“Care? Care Tuk? Is this you?” I heard a young man’s voice on the other end. “This is Nathan. Remember me? ”
I was sitting on my recliner, trying to make some semblance of things swirling around me when the phone call jolted me back to the present.
“I searched for you and I had a strong memory and I just HAD to check to see if I was remembering it right,: he said.
It was during swim team practice and right in the middle of it, during drills, suddenly you acted like you were drowning. The COACH drowning. You were kicking everyone away, battling (of course, I was doing this on purpose, with a not known to them drill of what to do if one of their fellow team-mates or other swimmer got a cramp/too tired, etc and needed help, what would they do).
You were flailing and pushing everyone away. When it was all over, you looked around at us (about 30 kids, age 7-17) and said sternly: “Who WAS that who came underneath my legs? Who was that?”
I was too scared to ever answer. But you went on to say that whoever that was who must have taken a deep breath, gone to the bottom of the deep end of pool and pushed off, CATAPULTED ME (remember, I’m 5’8″ and well we’ll leave the other alone :0)) up out of the water, to where 2 girls had grabbed the shepherd’s crook pole and life ring to throw to me.
I just called to tell you it was me. And I want to thank you for putting up with me – I know I was a hand-full when I was that age (he was probably 9 or 10 – and yes, he WAS a hand-full! But how do you NOT love a stinker with a sparkle of mischievousness in his eyes?!)
I loved coaching. It is one of the highlights of my life. It was a ‘tweener’ job, taken after I was rehabbing after the car accident, and couldn’t go back to being an occupational therapist yet. It was ‘therapy’ for me – plus because of the kids and the entire pool staff who touched my life during that time taught me more than they may ever never know.
So – remember that. What you do today, some 25 years later you may hear your name being questioned at the end of a telephone, cell phone, computer, Ipad or who knows what by that time!
YOU make a difference.
And by the way – thanks for the catapult, Nathan – I was getting tired fending off all you water rats!
He is now 34 and living in MN.
The last month I have had the honor and privlege of participating in several Relay For Life’s, the signature fund-raising event for the American Cancer Society. WOW! Did Juneau ever roll the red carpet out for me!! What a BLAST!! And I even brought some of our sun (although not as warm!!)
I’ve had the honor to walk in survivor/care-giver walks, (the most special was with my blue haired mohawked son!!) I’ve been honored to speak at a survivor’s dinners and to experience Relay in several other communities other than my own.
I have to say, in ALL my years of Relaying, I have NEVER felt so honored as a survivor as I did this year. PT Jean as I call her, and her co-horts went above and beyond, starting with a dinner at the Elk’s Lodge on a beautiful evening, with an over-flowing crowd, to goodie bags, to words of wisdom shared by her sister’s book “Fight with Cowgirl Spirit”. Her sister had fought a valiant battle with cancer and we remembered her as we do all our fallen loved ones to this ugly disease during the luminaria service.
We got a chance to honor survivors and caregivers – like Connor and Carson Dunham whose family and friends still keep his team going even though he had to move to Seattle to be closer to treatment. I feel it is SO important to NOT forget the caregivers – like the parents and the siblings – as I feel THEY have the harder job as we fight this ugly disease. It was fun to hear some of their answers and we learned much from kids who have had to grow up much faster than they should have to because of cancer. The family was able to make the trip up this year to join us for Relay, and thus I had the pleasure of “interviewing” the two squirts. Connor has been fighting ALL leukemia since he has been two. He is now 9!! THAT’S another thing Relay For Life does – monies raised goes for RESEARCH to keep kids like Connor and geezers like me still around!!
This year was a bit bittersweet for me and many at Relay. My co-captain of Team Leon and Care’s Fight for Life, and my co-hort in Kingdom Capers and mischief, waltzed into the gates of Heaven, after St. Peter gave him the nod, the day before Relay – yes, the day I spoke at the Survivor’s dinner and “interviewed” Connor and Carson. He too, had fought valiantly – brain cancer or glioblastoma multiforme.
All of this has given me more reasons, for as long as I have breath to remind people of the 1-800-227 (ACS)-2345 phone number where you can talk to a LIVE person 24/7 to get help, resources and more and to direct folks to http://www.cancer.org , the American Cancer Society website. This is the 100th Anniversary of the American Cancer Society. We’ve come a long way, baby……and THIS is the century to FIND THE CURE and yes, even ACS has said, they would be willing to be put out of business if that were to happen!!
So find a Relay in your area – check it out – go have some fun – see friends, co-workers and community members, students, teachers and neighbors who are all joining to REMEMBER! CELEBRATE but mostly FIGHT BACK!! Together we CAN do it!!
Now on to the next Relay: Relay at Sea going from Seattle to Skagway, to Ketchikan, to Juneau, to Victoria, BC and back to Seattle the end of August. I’m working hard on fund-raising (separate from funds raised for “regular” ACS/Relay For Life – I have to find SOME way to get on that ship and educate, bring awareness and show others what it is like in Alaska and how different the battle is when we fight up here. (If you are interested in helping you can email me at email@example.com) I have a 3rd generation Aleut elder who has hand-made 2 beautiful survivor/caregiver kuspuks to helpi in the fund-raising efforts; I am taking donations (YOU choose what you want to donate!!) until August 1st, when 2 lucky people will find themselves with amazing ceremonial kuspuks – an heirloom for sure,
The dog days of summer have definitely arrived – and while yes, it is still flooding (we are going on our 3rd week of our road being under water at the start of the 4 miles drive to the house) and yes, Care’s Corner is daily being ‘remodeled’ as we lose more trees, add more gravel bars and watch Nature’s do what has been done for millenniums, one thing hasn’t changed…….Best Buddies.
What a joy to see Bill and Bubba and they 4 wheel around the hay-field or through the back 10 to check out the ‘remodel’. Notice where Bubba’s arm is – making sure Bill knows for SURE just WHO is the “alpha male”!!
We beat a heat record yesterday – 91 degrees – yep here in Wasilla!! Today it’s a measly 90 so far, but the winds have been blasting thru at about 25 mph – which makes getting hit by mosquitoes large enough to carry me off painful when they hit you sideways!! But ohhhhhhh you don’t hear us complain about our tans – especially when it was just a short 16 days ago we had 6″ of snow on tbe ground!! Microwave s’mores for now – burn ban…..!!! Blessings still!
Care Tuk is a nationally known speaker, educator, and retreat/workshop leader. She has been a school, hospital, and home health occupational therapist for more than 30 years. She has been named as a Top Business Woman in America and recognized for her work with youth, disability outreach and awareness, and the American Cancer Society.