The Happiest Day in a Long Time

01.20.2009 | 12:24 am

A few days ago, I mentioned that Susan’s hands have steadied; she felt like she could try making jewelry again.

On Saturday, she actually got to work. (First, though, I had to go to Home Depot and buy some Butane for her torch, because I had left the tank empty conducting my recent Very Important Scientific Experiments.)

We were both a little bit apprehensive, though neither of us ‘fessed up to this fact until afterward. Worried that her hands would start shaking, worried she wouldn’t have had the strength, worried that the part of her brain that lets her hands make what she pictures in her mind wouldn’t work anymore.

So, as insurance, I asked some Jennifer and Jeff to come over. Jeff and I have been friends since we were Freshmen in college; Jennifer and Susan both got interested in jewelry at about the same time (even though we lived in different states at the time).

I figured that if there were things Susan wasn’t up for, Jennifer could pick up the slack.

It turns out, though, that Susan got comfortable making jewelry right away.

So Jeff and I got busy with the chainbreaking tools, degreasing and dismantling a bike chain for Susan to use in the bracelets she’s making.

And then — while the women still worked — Jeff and I fired up the Playstation and played Rock Band. To everyone’s great disappointment, the microphone was not working, which meant I wouldn’t get to do my awesome Geddy Lee impression.

I sound just like him. Really, I do. At least, in my own head I do.

After Jeff and Jennifer left, Susan commented that it had been the happiest day she’d had in a long time. She’d been participating, doing what she loves to do, and felt like we’d had visitors, which is way way different from being visited. Specifically, it’s the difference between having friends over to your house and having people coming to see you at the hospital (whether you’re in the hospital or not).

Normal is exquisite. Those of you who have ever been sick for a long, long time know what I’m talking about.

A Reminder

Lately, I’ve started taking a lot of pride in my ability to take care of my job, my kids, my wife, and my house, singlehandedly for at least short stretches at a time.

I’ve become pretty efficient.

Then today I got a good reminder that sometimes efficiency isn’t always all that great of a thing.

I was helping Susan move from the living room — which we’ve got converted into a mini-bedroom for the two of us, since it’s on the main floor — into the family room.

The first step of this is to have Susan grip my right forearm with both her hands, while I take her feet with my left hand. In one swinging pivoting motion she pulls herself into a sitting position while I swing her around so she’s sitting on the edge of the bed.

Once there, she usually needs a minute to catch her breath and to get her feet to be ready for the stand-pivot-sit motion of getting into the wheelchair.

Today, like usual, I just stood there, giving her the time she needed. I don’t like to take too long, though, because I know Susan gets uncomfortable pretty soon if she doesn’t have her oxygen compressor going.

But this time she needed a few extra minutes; her back was sore from laying down all day.

So I sat on the bed and started scratching her back. No big deal.

And then she started crying. It was so nice, she said, to have me sitting beside her again. And I realized she’s right — I’ve been focusing so hard on trying to be a good, efficient nurse that I haven’t been spending the time I should on being a good husband.

It was good to sit beside each other, me scratching her back, her resting her head on my shoulder. For a few minutes, it was better and more necessary than air.

Really, it was just a normal moment. And I’m a huge fan of normal.

PS: Team Fatty has now raised more than $80,000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation this year. We’ve got a good start toward that $1,000,000.


  1. Comment by Sue | 01.20.2009 | 12:30 am

    Here’s hoping for a lot more Normal for all of you.

  2. Comment by Saso | 01.20.2009 | 12:34 am

    Happy for both of you.

  3. Comment by Josh | 01.20.2009 | 12:36 am

    I agree with Sue… can’t wait to hear more normalcy coming from Susan and yourself. Still praying for you guys often!

    I’ll send pics soon of me, opening my Christmas gifts. The only two things I got for Christmas were my Fat Cyclist cycling cap and a pair of Fat Cyclist socks! I love them both and glad my wife decided to send some business your way!

