I can't help but smile when I think of spending the past weekend with my two sisters and our friend Debbie. Powerful images of valiant women keep roller-coastering through my mind. Women pushing other women in wheel chairs. Women with shaved heads marching beside other ones who are there to show support. At the Closing Ceremonies seeing a sea of pink as we wear our Victory Shirts...and seeing how many of those shirts are a different color of pink, signifying the person is a Survivor. Ah, but I'm skipping most of the story by starting at the end.
On Thursday evening Jan, Jane, Debbie and I stayed at our brother Jim's house in Aurora. He and his wife Karen love to have visitors and it shows. Felt bad about staying there because Karen's mom is in the hospital, but they insisted, and I'm glad they did. We had such a great time, including two visits to the new outlet mall there. I bought some bargain Christmas presents. We had dinner at the Red Tavern Inn. Omigod, I just had sides but was so full--Tavern Salad, baked sweet potato and grilled asparagus. Oh, and I had some onion rings as an appetizer and part of this table-sized key lime pie. No wonder I was full.
And when sibs get together, adolescent humor abounds, at least in my family. Jimmy showed us possibly the funniest video I'd ever seen. Someone on the internet did it. It involves a preacher and gas. I can't even think about it without laughing.
On Friday I was up at 6:30, I was pretty excited about the coming weekend. The four of us went to IHOP for breakfast and then into Chicago. We checked into our hotel about 12:30 and then went to the Avon Walk registration. It was fun seeing people we knew from the Walks from other years. And I got lots of hugs from staff members. My job on the weekend involves me working with staff, so I get to spend lots of time with them.
Some of the T-shirts were pretty funny. Some folks form teams for the 2-day, 40 mile walk. One team's shirts said Save These (and an arrow pointed to their breasts). Another shirt said on the front--Random Acts of Walking and on the back said--Random Acts Save Boobs. The word boob gets used a lot. Another set of shirts on a group of beautiful young women--Babes for Boobs.
But there was a serious tone too. "I walk because I cannot walk away." And a woman with no hair sported a huge smile and a T-shirt that said, "I stand because you walk." My tears started when I saw those latter two.
Yet, I laughed much more than I cried. Whenever anyone said anything about being mad or upset, our friend Deb said, "Build a bridge and get over it." Pretty funny. But even funnier was Jane's interpretation. She'd say, "Build a bridge and cross it." Then she wouldn't understand what she'd said wrong. Of course we built upon the mistake time and time again. We'd sing "Cross over the bridge." I said, "Build a bridge and jump off of it." And so on.
Just remembered my favorite T-shirt. Women wore tank shirts that said, "Tanks for the Mammaries."
We spent Friday night at the hotel and had some laughs there too. Jane and Deb had to be outside at 4:30 AM to catch the shuttle to their location. They provided medical services on the route. I had to be at work at 6 AM, so Jan and I both "slept in" until 5.
Opening ceremonies were moving, as usual, and it's always heart-touching to see so many walkers leave the staging area together to begin the Walk. There were more than 2400 women and men walking this year. (Plus there were over 600 crew members.)
My job was much easier this year than the last two. The two staff members I worked most closely with--Tanisha and Traneeka--were both professional and fun. After they introduced themselves, I said, "I'm Tajeri." Luckily they had good senses of humor. It only took a few moments for me to get their names/faces straight. As a team leader I worked closely with four other volunteers--Charmaine, Beth, Catherine and Jennifer. They were all wonderful, and willing to do whatever was needed. We didn't have nearly as many incidents this year as last, so that was a blessing.
Saturday we were drenched with intermittent thunderstorms and my poor sister Jan ended up walking through HAIL! They almost had to call a halt to the walk, but luckily didn't have to, as the storms moved through rather quickly.
Unfortunately, Jane's and Debbie's duffel bags were soaked (as were mine and Jan's), and they'd forgotten to wrap their stuff in plastic bags (guess who didn't forget). So they had to try and dry their things out. They never were able to get their sleeping bags dry, so they slept on a piece of plastic. Or rather they tried to sleep.
I think I'll stop for now and will continue in tomorrow's blog.