I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m very lucky. Not only do I have great family and friends in my life, I have a job that I love. Hope Lodge not only lets me help people; it gives me a reason for why I had cancer. My family and friends see that, and they in turn have supported the Lodge ever since I’ve been here. Skating for Hope would not have happened without their help, and these holiday parties at the Lodge wouldn’t be as fun. Looking forward to seeing a lot of my favorite people on the 13th!
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Well, since my Crohn’s has limited my writing the past few days, I thought I’d share something useful today. Last month, 15-40.org asked me to be one of their spokespersons and I gladly accepted.
I grabbed a few of these shower hangers at the Fenway Health event, so I thought I’d share the information here. Let me know if you want one or a 15-40 sticker…and please CHECK YOURSELF!
Monday, November 28, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Saturday, November 26, 2011
It’s not too often you run into a long lost brother. It was the summer of 1994, and I was a counselor at a camp in Maine called Med-O-Lark. Gary (who had arrived from Scotland) and I hit it off immediately by quoting Fletch and Mike Myers SNL skits back and forth to each other…(In my best Scottish accent:“Gary, you’re my BROTHA, I LUV YA!”)…We haven’t really stopped quoting to this day.
The summer I met Gary I was also well into the 2nd year of my destructive relationship with alcohol. Gary was always there to take care of me, carry me, and get me back to camp. 17 years later, and I know Gary still has my back. Like the day we hung out and played wiffle ball in 1994, I’m glad I got to hang out with him these past couple of days, and hope he moves to the northeast sooner rather than later. Love ya, my brotha!
Friday, November 25, 2011
Here are some pictures from the Hayes/O’Neill/McGrath Turkey Day in 1982. 29 years later, and I was still at the kids table this year – I hope I never graduate. I love my sister with the pop-pom wig. The only person missing is our all-time leader in pictures taken, my dad. And even though both of my grandparents pictured have since passed, they live on in spirit with every laugh my family shares. I’m so lucky to have these people in my life.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
I’m so freakin’ thankful. I started my day just like I’d love to start every day – by playing hockey. My Crohn’s was making my stomach hurt, but I played through it and made sure I burned some of the calories I was hoping to eat later.
After resting and recharging at my parents, it was off to my aunt and uncle’s for a perfect meal with my some of my favorite people. There was laughter, NFL football, my uncle’s wonderful grace, eating, playing football (a pick-6 was my highlight), dessert, and more laughter.
Then, it was another brief rest at my parents followed by seeing The Muppets with a group taking up almost an entire row. My nephews and niece gave it “so-so, pretty good” sideways thumb reviews, but I thought it was great. Someday we’ll find the rainbow connection, and I think it will be on a day like this…
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
It was five years ago, and I was struggling professionally and emotionally. It had been a difficult year for me and with the holidays approaching, I wondered how I would handle it if the season didn’t lift my spirits. Then, my nephew gave me this turkey and I knew I was going to be all right.
Here is what “B” wanted me to know he was thankful for – Cards, Emails?, your car, funny things, movies, you, your college (his parents went to BU and Providence College, but he roots for BC), seats?, your name (we have the same middle name).
This homemade gift was just what I needed to remind me how much I had to be happy for and how much my family meant to me. I knew no matter how the rest of my life was going, as long as I had my family to support me, things would work out.
I started being thankful for what I had instead of feeling bad for what I didn’t have. It took time, but I started to laugh more and began using The Secret. And a few months later, I found my job at Hope Lodge. It’s so simple and easy to see life through a glass half full lens. I see people with cancer do it everyday I’m at work. Be thankful for what you have, and keep laughing. Think about the things you want instead of stressing over what you don’t want. Thanks for helping me out, “B”, and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
I’ve said this many times before, but I think Thanksgiving gets the shaft as far as holidays go. Christmas stuff comes out in the store sometimes even before Halloween, and poor Turkey Day is forgotten. Without having to worry about what to buy for whom and trying to minimize the amount of time I spend shopping, Thanksgiving reminds me what is most important in my life: my family. And every Thanksgiving I’ve spent with my family was been full of laughter. My awesome cousin Katie has started her own tradition of having a game night the Saturday after Turkey Day. We usually play Apples to Apples, Cranium, and this write the first line to a book game called Liebrary (trust me, we make it hilarious). Each year has a theme, and thanks to something I bought Katie for her Birthday, this year’s theme is 1990 (details to follow). In addition to starting this great holiday tradition, Katie also sent me this card (that played Darth Vader breathing, lightsaber noises, and the Imperial March when I opened it). Thanks to Katie and the rest of my family for always making me laugh, and playing into instead of ignoring my love of the Holy Trilogy. Looking forward to Thursday!
