Friday, April 1, 2016

Off to Phoenix for Indycar: Normal Is New

Mom loved racing too
This post is already surreal and I've hardly written anything. I had been sitting in the Indianapolis airport waiting to board a flight to Chicago when I started this and now I am at O'Hare waiting for my next flight. This afternoon, I had been following the Indycar qualifying from Phoenix on Twitter and through text updates from my brother, who is in Tucson and who I will meet in Phoenix tomorrow to go to the race together. Now it's evening and my layover here in Chicago is only a couple of hours so I am excited to get on another plane and head to Phoenix where I will arrive late tonight.  Then we get to spend all day tomorrow at the racetrack, Phoenix International Raceway, to watch the Indy Lights and Indycar races. My brother and I have been talking about doing this race weekend ever since the event was announced late last year. I never had any idea that it would end up being my first race of 2016, or that I would end up making a banzai trip out of it, as I will be back late Sunday night and into work Monday morning to help with orientation for our new students.

Mom didn't mind the infield either and loved Turn 3 at Indy
But the surreal part is not that I am in Indy one day and Phoenix the next: it's that I can't stop thinking about my Mom. This trip is also quite bittersweet, as I am posting on April 1st, a day that most people associate with April Fool's Day, but in our family, that has been my Mom's birthday. She would have been 81 today had she made it this far but God had other plans for her last July 5th so we are doing our best to try to celebrate her memory today with her spirit present. My brother, sister and I participated in a conference call earlier this afternoon and I know Mom was listening in as she would be glad that Steve and I were going to get together at a race this weekend. It's a shame my schedule is so tight or I'm sure our sister would have gone west too, but we will do our best to uphold the family honor at Phoenix International Raceway for the Indycar festivities. We tried to do this race together back in 2002, but Mom got sick and couldn't go, but I have her event shirt from that race with me and will wear it tomorrow at the track in her memory.

Mom loved her life in Akron
While my blog has historically been about racing, it has morphed into something else this past year with the travel and Mom's health issues becoming ever present on my mind. We are supposed to close on the sale of her home in Ohio next week and that will mark another transition in our grieving process, as that was a place Mom made her own for 25 years and we won't be going back there for anymore birthdays or Christmases, or to help get the house ready for the winter as I used to do every year. Or a million other reasons I used to come up with just to talk and see how she was doing.

Mom's in Victory Lane now
Even with all of that, it occurred to me that this race weekend in Phoenix is a nod to normalcy (whatever that is) in our lives. Next week I will take another step in that direction after a final trip to Ohio to handle the closing on her house and my week will end with a road trip by car to Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway to begin my 2016 photo work for the ARCA Racing Series.

And so we begin. Mom was a big race fan and one of our biggest supporters so it is still extremely difficult to know she isn't around to talk to while I am on the road, or having trouble with a student, or to plan for the Indy 500 weekend when she used to come home almost every year. Not many women her age were still going to the Speedway each May, and she loved to say "Not bad for a little white haired old lady." Not bad indeed Mom. Here's to you. Godspeed and safe travels to us all.

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