “folks, there’s something wrong with the plane (cancer) and we all have to exit. Exit the plane…” You mean jump and then free fall, hurtling towards the earth with no idea what you are doing or anybody there to guide you? Now you’re starting to get the idea of what it’s like in the first days and weeks of finding out a loved one was diagnosed with cancer and you have the responsibility of being their caregiver.
It was a normal, though slightly bleak, Sunday afternoon in April and caregivers came from across the metro area to leave our situations, challenges, and stresses behind us and focus on one thing: Who had the biggest WhirlyBalls of them all?
The quick answer: Bob.
But as with most things, it is the journey -- not the destination. So, join me in a little bit of stopping-to-smell-the-proverbial-flowers. (Which I might add, if it hadn’t been so cold all month there might have been a few more of in the ground.)
With a rare exception, none of the gathered caregivers had heard of WhirlyBalls and frankly did not start in the mood of competitive spirit. After signing waivers which none of us could really have completely read, we were provided a quick overview of this sport which was described to us as the long-lost love-child of bumper cars, lacrosse, and basketball.
I arrived early at the Common Roots Café for the March Jack’s event, Nintendo Switch Boot Camp. Kyle was setting up.
Alan was there as well and remembered me from a previous Jack's event. Nice. I must really make an impression, I thought, not knowing if it was good or bad.
Kyle started by introducing himself. He told us about Jack, a man who had ‘cut through it’ so many years earlier with his inspiring message of ‘Serving the Caregiver.' This was the mission of Jack’s Caregiver Coalition. This was why Kyle was here, and he served us well that afternoon.
He then introduced Merrick, his son, and our instructor. He wore camo and shades. He had his work cut out for him today. His mission: to teach a bunch of old, video-game challenged guys how to play Switch MarioKart.