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A Gift that Keeps Giving By Cynthia Burris

Organized by: Cynthia Burris

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EVENT DATE Apr 24, 2016


I like to remember my father’s life and not his death. So it is important to me that I tell you a little about his life and before pancreatic cancer consumed his life. So please stick with me till the end (forgive my typos) , you will see why I called this "A Gift that Keeps Giving. " When my father and I took a summer trip in the summer of 1986 daddy decided we would be gone all summer and we would visit every state on the west side of the US from Texas to straight up through Oklahoma to Canada over to Washington and all the states in between. If we weren’t camping or seeing the beautiful sites, we were driving. There was never a dull moment, he would sing to me Willie Nelson-“On the Road again” but instead he would adlib “on the road again just me and my little daughter on the road again” my first song dedication was from my daddy. My dad lived most of his life with his shirt off, basking in the sun and this trip was no different, I wanted to be just like my daddy and ride around with no shirt on (daddy was very gracious and explained to me that little girls are suppose to wear shirts..) interestingly enough I also wanted to sweat like my daddy. I remember watching him change a tire on the side of the road and I watched as the sweat dripped off his forehead and I thought to myself –“wow, that’s cool.” Let me bring you back around to my story of our summer road trip. Dad and I were driving along and my dad could tickle my knee like no other, it was as if my knee were in a vice grip! I was of course, wearing a seat belt, and once he got a hold of my knee there was no getting away! I would start jumping around screaming and hollering, next thing we know there were red and blue lights behind us. Yep- we were getting pulled over, why? The officer stated he pulled us over because he saw me jumping around. The officer asked my a long line of questions, is this your daddy? What is your name? Where are you from? Why are you so far away from home? Are you scared? etc etc. Of course the officer realized that there was no problem and that my daddy was just tickling me. That trip holds many great memories that will last a lifetime! The memories don’t stop there but I would like to share another memory with you…. May 2010, we took a family trip to Cancun. We all decided to go swimming, Nolan how ever has never seen my dad swim or shall I say the process that my dad goes through to get into the pull. Basically its simple, he sits down pulls off his wooden leg, lays it on the side of the pool and jumps in the pool. Nolan on the other hand, was taken back! Daddy seeing that Nolan was shocked decide to add to the shock value and started splashing around with his leg and screaming and laughing really loudly and telling Nolan to come on in. Nolan wanted nothing to do with, Nolan just moved slowly to the other side of the pool and proceeded to try to slide into the pool without daddy noticing, it was like dad was a shark that was going to get him. I tried to get him daddy to stop scaring him but I should have known that daddy doesn’t beat around the bush, no matter what your age is. Every time Nolan dipped a toe in the pool my dad would act like he was going to go over and try to get him. After a few minutes, Nolan realized he didn’t have to be scared and next thing we know Nolan is hopping around the pool with one leg pulled up behind himself, yelling at daddy and I “look, I look like grandfather.” It was cute… I was a daddy’s girl but I was never spoiled my dad always taught me you will only have what you earn and work for, stand up for yourself and go get what you need and want out of life. My father taught me how to be strong, outgoing, responsible, caring, and compassionate to others in need, and never to judge a book by its cover, but listen to your instincts. Anyone that knew my father knew he was a straight talker, you could say my dad had three basic rules, 1. Don’t touch his daughter 2. Don’t touch his wife and 3. Don’t touch the ‘vette. Daddy was one of the toughest men I ever knew. He was ran over to the waist by a fork lift and a few years later lost his leg in a almost fatal motorcycle accident, learned to walk all over again, twice, and he lived the sane we always said to each other “because when your tough nothing hurts.” and my daddy was the toughest till he was faced with Pancreatic Cancer, this horrible disease took my father’s life at just 61 years young. It was fast. He was diagnosed November 2, 2010 and he breathed his last breath January 14th, 2011. Two in half months. He came home the before Thanksgiving and we started looking into hospice. The days slowly blazed by.. yes “slowly blazed” it was like time moved so fast yet so slow, watching my father suffer was almost unbearable. Thanksgiving day, he attempted to sit at the table. I told him, I was pregnant with my 2nd child, if he was a boy, he would take his name, Raleigh James. My father’s name was James Raleigh. He smiled the best smile he could smile, his eyes swelled with tears.. then he said “ I would love to eat the wonderful meal that was prepared but I can’t “ .. the cancer had “taken up too much room and he did not have room in his stomach..” he laid on the couch while I tried to feed him small bites of food.. he entertained me for a moment.. and then I finally understood.. ( I can’t even type right now what I understand.. what.. give up? …I didn’t not want to give up ! We are strong, my dad and I can beat anything..) Christmas came, I sat on the floor next to him, through my tears I read/showed him a scrapbook full of memories I made for him… I felt my heart tearing out of my chest…I couldn’t breathe.. neither could he, his lungs are full of cancer too.. it has spread, its everywhere.. I had to be strong for my dad. The best part of all this though.. the faith and of child. I wanted to pray with my dad, ask him about his relationship with God. I was so scared…I can’t explain why. One night, as my son Nolan (4 years old at the time) said “Grandfather is going to sleep, we need to go and pray with him before he goes to sleep.” So we went in, I prayed.. but it was nothing earth shattering nor was it what I really wanted to pray.. but my son prayed exactly what I wanted to say, I will never forget his little prayer, his little voice, standing there next the bed next to my father , who was dying of cancer. Nolan prayed so powerfully that I could not breathe, I swear my heart stopped beating…” Dear God, Thank you for this day, thank you for my Grandfather, please God take away his pain and help him feel better. Lord, I pray that you save his soul, please God save my Grandfathers soul..Amen…” My father, prayed “Yes, God, yes please save my soul.. Amen.” I stood there shaking, thinking, how in the world my 4 year old son just prayed exactly what needed to be prayed. I know how, God is powerful and works wonders through mysterious ways. His ways are not our ways. My father, James Raleigh Goad Jr. left this earth a week later, January 14th, 2011. I know he is in heaven. I miss him every day and wonder if he is proud of me, what advice he would give me. The dreams he would tell me to go after and not to settle. To encourage me that I am better then _____, and that I can be _____. Not to limit myself. To meet life head on and to never give up. Never lower my standards, and always take the road less traveled. To always stand up for myself and those that can’t stand up for themselves. So with that I decided to run a marathon. No, I have never run more than 8 miles at one time. I will train. Lastly, I run this marathon, for him, and for all those that have also faced cancer, for the families and friends that cancer has touched. Let’s work towards a cure, will you help me? I am not asking for a donation. I am asking for you to give me a task. I will complete a task giving back to someone. I will complete a “Random Act of Kindness” in exchange for a monetary donation towards the goal I have of $1,800.00. Once I complete the “act” then you may donate as you would like. That is why I call this the "Gift that Keeps Giving " . The race is April 24th, 2016!


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