Friday night was our area Relay for Life. The Miss-Lou area is the 5th largest Relay event (per capita) of any other area in our country. That is pretty amazing. We were especially excited about being there this year to support Jonah's buddy, Cliff! If you are a long time blog reader, then you have seen Cliff on our blog MANY times. He has been battling cancer since last November. We planned to get to Relay later but really wanted to be there to see Cliff walk the survivor's lap. So, we fed Jonah then headed out the door. We got there just in time see Jonah's friends at the Delta Bank booth. Their theme was a fishing theme and that was just perfect for Jonah. He was pretty sure Cliff set all that up just for him to play with. Imagine his surprise when we made him move on to the next booth!!
He and Cliff fished for a while then I attempted to get a picture of Jonah with Cliff and Beppa. As you can see, this did not make him happy. He wanted to catch more fish. Check out the pouty face!! He was mad! I think this is the first time he has ever been with Cliff and Beppa that he wasn't giggling!
Beppa knew all the tricks to get our boy to smile. She got a fishing pole. We didn't get a full grin from him but at least the pouty smirk went away. These three love each other so much. Jonah lives away from his grandparents and as far as he knows, Cliff and Beppa must be what it is like to have grandparents down the street. I'm not sure he has ever heard the word "NO" at their house. Cliff's diagnosis has been tough on him because they are gone so much or sometimes when they are home, Cliff's chemo has made him so sick. So, Jonah's time with them has significantly decreased over the last 6 months. But, he knows there is a problem because he always prays for Cliff. He usually asks God to help his throat feel better. I guess in his world, there is no cancer...only sore throats and ear aches. So, that is what he prays for. BUT, I'm pretty sure God always hears Jonah's prayer for Cliff because it is so sincere.
We forced Jonah to leave the Delta Bank tent so we could make our way around the track. He was in a I-L-L mood! Oh my goodness. He has never acted like that in public. We were both bewildered at his behavior. People knelt down to speak to him or hug him and he scoffed at them. He was MEAN! I've never seen him treat people that way!!!
Marlee Kate Lynch walked up and his mood lightened for just a moment. Then, I guess he remembered he was in a bad mood and started whining again.
We saw Manna and Eli and while he was somewhat interested in Eli, he was still much more interested in being a little toot! I tried to get him to show Eli his cup and the balls that were on it but he was not too keen on that idea either! Remember? BAD MOOD!
We finally sat down on the track to watch the survivor's lap and he kept getting more and more ill. On any other occasion, we would have left and taken him home but we really wanted to support this event. So, after this little pouter kept on and on, Daddy took him to the side to have a serious talk with him.
The first lap started and it was very moving! It was the survivor's lap! I couldn't help but cry as I watched all of those people walk by us. I knew 5-10 of those people and have walked through some of their "stories" with them. I have seen the way cancer has changed their lives. I've seen how it changed my own family when my grandfather was diagnosed then again when my dad got the dreaded diagnosis. So, for every person that walked past us, I knew that life was no longer the same. I knew that even with remission or good days or hope, life was just different now. I sat with my little boy in my lap and thought about how many parents have held their own sick children or wives who stand next to their husbands or husbands who care for their wives while taking care of all the family details. Cancer is such an awful disease and so many are affected by it. Seeing these people, our friends, our neighbors walk this lap represented so much HOPE!
As Cliff got closer, I moved Jonah from my lap on the ground to Dan's shoulders so he could see his buddy. Cliff came right over and gave Jonah a high five.
After the survivors walked their lap, they were joined by their caregivers. That lap was just as emotional for me. I've been the caregiver and I know what that involves. I could help but think about all the caregivers who stood on the side and watched because the person they cared for didn't win their battle. What a gift for those people to get to walk with the people they love so much! Mrs. Virginia stopped and gave Jonah her balloon. At the end of their lap, they all let the balloons go. I figured Jonah would get upset about letting his go but he did great!
He kept telling us he wanted to go fish again. We kept telling him no. He started to cry again. Fortunately, Marlee Kate made her way back around and gave him a big hug to make him feel better. How sweet his this?
We ran into Ken Vines and he had hit the Parkway booth that was selling funnel cakes. He offered Jonah a bite and Jonah ate the rest of it. RUDE! I was so embarrassed. He kept licking the cake the running it back across the sugar. I'm pretty sure that made Ken not want anymore.
We continued to make our way around the track letting Jonah do all the fun things for kids. We wanted to end up at the Delta Bank tent so he could fish more. Before we left home, we got plenty of cash. We have been living on a pretty serious budget but we planned ahead for this because we wanted to support the cause. Jonah had no problem spending every dollar we took! He loved it. He even won his first candy necklace.
We ran into one of Jonah's biggest fans, Debbie Brocato. She has been following his blog since his birth and loves him almost as much as we do. He was coming out of his awful mood by this point and actually gave her a hug. She gave him a pirate eye patch. Check out the look on his face...he might could pass for a pirate with that mean face. :-)
Vidalia Lower Elementary also had a fishing booth and I think that satisfied some of his urge to fish. Except he wanted to keep doing it rather than moving on.
The next picture totally cracks me up! If we weren't holding his hand, he walked like this with his "flashlight" up in the air. He looked just like a tour guide.
Now, here is the point where we shift from talking about Jonah's rotten mood to his rotten parents. We bought food then sat down to eat. The kid ate and ate and ate. He started with popcorn, then went to chips, a hot dog, water, jambalya, etc. After he ate, he perked up and was in a fabulous mood. The kid was STARVING!!! We felt terrible. In our defense, we fed him before we left home and assumed he was full. That was not the case!!!!
And, I had to capture a "big boy smile"! We moved to the funnell cake stand next and we shared a cake. Jonah loved it all over again.
We had a fabulous night that was cut short by a little boy who needed to go to bed. But, we had a wonderful time with our family and community. It was great to help Jonah understand what the night meant while having fun! Oh, the other big news of the night was we didn't take a stroller at all. Jonah walked everywhere he went. I'm amazed!!! Our baby is gone and a big boy has replaced him!