This year marks the 3rd Anniversary of Celebration Day.
The first Celebration Day was at Vets in 2019 and then The County in 2020. If that wasn’t bad enough, it happened to fall the day after we sprung forward and changed the clocks an hour ahead – thus, losing an hour of sleep on Sunday. So, needless to say I was having a hard time sleeping in preparation for this Q.
You see, today is a special day for me as today is the day we lost my son Samuel [March 15, 2018] after several heart related health complications. The battle was physically, emotionally, mentally and all sorts of other -allys challenging – certainly the hardest thing I’ve ever done in life [yes, even more difficult that GROWRUCK]. I certainly can’t imagine how difficult it was for Samuel.
A little bit of background, but Samuel was 2 when we adopted him from China and he was almost 4.5 years old when he passed away. Of that 2.5 year period that he was with us, we spent almost a year inpatient at, or daily visits to, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. The long and short of it is that we adopted Samuel knowing of certain heart related health complications – a “special needs” child. But, what he really needed was a family and God chose us to be that family for him. The original corrective surgery worked for a few months, but heart failure was formally diagnosed in October 2016. January 2017 we found ourselves living at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital waiting 65-days for a heart transplant – living separate and apart from each other as my M stayed during the week in Cincinnati with Samuel while I Mr. Mom’ed it at home with the other two 2.0s and then we’d switch for the weekend. Post transplant we lived another few months in Cincinnati, including a month long stay at the Ronald McDonald House. The summer of 2017 was glorious – Samuel’s donated heart was thriving and we were so incredibly grateful that we were all together again. But, God had other plans and further complications arose in January 2018 putting us back inpatient which ended with him losing his battle on March 15, 2018.
So, today I will remember the good times with Samuel. The way he developed and thrived after feeling love from my family and friends during his short time with us. I will also spend the day doing things he loved to do like eat bacon for breakfast and chips and queso for dinner. A little friendly family game of Uno perhaps and many other things to remember him.
Samuel taught me so much about life – and because of him and his courage that I choose to celebrate him on the day of his death.
The following PAX decided to join me, which makes me very humble:
- Captain Crunchberry
- Greenwich (R)
- Motor Boat
- Jitterbug (R)
- Jimmy Neutron
- Husky (R)
- Double Down (R)
- Sump Pump
- Le Pew
- Stick Up
- Jolly Rancher (Q)
We set out for a mosey over the coupon cache lot for a little warm-up set, which included:
- SSH – 25x in cadence
- Downward Dog + Runners Stretches
- Grass Grabbers – 10x in cadence
- Toy Soldiers – 20x in cadence
- Hillbillies – 20x in cadence
Then, we continued on the mosey over to the I-64 bridge for Thang 1.
Thang 1 – DORA
Simple, yet effective. Goal was to partner up with PAX 1 doing the work while PAX 2 ran back towards the egg lawn to the stop sign and then back – then switcheroo and rinse and repeat. The exercises included:
- 100x – Big Boy Situps
- 200x – Curls with nearby rocks
- 300x – Jump Squats
Music was going. Pelican didn’t complain about it – perhaps he gave me a hall pass considering the occasion. Or, perhaps the set list was actually good – I may never know.
Thang 2 – Celebration Merkins
About half way through Thang 1 we were greeted by the PAX from North Posh, which included:
- Bob Ross
- Wide Right
- Dauber (Q)
Over the weekend I asked Dauber if he’d be interested in trying to join the celebration because the more the merrier. He obliged and said he was going to run the PAX to death anyways so why not have them run all the way to South Posh from North Posh. What a guy.
So, for this we all gathered in a big circle underneath of the bridge. I introduced the objective was that we’d go one-by-one around the circle and the PAX would announce what they are celebrating today. You see, we all need to take a minute and slow down to remind ourselves that we are blessed beyond imagination. And, we shouldn’t hide what we are celebrating – we should share it with others and feel encouragement from other men. Celebrations included a variety of things, but common themes were family. health and F3. Then, it was my turn – and sorry men, but I had a lot of celebrating to do which means more merkins:
- The gift of adoption. It’s hard, men. But, it’s the most rewarding experience I’ve ever done. Samuel went from an unemotional toddler [that was still on formula and didn’t crawl or walk at the age of 2] to a joyful, loving and charismatic little boy who tackled more obstacles in his short life than I have in mine at the age of 39. So today, we celebrate adoption and all of the kids that have found their forever families.
- The gift and sacrifice of organ donors. We were able to enjoy Samuel’s spunky personality for just short of another year because of the greatest gift of all from another family through the gift of organ donation – a heart. I continue to pray for the little boy or girl that lost their life which made the donor organ available, but that family’s unselfish decision was a wonderful blessing to Samuel and my family as it prolonged his time with us. So today, we celebrate organ donation and the impact it has on life.
- The knowledge and wisdom of modern medicine. So, a donor organ was switched out from my son’s heart which was failing – all in about a 5- to 6-hour surgery. What the what?!? Just think about that for a minute. How is that even possible? And we’ve been doing them since 1964. Can you imagine what has changed since 1964? Modern medicine is no different. So today, we celebrate the knowledge and wisdom of doctors, nurses and educators and the breakthroughs that we continue to identify related to modern medicine.
- The gift of life. At Celebration Day 2019, I announced to the PAX that the M and I were expecting a baby girl. Joy [literally – that’s her name] arrived in our lives in her own spirited and complicated way, but she’s a happy, healthy baby that we’ve been blessed to watch grow. She won’t get to know who Samuel was, except through the stories and memories that we will certainly share with her. But, she’ll love her big brother just the same…I’m sure of it. So today, we celebrate the gift of life.
- The PAX of F3 Louisville – as individuals and as a group. After Samuel passed, I was mentally and physically absent – just living life but certainly not accelerating anywhere. I turned to food to fill the void that was left, which obviously got me nowhere except potentially closer to my own heart-related health issues. Several of the PAX, led by PK, helped head lock me to join F3. I’ve come a long way from the beginning, but the encouragement, push, passion, and fantastic tasting Kool-Aid that this group creates is amazing. So today, we celebrate F3 and the way it helps us accelerate into invigorating male community leadership through fitness, fellowship and faith.
- The M. She’s incredible and I am consistently reminded of how blessed I am that she’s by my side through this journey in life. Guys, let me tell you a little secret – Mr. Mom’ing it sucks. And this experience made me humble of the things that I take for granted that the M does for me and my family each and every day. Also, I certainly wouldn’t have made the decision to adopt Samuel had it not been for her love towards orphans. And let me tell you – moms with kids that have heart-related issues are beasts man. It’s a full-blown community of Ms that don’t mess around when it comes to making and supporting decisions to protect their children.
After the celebration merkins – yep, 37 in total – North Posh headed back North and South Posh continued where we left in our Thang 1 set.
Time was getting close and we called it to head back towards the flag for some Mary.
I had the PAX announce and lead a few workouts, which included a few fan favorites and at least one which was accepted with groans and moans – I’ll let you decide:
- Gas Pumps.
- Indian Slow Crab Walk Ankle Thingy led by Sump Pump. I’ve butchered the name and that’s on purpose because nobody should ever do this again. Period. It was near to impossible.
- Kraken Burpees.
Time was then called.
We circled around the flag for countarama, namearama, announcements and intentions.
Days like today remind me why getting up at 0530am to workout is so much fun. Appreciate each of every one of you.
Humbled to lead.
Jolly Rancher out!