ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is the worst. Those afflicted maintain all of their intellectual capability and senses as they observe their own body betraying them, relentlessly shutting down, system by system. Over the course of a couple of years they loose the ability to walk, then talk, then eat, then breath. Along the way their family becomes ever more stressed by the ever increasing demands on them, physically and emotionally, as caretakers.
And yet you see the heroic, and I do not use that world lightly, strength in both those with the disease and those caring for them. The family that raised the most money and had the biggest representation at this particular Hampton Roads fundraising walk had already lost their loved one to ALS years before, and yet here they were, walking in his memory and in the hope of a cure for those still fighting. The primary speaker, an elementary school teacher diagnosed before she was 30, spoke with hope, optimism, humor, and fearlessness to kick off the event.
This is supposed to be about hope and love, but I want to hit at something else, something that perhaps we have all encountered or struggled with: where does the support flow from and to in situations of tragedy? I am not a Christian. I don’t hold out hope for an afterlife. But I have the greatest respect for certain Christian writers who have had significant effect on my perspectives and opinions.
Specifically, Fred Clarke, writing at Patheos, nailed something important in his post on this subject: support flows inward. Imagine a set of concentric circles, like a target, with the actual victim at the center, her immediate family in the first ring, her closest friends and other family in the next ring, etc and outward. From where and to where does the support flow? It must flow inward. To the victim, to her family. No one should expect the victim or her family to provide you, somewhere on the outside, with some sort of support, or even thanks for you support. It is not about you, it is about them.
Enough of that. We had a great visit; it’s always great to hang out with Linda’s big and growing family. All three of her boys, Chris, Junior, and Nathaniel, are still in the Norfolk area, though Chris is soon to transfer to Illinois. Between them Linda now has ten grandchildren, which certainly makes for an interesting house when a group of them come over. The walk itself was a great and successful event. Linda’s friends and family came from near and far to show support, and Amy, Chris’ wife, sang the national anthem. Though we may be a bit biased, she did so a beautiful job.
As for the usual: we stayed one night at Twin Lakes RV Resort on the way to Norfolk. It was a perfectly serviceable park on the Passport-America list that provided full hook ups and a pull through site for $30. We then stayed five nights at the Little Creek Joint Expeditionary Base Campground, one of five military parks in the area. Of the three at which we have stayed, this is so far our top choice.
If you are of a mind to donate to ALS research, treatment, and palliative care, you have many options: Team Linda is one of them.