ALS follow-up and new business

Last week, I shared an ALS story about my father-in-law, Frank’s, struggle with ALS, a disease with no cure, that ultimately led to his passing last month. The outpouring of views, shares, comments, calls, texts, cards, and donations that followed has been a bright spot during this sad time.

The ALS Association retweeted my story about Frank on Twitter, where it circulated within the ALS community. In memory of Frank, my husband and I set up a Community of Hope Fund. In the coming years, we will continue to support and grow this fund, designated for ALS research. Sincere thanks to those who donated – you will always be the ones that got our fund off the ground.

As August, the month designated for the ALS ice bucket challenge #EveryYearUntilACure, came to a close my husband and I watched a clip about round 2 and the importance of ALS awareness to Major League Baseball (MLB). All 30 MLB teams participated in the ice bucket challenge this year. You can watch the story and Pat Quinn, co-found of the challenge, discuss why they did it here.

I am eager to see what round 3 of the challenge brings next year. The road ahead for my family will be bumpy without Frank, but as the saying goes, Life is for the living. And let me tell you, Frank is absolutely one of those people who would want that for me and my family because he was the ultimate at living life to the fullest.

One of my favorite things about Frank was his ability to express himself through music. He played multiple instruments and sang, giving his full self to every performance with his oompah band. Moving forward, I intend to focus on my ability to write and to express my own self to the fullest the way he did.

The common thread between music and writing is that you have to possess a certain amount of talent and bravery to do either. When I think of Frank’s musical talent and bravery, it inspires me to lasso my talent and let go of some of my insecurities.

Writing is my form of self-expression – it sustains me and it is the craft I continually strive to develop here on Britta’s Banter. As my kids start pre-school next week, I will have a few free mornings per week. I’d like to devote some of that time to writing. To focus, to push myself, to take a few risks, and to give it my all this fall.

Ha. I rhymed.

Give it my all this fall.

And a new mantra is born, literally, in this moment as I am typing.

This weekend, the ever-popular List of Seven on Sunday will return on my blog. My excitement to resume writing this weekly post about seven happenings in my life from the week is mounting. List of Seven on Sunday posts are centered around thoughts, events, updates, and share-worthy bits of humor, all tied together by a weekly theme.

Thank you, thank you for your readership as my audience continues to grow. Although Frank is not here to read my stories, I am certain he is cheering me on.

A few pictures from the day after his funeral as we, the family, moved forward together and enjoyed a sunny day riding bicycles around some of the various lakes in the Lusatian Lake District of Germany, making new memories.

Jörg, Peggy, Nina, Isolde, and Jan

Jörg, Peggy, Nina, Isolde, and Jan

Without a doubt, Frank would have liked this. Especially the part when one of the pedals on my bike decided to fall off, causing a funny disruption. After much discussion, we rallied around a plan. My husband and knight-in-shining-armor drove his bike back to the house for a tool while everyone else walked their bikes with me until mine was up and running again. Thankfully, we hadn’t made it very far when the pedal decided to give out.

Later, my poor niece took a bad fall, but once again, we rallied around each other until she recovered. We finished our tour with a doctored pedal and knee, but with smiles and a sense of relief that, yes, life goes on.

Happy smiles despite the bloody and questionable pedal.

An enjoyable day despite a bloody knee and a cranky pedal.

The lake views were beautiful, the lunch-stop was yummy, the beer was good, and the people are irreplaceable.

Here’s to giving my all this fall for Frank.


You may also enjoy ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Deferral.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Deferral

On August 14, 2015, just two weeks ago, my father-in-law, Frank, passed away in Germany. He died from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). This blog post is his story, written to continue raising ALS awareness.

Frank - July 2014

Frank – July 2014

By now, thanks to the ALS Ice Bucket challenge that took the world by storm last August, many people all across the globe are aware of what this deadly disease does to a person that receives the diagnosis.

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Last week I drew a picture of a juice box for no good reason and it felt kind of nice, so two days ago I took the kids outside with some sidewalk chalk for more drawing. Lance drew two rainbows, Vivian drew some lines, and I drew a tree.

A double-rainbow can only mean good things.

A double-rainbow can only mean good things.

Then this morning I found myself laying flat on my back in the middle of our driveway squinting to keep the sun out of my eyes as my kids, one on each side, used the chalk to draw my frame.

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Hey kid, that was my t-shirt!

I took my kids to a minor league baseball game tonight for the first time.

We enjoyed ourselves — ball park food, kids zone with a bounce house prior to the start of the game, and the Star Spangled Banner.

Ain’t that America?

It was just what we needed after feeling sad this week.

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Happy, sad, surprise, fear, disgust, and anger

A few days ago I started feeling a little sad. Given that sadness is one of the classic six emotions — happiness, surprise, fear, disgust, and anger being the other five — that all human beings feel, I was quick to give myself permission to feel sad. I am a human being after all, and emotions are valid in every person.

Feeling sad is one thing and I fully surrendered to the emotion, but getting through it is another thing.

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Zero with one bonus

My son lives for his next piece of candy.

Jokingly, I call him the Candy Man because, seriously, the kid will do anything to win a candy reward.

“Lance, will you please go get in the bathtub?”

No response.

“I’ll give you a Twizzler after I’ve scrubbed you clean.”

Immediate action.

So while I try not to abuse the candy bribes, sometimes they make my life a whole lot easier.

My son also loves his dessert, particularly in the form of candy, of course. He loves gummy bears and we got into the habit of deciding on a number that he can have for dessert. It’s usually four – his age – but recently he started asking for “four with one bonus.”


Tickled by his clever ability to finagle, I conceded and now give him four with one bonus.

But one day, fed up with his need for a constant sugar-drip running through his veins, when he asked for four gummy bears with one bonus, I flat-out said, “No, you may not have any today.”

He thought about this for a minute. I braced myself for his impending complaints, but instead he considerately said, “Ok that’s fine, but how about zero with one bonus today?”

Now seriously. Come on.

He totally out-finagled himself. I wanted to say no again and be exasperated like I usually am when he won’t take no for an answer, but this was too good.

And so it goes around here. As a hide my grin and tell him no candy, he always manages to get zero with one bonus.

The Candy Man refuses to lose.


You are funny

A week ago, we flew home from Germany. I think my body is officially back in the Eastern Time Zone in the United States. No more waking up in the wee hours of the morning ready to rise and shine.

The transition between time zones as we flew across continents wasn’t too bad this year. As it turned out, on the return, we really didn’t have much time to sit around and complain about our jilted body clocks. In less than 48 hours after we returned I had us unpacked and repacked for the next adventure — a family wedding in my hometown.

Now we are back from our vacation, back from the wedding, and I for one, have no idea what to do next. Being away for month and then a trip on top of a trip will do that to a person. That, and the craziness of international airports is enough to send anyone off-balance.

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