  4. Comment by chris | 01.20.2009 | 12:47 am

    Thank you for sharing this. I am so happy that you and Susan have these moments. I’m also very grateful to both of you for such a poignant reminder to myself and all of your readers about what is truly important. It’s a lesson I tend to forget. I sincerely thank you for this and so many other postings.

  5. Comment by aussie kev | 01.20.2009 | 12:52 am

    normal moments rock


  6. Comment by ricky | 01.20.2009 | 1:06 am

    so happy to read this. so glad that susan had a happy day. your level of energy and ability to get things done astounds me. stay strong and win susan!

  7. Comment by matt (ming) | 01.20.2009 | 1:07 am

    thanks for sharing with us fatty.

    put a smile on my face


  8. Comment by william | 01.20.2009 | 1:50 am

    Good work dude.

  9. Comment by Rob | 01.20.2009 | 1:55 am

    If I ever get really sick, I hope I have someone like you around. Susan is lucky to have you.

  10. Comment by Phil | 01.20.2009 | 2:07 am

    Well that’s awesome.

  11. Comment by RJ | 01.20.2009 | 2:37 am


  12. Comment by fuzzy | 01.20.2009 | 3:20 am


    Todays post has made me smile.

    Good for you and Susan.

    Luv’n Stuff

    Fuzzy from the UK

  13. Comment by Mom of Fatty | 01.20.2009 | 4:14 am

    I have treasured my last visit with your family, and now I know why. It was just a normal visit, I didn’t feel needed, and in fact I thougt as I left that I had had a fun birthday party – for me. (Felt a little guilty. And then I thought, “Well, next time I will be more useful.”) For this time all I did was be there. And I had fun. You have always been a great family. A fun family. A “normal” family the way “normal” should be.

  14. Comment by Jamieson | 01.20.2009 | 5:49 am

    Prayers for more Normal are headed towards you. Very happy to hear that you and Susan took the time to enjoy the Normal that you had.

    Win Susan!

  15. Comment by bikemike | 01.20.2009 | 6:16 am

    Florida is a very humid state and i’m thinking that’s the reason my eyes are leaking. I noticed while i was in Vegas last year they never did leak. It’s very dry in Vegas.

  16. Comment by Big Boned | 01.20.2009 | 6:39 am

    Fatty and Susan,
    So glad you had a normal day. Here’s to many more. Looking forward to seeing the jewelry and maybe a chance to get some of it for the one who makes my “normal” special.

  17. Comment by mikeonhisbike | 01.20.2009 | 6:54 am

    Normal Rocks. Here’s to more normal moments during your day. You both deserve them. I’m also glad to see that someone else appreciates the ability to sing like Geddy Lee. At least in our minds.


  18. Comment by Bjorn 4Lycra | 01.20.2009 | 7:09 am

    3 cheers for normal. Bikemike it must be humid here too.
    Who is Geddy Lee?

  19. Comment by KTBee | 01.20.2009 | 7:25 am

    That was so tear-inducingly beautiful. I am so happy that you and Susan had a good day.

  20. Comment by Jaime O. | 01.20.2009 | 7:29 am

    Ohh…are the loveliest moments in our lives so breathtaking? There’s nothing like those simple, quiet, normal moments.

  21. Comment by Nina in Ohio | 01.20.2009 | 7:41 am

    What a lovely moment – thank you for sharing it (I still have tears in my eyes) and reminding us to treasure the ordinary & the normal. If you’re going to be in Austin in November, I’ll see you there. Win Susan and Go Team Fatty!

  22. Comment by Bob | 01.20.2009 | 7:43 am

    Wow…so happy for you both.

  23. Comment by theveganvagabond | 01.20.2009 | 8:03 am

    beautiful post.

  24. Comment by Don | 01.20.2009 | 8:16 am

    Than you for sharing that… and all that you’ve shared over the years. Here’s praying for much, much more normal over the coming years for you and your family. Continued Prayers for Susan and the rest of the “Fatty Family”.

  25. Comment by rich | 01.20.2009 | 8:17 am

    Normal is awesome!

