When I was born, I came out as a surprise!! I know right, a surprise?? What I mean by “surprise” is that the doctors told my parents I was going to be a baby boy.  “Surprise…” you have a healthy, baby girl!

My parents were ready with a name for a baby boy, but didn’t have a name for a baby girl. Hospital policy required that a name be provided before they could take me home. Surprise!

It was a Sunday when the doctors told my parents that they could take me home…still no name. My father told my mother that he was going to make sure all the paperwork was in order to take me home and when he returned they would come up with a name. Thirty minutes turned into an hour and my mom started to wonder where he was and what he was doing. When my mom asked a nurse where the business office was located she received a quizzical look and was told the business office isn’t open on Sundays.

My mom went in search of my father.OneMedal JackPatty3

After a brief search, she found him watching the Dallas Cowboy football game in the lobby. My mom sat down next to him as the sports announcer was commentating on the play of quarterback, Don Meredith. They looked at each other and it was a done deal! I went home with the name of Meredith with big shoes to fill as the little boy my father never had. I had no choice but to be a jock. My first Halloween costume was a Dallas Cowboy football uniform, my father had bought it years ago and was putting it to use on his littlest girl.

As I grew older my love of sports was affirmed with my choices in extracurricular activities. My father was more than eager to help me out and my mother was always there as my biggest fan.

My first sport was softball, my father was my coach and my mother was the manager. I remember getting so excited to go to practice, it meant not only did I get to play softball, but that I got to spend time with my father.

When I got into middle school my father encouraged me to try out for basketball. That was it! I was in love. I wanted everything related to basketball that I could get my hands on. My favorite movie, at the time, was Hoosiers; it was a movie I remember watching with my family.

Money was tight and my parents made sacrifices for my sister and me. There was a time that I wanted a pair of Reebok basketball shoes so badly, my parents told me they were too expensive and that shoes didn’t make the player anyway. Two weeks later I got that pair of shoes…they never let me go without.

Between basketball camps and softball tournaments, they were always there. They always encouraged me, instilled a strong work ethic, and let me dream of a day I would be good enough to play at the collegiate level. No words could ever come close to describe what my parents provided to my sister and me. They taught us so much. Loved us the most. They were always there, in good and bad times. There are so many good memories of my childhood.

What occurred August 5, 1991 changed our family forever. At the age of 46, my father passed away from a massive heart attack.

He grew up in the interior of Central America and as a child had rheumatic fever. No antibiotics were available for him. The result of the fever weakened my father’s heart Eventually, it could no longer work. He was gone. He left us. I am crying as I write this…it brings back such pain.

OneMedal JackPatty2My mom had to step into the role of mother and father now. She worked full time and still had the time to make sure that I got to every practice and every game. She stepped up and coached my last year of little league. She took me to basketball camps and summer tournaments. She is my biggest fan. We always joke that sitting in bleachers for so many years ruined her once cute butt.

All of the practice and playing paid off.  I ended up getting scholarships to play basketball in college…again my mom always there to cheer me on. I had to fight for everything, I am not the tallest basketball player, but I had a lot of drive; something I owe from my parents.

During college, my mom would drive the long drive to Kansas to watch me play. She was my biggest fan.

Now I run. I run hard. When I race I think of my mother and father a lot. When I think of my father, I think of all the things he missed out on. I think how proud he would have been of me, how he would have been there with my mom cheering me on, how he missed out on meeting my husband, and getting to know my kids. It makes me cry to think about just how much he missed out on. My mom is great.  She sacrificed so much and I am lucky that she is MY mom. I would not be the person I am today without her love and support. She is my number one fan.

When I run the Desert Dash Trail ½ marathon in November I will be running this for the memory of my father and to celebrate the life of my mother. And that should come as no surprise.