Monday, August 25, 2014

Dedicated to Those Pouring Buckets of Ice Water Over Their Heads, Without Realizing What It’s All For

On Friday, the day before my late mother’s birthday, two friends group-texted me about making a donation to the ALS Association, in memory of her name. Although they probably contributed money when I fundraised for a Walk to Defeat ALS many years ago, this is the first time they’ve donated out of nowhere. But it wasn’t totally out of nowhere, in that I knew it had something to do with the Ice Bucket Challenge.

So far, this remarkable social media-driven craze has raised more than $70 million for what has been an under-funded, under-researched death sentence. Aside from that, what do I love most about the Ice Bucket Challenge? I no longer get completely baffled looks when I use the term ALS.

“What’s your mom have?” people asked the year she was dying, and “How’d she die?” in the aftermath.

ALS,” I said, to blank faces. “Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.”

“Oh, right,” they’d say, slightly less puzzled, having somehow heard those three words strung together before, knowing they meant something bad.

Now people get what ALS, those three letters, means. Except for the group of teenagers I ran into the other night.

“Ice bucket challenge?” I asked one, after another poured a bucket of water over yet another’s head, ice cubes cascading all over the sidewalk, to the merriment of all.


“My mom died of ALS, so thank you.”

“What’s ALS?”

After I told him, he looked so ready to cry that part of me wished I’d said nothing.

1 comment:

  1. How painful it is to read this posting. My heart goes out to you. My own mother died of cancer of the blood--that is, leukemia--when I was 24. (If I recall correctly, you, also, were 24 at the time of your mother's death, Roving Retorter.) The surgeon general has determined there is a link between smoking and leukemia--sadly, my mother, a "flapper" and a vaudeville dancer during the 1920s, smoked like a chimney her entire adult life, as did most "liberated" women of her era. I'm so happy that the "pleasure" and "sophistication" of smoking are no longer thrust upon the population via aggressive advertising, particularly so, as my father also died due to smoking: lung cancer. How pathetic it is that tobacco companies are still allowed to advertise aggressively in under-developed countries, and to pass out free cigarettes in order to get people "hooked."

    When I looked up ALS, I did not see a known link between the disease and smoking. This made me glad, but it does not relieve the suffering you experience upon the anniversary of your mother's death each year. I so hope that a vaccination and a cure will be found for ALS.