Jerry Davich: When a birthday matters more than any other
Jerry Davich email@example.com May 31, 2012 5:06PM
Riders navigate the Calumet Trail near Beverly Shores in the first Region Ride June 6, 2008. | File~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 6, 2012 9:55AM
The phone call arrived a year ago, but its haunting voice still stays with me.
“Jerry, when I retired in November, I was all set to do all kinds of volunteering because I’m very active,” the 72-year-old woman told my voice mail.
“However, God’s plan for my retirement was totally different.
“And, um, I have, um,” she said, her voice breaking up from emotion.
“Anyway, I have, um, ovarian cancer, stage four, incurable ... totally a surprise.”
Through audible tears, she told me she had been through chemotherapy and she lost all her hair.
At that time, she had just gathered enough emotional strength to remove her bandana at church, allowing other parishioners to rub her fuzzy head because they believed it helped it grow back faster.
The woman’s voice dripped with sad sincerity, telling me she had finished her will and had discussed her end-of-life plans with her family.
“You don’t do a bucket list. You just live it day by day. But, anyway, thanks for your stories and have a good day,” she said before hanging up without leaving her number.
Fast forward several months, to earlier this year, when I received an email out of the blue from a close friend of the woman.
The friend told me that the woman had only weeks to live, and asked if I would contact her to say hello, if not goodbye.
The woman reads this column regularly, she told me.
Nervous about what to say, or even if I should call her, I dialed the woman’s number. She lives with her daughter in Schererville.
I asked how she’s doing. We chatted for a few minutes. I thanked her for reading my work. She thanked me a few times for calling. We hung up.
Afterward, I mailed her a copy of my book, “Connections,” which includes a story similar to her situation.
A few days later, I received a thank-you card.
“I’ve read the book over the past few days and upon reviewing my life I realize many connections,” she wrote inside the card.
“I read that you were with an elderly woman in hospice care. That is me today, and my time is running out. Thanks for caring, and calling, and for the book.”
She signed it with a smiley face.
Last week, I again heard from her friend, letting me know the woman would be celebrating her 73rd birthday on May 30, this past Wednesday.
“She didn’t expect to see this birthday, so it is bittersweet,” the friend said.
“She is such a special, caring, and giving person,”
I agree, and I wanted to say so in print, albeit two days later than I planned.
I’m told that you have touched many lives through the decades with your grace, dignity, and kindness. I want to thank you for touching mine, too.
Happy Birthday Lois!
‘Region Ride’ is Saturday
For the past few years, I’ve taken my beat-up mountain bike on a personal quest to connect many of the trails across Northwest Indiana.
My initial mission was simple: Was it possible to get from community to community on my bicycle via these designated trails?
Well yes, and no, I have learned.
To learn for yourself first-hand, I suggest taking part in the annual “Region Ride” taking place this Saturday, in celebration of National Trails Day.
It starts at 9 a.m. at Oak Ridge Prairie County Park in Griffith and heads eastbound to Portage’s Lakefront Park and Riverwalk, then back to the county park, totaling 36 miles.
Participants, however, can hop aboard at any spot along the way, as I plan to do that morning.
The free ride is hosted by South Shore Trails and the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, and details can be found at www.southshoretrails.org, or its Facebook page.
For more info, contact Mitch Barloga at NIRPC at 763-6060 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two free tickets
I have two tickets for Saturday’s day-long Milk Cow Music Fest at Fair Oaks Farms (valued at $25 each) that I will be giving away Friday on my Casual Fridays radio show.
The event also includes a statewide BBQ contest, live music, car show, and more.
If you’re interested in winning one of the tickets, call in to play the show’s “Give Me 5!” game, where you give me five related responses to any given subject. (For example, give me five counties in Northwest Indiana?)
If interested, listen to my show between noon and 1 p.m. Friday on WLPR, 89.1-FM, streaming at www.thelakeshorefm.com. Call in at 769-9577.
Mariachi music blared through the speakers at Woodland Park’s Oakwood Hall in Portage, but Victoria Salinas-Gresham was able to talk above it.
She told me about her group’s ongoing event last week, the inaugural networking night for the Porter County Hispanic Assembly.
“It’s all about making connections for Hispanics in this county to educate, embrace, and empower them,” the Portage woman said proudly.
I learned that Porter County has at least 10,000 Hispanic residents (who knew?), and that figure is growing each year.
The new organization was created to help them find needed resources locally instead of having to find it in, say, Lake County or Chicago.
For more info on the group, call 840-2118 or 649-1280, or find it on Facebook.