Dan on Dealing with a Dark Time at the Age of 37 – KGUA #105

For the November 21, 2022 KGUA Radio Writer’s Hour hosted by Peggy Berryhill and Mark Gross, we are asked to freewrite to the following prompt:   

Write about a dark time and what you discovered about yourself by writing about that challenge

I was 37, teaching seventh graders at Somersworth (NH) Middle School.  Since the previous summer our four-year old daughter Robyn complained of achy knees and elbows on a daily basis.  She woke seven to eight times per night.  She was losing weight. 

Our local pediatrician couldn’t explain what was going on so he referred us to the Heavyweights in Boston.  There, they checked her out over the next six weeks.

Then just before Christmas, still unclear what was going on, the head of the children’s ward returned from a conference, looked at Robyn, and knew immediately.  Tests confirmed that Robyn had leukemia.

Leukemia!  At the time I didn’t even know what that was.  For others like me, it is blood cancer.  She needed treatment immediately.  First hydration, so she could withstand the chemotherapy and radiation to come.

Our kids’ cousin, Anna, Molly, Robyn (in the midst of chemotherapy), and Will (circa 1986)

Driving home from school on Route 91 in York, Maine, I was crying.  How could it be that our little four-year-old had cancer?  I’d trade my life for hers if I could.  I had had 37 good years.  She might not get five. 

But of course, I couldn’t make that trade.  The Universe doesn’t work that way.  But…it turned out I had more strength than I knew I ever had. 

Writing to this prompt I am reminded of other parents who asked, how did you deal with such a challenge?   I’d always would say, we had no other choice.

Today Robyn is 41, a sweetheart, and coming home for Thanksgiving.

Words – 247

Robyn, Dad, Molly, Will, and Mom (circa 1986)

Thanks to my sister Patty, the family archivist, for these photos.

Dan Wraps Up 2021

Hannah and I are again big winners in 2021. Our three kids, Will, Robyn, and Molly continue to delight. Molly’s hubby Tip and Will’s wife Laurel shine. Our five grandkids, Reese, Charlotte, Brooks, Max, and Owen add light to our lives. We all got together at Will’s home in Ithaca, New York this past Thanksgiving.

Top row – Robyn, Dan, and Max. Next row down – Owen, Hannah, Charlotte, and Will. The row below them – Brooks, Laurel, Reese, and Molly. Then the photographer Tip
The formal portrait – The age of the kids are: Max (7.5), Owen (9.5), Brooks (3.5), and Reese and Charlotte (1.5) All May, June, or July birthdays.

My mom made Christmas stockings for all three of our kids. Mom (1921-2014) had a great run (92 years!) and we all are better for having known her and been encouraged by her.

This Christmas season our daughter Robyn, visiting will from New York, and I continued our holiday tradition of going to a movie, this time fully-masked. We were blown away with how terrific the Spielberg remake of West Side Story was. I loved the original (1961), but this one was just as fantastic. Later in the week, Hannah will continue another tradition with Robyn – mother/daughter going out for Chinese food.

If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.

Jack Kornfield

Dan and Hannah Get the Gift of a Simple Ball – KGUA #69

For the December 6, 2021 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour hosted by Mark Gross and Peggy Berryhill in Gualala, California, we are asked to freewrite to this prompt: You know that one gift you received that just was a curiosity, not your favorite? One that lived in a back room until the giver came to visit?

As usual, I colored outside of the lines for my response.

My Gift – A Ball

Brenda Bracy and John Stacy came to our house to see our six-year-old daughter Robyn who wasn’t feeling very well.  To their question if she had a wish, what would it be, she said to go to Disney World.  As founding members of our local Dream Factory, they said that they could make that happen.

We then heard from Kitt McLeod who said she’d like Robyn’s whole family to be in a Disney video filmed in Florida that would be used to raise money for a special Village.

There in the Sunshine State our family met Henry Landwirth who had a vision of a Village where families with really sick kids could, for a few days, forget about their illnesses.

Years later, this past November, in fact, Robyn at the age of 40 returned to central Florida to volunteer at Henry’s Give Kids the World Village

You see over the last few years Robyn has raised money to sustain the Village by getting donations to support her running in their Gingerbread 5K.  She continues to volunteer there when she goes; for example at Noah’s Nook she hands out towels at the pool, serves food, and maintains the fishing gear as well as at Clayton’s Corral where she supports the kids riding horses.

So the gift that Brenda and John gave our family was they got the ball rolling for Robyn.  She now pays it forward to help other kids with life-threatening illnesses, similar to the leukemia she had as a child.

Words –  232

Dan and Hannah at the Wedding of Kara and Charles (October 3, 2021)

Kara is my brother Richard’s youngest, his only daughter. Charles is her guy. She and the C Man (I have no idea if Charles’ college buddies call him that, but it was fun to write.) had invited some 150 guests to the Otesaga Resort Hotel in Cooperstown, New York for their nuptials on the first Sunday in October (2021). 

