Treena Mielke – On The Other Side
It seemed like a big party.
There were tons of people milling around, many of them wearing red T-shirts. And as they talked and laughed and ate, the sea of red bobbed around like so many painted waves on a painted ocean.
It was a blue and green made to order day; a day soaked in sunshine; a day that made you happy for no other reason than just to be alive and breathing.
It was also a day made to take a walk.
And that was what I did. I went for a walk. A walk for MS.
“I’m here”, I said, somewhat breathlessly to the lady sitting behind the table in one of the makeshift white tents set up where the sea of red seemed to be happening.
“Give me my T-shirt and I’ll be off.”
She couldn’t, of course, find my name or my donations or my team, but it didn’t really matter, we both just kept smiling at each other because that’s mostly what happens on this walk.
People smile a lot. And they give you water and hugs and a T-shirt, not caring that you have been out of bed for less than 20 minutes, and you stumbled out the door without tying your shoelaces and you can hardly remember your name let alone answer any intelligent questions like ‘where is your team.’
I know. I have done this walk for several years now. And I have the T-shirts to prove it, all sitting in my closet; a myriad of rainbow colours.
This year the color is red and when my granddaughter tugged it on overhead it almost dwarfed her tiny frame, but still she was proud and wore it throughout the whole walk, even when her mom piggybacked her at the very end.
And so I found my team, or rather, they found me. It’s funny, but when you hear someone yell ‘mom’ even if there are 50 million people around, it’s like you know they are calling for you.
“Here, I’m here,” I yell, waving frantically and totally embarrassing my children who are hip and cool and would not wave frantically and yell so as to draw so much attention to themselves.
But, as I said before, it’s all about smiling. So they smiled and I smiled and so it began.
And as we walked, we talked, sometimes tripping over Marble the dog, who didn’t wear a red T-shirt, but trotted along like he was a most important dog, which, in fact, he is, even though the youngest grandchild fears he is a ‘killer’ dog and his tongue, which goes crazy when he licks you, will, in fact, lick her up just like she was a delicious, delectable ice cream cone.
Multiple sclerosis, also known as disseminated sclerosis, is an inflammatory disease in which the fatty myelin sheaths around the axons of the brain and spinal cord are damaged, leading to demyelination and scarring, as well as a broad spectrum of signs and symptoms.
MS affects the ability of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to communicate with each other effectively. In MS, the body’s own immune system attacks and damages the myelin.
In other words, MS is the reason many of the people on the walk were in wheelchairs or scooters or walked slowly with a cane. MS can be terrifying. It can, in a heartbeat, change people’s lives.
And some people do the MS walk every day.
The MS walk in Red Deer is Red Deer Chapter’s biggest fundraiser. It is a serious, important event.
But, on a blue and green day in summer, walking and talking with my kids, tripping over the little mutt they call Marble every now and then, and sharing smiles with hundreds of strangers, it seemed like nothing more than a good day to be alive.
Probably, because it was!