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Jim & Why Run?

Jim Bemis
Jim and his sons

For those who knew him it is no surprise that, Jim Bemis was first and foremost a devoted family man; son, brother, husband and father. There are so many words that could be used to describe Jim: Funny, Loyal, Determined, Courageous, Encouraging, Forthright, Caring, Inspiring and Loving. He brought these traits to bear in all that he did, whether it was work, running (one of his favorite pastimes), encouraging others, hanging with friends and family.

5 years ago Jim was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Jim had a rare form of testicular cancer in his chest cavity – a non-seminomatous germ cell tumor. Only about 250 young men a year are diagnosed with this type in the US.

He brought all of his determination and courageousness to the battle; maintaining dignity, a sense of humor, offering encouraging words to others when he was fighting so much himself. Unfortunately he lost his battle in November of 2011 at the age of 39, leaving behind so many friends, family and wife Jessica, and two small sons, Michael and Matthew, all too early.

The Tao of Nudges… This is why I do this (Mike Welsh)

Hey All,

I am not much of a writer (Thanks Grey) and clearly you will understand that to be true when you read the essay below. I wrote the essay below, a college classmate of mine suggested I submit this story, as a nomination for a ‘Spirit’ award for my friend Jim who passed away to soon. She was instrumental in helping me with the initial steps in setting up this run I’m doing to remember him. Thanks Kirsten…and too many others to name here.

While to many it may seem like a small thing, a nudge, a push or a stubborn unwillingness to give up, acquiesce or settle for less than success. The large point in my mind and my heart is the realization that life is a series of small things that we give no meaning to and wait for the large things to define us (college, weddings, kids, jobs, cars, races, sports, money, houses, titles etc)….sadly the large things we have little or no control of, nor influence on we are merely participants on ride. So I am sharing this with a recurring sense of gratefulness, do I miss Jim? Yes, but what is more painful is what number of little things he’d be doing for his family, friends coworkers, strangers and it’s that which leaves me a little less for the experience.

The Nominating Essay, win or lose-I’m in awe of every time I think about it, and humbled each time I finish a mile in that park. Humbled, humbled like I am small little nothing and my greatest contributions are likely those things I have done and have yet to do and think nothing of ’cause they’re small–the reality–they’re my greatest moments and biggest achievements. A professor in College once told me via the Tao of Pooh, then I read it again in the Tao Te Ching (audio book like 100 times at 2x) “achieve greatness in little things”.  So the lesson, if there is one, is that sweating the small stuff is all we can do. The “Ten Thousand Things” are out of our hands. So kill it on the small nudges, they will have the greatest and widest effects…trust me.

Here’s the essay (I apologize if you well up, lump in throat or cry, that is not what I intended):

Jim is the Spirit of Valley Forge in his triumphing repeatedly over adversity and teaching others to do the same, throughout his fight with cancer. Not only was his 18 month battle with cancer a fight he planned on winning, he remained a father, friend and a stubborn mule when it came to giving up or even getting upset at setbacks and nearly innumerable procedures. All the while Jim was an inspiration to me and surely many others. There was a moment, a run actually, that Jim and I went on as a training run leading up to my very first Valley Forge 5 miler.

The spot where Jim pushed me along

Jim and I were running the 5 mile loop and I had been complaining about not be able to keep up. This was just prior to him being diagnosed with a malignant NS Germ Cell Tumor. We were running at mile 3ish of the run just before Washington’s Chapel heading eastbound on the path. I stopped and started walking and saying I couldn’t keep going. I just can get moving, I said, “Jim, c’mon lay off I just can’t keep going, you go ahead…” well that would have been it for me and I’d have walked back to the car defeated. Unfortunately for me, Jim was more stubborn than usual that day and at right around the 35 MPH sign on RT23 he began, literally hand to back, pushing me up the hill toward the daughters of the revolution seal. All the while he was ‘suggesting’, I could and would, one way or the other get to 5 miles. Now for Jim a 10 min mile felt like crawling, for me I could barely breath.

I took a bit of pushing that day to make it over the hump, I went on to run my first Valley Forge 5 miler in spite of my best efforts to not push through. Well it took a run with a guy who faced the most adverse situation of his life to appreciate what he did for me that day…Jim taught me the truest Spirit of Valley forge…Triumph over Adversity is a team sport!

Jim passed in November 2011, he left behind his wife Jessica, and his two young sons, Matt and Mike. I submitted this on his behalf because it’s the small moment of triumph he gave me that match up well with the Spirit. Jim may have lost his fight, but his life represents a Triumph for those affected by how he lived. Jim nudged my life a bit that day and changed it’s trajectory and many runs later in Valley Forge.

So while you may have moments like this in your life but don’t think much of them, they could change your life. 1.Call your dad. 2.If you’re a Dad small nudges are good–think ripple effect. 3.Karma is essentially presence (state of mind-quietly aware) plus patience (calm waiting) and now (a time and place to act) that moment in that park was one of those  Karma things, a little thing with a ripple effect. Your results may vary, but watch for those, they’re out there. Nudges that is

So if you feel like a run come on out and run awhile, maybe this nudges you and I’ll be glad Jim changed your life too!

Thanks for reading and not wretching.

A 5K memorial run for Jim Bemis who passed away in 2011