I have to come clean and admit that during Megan’s 44 month battle with cancer, we watched all things reality. Our gluttonous excess ranged from Survivor to Wife Swap to The Bachelor. We didn’t miss a season of American Idol. The Bachelor reproduced into The Bachelorette. Our appetite was insatiable for mindless t.v., and the networks delivered.
Who could fault us? We lived in life and death reality, and t.v. provided the great escape to a world where for a moment our overriding concern was who Andrew Firestone was going to marry. The sad truth is I lacked the ability to concentrate. Megan’s daily stats of blood counts, chemo protocol, and drug management expended all my intellectual energy.
Around the year anniversary of her death I realized my mental flabbyness, and decided to fast from t.v. I thought a job at Sur La Table would provide me the outlet to get out of my home and focus on becoming an expert at all-things-kitchen-tools. When I listed my hours on my application for availability, I put in 10 to 15…the approximate time a week that I had been slow cooking my brain on reruns.
The surprise gift of my abstinence from the tube is that I have dropped 25 pounds in the last 10 months. Slowly but surely, as I focus on lifting a Kitchen-Aid to the counter for a customer instead of pushing the remote button, the weight has dropped off. I am not on a diet. The big change isn’t pushing away from the table, but pushing myself to do something new.
I did retained one reality show in my weekly line-up: The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders – Making the Team. Often imitated, but never duplicated, this show straddles the line between reality and educational…leaving me license to not lump it in with all the others. From a business perspective, Kelli Finglass, Director of the DCC, is a marketing genius who has not only built a precision team of the most watched girls, but has corralled those Texas beauties into a cash cow of calendars, workout videos, and public appearances. Ms. Finglass (you can call her ma’am) knows how to brand with the best of ’em.
Megan introduced me to this wonder of a show. Snuggled in her bed, we watched a world that was only imaginary to us. My daughter longed for the day that she could run again, and for 30 to 60 minutes a week she was transported to a place where she was the cheerleader-in-training. The coveted prize at Jay Johnson’s Boot Camp is the DCC Power Squad crop top, earned by the few, the proud, the DCC elite who successfully accomplished two minutes of push-ups, two minutes of sit-ups and a two-mile run in record time. My girl told me she was going to get better, start training…and wondered, “Mom, do you think you could write them and get me one of those shirts?” I tried to follow through on every one of her heart’s desires, and I’m sorry I didn’t call Ms. Finglass.
In Megan’s absence, I have herded my parents in to the fan club. Maybe they just started watching out of pity so they could talk to me about my imaginary friends. I sat with them through the first few episodes. Like a world-class sport’s commentator, I filled them in on the soup of last year’s contestants. I told them of the cheerleader-wanna-be that was cast out of the Magic Kingdom because of her drunken photo on Facebook. It was a delicious moment. While I don’t think I know the names of any of the Cowboys (wait, didn’t one date Jessica Simpson?), I do know that Choreographer Judy Trammell’s daughter Cassie made the squad last year. I cried when I saw Judy’s elation as she embraced her winning daughter.
Even though I didn’t make the high school drill team, I can be the judge and jury each year as over six hundred new and old cheerleader hopefuls contend for approximately thirty-six to forty slots. It’s as though I am sitting right next to Kelli (my BFF) each and every season.
Megan wanted to go to Jay Johnson’s Boot Camp, and as I draft my goals for 2010 I think ‘so do I’. Regretfully I’m not young enough for the cheerleaders, not fat enough for The Biggest Loser, and not famous enough for Celebrity Fit Club. I’m going to have to do more than lift a Kitchen-Aid to achieve the goal of a hard and healthy body…that’s my new reality.
praying for you and your family as you continue your life journey. debbie abasciano
I don’t know how I missed this post. With that said, your note came at the right day, the right time. Holidays are hard without my girl. Blessings to you…I mean it!
Your blog was forwarded to us by our sweet choreographer Judy Trammell. I laughed and I cried as I read through many of your previous blogs. Your daughter was one special woman and her memory is being carried on through your words. I can just picture her smiling face. Please know you and your family are in all of our hearts and we will pray for each of you as time steps forward. May God continue to bring you peace and strength.
I know you from the show! You are so sweet to leave such a kind message. My favorite quote from P.S. I Love You is “This is my one and only life, And its a great and terrible and short and endless thing, and none of us come out of it alive.” My recent interaction with Judy and Kelli (and you) have brought great joy to the life I have. God has caught me by surprise, and I’m starting to feel myself laugh again.
Wishing you an exciting year!
I know what a great fan you and Megan were of the DCC show — having heard both of you mention it so many times to me as you walked through that difficult season. And of course, I always encouraged it, as the Cowboys have been my favorite team since I was a little kid. You have chosen to follow a team known for its excellence in every respect, Valerie — from its players to its cheerleaders to its community involvement. And what kind and personable responses from Judy and Kelli, too — all signs of the quality program they have put together. Even though I’m here in Los Angeles, and you’re there in the Midwest, one of these days, we’ll have to find some way to go catch a game at the new stadium…
Judy forwarded your story to me. I am so sorry for your loss.
I am honored that the time you shared with Megan included a TV’s peek into the world of DCC. I never expected our show to have such an impact on young women around the country, and we take that to heart.
I too enjoy bonding time with my children with television…..our favorite is Saturday Night Live each weekend.
If you could share your mailing address, it would be our priviledge to send you some things from the Cheerleaders.
Again, thank you for your kind story, and I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope we can meet in person someday.
Kelli Finglass, Director
DALLAS COWBOYS CHEERLEADERS
Valerie, I also wanted you to know our daughters had something in common….Cassie is known as a head band junkie also. I am glad Megan is smiling!!! Cheers, Judy
You have no idea what your post means to me! I remain at a loss for words in how to express my joy as I read a post from ‘the famous’ Judy Trammell!
Watching you and your daughter interact on the show with a smile, a glance, or a wink reminds me so much of my relationship with Megan. There is no doubt how much you love Cassie. It’s been a privilege to be able to watch her achieve her dream…and to watch you, the adoring mom, look on.
Thank you for catching me by surprise and touching my life is such a special way. I know Megan is smiling from heaven’s gate!
P.S. I really am speechless, and spent all day thinking of what to say!
Oh my goodness, this blog really got to me and do wish we could have given Megan one of our power squad shirts. I am so glad that in her last months of life you enjoyed the small things together, even if it was cuddling in bed watching “making the team”. I am so honored that you both enjoyed it together. I am so sorry to hear Megans story, I had to go back to all of your earlier blogs to understand what all went on and I am sorry we didnt get to you both earlier. Another part that got me with your story was you working at Sur La Table….I LOVE that store. My husbands business partner (who is really more like a brother) and I went in there last year almost every month and he would go crazy buying us thousands of dollars worth of kitchen gadgets, it was so much fun. I got so many knifes and whatnots that I had to keep the tags to remember what they were for…the shrimp deveiner, lemon zester, you name it I have it , but don’t know what anything is for…ha
I am so glad this blog was sent to me and I was able to connect with you. Good luck on all you do, and I am so sorry about Megan….I know a mother daughters bond believe me, Cassie is my world along with her two wonderful brothers and I cannot even imagine the pain you are going through and am not even going to pretend like I do. Best of luck to you and all the love in the world…Cheers!!! Judy Trammell
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