- Mom, Me, and my two beautiful daughters.
I remember the night before I received my test results like it was yesterday. I’d had several appointments over the span of several months in 2002 with geneticists, psychologists, and a long list of other medical professionals to find out if I had inherited Huntington’s Disease. The final step was a blood test and then an excruciating two week wait to find out the results of the “coin toss”. That’s what I used to call it. My odds were 50/50 and to a certain degree it did feel like my entire life was riding on the results of a coin toss. Not exactly a good feeling, to say the least.
When I finally got to the nursing home it was nearly 9pm. Mom had been up for over 24 hours. Everyone else had been there with her all day and were exhausted so they went home to get some rest. I crawled in bed with mom and snuggled up with her. I was playing with her hair and tickling her arm as I talked to her. She used to do that to me when I was a little girl. Then I took her face in my hands and looked her in the eyes and told her it was safe to sleep now. I said, “ I’m here now, Mom. Everyone is here now. You don’t have to stay awake anymore. I’ll be right here beside you all night. You’ll never be alone. I promise.” That was the last thing I said as she took her last breath in my arms.
And that’s when I remembered my first promise.
After mom’s passing my promise haunted me. I had a lot of guilt about not having inherited the disease. Why did she have to have it and not me? It seemed so unfair. If I could have traded places with her I would have without a second thought. I also had a lot of guilt about not having done anything to make a difference when she was alive. I had wanted to do something to make her proud…something to show her how much I cared… and now I’d missed my chance. She didn’t know about my promise…but I did. And I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I was devastated on so many levels.
As time passed and I went through more of the mourning process my attitude slowly started to change. It’s not too late. It’s never too late. I can still make a difference. I can still keep my promise. I can still show mom and God and my family and the whole world for that matter just how much I care and that’s just what I’m going to do. But how? I still wasn’t sure. Then I got dared.
It started as a simple facebook status. I posted, “One day I really want to ride in RAGBRAI.” The legendary bike ride across Iowa fell on the same week/weekend of my 15 year High School reunion that year. The next thing I knew I was being dared to ride in RAGBRAI and ride my bike directly into my class reunion wearing my bike helmet and spandex bike shorts. My friend, Alicia, said, “I’d pay to see that.” My mind immediately started racing. “Really?! How much?” I asked. The conversation went back and forth throughout the course of a day and more and more people jumped on board saying they would donate if I’d do it. “Keep the dares coming,” I said. “I’ll do it. But I don’t need RAGBRAI. I’ll start my own bike ride. Who’s in?” I said.
And Bar-2-Barbara was born.