Otesaga Hotel

Alas, one hundred made the scene in these Times of the Delta Variant of Covid; the ceremony and cocktail hour are to be outside while the dinner/reception will be indoors.

Otsego Lake, home to Otesaga Hotel Resort

Hannah and I wondered about coming to the wedding at all, but in the end felt satisfactory precautions were taken and we are Pfizer vaccinated. Click here for the link to the blog why we chose to come to the wedding.

About five hours of driving

Carpooling with our daughter Molly and her hubby Tip, Hannah and I arrive around noon at Cooperstown, New York, the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Since the wedding is a 345 PM affair, we have time for lunch together with our three kids (and Tip), then walk the property at the Otesaga Resort and into town to get our 10+K steps.

Lunch of Wegman’s subs with Robyn, Molly, Will, Hannah, Dan, and Tip

Having not worn a suit in forever, I rocked the same gray suit that I wore to Molly and Tip’s wedding in 2011. With rain in the forecast, the ceremony is moved to a 120-seat ballroom. At the outset, I do wear my mask, then take it off. On, off, on off. Eventually I figure, what the hell, everyone is vaccinated and put it in my pocket.

The uncle and aunt of the bride with the groom Charles over Hannah’s shoulder
Molly and Tip who clean up well.

In Maine, the few times I go indoors, I always wear a mask. At our gym, I wear the mask in the facility but remove it when I exercise. I rarely go inside anywhere else. This afternoon, maybe half the folks are masking up for the fifteen-minute ceremony.  A 15-minute ceremony! That’s almost heaven, West Virginia.

Dan and Hannah with our daughter Robyn

Once in the side ballroom for dinner and dancing, we all sit at round tables for seven or eight. There is no social distancing. On the dancing floor, Hannah and I are shoulder to shoulder sans masks. By this time, just a few were wearing masks.  Alcohol and masks do not seem to mix. We are all vaccinated!

Eating and dancing at close range, I pretty much forget about wearing a mask myself.  By 9 PM Hannah and I wrap up while the younger generation rocks on into the night.

Six days after the wedding, no one at the wedding has tested positive for Covid. Coincidentally, two days later the pharmacist at the local Hannaford grocery store administers my Pfizer booster shot. (Glad you asked, no side effects just a sore left arm for 36 hours.)

And as Billy Shake says, All’s well that ends well.

Additional pictures from Kara and Charles’ Big Day

Will, Hannah, Dan, and Molly walking the downtown of Cooperstown
Dan and Hannah in front of the Baseball Hall of Fame on Main Street in Cooperstown, New York
Otsego Lake is the background for a joyful Molly with Tip
The women and one lucky guy! Anna, Robyn, Molly, Kara, Charles, and Tara. (Anna and Tara are my sister Patty’s kids.)

Dan and Being Proud – KGUA #53

Rockin’ Robyn

For the Summer Solstice June 21, 2021 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour hosted by Mark Gross and Peggy Berryhill in Gualala, California, we are asked to freewrite on What has someone else done that made you proud of them? Here’s a chance to tell them or tell them again- and let everyone know.

Our Robyn turns 40 later this summer.  Let me tell you, she’s had an eventful life.

At nearly four, she complained of aches in her knees and elbows when I would swing her around in the front yard.  She’d wake up 6 or 7 times a night.  Three months later we learned she had leukemia.  That’s blood cancer for the uninitiated, like I was back in 1985.

US Army soldier Robyn

Tough kid, she came out the other side after two years of chemo and radiation spindly but determined.

Artistic at heart, Robyn found the routines of regular public school a challenge.  Persevering, she did what she had to do to make it through the education gauntlet. Eventually, she earned her B.A. in criminal justice.

In an extended family of accomplished siblings, nieces, and nephews, she chose a most difficult path – joining the US Army as a soldier.  After 15 months in Afghanistan at the height of that nasty war, she came home ready to take her place in society.

Her heart remains with kids who have life-threatening illnesses like she had.  Each year she volunteers in Florida to support the work of Give Kids the World, an organization that provides Disney World activities for families so they can get away from their daily lives of hospitals and treatments for five beautiful days.

As her dad, I’ve had my positive moments and ones where I didn’t quite get it.  Through it all, we stayed connected; I am so damned proud of the young woman she is today.

Words – 242

Dan and Hannah and Give Kids The World

GKTW map to boston

York is ten miles north of Portsmouth, NH

Up at four this Saturday morning, by five Hannah and I head south on I-95 to Boston’s Logan Airport.  Arriving without delay, we soon pass through the TSA pre-check point for our 815 flight to Atlanta.  We are traveling in the Florence and Michael Hurricane-ravaged South to see family in North Carolina, play some rocking pickleball in Georgia, and visit the hometown of Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, in Alabama.

While waiting for our Delta flight, I walk the wide airport corridors to pass time and work out the stiffness in my legs.  Walking toward the Dunkin Donuts, I notice a sea of green tee shirts.  Moving smoothly, but discreetly to check out the shirts, I am blown away to see they say Give Kids The World!

