Life as a novel: It’s defined by a table of contents and the reader’s job is to pay attention in case the story shifts. There’s no point in refusing to turn the page: stories move forward or they end. Like any good novel, your journey takes turns that would have never been predicted or chosen, control is an illusion, the story goes where the story goes. Life is a series of chapters.
I began this blog about a year ago after a somewhat failed attempt to ride La Vuelta, a bike trip around Puerto Rico. I intended to document how hard I would train, the rides I took, the people I met, observations about life as an older rider, and then culminate the story with a triumphant return to San Juan and a ride around the island.
My story took a turn. Control is an illusion.
My bride, Teresa, began to have complications with her advanced breast cancer last year and I found that my riding became less of a priority as I assumed the primary caregiver role. I learned something about myself through this: I am happy to do it, honored in fact, to have a chance to help this beautiful woman fight for her life. So far we have been successful. Around Christmas last year, we realized that our lifestyle was going to have to change, we’d have fewer weekend getaways and dinners out, more Amazon Prime movies and jello in as her oncologist tried to summon all of his terrible witchcraft to find just the right combination of poisons to kill her cancer without killing her.
There were a few times that he almost didn’t. Rogue cells got into her liver, and we had a combination of stent insertions and removals, drainage tubes, hospital stays, and various types of chemotherapy to endure before we were out of the woods. Hospice was even suggested at one point but Teresa said she wasn’t ready to quit (Sat up in a hospital bed from an almost coma saying, “No quit! No Quit! No Quit!) So we didn’t and she rallied to a level that can only be called miraculous. (Never underestimate the power of a stubborn woman, no matter how frail she might seem.) Teresa seems to be returning to a more manageable stage of the disease and we are all breathing a sigh of relief as we continue to appreciate every day she is here with us.
Before her health took a turn from bad to worse, we decided to invite a puppy named Maggie to live with us. We figured that if we were home more, we’d have the time to love and raise a puppy, so this gorgeous Old English Sheepdog became part of our family. As Teresa’s health began to fail, the task of raising Maggie fell mostly on me and my son James and all three of us somehow survived the first few months of puppiness. Maggie is a healthy, happy, kind, loving, playful and goofy member of our family, she comes to work with me most days and sleeps at my feet through market calls, client appointments, and ETF trades. She’s my dog, even though we’ve always had dogs I’ve never become attached to one until now, never called a dog, “My dog.” I now wonder how I missed this feeling all of my life, it’s been such a gift. Maggie is a born caregiver, gentle and watchful with Teresa, she instinctively knows which of us can handle a full frontal attack and which one is more fragile.
So, all that being said, I haven’t had much time to get on a bike, and I’m ok with that. I’m still committed to ride from Ft. Myers to Key West again in November, I have time to get back in shape (I think). Interestingly, I have actually lost weight since Maggie came along, my Iphone tells me I’m walking 10,000 steps a day with her and I’m twisting around like I’m in an all day yoga class. I miss riding, but this chapter of my life is about Teresa and Maggie, long solitary bike rides will have to wait for a future chapter.
I still have things to say, questions to ask, and the urge to type, even if it seems out of place in a blog about cycling (“Repurposed” or “Pivots” are the current buzz words that come to mind for someone who takes an unexpected turn, but my friend Steve Adams suggests “Re-cycled,” he is, of course, right). There is a new book in here somewhere, maybe you can help me find it. I hope you’ll check in once in awhile, a writer is only screaming in the dark without his readers and I appreciate your shining a little light here by stopping in and letting me know what you think.