Sunday Soliloquy

Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in exhibition game at...

Image via Wikipedia

Lou Gehrig – Farewell to Baseball Address

Delivered on 4 July 1939, New York

Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans. Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day?

Sure I’m lucky.

Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy?

Sure I’m lucky.

When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift – that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies — that’s something.

When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter — that’s something.

When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body — it’s a blessing.

When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed — that’s the finest I know.

So, I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for.

A little background.

It’s time that I fill you in on the history of this ‘project’… if you can call it that yet. I’m still considering where this jumble of ideas will land. But, here’s where it started out.

First… the name of this blog.

‘Buddy Breathing’ is not a new name. It’s borrowed from a book I authored/compiled for my dear friend, Art Suke, in fall 2008 during the final months of Art’s battle with ALS. The book containing stories, letters, emails, photographs, and poems was Art’s story, one that was read over and over again to him… he never grew tired of listening. Buddy Breathing was a source of hope and strength and confirmation that he indeed made a difference in all of our lives. I was given the privilege of taking Buddy Breathing from germinating thought to fruition, and then presented with the great honour of reading it to my friend. A powerful experience all around.

Art was my husband’s good buddy, they’d known each other first through business, and a friendship developed around work, play, cars, golf, running, boating, faith, family, until the point that Art became ‘Uncle Art’ to our kids. Art was a scuba diver, and made several diving trips with friends. He loved the anticipation of getting below the surface of the water, and wrote after one trip about the, “real, true, vibrant colours … the beauty is just astonishing… almost unbelievable.”

In 2007 Art was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) which made no sense to any of us.  Art was the picture of health, lived a physically active life, ate well, did everything right, and suddenly he faced a devastating disease with no known cure. We were all in shock. We still are in some ways.

Somewhere along the way after Art became ill, I became utterly convinced that Art had a story to tell… that his life spoke to us and potentially to others. And I began to flesh out the idea, talking to him about it, asking if he’d let me help him write something. At first he was a little bit shy, a little reticent about having any focus on himself. We tried a number of ways to begin the process, and finally he said, ‘You do it, LA’, I trust you.’ So I did.

As the disease took it’s course, and Art did everything in his power to treat it, we watched him deteriorate physically and grow stronger spiritually. Not without tough unanswerable questions, of course, but he was a rock and a testimony to his faith. He focused on us, made time for his friends, family, and took trips both to see old friends and also to experience some things that he had always wanted to but never had. Like Art’s trip to the Grand Canyon with my husband… sleeping outside on the terrace of the Presidential Suite, and waking to sunrise glowing pink on the canyon walls… WOW! And while he went about all this, and living for extended times in San Diego to take Chelation treatments across the border in Tijuana, Mexico, he sent e-mails back home that resonated with strength, hope and a willingness to believe in miracles yet accept what his future might hold… both at the same time. He lived in the tension of those extremes.

And as the process of writing down Art’s story progressed for me and I learned more Art’s scuba experiences, I came across the term Buddy Breathing. It jumped out at me… it was a diving term, but it was more than that. It spoke of relationship and community and what we are each capable of… breathing words and actions and acts of love and life into one another… saving one another. That’s how Art lived… until the day he passed away in May 2009.  Art was about people, community, friendships, and paying attention to others. So, Art’s story now had a name… Buddy Breathing, a book about sharing life.

The buddy breathing technique is illustrated in this video.

Buddy Breathing sits on our side table, and I often pick it up and read parts of it, or look at the pictures. Art is still in the pages. Words and images, wisdom and love. And we miss him. We hate the disease that took him from us. ALS is a disease of the young, the healthy, and as such it is, like any disease, one that we want to beat. Now. Our prayer and hope is that a cure can be found in our lifetime. So, maybe this blog is about that. I’m still not sure.

For today, and until things become more clear for me, I trust that what I write here can make a small impact. I trust that I can shed some light or bring some hope into your life. Maybe making a difference in this world is as simple as speaking words of life to one another? Like Art did.

Thanks for stopping by.