  26. Comment by Woody | 01.20.2009 | 8:47 am

    Thank you for reminding me to treasure normal!

  27. Comment by reagan | 01.20.2009 | 8:55 am

    I love reading about your interactions with your family and I feel so stupid for crying but I just don’t want to take for granted those little moments with my husband. (I’m probably crying because I’m pregnant but I feel for you guys more and more every time I read)

  28. Comment by FliesOnly | 01.20.2009 | 9:14 am

    OK…I need to sit here at my desk for a few minutes before I can once again talk to or see anyone. Great story today Fatty…even if it did choke me up.

  29. Comment by Matt | 01.20.2009 | 9:41 am

    Like BikeMike, I also noticed my eyes seemed to be leaking this morning…must be dusty in here or something. Maybe the air filters need changing…need to get right on that!

    Thanks for the reminder to live in the moment. Appreciate the little things. I’m so blessed that it just blows my mind..and I tend to forget that sometimes.

  30. Comment by Kala | 01.20.2009 | 9:45 am

    Normal moments are so beautiful. I am so happy that Susan was able to make some jewelry.

    Also, I am so happy for the amount of money you guys have raised so far! Simply amazing!!!

  31. Comment by bikerchick | 01.20.2009 | 9:53 am

    Wow, Fatty; that’s awesome. Not awesome that you made me cry first thing on my keyboard, but awesome in the “you get Susan back and she gets you” way. I’ll quit blubbering now. So very glad for this news, and to hear how strong Team Fatty is getting, too!

  32. Comment by Charisa | 01.20.2009 | 10:44 am

    I’m glad other grown adults play rockband. And thank you for reminding me how great normal is! Hope Susan continues to have more normal days!

  33. Comment by Dave | 01.20.2009 | 10:47 am

    “It was so nice, she said, to have me sitting beside her again.”

    Wow. I never know when I’m going to read something here that will make me cry. You’re a star.

  34. Comment by Bandit | 01.20.2009 | 10:52 am

    “…Jeff and I fired up the Playstation and played Rock Band. To everyone’s great disappointment, the microphone was not working, which meant I wouldn’t get to do my awesome Geddy Lee impression…

    After Jeff and Jennifer left, Susan commented that it had been the happiest day she’d had in a long time…

    I’ve been focusing so hard on trying to be a good, efficient nurse that I haven’t been spending the time I should on being a good husband.”

    I don’t think these three statements are independent. Fatty, no more singing. Please.

    Enjoy every minute you can!

  35. Comment by Canadian Roadie (posing as a mtn biker) | 01.20.2009 | 11:01 am

    Thank you for a beautiful start to my day. Now if only I could stop shorting out my keyboard! I too hope that I can get my hands on one of Susan’s pieces when she’s finished, the picture you posted the other day was beautiful.

  36. Comment by Erik in StL | 01.20.2009 | 11:25 am

    I’ve been following your blog for a while now. It’s great to see someone completely devoted to their spouse as you are. I am happily married with 3 great kids. I couldn’t imagine going thru what you and your wife are enduring. To say I respect you would be an understatement.
    And for you to be a Rush fan on top of that…! You da man.
    Live for every minute you and your wife have together. I’m trying to do the same in my “normal” life.

  37. Comment by dug | 01.20.2009 | 11:35 am

    take off, eh.

  38. Comment by jenjen | 01.20.2009 | 11:39 am

    Yay for normal moments! It was so fun being with you guys the other day!


  39. Comment by fremont mike | 01.20.2009 | 11:42 am

    Thanks again for reminding us to appreciate the simple things in life. God bless

  40. Comment by Juls | 01.20.2009 | 12:15 pm

    *Raises drink* “Cheers to normal, everyday moments”!

    Fatty – what happens when an agent signs you (you do after all, sound just like Geddy Lee). Does that include a record deal? Or just getting a single on the radio? Would there be a tour? “The Fat Cyclist Tour”

  41. Comment by Marleymom | 01.20.2009 | 12:40 pm

    May you have many more days and moments like this one.

