Twelve years ago today, I was 6 months pregnant with BoyBoy, on a plane from California to Virginia to be with my sister for the birth of her second child. The baby was due on July 19th, so I thought I was good if I arrived five days before the due date. Well, little Miss P had other ideas and came two days early while her Aunt Wheezer was on a plane halfway across the country. That's OK... the first time I saw her, I forgave her. The spitting image of my sister with a shock of dark brown hair that stood on end, I was totally in love. Twelve years later, that love has only grown. She is the sweetest, coolest, funniest, fastest, greatest 12 year-old girl on the planet. I love spending time with her, so for her birthday, I kidnapped her. But only after I ballooned her...
She was a willing hostage. Can't you see how her smile lights up the room?
I didn't tell her where we were going. I dropped a few hints: tattoo parlor, piercing pagoda, biker bar. She was still smiling. That's how she is. So I continued my mission to be her favorite aunt (a daunting task since my brother-in-law has 4 sisters and 2 sisters-in-law!). We arrived at our first stop...Pedicures for us both.
She and I giggled, talked about boys, swimming, school, and what designs we wanted on our toes.
(BTW, the little feet are mine...I have baby feet and have to shop in the kids dept)
Then it was off to the Fresh Market for yummy sandwiches. She was so much fun. I kept trying to get her to pick out a cake for her birthday and she wouldn't. So, I went over to the bakery section with her and said, "I'll get one if you get one!" She relented, but only for a cookie. Mmmmmm!!!
Can I just tell you how much I love this girl? I hope she lets me keep kidnapping her for a long, long time.
May I just tell you how glad I am that Lance Armstrong is back in the Tour de France this year?
Ever since my sister's battle with Hodgkin's-Lymphoma back in 2001 and Lance's subsequent Tour win, my family has been a LiveStrong family. My sister discovered her cancer after getting in shape on a spinning bike, so the jump to Lance as a hero was a short one. She was in the throes of chemotherapy when he won his third Tour de France. We were inspired by his story: he was given less than a 40% chance of survival and was told he would never ride again, he lost 50% of his muscle mass due to his treatments and yet he fought his way back to the bike and ultimately won the Tour de France an unprecedented 7 times. He became our hero - a living, breathing, biking example of what heights the human spirit can attain.
I have never given up that hero worship. We were lucky enough to be living in Germany in 2005, the year of his 7th and last win, when the Tour dipped into Germany for a stage finish. Bubba, BoyBoy and I boarded a train to Karlsruhe, only 3 days jet lagged, to watch the finish. Apparently, the stage was a fairly boring one, with all but 3 riders finishing in the peleton. But we didn't care. Hours of sponsor cars tossing all sorts of swag out of their windows, there was a carnival atmosphere to the whole thing. It was a world shrinking experience; on my cell phone with my mom who was watching on OLN back at home in the states, looking across the course at a German man with a LiveStrong shirt on and sharing a knowing look that said "Cancer has touched me, too," and feeling the breeze as 100+ riders zoomed past us in a rainbow of noise and speed. I caught a glimpse of Lance's back and knew that I had been that close to greatness. I will never forget it.
Then, he retired. I missed him. The Tour was not as compelling, not as exciting, not as interesting to me anymore. Too many doping scandals, too many uninteresting bikers. Lance's story was one for the ages. It simply cannot be matched. So, I am glad he is back. He is coming back humbly. He will serve in the role as domestique, giving back to the riders who pulled him all those years. While I respect his humility, I also respect his competitive spirit. I don't believe he will stay too far from the lead. Team Astana will be pushed to its limit by their bull of a rider. He will push them to do better, bike harder, compete smarter and finish stronger than they ever have. And the team and the sport will be better for it.
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