You Are An Ironman!

Truly a milestone in our family’s life, the completion of the Ironman race in November 2015, gave even more meaning to my son’s life.

ironmanAs my forty-two-year-old son crossed the finish line the announcer exclaimed, “John, you are an Ironman!” I was thrilled beyond belief! Many in the crowd around me clapped, rang bells, and jumped up and down with tears running down their cheeks as their loved ones also crossed the finish line. Almost a universal celebration was taking place in those moments. One of three thousand athletes to compete, my son now held the prestigious title of IRONMAN.

For those of you unfamiliar with this title, it represents years of intense training involving three different regimens. Swimming, biking and running are part of the rigorous preparation for the final testing of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 miles on the bike, followed by a full marathon of 26 miles. Though there are many professional athletes who complete this race on a regular basis, most of the participants, including my son, work it in around everyday living.

This living includes careers, childcare, school and health issues. During those winning moments, I shared with thousands of others this achievement even though we had not actually crossed the finish line. In order for any of this to happen, families, friends and employers and even healthcare providers had to accommodate the hours and hours of intense and demanding training. I believe that the IRONMAN title is also shared by those who supported their athlete.

I was awestruck by the feeling of love in the crowd. From the moment their loved ones dove into the turbulent early morning water until they ran over the bright yellow finish line — many in darkness — they were connected. Fathers kissed their wives and children, grandparents hugged their grandchildren and parents embraced their adult children like they were newborns. I will never forget how joyous my soul felt and how fortunate I was to see this accomplishment!

In my son’s case, this title represents even more. All of us who know him have always known he was an IRONMAN. Two years of personal sadness, the decree of divorce and the disconnect to a life he had known were all behind him. We rejoice in his new title, his bright future and just the honor of knowing him. As his mother, I could not be more proud. I am honored to be an IRONMOM and share this joy with thanks to God. His hand propelled John over the finish line and kept him safe.

I do believe that our God is — and always will be — the IRONMAN we want to follow all the days of our lives.

About the Author

Maryann Hartzell-Curran, a retired educator and counselor, has written a personal account of her journey through the first year of grieving the loss of her husband in her book, “From We to Me,” to help support those who have suffered the loss of a loved one. Maryann founded a successful family therapy practice and taught in the public and private sectors. She also founded and directed a church-based preschool in Lombard, Ill., and gained experience working with the elderly as director of a senior dining center. She has a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s degree in counseling from Illinois Benedictine University.

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