I can only speculate what makes others run. I know what motivates me to run. For the Run Across Kentucky we will be selling Memorial Miles. Memorial Miles are a way for you to remember a loved one who was affected by diabetes. We will have 2 levels of commitment for you to choose between. The proceeds will help us with logistics of the run. We will only sell 500 miles. The rough break down is this:
Golden Memorial: ($100) embroidered shirt with our logo and “in memory of . . . mile _____,“ a picture of the run, and a special gift.
Sliver Memorial: ($50) A picture of the run, and a special gift.
Send me an email to reserve a Memorial Mile for your loved one.
I have saved the first mile for my Aunt Lola Crouch. She was diabetic, and I always remember her having special shoes and pricking her finger to test. Aunt Lola lived in Roanoke with her husband Russell Crouch. He had worked for Norfolk and Western Railways, while she was a nurse at Roanoke Memorial Hospital ( I think it was RMH). Aunt Lola was full of love for all the people who came into her life. I will confess early into this, that I am biased in my memory of her to a fault. I have to explain a little about my family on my Dad’s side.
My father’s mother passed on when I was six. I have two images in my memory of her. The first must have been while she was suffering through her cancer. I remember going to her house off Williamson Road. Grandma Gose lived in an older house that had a room on the first floor with French doors. I remember Grandma sitting on a couch in a nightgown and robe with machines. As an adult, I think it was an oxygen machine. As a kid, it was scary. My only other memory of Grandma was riding in the Limo at her funeral. I vaguely remember arguing about dressing up to go to her house to meet Jane, Dad’s sister. Aunt Jane was staying at the house after Grandma died. I remember racing Chris to the big grey car. I remember thinking it was huge inside. Some guy showed us how to unfold the foot rests into seats. Then my memory ends. It is all very difficult to recall.
I remember Aunt Lola always being there for our family. Aunt Helyn was also, but she lived in Florida and the distance seemed like a trip to a different country to my young mind. Aunt Lola lived across town, so we saw her regularly. My memories are disjointed pictures in my head dancing together with stories I have been told. They had a large brick two-story house with a huge yard. We played outside in the summers and in the basement in the winters. Aunt Lola would watch us for mom and dad at times. We helped with their gardens and making meals. I had eye surgery as a small child and she carried me from my hospital room to the operating room, because I wouldn’t calm down unless she was there. I don’t remember that, but it was a story she had told me several times. Mom would tell me the same story right before my eye surgery at 14, then Aunt Lola showed up and walked beside my bed as they pushed me to surgery. Aunt Lola was the glue of that side of the family. We saw her most out of everyone on that side of the family until Aunt Helyn moved up. Both women were very influential to me. I’m sitting here tearing up thinking about both of them. I’m going to take a break for a minute.
Aunt Lola (and Aunt Helyn) functionally became my Grandmother on Dad’s side of the family. She loved my family as if we were her own children. She took time for us like a grandmother more than an aunt. I really don’t know how to describe it.
She was diabetic, and I remember her checking her blood sugar often. I remember Lara and me in her kitchen learning how to bake something or another—she was always teaching us something—and she had to sit down and drink juice and eat something. I remember being worried, but not understanding why. Looking back I know it was her blood sugar. I remember her feet and legs would be affected by the disease. She had special shoes because of the diabetes.
In college I traveled home, because Aunt Lola’ s health had deteriorated and she was moving in with her daughter in Mississippi. I rushed back to Roanoke. I got to thank her for stepping in and becoming the grandmother for us after we had packed up her house. I don’t ever remember seeing her upset or cry. I’m sure she was in private moments. She always served people, and I don’t think she allowed herself to be upset in front of people—or maybe just us kids. But as I thanked her tears streaming down my cheeks, I saw her eyes get glassy and she said, “Your Grandmother Oneta loved you. She couldn’t stay with you, so it’s the least I could do for you and her. She’s watching over us all. She loved you all. And I love you all.” She must have said it over and over as she gave me a hug that was as strong as I had remembered her ever having. That hug lasted for hours in my memory. Age, diabetes, and heart issues had taken away a lot of that strength over the years, but for that moment she was as strong as she had ever been. She squeezed me tight as I cried on her shoulder, because that’s what Aunt Lola does—soothes and cares so that you know everything will be alright. I’m idealistic, and I hope everyone has someone like Aunt Lola in their life.
The memory of Aunt Lola is one of the things that motivate me to be a better person. Maybe my example will help someone else make the choice to be healthier. Someone out there has their own Aunt Lola, that’s why I am running. They need their Aunt Lola around a little longer. Aunt Lola gets the first Memorial Mile.