We chatted on the phone this afternoon to discuss how we’d even approach this, for once taking our Dad’s advice to look back over the last six weeks of our lives to gain some perspective on Chris’ journey. We’ve both accomplished a reasonable amount: a few international trips, a couple of soccer wins, some degree of progress at work and school. More or less usual fare.
But our Uncle… well it goes without saying at this point. He’s pedaled his way some 3,300 odd miles. That’s roughly 1.4 Million pedal strokes (slow work day today, so we crunched the numbers) and has zig-zagged mostly east across the vast (just about United) states that make up America. Like you all, we’ve followed every step with awe, admiration, and a touch of anxiety about whether Chris will make it through whatever grueling obstacle that will face him that day.
One thing that has yet to cross either of our minds, though, is doubt. Barring a natural phenomenon or unforeseeable balls up (substitute “screw up” for our American readers) there is just no reasonable scenario in which Chris will ever come off second best; that he won’t make it every foot of the way. It’s easy to say at this point, but genuinely, knowing him as well as we do, there hasn’t been an iota of uncertainty over the last forty-five days (save for England’s World Cup match against Tunisia).
I mean we’re talking about the same Chris who has doggedly driven down his handicap through eye-watering hours of practice. Seriously, who actually practices golf aside from the pros? We all want to be good, but virtually no one bothers to grind out the hours required to be good.
This is the same Chris who was a famously resilient nurse, once covered from head to toe in what can only be described as organic waste, and after a quick trip home to change (you know, we never asked how he got home in that state), came right back undeterred to bang out the rest of his shift.
It’s the very same Chris who has, along with his brother (our Dad) and their Mum, made light work of the considerable obstacles and hindering circumstances that life has thrown at them. Together they’ve transcended barriers and boundaries to achieve success in their careers, pursuits, and marriages. Even more impressively it has all been realized through nothing but hard work, without ever losing sight of the important things: happiness, family, friends, maybe golf again.
We’ve had front row seats to watch all of this unfold over the last 18 odd years, and we’ve sat by lazily to watch some of the last 18 months of practice. Riding on Christmas Eve, I’m sure partially to escape Tom’s incessant stories, (another family trait) is a perfect example of pushing himself further where most would sit back and skip a session. That preparation and passion is evidently what it takes to do something great: a lesson always worth reinforcing, regardless of your age, the size of the undertaking, or the chances that you’ll succeed in doing it.
Chris has talked a lot to us, and through this blog to you, about the diagnosis he received last year. It’s a hypothesis – but we’d say it’s a safe one – that our small and tight knit family is well equipped to deal with things like this, and we do so better than most… not that it’s a competition. The disposition of each individual aside, we’ve generally been an overly rational, frustratingly logical, emotional but reserved bunch – handling adversity as it comes, with humour and a shrug.
That shrug, approaching serious almost insurmountable challenges with indifference, should not be confused with apathy. We deeply care. About Chris, his health, his success, his journey – but we certainly won’t obsess or worry over it. In the same way we never doubted his ability to succeed and achieve, we don’t doubt that his exhilarating life will unfold in its own pre-ordained pace and that, between us, we’ll overcome any of the literal and metaphorical “Kansas rollers with a headwind” that we might stumble upon.
Call it faith, assurance in fate, abject ignorance, whatever you like – it’s our way of dealing, and it seems to work. We know that Chris approaches life in a similar way and hope that he knows we’re squarely behind him, unwavering in our support, and ready to have his back whenever it’s required, in the same way he’s had ours since we were toddlers.
It’s cathartic to talk about these things, important even, but as the stoic Brits that we are, this is a generally unseen phenomenon – broadcasting our thoughts on the internet, a foreign concept for most of us. But now that we have, it’s worth re-stating: we couldn’t be more proud of the man of the moment and his trusty steed.
All that remains then, is to say a sincere thanks to the man himself – we know that you embarked on this for yourself Chris, but it’s resonated farther and wider than I’m sure you could have imagined. If that isn’t a testament to resiliency, hard work, and determination I don’t know what is. We’ve always been big admirers of our Uncle. There are not too many who are lucky enough to boast of two male role models in their immediate family – but the unbreakable loyalty, innate generosity, and unwavering love of two brothers we’ve looked up to all our lives, certainly means that we can. And that’s perhaps the most exciting thing about this journey. Now everyone associated with it, or those who have followed along in any capacity, can share in that too.
Congratulations on this incredible achievement Chris. Head down the home stretch with pride, as you’ve more than earned it. We’ll see you in Boston.