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Just two days after experiencing my first kidney stone, I was dressing up like Peter Pan to compliment my three-year-old nephew’s Captain Hook costume. He wasn’t too terrifying, but had everyone in the family laughing one night before Halloween when we were having dinner at my parents’ house. He had been trying on the wig and practicing pirate sayings like “Ahoy me hearties” when we saw my father pull into the driveway. My nephew, who was still learning how to say certain words, wanted to surprise grandpa at the door with his wig on. He excitedly screamed, “Give me the wid, give me the wid!”, and greeted my dad as a pirate.
Today, my nephew turned 12. He had a Target gift card to use, so we went there and he picked out a Pedroia jersey and I got him an electronic dart board. Then, we went to Friendly’s and sat at the counter for lunch. It was the first time I’ve been to Friendly’s since I stopped eating meat, but I made out okay. Like we always do when we hang out, my nephew and I were laughing a lot. Even though he’s already 12, I hope he never outgrows having lunch with Uncle Dave for his birthday.
Hope you had a great birthday buddy…I love you!
(More about my nephew later this week…)
Saturday, November 19, 2011
I really love sports. I have my whole life, and will never stop. I’ve been rooting for the B’s, Sox, and Pats since I can remember, and BC since I was accepted there my senior year in high school. Although recently these teams have been very successful (9 championships in the last 10 years), it wasn’t always like that.
When I was young, the Celtics were the only team that won anything. The B’s would lose to the Habs every year in the playoffs, and the times they managed to make it past Montreal, they lost to Edmonton and Pittsburg superteams. The Sox invented new ways to lose each year, and even better ways of choking in the playoffs. They even set an MLB record for most consecutive playoff losses. We were lucky if the Pats even made it to the playoffs, and the year they made it to the Superbowl was an embarrassment. While I was at Boston College, the football team did well and made their usual bowl game but the hockey team struggled (the only highlight was their 1994 Beanpot victory).
This year, I’ve been reminded what it felt like to root for Boston teams when I was younger. The Sox season exploded with two walk-off games that ended within minutes of each other. And last night, Boston College lost to a couple of their biggest rivals (86-64 to Holy Cross in basketball and a 3-2 overtime loss to Notre Dame in hockey with 1.1 seconds left). Ouch.
But, at least I don’t root for the Islanders. My friend Scott, a lifelong fan of The Isle, became a fan of them when he was a kid. He enjoyed their 4 consecutive Stanley Cup Championships, but has been paying the price ever since. But even though the Islanders haven’t produced lately, Scott is a great sport about it and is one of my favorite people to talk hockey with. He understands the game, loves the game, and I’m sure he’ll proudly be wearing one of his 10 Islanders jerseys tonight – just like he did in their 2-1 loss to the B’s when this picture was taken. Go B’s!
Friday, November 18, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
I already blogged about other lottery tickets, but last night I had a dream I won the lottery so I figured tonight would be a good time to buy some more. The funny thing about my dream was that no one in my family seemed excited that I won. So in my dream, I kept rechecking the numbers to make sure that I had – and I did. I hope their real life reaction is a little better than it was while I was sleeping…
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
When I wore my Green Lantern T-shirt last year, I was looking forward to seeing this movie. It wasn’t the best superhero/comic book movie that I’ve seen, but I enjoyed it. I love the idea of the ring’s power only being limited to what the mind can think of, and how the strength of Green Lanterns are based on their willpower and lack of fear. This movie was a nice reminder that by picturing something in our heads, we can make it a reality – even without a ring (it just might take more time).
