It’s not very often that you meet people who impact your life so profoundly that they become the touchpoint that you use every so often to pull yourself out of an attitude about a bad situation. Sometimes, these people are obviously there, are in and out of your life, and you don’t even realize the jewel that those people are.
I had known Liz Haslup’s family when she was young ( her name was Abbott then). I taught her sister Suzie during my second year of teaching. We met up later on when she and I worked together as teachers. Ultimately, we ended up sharing an office space in the central office of the Talbot County Public Schools. We were curriculum specialists who shared details of our lives, our childrens lives, and the situations of our job. I respected Liz because she had so many of the qualities I aspired to; hard working, intelligent, positive, well liked, and well respected among her peers. Her son Charlie and my daughter are both the same age and both athletes. We used to joke that someday they might become good friends or even more. The “even more” didn’t happen, but it was fun to think about that then. ( They are friends, however.) Her husband, Dave, had been a sports star in his years at Easton High School and in college. At some point, he played modified fast pitch at the same time as my husband, Jimmy. We enjoyed being friends.
I was there working next to her that day that Dave started having problems. I remember Liz talking about how he was having some trouble slurring his words and driving. At the time, they thought it might have been a mini-stroke. Liz discussed how doctors were going to run some tests. I remember thinking at the time that it probably was something small that they would figure out and things would be fine. I’m sure Liz and Dave thought that also. Liz kept plugging away at work. You would never have known that anything was wrong.
I was also there the day that Liz found out the ultimate diagnosis. ALS. Lou Gehrig’s disease. I’ll never forget how she bravely told those of us in the office the news. If it had been me, I would have been a puddle on the floor. Liz was strong and said, ” It is what it is. We’ll get through it.”
As the years went on, the disease progressed. There were visits to Johns Hopkins, medical techniques and advances tried, hope and then lack of hope. I stopped working next to Liz as I left the central office and went back to the school level. We promised to keep in touch, but didn’t see each other much. As things got tougher with Dave, I would see constant updates on Dave’s condition on Caring Bridge, an internet site where loved ones can share messages about those in critical medical circumstances. Their son and my daughter grew up, entered high school. I would see Liz and Dave occaisionally at a baseball game. He was always there in his wheel chair with a warm blanket on him. Year after year, his condition was deteriorating. Through it all, Liz kept a positive attitude. Her line of inspiration was to “find the silver,” meaning to find the silver lining behind the clouds. Again, if it had been me I would have been a mess. She turned her energies into taking care of Dave, thanking friends who helped them, and keeping a positive message going to all of us.
Eventually after a very long, brave battle, ALS took Dave Haslup. His ordeal was over. His fight was an inspiration to so many. His son, Charlie, grew up to be a strong young man his father was extremely proud of. Dave got to see Charlie in the Yankees uniform as a member of the Yankee farm team. I wondered about Liz, how her life would change. What would she do now that Dave was gone?
I don’t talk to Liz much, but I see her posts on Facebook. As well as continuing to do an amazing job at work, she continues to post strong positive messages for all of us. She also runs the Dave Haslup/Lou Gehrig Athletic Scholarship Foundation! They just completed their 10th Annual/1st Memorial Golf Tournament plus a fund raiser at Chili’s.
I don’t see her enough. But, every time I see a positive post on Facebook from her, it helps me put things in perspective. If Liz can find the silver, so can I. I told her she needs to write a book about her and Dave so that those of us who don’t realize how wonderful life is might figure it out. I hope she does!
If you want to donate to this scholarship fund which helps students in Caroline/Talbot County pay for education at Chesapeake College, here is the info:
Dave Haslup/Lou Gehrig Athletic Scholarship Foundation, c/o Midshore Community Foundation, 102 East Dover Street Easton, MD 21601