Friday, June 12, 2009
Cattlemen's Ball 2009 - whispers, mink, and tears
Ok, to get rid of any worries that the title of this post may bring - the tears were tears of joy. Now to the rest of the story... (man, I miss you, Paul Harvey)
The 2009 Cattlemen's Ball started for me and my traveling companions with a visit to the Bank of Doniphan, where we met with Angie, our contact for tickets and the vendors. Jeanne Sather (Assertive Cancer Patient) and her wonderful friend Monica rode with me out on Friday morning. It was GREAT to meet Angie and her colleagues that had worked so hard and so long on making the Ball a reality. After meeting with her, she recommended that we have lunch in the Doniphan Cafe & Steak House across the street. Tell you what - if you ever find yourself near Doniphan, which is on the road between Grand Island and Hastings, you need to stop in there for a great meal. I had the vegetable beef soup, and was really sorry that I had to leave the lucious chunks of beef alone in the bowl. The skilled and very busy waitress came over and clucked her tongue at me, asking why I hadn't eaten the beef (folks, it was chunks of prime rib - the good stuff!). I told her an abbreviated version of why I wasn't eating meat anymore, and she understood.
We went on to Grand Island where we were interviewed by a Hastings Tribune reporter. We had a good time, and the story was published on the following Monday. Unfortunately, the story is not free on the web.
A side note - the whispers started Thursday night/Friday morning for me - I lost my voice. So all of these nice people were meeting me with no voice. Wonderful. What a way to make an impression! I alternated sounding like a young boy going through puberty to only speaking in a whisper. Trouble is ongoing - have seen a family medicine professional, head/neck guys are next if it doesn't resolve.
My library director and her husband arrived in time for the evening festivities, and looked wonderful in their outfits, designed especially for the Ball. The three of us - Jeanne, Monica, and I - went out to discover what we could find for supper, and found a wonderful Latino restaurant in downtown Grand Island - Sanchez Plaza Restaurant, Market & Bakery. I was crossing my fingers that I could find something that wasn't too spicy, and was thrilled to find out that the real Latino chefs let you add your own spice. I had a great dinner! We enjoyed it so much, we returned on Saturday before driving back to Omaha. Again, a great place to eat if you find yourself in Grand Island for a stray hour. They feed you up right!
Friday night brought storms as only central Nebraska can get them. Someone told us there was 6 inches of rain - and based on what we saw at the Ball site the next morning, I can believe it. No discouraging words were heard from the Ball volunteers and planners - they, like all the Nebraskans I have known, just picked up and started working on getting things done. They had a couple of 4 wheelers running around, picking up early arrivals at the parking area and taking them across the flooded field to the tents. (Yes, we took advantage of that ride!) Even the interiors of the tents were soaked, but the quick addition of wood shavings/animal bedding soaked up most of the extra moisture. Jeanne set up her booth, I set up the library booth in a different tent, and we met the day. I intended to stay at my booth, but after one kind woman patted my shoulder and said, "It is a good thing you work at the Med Center - they will fix your voice up", I figured I was not getting the message across about our consumer health information services, and rejoined Jeanne. She and I were both set to be in the style show, so we practiced with everyone that morning, then she went for makeup and hair around noon. (I went back and told them that I was now a 2 year old as far as it came to my hair and face, and I wiggle - they sent me on my way, untouched!)
The style show is where the tears and the mink come in. Even practicing, I teared up - all this being done for us cancer survivors really touched me. (And I admit, there was a little bit of anger back there in a corner of my mind that I was even involved in this - still ticked off that cancer showed up, interfering with my game plans.) All ages were in the style show - I followed a very young boy. No one really got into what their particular story was - we didn't have to. Jeanne spoke just before our turn on the catwalk, telling the do's and don'ts of what to say when a friend has cancer. Then we were on! I went out, and saw my director and her husband cheering me on - and about lost it big time right there. She, along with the great folks I work with, ALWAYS cheered me on, even in the darkest days of treatment and when the pearl showed up in my skull and through additional scans last fall. How lucky can one person be to have that kind of support? I hope everyone finds that when they need it! And to see them out there, cheering once more for me - well, that made my year right there. Wearing the mink was something special - made up for all the hospital gowns I have had on over the past 3 years - but the cheers and smiles from my own supporters and those from the community will keep me going for a long time. Hats off to the nearly 500 volunteers that made the Cattlemen's Ball a reality, and to the community members that attended - my whispering cheers are for you!