Monday, November 14, 2011
Even though the BC Hockey team got dominated by BU yesterday 5-0, I am not worried. Just about a year ago (see 11/13/10 blog), I went up to UVM and watched the Catamounts beat the Eagles in another early season upset. It wasn’t easy to watch, but it made my younger brother (UVM ’99) very happy.
I have full confidence that Coach York will help the BC boys bounce back and have another successful season and Frozen Four run. Boston College may have lost their #1 ranking, but there’s a lot of hockey left to play. GO BC!
Sunday, November 13, 2011
In May of 2010, Worcester’s Hope Lodge celebrated 25 years of being open and serving cancer patients and their caregivers. Not only was it the first time (since I’ve been here) that we served alcohol at a Hope Lodge event; I was the bartender. It was the second time that I’ve been lucky to hear 3-time cancer survivor Joyce Kulhawik speak at one of our events, which was a very inspirational way to open the celebration. When former guest Tara spoke and mentioned how spending time with me helped her deal with cancer, it was a nice reminder for why I do what I do (and my eyes watered up a bit). Also, my two awesome sisters were there to support Hope Lodge. It was a great evening and although I’d like to say I hope we’re open for 25 more years, I really hope we find a cure before then…
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Today was a great day. It started with a call from my nephew inviting me to the BC football game. Going to a game with my nephew and older brother? Not a hard decision. I won this parking pass at the Magnus Halloween show costume contest for last week’s game, so it worked out well and we used it today.
There was perfect football weather at Alumni Stadium, and BC won 14-10. There weren’t too many exciting plays during the game, but the end was close and BC’s defense came up with two huge plays – an interception in the end zone and a 4th down stand. One of my nephew’s favorite parts (okay, mine too) was when a BC student ran across the field, high-fived a couple of the Eagles players, and was clotheslined by a NC State player.
BC football won’t be playing in a bowl game this year (or they’ll be in the Toilet Bowl as my dad says), but it was nice to see the team finish at home with a W. Also, I’m hoping it will help get them pumped for their game against Notre Dame next week. Bowl or no bowl, any season BC beats ND is a successful one in my book.
Also - more BC Football Tickets
Friday, November 11, 2011
For Veteran’s Day, I thought it would be appropriate to write about the soldier that is closest to me - my grandfather. Like I wrote about his World War II dog tags that I wear, “ his name was David Michael Hayes, and he was from Worcester, MA. His blood type was O, and his rank was captain. His father was Patrick Hayes who lived at 3 Lily Street in Worcester (which doesn’t exist anymore). He was 26 when he went away to fight (the day after he married my grandmother), and he didn’t return for over 3 years.
I can’t imagine what my grandfather went through while in combat during World War II, but I know I wouldn’t be able to handle being in the military. I know I have a lot of other things on my mind, but I try to remember every day how lucky I am that there are so many other who are willing to be in the armed forces. Yes, I have Crohn’s and I’ve been through cancer. I will take those experiences over being in battle in the middle of a war. My grandfather’s dog tags remind me what others have been through and that I should be thankful for every free day I’m alive. Their sacrifices allow me to fight my own battle against cancer.
I think the best way to thank our veterans and current armed forces is to live life like we appreciate it. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and remember everyone who served and serves without you ever asking them to.
Thank you to everyone who does a job I couldn’t…
Thursday, November 10, 2011
I would have blogged about this Van Halen ticket on the 6th, but I was away from the then powerless Hope Lodge. Four years ago, when I had just started working at the Lodge, I was able to go out at night with any guests who wanted to do something. We went to movies, hockey games, and the occasional concert. The rational was that we weren’t a medical facility so if there was an emergency, anyone at the Lodge could dial 911 just as easily as I could.
So, when a guest told me he wanted to go see Van Halen, I told him I would be glad to. It was a great show (see set list), and the first time I had ever seen VH. David Lee Roth was back touring with the band, and Eddie’s son Wolfgang played bass in place of Michael Anthony. They rocked the place, and for a couple of hours the Hope Lodge guest and I forgot about cancer.
