Second, here's a bit about my weekend adventure in Atlanta. I travelled south on Friday to pick up my mother and step-father at the airport on their way back from Italy (yes, I know, they suck); visit my friend Amanda, her baby, husband and dog; drive A LOT - or as my grandmother would have said "all over hell and half of Georgia" (which would actually apply in this case); and visit the trifecta of Stores-Nashville-Should-Have-But-Instead-I-Have-To-Go-To-Atlanta-For: Nordstroms, Crate & Barrel, and The Container Store (you could also add IKEA in there too, but we just couldn't squeeze it in this time and well, I have no hope of Nashville ever getting one so it shouldn't technically go on this list).
The Mother-Ship (or as I also like to call it:
Crack House for the Compulsive Organizer)
Crack House for the Compulsive Organizer)
Most importantly, however, we went to cheer on my aunts, Jean and Lynn, as they participated in The Breast Cancer 3 Day: a 60-mile walk to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation. I even purchased a pink t-shirt just for the occasion. And getting me to wear pink is no small achievement (You should have seen my face a couple of years ago when "pink was the new black." It was not a pretty sight. But I digress...) They began their walk at a mall in Alpharetta, GA on Friday and we were able to find our way to one of the cheering stations on Saturday before they arrived. People were there lining the sidewalk, clapping, waving pom-poms, holding up signs and high-fiving the walkers as they came by. Many of the walkers wore costumes (tutus, halos, butterfly wings, etc.) or funny t-shirts - even the volunteers and officers got in on the festivities as we saw a policeman with a bright pink wig on directing traffic.
On Sunday, the walk ended at Piedmont Park in downtown Atlanta. Joining us was our friend, Neighbor Jane, who is a breast cancer survivor AND did The 3 Day Walk in California a few years ago (and is my mother and Tom's next door neighbor in case you're wondering what kind of parent names their child Neighbor). After circling various business and residential areas around the park looking for a parking space and having a man scream obsenities at me (I have very little patience in general - even less for people with unleashed pit bulls, especially if they're keeping me from finding a parking space) we finally made it there. And, somehow by the grace of someone, were able to get our chairs set up in the shade and with a perfect view of the stage, then haul our behinds to the other side of the park in time to see Jean and Lynn cross the finish line, then pick up their luggage and drag it back to our chairs just in time for some water and a snack before the closing ceremonies began. Don't ask me how we managed to accomplish all of this.
The closing ceremonies began with an introduction from someone on stage as the 2,500 particpants entered into the arena in front of the stage - arm-in-arm, six people across - and formed three rings inside a giant circle. First, the walkers on the outside - women in white 3 Day t-shirts, men in grey - followed by the crew of volunteers in various colored t-shirts in the middle ring, and then finally the survivors in pink t-shirts in the very center. I had been running around, taking pictures and wiping what was probably a combination of sweat and tears out of my eyes as the survivors entered the arena. From where I was standing, I couldn't get a very good picture of them coming in so I turned to try to get a picture of everyone that was already standing in the arena area. I was looking at the screen of my digital camera and trying to determine what was going on because the tiny view looked a little odd. I looked up to try and figure out what was going on and saw a sea of shoes. The walkers, in one enormous circle surrounding the survivors, each removed one the shoes they were wearing and held it in the air to salute them as they entered. Needless to say, there was not a dry eye to be found anywhere around me.
I don't know where exactly Jean and Lynn were in that big crowd, but we managed to find them afterward AND get them and their luggage out to the car, as well as make it back to their house and eat dinner - all before 9:00 that night. The next day they were still able to walk and have inspired me to (maybe) join them next year. I'll have to think about it though - I may have purchased a pink t-shirt especially for this weekend, but I don't know that I can afford - or stomach - three days of pink clothes. And I've already warned my mother, who also wants to do this next year, that I will NOT be wearing any wacky outfits or hats. And look, now it's in writing!
In addition to the amazing feat (or feet, ha ha) of walking 60 miles in three days, my aunts together raised just under $6,000, in honor of - and in memory of - many of their friends and relatives who have suffered with breast cancer. Two of them include my grandmother, Gene Shipp, who died in 1989 and my step-grandmother, Patricia Hardin, who passed away in August of this year. I know they must be very proud right now. Me too.