Yesterday was my Grandpa Milt’s 86th birthday. I was blessed to be able to visit him for a little get-together at his house. I love seeing him and I’m grateful for every opportunity. So, what does this have to do with Operation Jack? Well, in honor of my grandpa, I’m going to explain how we named Jack. There’s a definite connection between the two.
For those of you who are new here, I’m a marathoner and the father of three kids. My middle child, who will turn 6 next month, is severely autistic. I’m going to race (well, try to race) 60 marathons in 2010 to try to raise national awareness for a charity called Train 4 Autism. My son’s name is Jack and every time I blog, I want to try to tell you guys a little bit more about him.
Anyways, today, I’ll tell the story of how we named him.
Today is my 16th consecutive day not running. That makes sense, huh? I’m getting over an ankle sprain, and I think it’s wise to be conservative. If I needed to run a marathon today, I could. But I don’t have to run one today. I have to run 60 next year. So, I want to be 100%. If I start next year on a bum ankle, it’s not going to get better and I’m going to be in a lot of pain the whole way.
I’m going to physical therapy three times a week, doing exercises at home and icing so much I’m feeling like a polar bear. But it’s getting better. And I’m absolutely going to run next year. I’m probably a week or so away from running again. Speaking of frozen, ….
Ice Cream Update
I like ice cream. A lot. Yesterday, I finished off the peanut butter fudge swirl. I’m now at 47 consecutive days eating ice cream or frozen yogurt. I have no idea when my next day off will be. Kind of weird that I have streaks of not running and eating ice cream going at the same time. But I’m kind of weird. So there.
How We Named Jack
The way I see it, Tiff carried the babies for nine months, so the least I could do was let her name them. All I asked for was veto power. She threw out a couple of names and then she threw out the name “Jack” if it was going to be a boy. My dad’s grandfathers were named Jimmy and Jack, but I always got confused about which one was my grandfather’s dad and which one was my grandmother’s dad. They both died in the early 1960s and I was born in 1974.
Well, my grandpa Milt (my dad’s dad) is probably the nicest person I’ve ever met. I’ve met plenty of nice people in this world, but my grandpa … what the heck, I play favorites! Anyways, I called up my dad and asked him if that was my grandpa’s father, and sure enough, it was. So I told Tiff I was totally on board with Jack — that was by far my name of choice if it was a boy. I wanted to honor my grandpa by naming my son after his father. Tiff and I were in total agreement, so Jack it was.
A month or two later, we had the ultrasound and found out the baby was a boy. I called my grandpa up and told him the baby was going to be a boy. He was excited to hear that. Then, I told my grandpa that we were going to honor him by naming the baby Jack, after his father.
Grandpa Milt doesn’t have the greatest hearing. I think part of that is because he’s been married to my Grandma Bea for 65 years. I’ve only been married for 10 years, and I know I’ve been working on losing my hearing so that the nagging doesn’t bother me. I can’t imagine how silent the world will sound in 55 more years.
Anyways, I told him about the name, he asked me to repeat myself, so I did. He started stuttering and couldn’t talk, then started crying and had to hang up the phone. Yeah, he was happy.
So, Jack was born and it was surreal to my grandpa when he came to visit in the hospital, because he got to hold Jack Felsenfeld. That was his dad’s name. He told me in the hospital (while fighting back tears, of course) that he had been sitting in his backyard the night before and he was looking up in the sky and talking to his dad. He says he saw a star flickering and he knows his dad heard him.
My grandpa holding Jack in the hospital on Sept. 17, 2003, the day after Jack was born.
The first Jack Felsenfeld died in the 1960s of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease). While in college, I worked quite a bit with my fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, to raise money for ALS research. That’s our national philanthropy. Now, raising money for Train 4 Autism will hit home with my grandparents, too. They have three sons: Alan, Robert (my dad) and Martin. My Uncle Marty (now 49 years old) has autism and is a happy guy, but hasn’t lived a mainstream life.
I won’t get into many details about my Uncle Marty here, but when I first heard that Jack had autism, I knew all about it because I’ve seen it my whole life. I was pretty shocked that I had a son who might be like my uncle. He’s actually probably a little more severe than my uncle, which is something I don’t do a great job of coming to terms with. But whatever.
Jack and Marty yesterday.
I’ve always been pretty close to my grandparents, but this has created a completely new bond. I would have never thought that we’d get real solid parenting advice from my 80-something grandparents at this age, but we have. They’ve been through what we’re going through, and now we’re seeing a different side of them that I’ve never seen. I have a better understanding of my grandparents and a new bond with them.
So, that’s the family history of where Jack got his name. I know y’all were dying to know!
I’m not hiring, but I will take volunteers! Anybody want to help me bring more people into Operation Jack? No cost to anybody, no obligation. I just figure that the more people who know, the more who will participate. So, if you’re on Facebook, go to the Operation Jack Fan Page and send it to your friends! See the image below … it’s pretty easy stuff.
Also, if you register here at operationjack.com, it will help me keep in touch with you as we get closer to next year. I’m not going to pressure you (I’m not a salesman, that’s for sure), but I’ll have more Operation Jack-specific information for registered users. Of course, no obligation, no cost, and your information isn’t going anywhere.
Operation Jack Shirts & Stuff
I established fundraising levels for t-shirts, tech shirts, sweatshirts, track jackets and things that go beyond that. Check the sponsors page for all the details.
Save The Date
Not totally sure of the details right now, but we’re looking at having an Operation Jack fundraiser in Southern California on October 17. It’s probably going to be a barbecue and we’re going to keep it affordable to get more of you to attend. Just like Operation Jack, we’re looking for participation from a lot of you, not just big help from a small crowd. It’s a team effort. I’m just the guy writing the blog.
So, if you’re in Southern California, I’d love to have you there. We’re probably going to do it in Ladera Ranch, but maybe in Lake Forest. My wife is in charge of this and I’ll have more info fairly soon, but if you have any questions, comments or suggestions, let me know!
Video Of The Day
Two good friends of mine, Debbie and Melissa, are on board with Operation Jack and running the 1/2 marathon in Carlsbad, Calif. next January. They’re excited about doing this and they want to do it for Jack. I’ve known them both for close to 20 years, but it still blows my mind that they want to do this. It’s totally surreal, and yeah, I know I use those words every day. And speaking of totally surreal, I got an email last week from a friend of mine named Dan that left me speechless. Still don’t really know what to say. I was listening to music while working yesterday afternoon, and I heard this song come on, and I thought, hmmmm … yeah, I can grab that and dedicate the video of the day to them.
Have A Great Day/Week/Weeks/???
I’m not sure when I’ll blog again. Probably not for another few days or maybe a week or two. Try not to work as hard as I have to right now. See you soon!