Friday, April 30, 2010

April Autism Awareness: Running For (And Away From) Autism

To celebrate autism awareness month this year I participated in my first sprint triathlon for Autism Speaks. It was the perfect way to celebrate.....raising money to support autism research while finding a healthy outlet for my autism-induced angst. I was truly running (and biking...and swimming...) for and away from autism.

I was pretty strict about following my training schedule, but I still lacked confidence in the weeks leading up to the big event. It didn't help that my bike was buried in a snow drift until March and the Reston rapist caused havoc to my trail running routes.

But the day of the race, I reluctantly got my game face on, loaded up the car with my equipment and drove up to Bethesda in the early morning darkness. My three biggest fans cheered in their sleep (that was my decision....Ed had worked most of the night and had to head back to work that afternoon I did not want to deal with two sleep deprived kids after the race). It was freezing cold and I was all nerves until I hit the water. Then I was all least until the last uphill running mile when my smile turned to more of a grimace.

The atmosphere was awesome. Everyone was so encouraging and supportive. I did not get swam over and left for dead, or taunted on my bike as I had feared. Hearing my name called amidst a cheering crowd at the finish line? Awesome.

Others celebrating Autism Awareness:

My sister's tribute to Noe on her blog (added bonus: cute photo of 2 year-old Noe).

Brutal truth of autism, from the wife of Ed's Wash Post colleague (and a fellow Restonian).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I've Been Away....

grieving and celebrating the life of my Grandma Razz. She died on April 5th at age 79. The funeral service was on April 10th in Portland.

I wish I had brought my camera home with me. I just didn't see the point in bringing a camera to a funeral. But there was so much beauty that weekend, so much to celebrate. If I had my camera, I would have taken a picture of....

*The guy on Hawthorne commuting to work via unicycle.....I never tire of Portland's quirkiness.

*How peaceful and beautiful my grandmother looked in death. Dressing her for burial with my mom, my aunt and cousins was an unexpectedly great bonding experience. Afterwards, my aunt brought Uno bars for us to share. (They were her favorite candy bar and the one that my grandpa and her shared on their first date to the movies...she must have been about 14 at the time).

*The tiny pioneer cemetery out in Carver, OR where we laid her to rest. Spring in full bloom, Mt. Hood looming in the background. I could have stayed out there for hours.

*The fire trucks at the church right after the funeral. There was a small electrical fire in the church offices and a small moment of panic when we realized many precious family pictures, my grandma's vintage accordian, and my cousin's $12k bass were inside the church. Luckily, nothing was damaged.

My grandma's life was marked by so many important events in our country's history. She was born at the beginning of the Great Depression. She spent her teenage years dancing and singing at USO events to support the troops during World War II. She remembered the whistles and horns blowing through downtown Portland, signaling the end of the war. She raised her kids in the 50's and 60's and gracefully made the fashion transition from hoop skirts to Jackie O chic. A New Deal Democrat, I am only now realizing how much her thinking shaped my own world view. I was lucky enough to grow up just a couple of miles from her and my Grandpa. They both are intertwined through my entire catalog of childhood memories.

The reality is that my Grandma had Alzheimer's and has not been truly with us for awhile. I started grieving her way before the funeral happened, and I will continue to miss her. Watching her mind, and then body, deteriorate over the past few years has been heartbreaking.

Instead, I am trying to remember her as she looked in this photo with my Grandpa. My vibrant, happy, ever-elegant Grandma Razz.