Hans Christian Andersen said, “Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.” This little quote struck me as being so special and meaningful 15 years ago when I first discovered it. Going through papers and getting organized a month ago, it was rediscovered and this little saying took on a whole new special meaning to me.
My name is Jody Pfeifer. On August 3, 2016, I was diagnosed with ALS. Someone asked me, “Why you?” I responded “Why not me? This disease does not discriminate. If not me then someone else would be getting the diagnosis. It just as easily could have been you. The selection is purely random.” Now I am the face of ALS.
I have lived a full life of fantastic adventures and memories. Having grown up in Vancouver, I was active for most of my life playing team sports, racquet sports, on track teams, jogging and doing lots of skiing. Right out of high school I worked for a brokerage firm for ten years. When the firm was taken over in 1989, I moved to Calgary and never looked back. Little did I know I was about to experience the biggest adventure of my life! My son Ryan was born in 1992 and as a single parent still working in the brokerage business, I bought my first house in 1995. The purchase of that house ended up being the best trade I ever made! I still own that little house to this day and my son is living in it at the age of 24. My two greatest accomplishments have become one!
Although the majority of my family lives west of the Rockies, I have tons of “family” in Calgary. The people I’ve met and friends I have made over the years are considered family. These incredible people have shared their lives and homes with my son and I. They’ve been generous with their love and selfless with their caring and time. I love everyone in “my family” very much and it is this group of people who are now a part of my latest journey.
Having been fiercely independent my whole life, I’ve gone from being able to do/fix anything (tools included) to not being able to use an elastic or open a Ziploc bag. With each ongoing muscle twitch I think of the paralyzing, insidious dark journey this disease is taking through my body and wonder about what I won’t be able to do tomorrow? We all have to go sometime; it’s just a matter of when and how……
For the most part I’m staying positive, thankful for having so many incredible people in my life and having the gift of time to tie up loose ends. I’ve discovered that the littlest things have so much more meaning now - a little flower, dogs playing, fresh air and the warmth of the sun. One must have freedom, yes, but one must also have the freedom of their bodies to move to continue to take you on more adventures…..
Just being alive in your life isn’t enough. LIVE your life because none of us knows if someday all you will have left is the memories of a life well lived…..
Jody Pfiefer, 2017 Ambassador for Betty’s Run for ALS