Unless you are fluid in speaking Italian you will not know what the title of this blog is about. Sorpresa means surprise in English. When it comes to surprises, it is pretty much black and white. People either like surprises or don’t like surprises. My wife is the latter. She enjoys giving people surprises but she has been adamant about not liking surprises for herself. That is why we found out the sex of our children prior to their birth. I also did not have a surprise 40th birthday party for her as I wanted, or many other big events I may have planned. I, on the other hand, not only enjoy surprising other people, I’ve enjoyed the moments I have been surprised in the past. But never have I been more surprised or emotional than what occurred to me last week.
As many of you know it has been a dream of mine to visit Italy in order to fulfill my father’s dream. And that is exactly what it was; a dream. As much as I wanted and hoped it would happen, I also knew it would be difficult to become a reality. Then last Monday happened. I had a couple of speeches scheduled to talk about ALS and was at the office to catch my ride. I was asked to join in a conference call prior to leaving but wasn’t sure what it was about. The next thing I knew I was listening to Michel and Steve Gleason on the other end of the phone. I knew then that this was no ordinary conference call because I knew what Steve Gleason and his foundation did for other ALS patients. Before his wife Michel could utter the words I broke down in tears as I thought of my father and the fact that my promise to him was about to be realized. Eventually Michel did ask if I wanted to go to Italy with my son and I graciously accepted. I urge you to visit teamgleason.org to get a better idea how Steve approaches his life and what their foundation does. On June 18th my son Jake and I leave for a 10 day visit to Italy. Not only will we be experiencing the history of Italy, we will be able to visit family and discover the roots of where my grandparents were born. And at the request of Steve Gleason himself, my son and I will partake in a couple life adventures with a hot air balloon ride in Tuscany as well as a whitewater rafting trip in Umbria where my grandparents are from. It is truly the trip of a lifetime.
It has been a week and I still am asking whether or not I am worthy or deserving of such a gift. Some people have said it is a good example of what comes to someone who has given a lot. Others have said perhaps my father had something to do with it in his own way. I don’t know why I have been given such a gift, but I believe that in addition to Steve and Michel Gleason, there were other hands and forces that made this dream become a reality and I am grateful to them all; but Steve and Michel Gleason deserve the most gratitude. In addition, to honor Steve and his belief of living through life adventures, I am going to go zip lining with my oldest son Dan during our own father-son trip this weekend.
I wonder how someone who does not deal with surprises well would react with a surprise on the scale of what happened to me this past week. One day you’re going through your normal routine and an hour later you find out you’re flying to another country in four weeks. All I know is I promised to take my father to his homeland as part of a father-son trip. Now I am the father bringing my own son to Italy and I know my father will be by my side as his dream comes true.