Reconstruction and restoration are the name of the game in the world of breast cancer. Reconstruction rebuilds what was physically taken away while restoration gradually occurs as your heart and mind mend, affirming everything really will be OK.
Restoration also breathes new life into vintage sheets and scraps of metal until they resemble the vehicles they were designed to be.
... And on rare occasion, you discover that the world of breast cancer and classic cars intertwine.
Today I found myself at the 30th Annual St. Ann's Seafood Fiesta and Big Fish Car Show in Decatur, AL. I found myself there because my husband organizes the car show portion, so it's kind of a must, even if I would have preferred to fold laundry while watching The Crown. But had I gotten caught up with Queen Elizabeth and my fitted sheets I wouldn't have met Michelle Baker, the proud owner of a 1971 Chevrolet C10 that's designed with a message.
I chatted with Michelle for awhile and learned she had always wanted an old work truck, but once she got one she decided it should do more than haul stuff. Having a functional truck was great, but having one with a sense of purpose was far better.
You see, breast cancer has taken several of Michelle's family members and she's experienced a few scares herself. She understands first-hand the importance of mammograms and early detection, and knows not everyone can afford them. That's why her truck proudly displays decals that honor women who've died from breast cancer, are fighting breast cancer, or need that gentle reminder to get a mammogram. One of the vinyl decals is for the website Joy to Life, an organization that helps cover mammogram costs for under-insured women.
For a small donation, she'll add your name, or that of a loved one, onto the side of her truck. All the money goes to one of a couple of organizations geared toward research and early detection. She said she hopes over time to see more names honoring women who are fighting than those who've died, a small indicator that we're winning the battle.
It amazes me how many people have been touched by breast cancer. And even more amazingly is how once you are, you're driven to do something about it. No longer can you sit in the comfort of your living room, shaking your head, thinking, "Oh, that poor soul. Hope she makes it." You find yourself asking, "What can I do to help that person make it?" I've felt so supported on this journey, and if you're on it, I hope you do too. I've discovered there are lots of Michelles in the world, they just don't all have a truck as eye-catching as hers.
I nabbed this pic from Michelle's FB page because I failed to get a wide shot. You'd think after years of shooting video where "wide, medium, tight" were drilled into my head I would have remembered to step back for a wide angle, but no. I'm more of a lost in the weeds type who overlooks the big picture. Oops!
Thursday morning I was having a rough start to my day. Tears fell while wrestling with a decision, combatting confusion, dwelling on life's disappointments, all struggles that were compounded by neglected quiet time, if the truth be told.
Early that afternoon once I finished my work for the morning I pulled myself together and readied myself to pick up the kiddos from school. Finally dressed in something other than sweats and with reapplied makeup I got in my car to leave home when I remembered I'd need more gas if I didn't want to find myself stranded along the road...and I'm not into hitch-hiking.
Sunshine filled the sky that day accompanied by near-summer temperatures. "Something to be thankful for," I thought.
As I pulled into the MAPCO near home the back of a man pumping gas caught my eye, causing me to press on the brakes to get a closer look. My eyes remained fixated on him as the tears began welling up again.
That man. His hair color and cut. His height. His build. His stance. His dark-colored plaid shirt and jeans. EVERYTHING about that man looked like my dad who passed away four years ago. I mean EVERYTHING. I slowly pulled toward the pump next to him in disbelief with an intensified desire to speak with Dad. He'd know how to brighten my day with the right words and a warm, fatherly hug.
As I began pumping my own gas, I peered through the side windows of his empty, black, 15-passenger van trying to get a better look. "Does his face look like my dad's too?" I wondered. After eyeballing him for incredibly too long I decided to walk over to him and say hello.
"Hey!" I said. "Sorry if you felt me staring at you, but I couldn't help but notice you look like my dad who passed away a few years ago. I just needed to get a better glimpse of you and say hi."
He gently smiled, like my dad would have done, as I proceeded to tell him that he was obviously younger than my dad but the resemblance was still remarkable. I'm sure he felt some relief that I didn't think he was old enough for me to be his offspring. Though I found out technically he was.
"You know," he slowly began to respond, "I'm sixty-eight now, but my dad passed away when I was twenty." He choked up a little at those words before continuing. "And I was angry at God for many years for taking my dad at such a young age. Then one day I took a close look at 2 Peter 3:8. Do you know what it says?" he asked.
Beloved, do not let this one thing escape your notice: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. ~ 2 Peter 3:8
He quoted the preceding passage then asked if I was a Christian. I told him, "Yes" as he whipped out his iPhone and opened up his calculator app.
"How many years would be a good life to you?" he asked me.
Had he only known the way I felt in that moment, that I could drop dead at any minute and not care, he probably wouldn't have asked. But I mustered a grin and simply said I had lived a fulfilling life and wasn't sure. "Give me a number," he insisted.
"Another thirty years would be great," I reluctantly replied.
He then started plugging in numbers...30 divided by 1,000 multiplied by 24 plus ??? I started getting lost in his calculations. I'm not a numbers person.
"Look at this!" he joyfully exclaimed. "According to this, you'll see your dad in about 45 minutes based on Heaven's time. Have you ever thought of that?"
Well, yes, I've considered that with God there is no time and whether we die at age 8 or 80 it's a nano second compared to eternity. But I had never looked at it in light of a literal interpretation of 2Peter.
"Your dad is going to turn around and say, 'Oh, there you are!' as if you've only been out of his sight for a short while."
I thanked him for that perspective, telling him how happy I was that I had gotten to meet him then returned to my car with his words still whirling around in my head.
As I drove away there was something about that encounter that seemed Divine. I appreciated his message, that I would see Dad soon. But I think the more valuable lesson for me that I needed to hear that beautiful afternoon was that our time here is so short and that I really need to cherish it. To live like I'm going to see my dads - both my earthly and heavenly ones - in 45 minutes. To allow myself to wallow in sadness is a waste of precious time when I have so many things to be grateful for and to live for. Not sure why I need to be reminded that life is a gift, but sometimes I do. And I was thankful for the reminder that came from a total stranger that day.
After I drove off, I thought I should have snapped a picture of him - at least from behind - and glanced at his license plate. It probably said ANGL1 or HVN-SNT or something to that effect. You never know. One thing I do know is God intervenes in ways only He can when we most need Him.
Oh, and if you're wondering, the man's face slightly resembled my dad's. What are the chances?
Funny that the title "Author" appears above this description yet I have no idea what to share about myself in this space! How about my first name is Kim. My last name is Tisor. Tisor rhymes with miser, though I try not to be one.
For more information about me, please visit the author page.