I am proud of all that we accomplished at the Alzheimer’s Association Race For Your Memories event.  We had the support of a LOT of friends and family, as always.  I know that the teamwork is something that my Daddy-O would REALLY be proud of!  🙂

Here is my brother, Frank Jr.’s, email recapping the event:

Greetings all!

Well the Alzheimer’s Association’s “Race for Your Memories” was Sunday and, if my Dad was still around, he would be calling me a “cake”!  “Cake” is a term of endearment in our family that translates into “you’re a wimp”.  One of the unstated rules in our family of doing a run is that you actually “run” the whole race.  Well, I was not able to do that Sunday.  (Here come all the excusesJ)  It was hot, the course was hilly and I trained on flat ground, and I started off too fast by running 9 minute miles for the first 2 miles.  I had made it about 4.5 miles when we encountered a big uphill climb.  My legs already felt like tree stumps as I started the hill.  And by the time I was half way up my legs had nothing left, my head was throbbing and I felt like I might pass out.  So as much as I did not want to do it, I ended up walking for a short distance to get up the hill and regain some energy.  I then ran for about another mile when we came to the biggest, steepest hill on the course (who in their right mind would put this at the 5.5 mile mark of a 6.2 mile race?).  I told the person I was running with I couldn’t do it and he said “bull sh*t, you’re going to do it”.  So I kept going and I did make it up the hill.  However, I then needed another walk to regain myself before we ran the last quarter mile to the finish line.

I had a number of goals for the race:

  1. To complete the race – Some might say I completed it, but in my mind I did not as walking didn’t count between my Dad and me.
  2. To finish in under an hour, or 9:41 per mile – I actually finished in 1:02:36, or 10:06 per mile.
  3. Team Firek finish as #1 in donations received – We finished as the #1 team with $2,375 in donations.  The #2 team had $1,483.
  4. My mom and I finish #1 and #2 in donations raised per individual – At the time of the race start my mom was #1 and I was #3.
  5. To have 30 members on Team Firek – We ended up with at least 33.  Some people registered the morning of the event and I may have missed one or two here.

Thank you all for your support of the Alzheimer’s Association and of Team Firek!

NOTE:  I know my Dad would be proud of what we did here.  But I still owe him a complete 10K and I will be doing that in the next month or so.  I just need to find another 10K run in the area and keep up my training.  And I WILL run the entire race and break 1 hour this time!

FYI:  Origins of the word “Cake”.  The exact details are a little fuzzy, but it goes something like this.  My dad was out for a run once when I was a kid and as he was running a large dog came barking and running towards him from the porch of a house.  My dad picked up a rock in case he needed it if the dog attacked.  But the owner called off the dog before he got to my dad and then started yelling at my dad for picking up the rock and he called my dad a cake.  My dad said “You think I’m a cake.  Let’s see you run 3 miles and then we’ll see who’s a cake!”  And after that, “cake” became part of our family vocabulary.

Frank Firek, Jr.

Today is the first day of fall. With Uncle Jack’s funeral just behind us, the cool breeze in the air, the leaves beginning to burn orange, the flowers clinging to their short life that’s left, it’s a heavy week for the heart.

I went with my dad this morning to a 5K run he was participating in at Kensington Metro Park. I followed him while he parked, tried to remember what to put in his pockets before leaving the car, how many layers to wear/carry, and how to conquer the process of signing in amongst a crowd.

I have this incredible pull now to watch him all the time, ready to jump in at any moment to help alleviate any confusion or danger. I am SO WORRIED about him. I’m sure this is close to the feeling a parent must feel for their child, wanting to keep them happy and safe and out of harm’s way. I suppose, slowly, that the tide is turning where I’m now going to be the one in the parental position of worry.

I brought the video camera along for the day’s events. This is the 2nd time I recorded for the documentary. We did some talking in the car, as I positioned the camera in my lap, not wanting him to know that I was taping so we could share authentic conversation. I asked him how he is doing. His honest answer was that he is very concerned about my mother. He’s afraid of what she’s going to have to endure in the coming years, the tough decisions she’ll have to make, and he doesn’t think that she deserves this burden and heartache in her golden years. His love for her is palpable.

The gunshot went off, and Dad instantly took off running. As he faded out of sight into the crowd and around the bend, I got a pang of anxiousness, like he was going off without me and I wasn’t going to be able to protect him while he was on this path. How prophetic of the times we’re actually living!

When he returned and ran across the finish line, I was so joyous to see him again!

After the event, I had plans to workout at my gym (Triad Health and Fitness) where I had gotten Mom and Dad to join some time ago but Dad hasn’t been there for a while (he prefers running on a track). He said he’d pop in and say hello to the guys before heading home. We chatted it up with the staff inside and then Dad took his leave. As he was pulling out of the parking lot to head home – just a measly 4 miles away! – I started crying. I was panicked that something might happen to him within those 4 small miles. What if he takes a wrong turn? What if he forgets where he’s going?? What if he stops for gas and someone takes advantage of him financially??? The list is endless. I’m not sure that his current state warrants this amount of concern on my part, but I can’t turn it off. It’s part of the tender pang of not properly understanding what’s going on in his brain, when it’s working properly and when it’s misfiring. I’m not sure WHAT he can handle currently, and so I find myself reverting to the little girl who just wants to put him in my pocket like a tiny stuffed animal and take him with me safely everywhere I go…

Xmas morning hallway 1981 COLOR CROP

A typical Christmas morning with my buddies safe in tow!

Sparky in Wedding Bouquet

Showing Dad the surprise in my wedding bouquet - my little buddy Sparky!