Goodbye Grandma

Posted: April 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

FamilyTorch2

I just lost my maternal grandmother and will be leaving for St. Louis tomorrow after training. Grandma’s certainly hold a special place in our lives and hearts… mine was certainly no exception.

The above picture was taken at the conclusion of my Olympic Torch run on the campus of Washington University in 2004. When I lost my mother to leukemia in 1996, I promised her I would do something significant with my life when I spoke with her the last time in the Mayo Clinic. I didn’t know how I would fulfill that commitment but, not surprisingly, it involved the only skill that I have…running.

I will be forever grateful to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for providing an opportunity to honor my mom’s memory in such a significant way. Gratitude falls well short of how I feel about all the runners I coached in an amazing 12 year span. Because of their efforts to raise millions of dollars to fund research for blood cancers, I was selected to carry the Olympic Torch.

I cannot imagine the pain and sense of loss a parent feels when they lose a child. I know how painful it was for my grandmother when mom passed the day before her 58th birthday. So when I completed my Torch Run I handled the Olympic Torch to my grandmother and whispered in her ear…’This run is for mom!’ It was an extremely emotional and powerful moment to realize I fulfilled that promise to my mom, and her mother was an important part of it.

I’m so thankful that my grandmother shared in such a special experience. When I spoke with her recently she spoke of how meaningful that evening was. I find comfort in knowing the grief and sense of loss she experienced was lessened on just that day.

She was such an iconic person in my life. She taught me lessons about living a noble and humble life, steeped in selflessness. One of the greatest lessons I learned from her is that any life worth living has to include serving others. By that measure alone, her life was an incredible success.

When I lost mom in 1996 I realized I could very easily get angry or bitter…or I could get busy- turning a tradedy into a life altering experience. Handling grief isn’t always easy…it can be far more difficult than a thousand marathons. But honoring the memory of someone you love and respect, by living a life in their example, has proven the best way to deal with loss for me.

So I will begin that process when I speak at grandma’s funeral on Monday. And I will return to New England with a commitment and desire to honor her memory in the only way that I know how.

Goodbye Grandma…thank you for all that you’ve done for me and so many others!

Comments
  1. I’m so sorry for your loss. I know how hard it is to lose a grandparent, especially one as close as the two of you. I hope the memories of her wonderful life will put a smile on your heart and help you through this difficult time. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    • Thank you so much for your kind and comforting thoughts. You are so right, the memories of her wonderful life will sustain me through this difficult time. I really appreciate your kindness.

      Rick

  2. Kate Marcum says:

    Very inspiring Rick . My thoughts and prayers are with you. Kate Marcum

  3. Erin Gallo says:

    What a beautiful tribute! I want to thank her for sharing her wisdom with you and to you for carrying her light; teaching and showing us how to live a noble humble life and serve others.

  4. Mark Lorden says:

    Hey Rick,

    Sorry to hear of your Grandma’s passing. As always, your comments and perspective are stated eloquently and Grandma will rest well knowing that her grandson “carries the torch” by virtue of perpetuating the memory of her daughter and your Mom. Safe travels, my friend…

    Regards,

    Mark

  5. Alison Hassinger says:

    Dear Coach,
    I’m so sorry to hear about your grandmother’s passing. Please know that we are thinking about you and sending positive thoughts your way.
    Best, Alison

  6. Laura Meyerson says:

    So sorry about your grandma. Laura

  7. mfuryhop says:

    Hi Rick,

    I’m sorry for your loss. I was very close to my grandmother also, I definitely understand the grief. She told me to never stop learning and I know that with every new runner you are learning from them and providing inspiration. XO

    • Thank you so much. You are absolutely right about how much I’m learning from all the Marathon Coalition runners. I’m learning to be more selfless and compassionate…and to live life to the fullest. XO

      Rick

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