Sometimes, I feel a little guilty on Mother’s Day morning.
Like so many other families in the community, mine has been a victim of breast cancer.
I’ve lost an aunt, a great-aunt and, technically, a grandmother.
My grandmother passed away several years before I was born. My aunt died when I was in second grade. And I have few memories of my great-aunt, who lived in Cincinnati.
So, I can’t exactly say that I feel their pain when I see so many people gathered for the Beverly Breast Cancer Walk every year in honor of the sisters and mothers and loved ones they’ve lost to the disease.
Surely, their heartache is worse than mine is.
That doesn’t mean breast cancer isn’t personal for me. I still remember my mom in tears the day her sister died. We were in the front of the house, right by the front door, ready to head out so I could receive the sacrament of reconciliation at St. Barnabas Roman Catholic Church.
I was sad that my mom was sad—but even though I was 7 years old, I was also angry that something had happened to make her so sad.
But enough about me—the Beverly Breast Cancer Walk isn’t about me.
It’s about us.
In 16 years, the community has made the Beverly Breast Cancer Walk an incredible event that puts the South Side in about as positive a light as a person could imagine.
We march through our neighborhood; we play music; we dance—and we donate money to Little Company of Mary Hospital to make sure our loved ones get easily accessible, top-of-the-line healthcare if they face the diagnosis of breast cancer.
I’m not a morning guy. I have a hard time stringing together a sentence before 7 a.m. It’s usually just something like, “Mmm hmmm” if I’m asked a basic question.
But, it’s easy to wake up before dawn on Mother’s Day to head down to Ridge Park in preparation for the Beverly Breast Cancer Walk. And if you’re not awake by the time you get there, a busy, energetic group of volunteers will make sure you get going long before the sun comes up.
And surely, you’ll be wide awake by the time the walk is set to start, when you gaze around and see thousands of people flowing up the Ridge Park hill that leads to Longwood Drive.
The walk, as it usually does, will have some new aspects this year—including new musicians performing along the route.
However, the one constant is the tangible energy that envelops the park just before the walk starts.
That’s when you realize that the 14 people who first walked in recognition of breast cancer more than 15 years ago have transformed into the more than 14,000 people expected this year.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that Mother’s Day means a lot more this year as a new dad. As the father of a 6-month-old, I’ve certainly seen up-close just how much mothers do and have been reminded that God or Mother Nature or someone regularly reminds men of how inferior they can be when it comes to caring for a child: Here, honey, you give birth to the child, then try to feed her right after. I’ll be here sitting on this couch. The nurses told me that I get to hold her first while they tend to you, and now, I’m catching a much-deserved breather after—uh—encouraging you during labor.
More importantly, my heart goes out to anyone out there missing their mothers on Mother’s Day.
May the vibrant energy of the Beverly Breast Cancer Walk remind you that you’re not alone—on the South Side, it’s always about us.