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A Walk Back in Time

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As I round the final turn of my fifth mile, luminarias illuminate the track like the Vegas strip, encircling those walking for the fight against cancer. The luminarias overshadowing the bleachers in the far field spell out “HOPE.” Their vibrant orange lights permeate the night sky. Beyond the chirps of grasshoppers and the faint steps of relayers’, I spot the luminaria devoted to the distant memory of my grandmother, Bubby.
Bubby despised wearing wigs; she would often ransack stores to find one that would match her fashionable styles. When her opinion of her wig changed, she resorted to a salon for help. I recall peering through the reflection of a mirror as she attempted to have a hair dresser style her wig. The hairstylist permed and dressed up Bubby’s wig with a look of skepticism at the job asked of her. The wig shifted on her head as the hairdresser worked; yet, Bubby slid it back indifferently. I remember her newly transformed brown and curly hair as we left the salon, and Bubby’s dissatisfaction regardless of the new style. She realized the folly in her efforts later that day, and threw the wig in her closet: no more wigs for Bubby!

As I come back to the relay from the memory of my grandmother, I pass by the luminaria reading “In memory of Bubby, Love Sheri, Richie, Dan, Brandon, and Brady.” Fond recollections inundated my thoughts. Pride and fulfillment overcome my mind as I sense my grandmother’s presence from above. Reacquainted with her once again, I cannot help but unearth the abundance of jubilant moments we shared. The pleasant memories circle inside my head, increasing as I circle the track lap by lap.

Originally I took on this event simply as a resume-filler, but it became so much more. I lead a team at the Relay for Life for the same reason the American Cancer Society holds these events every year: to celebrate, to remember, and to fight back. I celebrate my grandmother’s life, remember the joyous moments we shared, and support the fight against cancer in memory of her. I feel it is important to hold onto the memories of those close to us so that their battles will not be forgotten.

An image of Bubby’s house on a frigid winter day stands out as a cool breeze blows across the track. Cast Away played on the flat screen TV as we relaxed into her welcoming couch. The aroma of hot chocolate wafted through the room. Her home was as dark as a theater; the only light streamed from the television in front of us. While we watched the film and spent time together, I enjoyed the repose. I lived for times like these. My grandmother and I did not know it then, but such leisurely occasions we shared comprise my memories of her.

Those memories are still with me four years later; I live to remember and will never forget. As Bubby’s headstone reads, “To live in the hearts of those we love is never to be gone.” Those we lost will continue to live through our memories of them. This relay proved to be a walk back in time for me, allowing me to uncover distant recollections of my grandmother and reconnect with her. These flashbacks of Bubby while walking the track were times spent alone with her once more. Those moments of solitude I enjoyed while making my way around the track were like spending time alone with Bubby all over again.

What I got out of this event was much more than a spot to fill up my resume. The relay for life opened my eyes to the fragility of life. Seeing the hundreds of lives represented by the luminarias that lined the track I was faced with how important this event truly is in the lives of so many people. Each of the luminarias around the track represented a Bubby to somebody else. The Relay for Life instilled in me the realization that so many lives have been touched by cancer, and that I am not alone. I look back on this event with the hope that one day the lives of those touched by cancer will not have to be lit up by a candle, but instead lit with life.

I approach the final hundred meters of the final lap, spotting the luminaria in my grandmother’s remembrance one last time. Her existence in my memories will never be forgotten; she will live on in those she loved. I will remember.





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karyn said...
Apr. 15, 2011 at 7:54 pm
Just beautiful!!!!  To me she as "Cousin Gail"  My second mother and my mentor.
 
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