Last week, I was going on about the advent of fall and that October marked the 30th anniversary of our arrival here in Ruskin, strangers in a strange land, urbanites coping with the mysteries of seepage wells and septic tanks and wild animals eating our garbage.
I didn't realize until later that I had made a glaring omission - I had neglected to mention, as I have for nearly 30 years, the Terry Fox Run - which was last Sunday, for those of you cutting the lawn and power-washing the driveway.
I felt horrible, not because my words make a difference to the Fox Run, but because of the sight of that courageous young man from Port Coquitlam hobbling down an empty highway with his signature gait, that curly head rising and falling with every step as he ignores the weather and the big trucks passing by and the bleeding stump, an image that never fails to bring a tear to my eye even in my scornful, scoffing senescence.
A column or even a few words was my way of honouring Terry, of paying tribute to a young man with more guts than any 10 columnists, one of the few people I genuinely admire without ever having met him: you can keep your sports personalities and your politicians, give me young Fox any day. I have met his brother Fred, however, who does his parents credit, as well.
So it was that Andrew and I, along with his sister - who hasn't participated since she was a tyke, posing with a police constable along the route - arrived at the Hammond Community Centre to buy our T-shirts and a stuffed dog - something new this year - and to wander about the grass, looking for familiar faces and listening to the music.
Anna wondered why we hadn't brought our dopey dog Jack, as there were a number of golden retrievers among the mutts gambolling about the area. Jack being unused to crowds and a bit of a free spirit would have been too distracting, I said, and that was that. Nice to know I still have some authority, however tenuous, as the years roll on.
Steve "Good Stuff" Darling of Global Morning News - what, we couldn't get Sophie? - a Pitt Meadows resident, was the emcee and introduced the dignitaries on the stage - Daykin, Dalton, et al.
- to say their bit about the event after a young lady in a slinky red dress tottered on spike heels to the stage to lead us in O' Canada.
This was followed by an overenthusiastic trio from Good Life Fitness who would lead the warm-ups, which was my signal to head to the washroom, where I encountered the ageless and indefatigable Ralph Telep, who must be at least 80 and still runs, which is more than you can say for me and Ken Stewart (bad knee, bicycle) and Mike Murray and a host of other old farts.
The kids and I walked the five kilometres, no easy task for the Hip (me) and the Hummer
(Andy), trailing behind the Girl, who was obviously bored but there, nonetheless with a promise of a burger at the finish line. (They were out, by the way, and we had to hit the A&W).
Interspersed among the crowd were several people with red T-shirts marked "Terry's Team" who turned out to be cancer survivors, as am I, and I told Fred as much; he assured me that I could receive one for next year. Also in attendance was a considerable body of people honouring the late Fred Elder, a community leader, volunteer, exemplary citizen whose recent passing from cancer produced a plethora of tributes online and in the local papers. This may very well have been called the Fred Elder Run this year, and I'm sure no one would have minded.
Kudos again to organizer Betty Levens.
There, I feel better.