I have never liked being the center of attention. I am quite happy to work away in the background and let someone else stand in the spotlight.
When Tony made the decision to share his journey with ALS with the world, I'll admit I was apprehensive. I wouldn't have told people until we had too... he wanted to be completely open. He was right, of course. Sharing our journey brought so much goodness into our lives, and hopefully raised awareness of ALS (this was 3 years before the Ice Bucket Challenge). Even though I hadn't agreed, I supported Tony's decision and entered the whirlwind with him. At first, he managed everything, and I was just occasional support staff. As his ALS progressed, I started helping more... I helped with the Conway Cup, he dictated blog posts to me, I wrote thank you notes, etc.
The when his voice began to go, I had to step up again. I had to speak for him in public, and the best example is when I read his speech at the 2014 VMI Men's Soccer senior banquet. He peppered the speech with French phrases, because he knew I have horrible French pronunciation... a classic example of Tony's humor.
So, I gradually had to come out of the background to support Tony. I was happy to be able to help.
But now, it's just me. I am the main organizer of the Conway Cup, but I certainly couldn't stand up and make a speech when the trophy was presented. I was hit with an unexpected flood of tears when someone mentioned being lucky enough to play with Tony. But I know it probably should be me... I should stand up and talk about how much soccer and the day of the Cup meant to him and how thankful we are for everyone's support. Maybe next year...
I am now the author of this blog, which was Tony's communication with the world for years. I don't know how many of Tony's readers still come back... but my posts often get more than 200 views.
And I am the steward of his legacy... and that means I cannot just work away in the background any more.
There are lots of ways life changes you... and many of us might not even recognize the 20 year old version of us. Certainly, many things in my life have changed me... Tony, motherhood, and ALS being the biggest. I'm going to work on my public persona... get better at standing up and speaking out. For me and for Tony. If you are a future victim of my pathetic attempts at small talk... I apologize in advance!
(So watch this space for an announcement soon!)