I want to say a little about our family, and, in particular, my sister Laura. We have three other sisters, and two brothers as well. Seven kids total; I am the oldest and Laura is smack in the middle.
Ours was a nontraditional family in just about every sense of the word. The first time I met Laura, she was standing on our front stoop with her younger sister Diana and their mother (or mama, as she liked to be called). Her Mama’s name was Carolyn, and she had just started dating our divorced father. On that day my brother John, sister Bink and I were meeting the three of them for the first time. Carolyn’s first words to me were “man, I dig your overalls”. I glanced over her shoulder to the curb, where she had parked her VW Beetle. Every square inch of it was painted over with flowers, peace signs and raggedy ann dolls of varying ethnicity. I was meeting my first hippy.
Soon the hippy was my stepmother, and Laura and Diana became our sisters. It wasn’t long before our family expanded even more, as Daniel and then Rosalie were born. I couldn’t have been more pleased, as I was now ringmaster of my own circus, with a troop of younger siblings eager to participate in any variety of schemes. We had tea parties, puppet shows, super eight movie productions, and even an annual neighborhood carnival.
My brothers and sisters were also the students and I the teacher when we played school, and I taught Laura how to read before she even entered kindergarden. It was only years later that I realized this accomplishment owed more to Laura’s precocity and determination to succeed rather than any skills in instruction on my part.
But I grew up and moved on. My younger siblings lives became a bit of a mystery to me, just as mine was to them. Over time, our geographical distance increased and our family ties loosened. We’d see each other at the occasional family gathering, but our relationships became less close.
And then, several years ago Laura and I really reconnected. It was a couple of years into my battle with lung cancer, and despite several treatment regimens, it looked as if the cancer was now in both lungs. Laura and her husband Andy responded to this news with what I was to learn was signature Pastor gusto: they invited my husband David, son Peter and myself to be their guests on a Disney Cruise.
I was now beginning to understand that this renewed relationship between Laura and myself would be no casual thing. Laura brings her A game to everything she does; it’s really all or nothing with her. And she was going to expect the same amount of effort from me.
So, it’s no surprise to me that when I asked her if she would consider running in the inaugural Team Lung Love race, she not only accepted, she ran the full marathon and raised the greatest amount of money. And then decided she’d start a team Lung Love in Austin.
That’s my sister. She puts all her heart as well as her considerable talents and energy into every undertaking. I am overwhelmed and honored that she has chosen to work lung cancer advocacy into her already full life, just as she has made me part of her family again.
And I’m holding up my part of the bargain Laura. I’m still here, fighting with all I’ve got, and I love you so. I’ll be cheering you on every step of the way tomorrow, and your teammates as well. Thank you all.