GKTW volunteers

Angels from Melrose, Mass

Give Kids The World is the Florida-based wish organization that provides accommodations and free passes to the theme parks in the Orlando area for families with kids with life-threatening illnesses.

These volunteers from a Baptist Church in Melrose, Mass are off to the GKTW Village to support these families for the coming week.  They will serve breakfasts and later dish ice cream at the on-campus Perkins Restaurant.

Instead of just concentrating on the kid with the serious illness, GKTW wisely attends to the entire family.  They make brothers, sisters, mom, and dad feel like royalty, too.  Families with a kid with a life-threatening illness can fracture if the needs of and attention to the other kids in the family are ignored.

GKTW symbol

How am I such an authority on Give Kids The World?  Why in 1988, Hannah and I with our three children, Will (4), Robyn (6), and Molly (8), were gifted a trip to Orlando to be tenderly cared for by Give Kids The World since Robyn was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of four.  Today she is a beautiful 37!

 

Dan and Hannah and Their Molly and Robyn

This is a short and sweet posting about our daughters, Molly (38) and Robyn (36).

Zoo 6 M and R

Molly and Robyn

They live 300 miles apart, Molly with her family in Massachusetts and Robyn in upstate New York.

Recently I was reminded of what a great job Molly does to include Robyn in the lives of her sons, Owen and Max.

Zoo 1 rawdins and robyn

Tip, Owen, Max, Molly, and Robyn

When Molly’s family travels to New York, they regularly meet up with Robyn.  In this latest visit, Robyn planned an outing at the Syracuse Zoo, which delighted the Bay Staters no end.  Here are some of the pictures showing the joy that Robyn brings to the lives of her young nephews, Owen (just about 6) and Max (4).  She’s an aunt you’d be proud to call your own.  Molly is a sister who makes a difference.

Zoo 8 close up of O and M

 

Zoo 4 R with O and M on elephant

Robyn, Max, and Owen at the Syracuse Zoo

Zoo 2 O and M with T

 

 

Then just two weeks ago, Molly blew me away.  I mean, touched me to my core.  I had no idea she had emailed some thirty of her family and friends to donate to my Jimmy Fund Walk in September.  Thank you, Molly!

Sox M and T in JF square
Happy Summer! 
This September, my dad is walking 10K of the Boston Marathon route as he raises money for The Jimmy Fund to raise money for cancer research and the care of cancer patients.
As you may know, my sister Robyn had leukemia when she was 4 years old – we are grateful that today she is healthy and doing fabulously.  So this cause is near and dear to our hearts. 
Below is a recent email that my dad shared about his fundraising efforts — and a bunch of pictures from a Jimmy Fund event (where my dad gave Tip and me his tickets to a Boston Red Sox game). https://over60hiker.wordpress.com/2018/07/01/dan-and-jimmy-thank-my-donors-update/
If the time is right for you to donate, I know my dad would appreciate it – whatever you can give will help–it all adds up! 
Wishing you a wonderful, healthy, joyful summer! 
Love,
Molly 

 

 

Dan and Hannah’s Daughter Robyn and Give Kids the World

GKTW 1

If you are looking for a place to donate this October, consider our daughter Robyn’s fundraising for Give Kids The World.  Her letter below explains her connection to Give Kids The World, an organization which provides wish trips to central Florida for seriously ill kids and their families.

Hello beloved friends and family,

I’ve accepted the Challenge for Hope! This one-of-a-kind 5K not only supports a cause close to my heart, but it’s my opportunity to fundraise for Give Kids the World Village. I love this place because it creates happiness and hope for children with life-threatening illnesses.

30 years ago I was the first wish child that they helped! I am now a childhood cancer survivor and a United States Army veteran!

Give Kids The World Village is nonprofit resort near Orlando’s theme parks. At the Village, kids facing life-threatening illnesses and their families are treated to the vacation of a lifetime – and it doesn’t cost them a dime. For one amazing week, there are no hospital visits or doctor appointments, just time to laugh, play and create memories.

I’ve taken on the challenge to make a difference, so I’m asking you to make a donation to help these kids. My goal is to raise $1,000, and I’d love for you to join me. Please visit my fundraising page (just click the link below) and give generously to a great cause. Want to have some fun this November? Come and join my team and walk or run with me!

See for yourself the hope and happiness of GKTW in this video.

Love,

Robyn Rothermel

Click here to visit my personal page.
If the text above does not appear as a clickable link, you can visit the web address:
http://support.gktw.org/site/TR?px=1017011&pg=personal&fr_id=1631&et=60JqI10NCItqaPM89C-7xQ&s_tafId=5305

Click here to view the team page for Rockin’ Robyn
If the text above does not appear as a clickable link, you can visit the web address:
http://support.gktw.org/site/TR?team_id=6355&pg=team&fr_id=1631&et=EMabuVL_AB_NODeRu-ZsGw&s_tafId=5305