Today was a special day for Ride Hard Breathe Easy since it was dedicated to Dad.
Dad was a wonderful husband, great father and he loved his grandchildren with all of his heart. He always showed us that family mattered most, and Dad led a life that was very humble and always loving. As my sister Karen often said, he was one of the kindest people you could ever meet.
He impacted many people, and when I went to my 8th grade reunion a few years ago, two of my classmates who I hadn’t seen in 30 plus years told me how Dad mattered to them. Dad was a baseball coach, and although a very competitive person, ensured that everyone got a chance to play. Leading kids mattered, and not winning. So these two men (now) said he was the best coach they had and spoke fondly of playing for him.
When Mom was diagnosed with lung cancer, Dad loved and supported Mom throughout her illness. When Mom passed away, Dad spent even more time with the Grandchildren and was the perfect babysitter when the grandchildren were “sick” and just couldn’t go to school.
Over the years, Dad and I spent lots of time together. We talked almost every day, went to dinner together every week and went on vacations together. In fact, the last time we went away together was at The Lung Cancer Alliance Summit in 2016 when Dad and I walked the halls of Congress, fighting for all lung cancer patients.
Dad knew Bonnie Addario very well from the 5Ks in Philadelphia, and he got to know Laurie Fenton from Lung Cancer Alliance at the conference last year. They each were drawn to Dad (who wasn’t) and deeply appreciated what he did to fight lung cancer.
Today, I listened to Bob Marley to start (same first name) and then six hours of Dad’s favorite Irish music. I cried more than a few times, especially when “The Town I Loved So Well” and “The Old Man” made it on the playlist.
I have thought often how much Dad would have loved being a part of this ride, probably joining a few different times to be with his kids and grandkids. To Dad, nothing every mattered as much as family, and I am proud to say that the importance of family that Mom and Dad lived has passed on to the six of us.
Dad, today’s 105-mile ride was for you. Fittingly, it was the longest ride of these 36 days, as you always showed us that hard work really matters. You and Mom continue to be with me throughout the ride, and in 16 days, this journey will be completed in San Francisco. Thanks for being with me every pedal of the ride.