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Rent the Convertible. Use the Miles. Win Every Day.

[Chapter #47 is dedicated to my dear friends Traci & Todd Gruenwald and Mike & Jenni Grubbs. Like so many other chance meetings in life, I met the Grubbs at Traci’s annual Christmas party, where I was introduced one night by a slightly overserved Traci as “my good friend Steve.” The crowd had a great time with that and for many years after, I was known by that group as “Traci’s good friend Steve.” Fast forward almost 15 years later to a beach house in Santa Rosa Beach, where Traci, Todd, Diana, myself, and Mike & Jenni Grubbs were awash in some sort of bourbon-laced concoction that we somehow ended up naming the “47.” The 47 now lives in infamy within our friendship and has taken on other meanings, none of which make any sense to any of us and is generally used by the males in some sort of juvenile fashion. None of us really remember how “the 47” came about but the main thing I remember is that I ended up wearing a fedora for most of the evening. I have fun every time I am near these people.]

I am still on a high from the trip that Diana and I recently took to Florida, beginning in Tampa and ending up in Key West. For many, many years, I have wanted to drive the Florida Keys from start to finish, partly because I knew it would evoke thoughts of a lifestyle that I have always admired, feted in the songs of Jimmy Buffett and Kenny Chesney. Ironically, I was never the type of guy that would just “chuck it all” and move to the Keys or the Caribbean thinking it would just all work out, but having the courage to do something like that was something that I aspired to. One thing that I am thankful about with respect to having cancer is that it has allowed me to do things I might not have ever done otherwise, and I am the better for it.

Now, don’t let all this cavalier talk fool you into thinking that I am the type of guy that rents convertibles on vacation. As many times as we have traveled in our lives (literally hundreds of trips), I can count on one hand the number of times that I ponied up the extra money to rent the convertible. It just always seemed like so much more money, and I figured that I could always just roll the windows down. But not for this trip. No, this was a “rent the convertible” trip if there ever was one. We easily spent double what we would have on a Nissan Altima or Toyota Corolla rental, but we had a candy apple red Ford Mustang to show for it and it was worth every cent. I am pretty sure I grinned ear-to-ear all the way from Key Largo to Key West. Rent the convertible.

We fell in love with the resort where we stayed in Key Largo. It was just supposed to be an overnight stop, but we loved it too much to leave quickly. I booked another night there at a price I would have normally recoiled at, and I felt great about it. We loved our extra time there. No regrets.

I was supposed to fly back to Houston this morning at the crack-of-ridiculous for a full week of scans and tests this coming week. The schedule changed and now I don’t have to be there until Tuesday morning, yet it would be fairly costly to change my flight and hotel arrangements to allow me to be here the extra day with Diana and my dogs. The money it would cost to make the changes felt prohibitive, but I do have airline miles and hotel points. It still hurts to use so many but what else are they for? Using them bought me a full extra day here with the people I love most. Use the miles.

One of my best friends called me to check on me the other day. He is a fellow cancer warrior who was diagnosed with the “other good cancer to have” – thyroid cancer – as a very young man. I use quotes in the preceding sentence because people often discount prostate cancer and thyroid cancer as somehow the cancers to have. Jeff and I both have battle scars (literally) to show for a lengthy battle with cancer, and his counsel and words mean the world to me. As we were about to hang up the phone, he said something to me that I am likely to never forgot… he said, “you have to win every day.” It occurs to me that the simple acts above are “wins.” I did what I wanted to do, no longer so concerned about what it cost. Today was a win because I did not have to leave, and I am enjoying a beautiful late spring day with my patio door open because of it. No regrets. Win every day.

Jeff’s words also remind me of something else that brings this chapter full circle. Another dear friend – Mike Grubbs, mentioned above – who I met by chance at a Christmas party oh-so-many years ago – made a very courageous choice because of a medical condition that is, slowly but surely, robbing him of his sight. He was also diagnosed with a life-changing condition as a very young man, and I remember him telling me that he sold his business and moved his family to Florida a few years ago because he wanted to spend every day with his family and see beauty in every direction for as long as he could see it. Simply put, he made the choice to win every day, and he inspires me as well.

My new goal is to figure out what a win looks like each day and do my best to make it happen. There may be days ahead when just staying alive is a win. But hopefully, a successful cancer treatment awaits. And hopefully, there is a procedure that can soon be done to relieve the incredible back pain that I have been experiencing for the past six months. If those things happen, you can be certain that my definition of a “win” will change, and you will see me touching all the bases. I just need to make sure I have enough money, airline miles and hotel points left over at that point so that I can always rent the convertible.

Until next time,


1 Comment

Fantastic!!! I'm often the one that might want to hold off until............until what??? I have said that I wanted to do the travel before I got too old to wear my high heels to dinner or walk all those hilly streets/cobblestone hilly streets in many of the fabulous places in this world. I've done some of it. I drove the convertible Mustang from Tampa to St. Pete Beach. I stay at some of those crazy expensive but so amazing hotels! I have never regretted those expensive but super fun things! Thanks for reminding me to keep doing that!

Love you and praying for that cure!!!!

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