  42. Comment by bobbieh | 01.20.2009 | 12:41 pm


  43. Comment by Angela | 01.20.2009 | 2:00 pm

    That is, indeed, a very good day. Love and respect for you both.

  44. Comment by Kathleen | 01.20.2009 | 2:19 pm

    Wonderful news!

  45. Comment by Mike Roadie | 01.20.2009 | 2:27 pm

    Normal rocks!

    Susan rocks!

    Team Fatty rocks!

  46. Comment by Lisa B | 01.20.2009 | 2:29 pm

    Under-rated and much missed when it’s gone, normal that means being happy together is the best.

  47. Comment by KatieA978 | 01.20.2009 | 3:53 pm

    Yay for Susan, and for you Elden.

    Not matter how much you can support someone in health, you still need to be there as their partner – I’m so happy for you both that you’ve rediscovered that.

    Much Love,

  48. Comment by Janel | 01.20.2009 | 3:59 pm

    So good to hear good news such as your post today. Thanks for sharing it with us. We think of you all and pray that you have good days, every day. I think you received a “tender mercy” today.

  49. Comment by Carey | 01.20.2009 | 4:17 pm

    I understand the whole, just having a normal day and how wonderful it is!

    Hoping and praying for many more normals for your family.

  50. Comment by Alex | 01.20.2009 | 4:27 pm

    Her tears brought tears to my eyes.

  51. Comment by Wendy | 01.20.2009 | 4:32 pm

    Jennifer told me she had such a nice time with Susan. I’m glad you guys finally connected. Can’t wait to see what they created together.
    So glad you all had a normal kind of day.

  52. Comment by Clydesteve | 01.20.2009 | 4:38 pm

    my eyes got moist too. Is this related to the bad Peanut Butter that has been going around? anyone?

  53. Comment by KitchenSink | 01.20.2009 | 5:10 pm

    Great to see Lance riding again in his comeback/cancer awareness tour in Australia. Also great to see a couple of research grants from the LAF announced yesterday.

    Rock on team fatty!

  54. Comment by ellen | 01.20.2009 | 5:58 pm

    Yeah for Fatty and Yeah for Susan. Here is hoping you have many more normal moments!

  55. Comment by Heidi | 01.20.2009 | 7:21 pm

    Dagnabbit, you made me cry! But in a good way.

  56. Comment by m | 01.20.2009 | 7:45 pm

    Oh, boy, don’t I understand — that “normal” is fan-friggin’-tastic for the chronically sick folk, like us.

  57. Comment by sfcgijill | 01.20.2009 | 8:53 pm

    Here’s to normal.

    You know what? You make me appreciate my dh even more, by pointing out all those wonderful, normal, little things that make life worth living with the ones we love. Thanks.

  58. Comment by ChefJT | 01.20.2009 | 10:38 pm

    Here’s hoping you all get back to where a normal day isn’t special anymore.
    May the best day of your past, be the worst day of your future.
    God Bless you, Susan and the kids.

    “Wrinkles only go where the smiles have been” The Prophet Jimmy Buffett

  59. Comment by Marla | 01.21.2009 | 8:32 pm


  60. Comment by Beast Mom | 01.21.2009 | 8:37 pm

    I wear my bracelet often. It’s one of my favorite pcs of jewelry, and I think of you both when I have it on.

    So glad S could work on her art again.


  61. Comment by Penny | 01.22.2009 | 9:59 am

    I love the ordinary and normal. It’s just wonderful!

  62. Comment by Jayme | 01.22.2009 | 2:22 pm

    Thank-you for reminding me of what is important.

  63. Comment by Kris | 01.22.2009 | 2:26 pm

    You’re a hilarious guy Fatty…but I love the realness in the middle of the laughing. Love your authenticity…but mostly love that you both get to experience some joy in the middle of difficulty.

  64. Comment by liz | 01.26.2009 | 4:48 pm

    normal is so wonderful. here’s wishing a whole lot of normal for the both of us!


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