Even though I can no longer leave Hope Lodge to do evening activities with the guests (unless everyone goes), we still have fun sharing stories, watching movies, and playing games. And even though I love working here, I try to do as much as I can to fight cancer.
Lately I’ve been working with 15-40.org to raise awareness and share my story. Last week, I spoke to students at the Bancroft School in Worcester, and told them how I learned to listen to my body and not ignore symptoms. The Worcester Sharks are having a 15-40 night on January 7th, and today I helped shoot a video promo for the game with Sharks (and former BC) player Nick Petrecki and Stephanie, another 15-40 spokesperson. It was a lot of fun, and everyone left with new15-40 gear (like this sticker), and they had Sharks hats for Stephanie and me. Keep your eye out for the video at Sharks games in December, and buy your tickets for the January 7th game!
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
My younger nephew made this card for me on my birthday couple of years ago. I always love home made things, especially when I can tell a lot of care went into them. When I could see my nephew had made exactly 35 crayon candles on top of the cake, I knew this one was a keeper. It also inspired me to write the poem #35, which was included in my book III Sides to Every Poem.
I thought today would be a good day to scan this because it’s my nephew’s birthday. He didn’t have any specific requests or hints for a present, but only said, “What you usually get me.” In the past, that has meant things like disappearing ink, a squirting camera, and whoopee cushions. I don’t think he’ll be disappointed.
“C” actually reminds me of a younger Dave. Like me, he doesn’t mind stirring things up. In many ways, he’s a typical middle child who doesn’t mind being different from the rest. But, he also looks up to his older brother and at times tries to follow in his footsteps. He’s creative, speaks his mind, and is hypersensitive when it comes to things being “fair”.
Thanks for this great card buddy, I hope you had a great birthday and continued celebration tomorrow and this weekend…see you soon and I love you!
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
My friend Andy, who spends his summers in Indonesia doing anthropology research, gave me this a while ago after one of his trips.
One of my favorite Andy stories:
When I had cancer, Andy asked me if there was anything I wanted. I told him there was a certain street sign that I really hoped to add to my collection, and he went to work with his brother and one of their friends.
While his brother and friend went to acquire my “make a wish” sign, Andy stayed in the car as a lookout for any authority figures. A local cop just happened to drive by, and asked him why he was pulled to the side of the road. Quickly thinking, Andy told him that he was diabetic and that his blood sugar was running low and he was feeling light-headed.
The nice officer not only believed him, but he went to get him a candy bar. No arrests were made, and Andy got me the coveted sign.
Monday, November 7, 2011
The bus stop on Bowman Street:
I was really proud of this ant project:How many 80s metal bands can you spot? See also – PEI Map
Sunday, November 6, 2011
My first attempt to fund Skating for Hope involved putting most of my Star Wars collection up for auction. I had made the decision to part with most of my possessions, and I figured beginning with some of the most difficult to part with would be a good way to start. I listed the Ebay auctions on my Vader Was Framed t-shirt blog, and luckily there were enough dorks like me who wanted to bid. I raised about $250 with the items these labels tracked, and my t-shirts gave me enough money to rent the hockey rink for 24 hours.
I think it’s almost time for me to take the next step of my possession purge…
Saturday, November 5, 2011
It was 1980, and the last of my generation of McGraths had recently been born. From left to right in the back there’s my father (nice tie), my grandfather, my aunt, my mom, my other grandfather (who I was named after), and my grandmother.
In the front we have my other grandmother holding my younger sister, my younger brother (love the shorts), me (with my older brother right behind me), and my older sister.
I wouldn’t be who I am without the people in this picture. They were there for my birthdays, sports games, and holidays, and I couldn’t have made it through Crohn’s and cancer without their support. None of them turned away from me while I struggled with drinking, and they taught me a lot about unconditional love.
Most of all, my family taught me how to keep my sense of humor no matter what life throws at you. I try to be there for them as much as they’ve been there for me, and try to make them proud that I’m in their family.
Love you guys, and miss “Gram”, Grandpa Dave, and Grandpa Paul.