Friday, February 16, 2007

Scenes from Radiothon 2007 benefitting Ronald McDonald House Memphis

Radiothon benefits Ronald McDonald House Memphis. Ginger is on the board, the boys and I volunteer here. This House is supported by donations, the local McDonald's owners group and St. Jude. I am lucky and get to volunteer for a grueling shift or 4 during Radiothon and I see it live and in person. Last night I served Rendezvous to the families. (a gigantic thank you to the groups who serve meals here, I know why you bring more than one person!) I was a tad inept with the ovens and dinner was a few minutes late. A family who had been at the hospital all day, like most of them are, was tired and waiting in line for dinner and they offered to help. I thought they were too sweet to jump in when I was supposed to be helping them, but that’s an example of what goes on around here. And while I was prepping the pizzas from Papa Johns, I saw a cute little toddler dressed in pink fuzzy footie jammies stop toddling around and silently throw up, repeatedly. Families gently helped clean up, nobody panicked, she wasn’t rushed to her room. Her parents cleaned her up and later I saw her slumped on her mother’s shoulder while her parents ate a quiet dinner together. Life goes on and here, everyone understands.

When I was cleaning up I overheard many conversations. Parents, coming together after a day at various treatments, check ups and appointments were listening to each other. A parent with concerns about a procedure the following day was reminded she could call the doctor to clarify instructions first thing in the morning. There were no tears. While stirring pasta and discussing the merits of whole foods diets, I heard a mother tell of a family she bonded with last year and that family’s child lost his battle with cancer. She continued to cook, the other mom continued to listen. They were able to speak without explaining medical terms to friends and family, they didn’t have to worry about upsetting anyone, they were among a unique family. One mother said “they’re supposed to be children, they’re supposed to have a childhood! But he (her son) doesn’t seem to mind. Sometimes I feel bad.” And for many many children every year, this home-away-from-home becomes a part of their childhood, a weird, fun, painful, healing, part of their childhood. The children here are with a parent; lucky is the child who has two parents here, or a grandparent. Despite having an ill child, there are other children to care for at home, mortgages to pay and jobs to keep so often parents rotate here. One at a time, weekends together, but weeks and weeks apart. Without the daily support of other parents, this journey would much bleaker for them. Their lives are disrupted by cancer, but they have a haven, a space to live and share and care and laugh and learn from others. Studies show that helps survival rates, and the donations from Radiothon and other RMH fundraisers keep this place going.

Thanks for being here, thanks for doing this. If you haven't donated, you can donate online:

1 comment:

gwensmom said...

I cooked dinner there with a group once and it was an eye opener. After seeing kids with little to no hair and blue crosses on their heads, our situation with Cerebral palsy didn't seem so bad. Some of these parents came over to thank us afterward but I felt like thanking them for letting us cook for them!