My husband has never been a big country music fan. His Sirius radio station of choice is Octane…. If you don’t know what that is just trust me … you wouldn’t like it. But lately I’ve noticed he’s been listening to more country music. A few weeks ago he asked me if I had heard Luke Bryan’s recent hit, “Drink A Beer.”
Luke’s latest song is more personal than most of his recent hits as it’s dedicated to his brother and sister who both passed away a few years ago. My husband was instantly connected to this song because he lost his little brother, Brad, last year.
Brad Wheeler was the fifth of six children in my husband’s large family. He lived in San Jose, Calif., with his wife, Lara, and their two daughters, Kira and Avril. Brad was a computer geek who worked at Adobe for many years before taking a new job with Oracle in 2012. He was funny, fit and loved to brew his own beer.
I only had the pleasure of meeting Brad once. He came to Albany for a visit when Kent retired from the Marines in 2010. He was just as laid back and easy going as I had expected from the stories I had heard.
Oracle sent Brad to London on a business trip during the last week of June 2012. Brad was training for a marathon and went for a training run on one of his first days in London. But something went terribly wrong. While on his run, Brad passed out, was found by a local cyclist who graciously got help and was transported to a local hospital. He had an aneurysm and never regained consciousness. He was only 40 years old.
And like that … what began as a normal day was gone.
Unfortunately, my first trip to California was bittersweet as Kent and I went to San Jose for Brad’s memorial service. But, the memorial service was just like Brad … we laughed; we watched videos (Brad was always taking videos of his daughters!); we shared good memories; and when it was over … we drank beer!
I was inspired to share such a personal story with you as the holidays approach. We just celebrated Thanksgiving and now Christmas is in the air. It’s a wonderful and stressful time all wrapped up in one. It’s great because Christmas decorations are everywhere … presents are under the tree … children get excited about Santa. It’s also stressful because all of those presents under the tree cost money … picking the perfect gift for someone can be so hard … staying fit and healthy is so hard with all of the parties and food.
But at the end of the day … what really matters?
So, you missed your yoga class yesterday because the kids wanted to go get pictures with Santa. You ate half the plate of chocolate chip cookies at the office Christmas party. You haven’t worked out since two days before Thanksgiving because you had family at your house. Who cares?
I know I am always stressing the importance of exercise and diet. Do not get me wrong. Exercise and diet are vital to your long-term health. We all need to eat healthy and make exercise a part of our lifestyle. But there are times when we all need to sit back, enjoy our family and appreciate the time we have with them.
You hear stories like Brad’s all the time. But it never really hits home until it happens to your family. Kent and I were on vacation in Destin with our kids when Kent got the phone call. I remember the tone in his voice and the look on his face when he first got the news that Brad was in the hospital. We tried to be optimistic because we didn’t know the extent of his injuries at the time, but the news never got better.
It’s scary how unpredictable life can be. Kent was the aggressive son … the Marine who put his life on the line during six overseas tours … the fearless cyclist who has had dozens of high-speed crashes. Brad was the easy going computer nerd who was always smiling … and training for a marathon and brewing beer. I would have never thought that his time to go would have come so soon.
Luke Bryan’s song really does say it best, “Funny how the good ones go too soon, but the good Lord knows the reasons why. I guess sometimes the greater plan is kinda hard to understand.”
Enjoy your holidays. Don’t stress out over working out and food. There will be plenty of time for that once the New Year is here. Spend some quality time with your family. Be thankful that you have them and take a special moment to remember those who have been taken from you. Being fit makes everyone a better person, but nothing compares to having a healthy relationship with family.
Remember, family isn’t an important thing. It’s everything.
Michele Moulton is a certified group fitness, boot camp and Spinning instructor with more than 23 years of experience in the health and fitness industry. She operates Bodystrong Fitness offering group fitness classes at the Stardust Skating Rink facility and teaches Spinning at the Albany YMCA. She is a Category 1 cyclist and the PCP Race Team Director. She is also a state auditor and the mother of two boys, Austin and Harrison.