It all started with Paul!

My mother had a deep infatuation with Paul Newman. It was undeniable, she even wanted to name my oldest brother after one of his characters, Anthony Judson in The Young Philadelphians. We were Laurence's so the name was a good fit. It didn't happen though and I have heard various recounts of why not. Years later, I remember her ecstasy in finding the Paul Newman salad dressing on the shelf at Stop-N-Shop when it finally became available! And of course all of the products made it to our pantry shelves as they were introduced.

Even my Dad had a bit of a man crush with all the car racing, beer drinking, and all around nice guy vibe Paul exuded, especially his unsurpassed charitable contributions. My Dad was always impressed that with all the stories he heard, whether from the race tracks or the newspapers, Paul always came across as a stand-up guy. My father is not one to be fooled by starry-eyed movie men, you are either a good person or you are not.

But what's not to love, the gorgeous blue eyes he was always hiding behind sunglasses, the infectious laugh, the mischievous smile, the wonderful roles he played, showing both human strength and weakness with what appeared to be great ease and the most important trait, he was man who cooked. Well it turned out, the truly MOST important aspect of Paul Newman was the size of his heart. Needless to say, the infatuation passed on and I fell in love with Paul Newman. I always used to say he was the hottest octogenarian in the world!

My mother passed away in 1995, and my infatuation continued to grow. Paul was a little bit of my mother that I could hold on to, he was still here and concrete, though, sadly, never in person. I continued to watch all the movies, new and old (love, love, love Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Nobody's Fool). I read any books out there I could find that were well done. I picked up two copies of the business book,  Shameless Exploitation in Pursuit of the Common Good: The Madcap Business Adventure by the Truly Oddest Couple by Paul and his best friend and collaborator, A.E. Hotchner, for both my father and myself. I had already known that Hole in The Wall Gang Camp was started by Paul but not to the depth and with such heart that they started it. I was brought to tears. What a wonderful story, infatuation turned to love!

Since then I have toyed with the idea of volunteering at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in CT, but work and such has always gotten in the way. Then this summer, while on vacation I came across the ride link on The Hole in the Wall Gang FB feed, so I signed up! I am not a runner, so this was perfect, I love riding bikes! I signed up for the 30-mile ride and jumped in cold! Now that the ride is only 3 days away, I am almost near my donation goal, thanks to all my friends, and am a little nervous about the ride. I got a new bike, but taking my son to college and all it took to get him ready, hurricane Irene and my back going out all in the last few weeks have kept me off the bike. And now it is raining, a lot! So I hope to get out later today, and tomorrow and get some miles in before Saturday. Saturday will be doable and my riding mantra may well be, "What the hell was I thinking?" I hope I can even get off my bike on Saturday, I may need assistance. Someone may need to drag my crab-shaped body back to the luncheon and stuff food in my mouth like a baby bird. Sunday I may not be able to move at all. But I am THRILLED to be riding for a wonderful cause, no matter the pain, it will be SO worth it. The kids are what matter!

Thanks Mom, Dad, Hotch and Paul, the infatuation/love is paying off!

P.S. I am in love with the entire Newman family. What generous, wonderful hearts they all have!

Camper at Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in CT
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