The Legacy of Lou Gehrig’s Farewell Speech

The son of an art educator, Konnor (@KonnorSchmaltz) lost his mom to ALS a year ago this July. She fought until the very end, and through her family found strength to last as long as she could have. There isn’t a day that goes by where he isn’t reminded of her and will forever cherish the moments they shared together. 

“I consider myself the luckiest man in the world …”

Whether recited by fans of America’s Pastime or by Yankees followers, by those who look to it for strength fighting this horrendous disease now or by loved ones of those they’ve lost – the weight these words carry is unfathomable.

But, why? Why would a man who had everything taken away so quickly be so…positive? Was he referring to the four home runs he hit in a single game? Maybe it had something to do with his Triple Crown win in 1934. Did The Iron Horse and future Hall of Famer not understand what most of us here know would happen to him as time progressed?

While these questions lead to more questions which lead to more, I like to think the answer is simple. Lou (we might’ve never met, but I feel like we’re on a first name basis now) knew his impact would someday transcend the game and his disease would outlast his career .340 batting average.

This month will mark the one year anniversary since my family lost my mom to Lou’s disease and I have often found myself asking, “why?” Why relate these nine words to – in my opinion – a disease that cripples the body until it can no longer survive, while at the same time amplifies every emotion one can experience from the moment of diagnosis to the last gasp of air released? Why do I feel ¼ of an ounce of an endless crushing weight is lifted when I think about this particular phrase?

The answer has always been in front of me whether I chose to acknowledge it or not. It is because I consider myself the luckiest man in the world for being allowed the time I did have with my inspiration in life. It comes from a woman whose spirit was contagious, laughter was infectious and love graced many. For 28 years, I was able to call my true hero Mom, Ma or Mops depending on the day and I will forever cherish them.

For me, Gehrig’s speech serves as a reminder. It is a testament to the families who have suffered, are suffering or will have to suffer. His speech is our decree. The war cry of an elite group of individuals who span across the world but are united by tears, heartache, anger, pain, support, love, laughter and strength.

For the majority of those who are reading this right now, I want you to take a moment from this post. When I pause the typing, I want you to recognize something. You are the luckiest man (woman, mother, daughter, father, son, husband, wife, uncle, aunt, cousin, niece, nephew, grandfather, grandmother) in the world for having had shared those precious moments and little time you were allotted. Ready, go…..

Since we are all members of this bond that continues to strengthen day by day until a cure is achieved, I will close the only way I know how. In the words of our group’s founder, Lou…

“So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for.”

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6 comments

  1. My mother in law passed just before Christmas last year. She was diagnosed just 11 months before. Couldn’t speak or eat. Needed a feeding tube. No one suffer like the people who have ALS.

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  2. People with ALS, simply want to be believed. You confide in very few people and when they say, no you don’t; is probably the worst thing you can say. This disease, shows a gradual decline in walking and strength. Some days, you just have to lay there. Why is he or she hermits? They hurt and are not only fighting a Battle of their Life but they are fighting other people, also. I only ask for kindness and understand that people can not help that they sometimes move slowly, they might get confused, or lost for a moment.
    Please be considerate and understand that they are terrified at first because they can’t say that it is Astma. They just know that they are tired, clumsey, or have severe pain. I pray for each person who has this. It can destroy relationships, cause people to dislike you, and the list goes on. I too, am the luckiest man in the world because I personally know Jesus Christ and I believe in His Healing Hand. If you don’t know Him; ask me and I will tell you. All of us are lucky because you made all of these Researchers and Doctors, learn more about the Disease. Help us all knock a Home run out of the Ballpark with your continued support. Thanks, from every person battling the disease and every person that is working on a Cure for ALS.

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  3. My son, my baby boy, was diagnosed with ALS 2 years ago. He has a wife and 3 young children and he is 36 years old. I have prayed for so long and so hard, cried often and always try to be strong for him. As his battle draws nearer to an end, I still pray for a cure. I agree with Jackie, no one should suffer so much.

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  4. I have ALS diagnosed in 2010 .For me it s been a mixed time of experiences both good and bad.My faith along with the love that I receive from my wife ,family,and friends keeps me going.I will tell you first hand that there pain and anguish watching me go through this is just as bad if not worse than having the disease. .I am the lucky one because I have seen love like no other from this,something that not many of us get to really experience in our life time.Yes all life’s matter Thank you God!

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  5. I dont have ALS and Ive never even known or met a single person with this horrible disease, i came across this blog out of curiosity of what ALS actually was and what I can tell you is that I was not expecting this reading to effect me so much. I am more lucky and have more to be greatful for than ive ever known, i have a hard time even understanding the amount of pain, both physical and mental, that the people effected by this blackness go threw and yet somehow threw this tragic ailment find unbelievable strength within themselves and others around them. To see someone I love like my parents or god forbid my baby boy go threw something like this is a pain I hope i will never know or understand, but for every single person whos been effected by this you are all in my mind and forever etched into my soul and to be able to think back to when i came across this blog and read the comments and feel inspired all over again as well as acknowledging my good fortune and remembering to always be humble and greatful for every precious day i get to live in a world others will only see in their dreams. thank you to everyone who has left a comment here as well as the person who wrote it, we may not know each other personally but i love each and everyone of you and you will all be in my heart forever. god bless you all.

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