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My Baby – Stronger Than Me – Approaching 50 and Fabulous
Bereavement Family Happiness Health Little Moments Moms Motivation Parenting Positivity

My Baby – Stronger Than Me

July 20, 2016

If you’re personal friends with me on Facebook or Instagram you will have been bombarded by my over 200 photos from Luciano’s first Spartan race this weekend.  You may even want to turn back now, because you have already heard 36 hours of my incessant bragging.  

Well today’s column will continue the bragfest, simply because Luciano did all the training, preparation and execution to honor one person, Anthony.  

When Anthony died, each of us did special things to honor him. Lou built a memory garden, I pierced my ear with an A, Joey wanted his belt, and Luciano made a commitment to get into fitness and body-building so he could be strong like his brother was.  

Anthony was a previous weightlifter and Strongman competitor.  Luciano envied Anthony’s sheer size and physical strength. We traveled to watch Anthony compete and loved cheering him on as a family. 

Anthony doing what he loved

Anthony would workout with my nephew Michael. Inseparable since birth. They were quite the pair, going to the gym nightly and drinking their massive protein shakes afterwards.  

Michael and Luciano teamed up in their shared grief and despite a 7 year age difference, formed a new life-long partnership.  Blood is thicker than water. 

I took Luciano to the gym and since he was under 18, signed all the consent and waiver forms for him to utilize the facilities. Putting the fees on my credit card, I wondered whether or not this would last. I thought to myself, at least the membership was monthly. 

Some people don’t commit wholeheartedly to a new regimen, not my son.  Luciano is in this, for the long haul.  Michael and he workout between 4-5 nights a week.  And if Luciano is with his friends, he says goodbye for 2 hours so he can go get his workout in.  He lets nothing get in his way. 

Two months ago, they heard about the Spartan Race and decided to sign up. At first, I didn’t realize they had chosen the true Reebok Spartan 2016 – 4.97 miles and 24 grueling obstacles.  We all underestimated the course and the physical commitment the race would take.  

The underestimation started with the registration. The “Open” sessions we’re full, they had spots in the “Elite” session available.  Guess who signed up anyway?  

They only had two months to train, and honestly there were a few missed weeks due to colds, Luciano’s final exams and Michael’s work commitments.   But, that was ok, they were determined to finish the Spartan in 2.5 hours.

They did weights, added cardio and prepared for race day. 

Michael, Luciano and cousin Sal on Race Day

The whole family made the trip to Pennsylvania for the race.  The boys heading up the night before, and we drove up that morning.  

There it was “Reebok Spartan” in all its glory and prestige.  There was no mistaking we had arrived at the real deal. 

My guys kicked off at 730am. At least the races were early in day, it was hotter than Hades that afternoon. 

The first half of the course was uphill and while we rode the ski-lift up the mountain, there was no sign of them.  They were buried deep in the trees, trying to conquer some of the hardest uphill runs and obstacles they were to overcome.  

We caught up to them at mile 3 and honestly, the guys (except for Sal) looked exhausted.  Michael was ok, but my Luciano was a bit delirious.  I have to admit I was worried. 

Pale and drawn, he was not responsive when I asked if he was ok.  He simply took a drink and continued to the next obstacle.  An uphill climb underneath barbed wire.  

I thought to myself, ok he has to lay down on his stomach, he can do that.  Michael and Sal were moving forward.  Luciano got off to a slow start and then began to struggle. 

The Start

The Struggle

I thought for sure he was giving up.  Look at him in that picture.  That doesn’t look good. He was exhausted and kept stopping to put his head down on the ground.  

Michael and Sal went slowly and stopped when Luciano did, they were not leaving each other behind.  They were in this race together. 

Luciano persevered. I thought for sure he would quit.  

I was wrong. 

Completing the barbed wire crawl they were onto an A-Frame climb after another uphill run.  


Another hour went by and 10 or more obstacles later and the guys finished the race.  

Woot!  They did it!!!!!

I have to admit I NEVER thought he would finish after watching him at mile 3. Watching him crawl, uphill under barbed wire exhausted, I was SURE he would quit. 

I wouldn’t blame him for quitting.  He is only 17 and it’s his very first try.  The people I met along the course were dedicated racers who compete and train constantly.  Luciano anticipated something much less grueling and I, as the Mom, knew he was in over his head.  

He proved me wrong. 

They got their medals and proceeded to the recovery area for protein and electrolyte replenishment. Luciano was absolutely in a state of exhaustion and delirium now.  He couldn’t even speak.  

He took his victory photo, but notice the blank look in his eyes.  

I was nervous.  I kept trying to stay near him but he would pace around while he ate and drank. 

Luciano completely spent

Thankfully about 10 minutes after this photo was taken, Luciano became more lucid and composed. His regular dialogue returned.  The spirited young man was celebrating his success with smiles and a welcome RINSE.  

YUCK, THEY WERE FILTHY! I know I am his mother, but no way I was touching those cooties unless he needed medical attention.  Sorry son, you were dirty. 

We had a beer, the guys changed their clothes and we made our way to the cars to start our journey home. 

Being the Social Media Maven of the family, everyone sends me their pictures for sharing and posting.   The pictures started to arrive on my iPhone the moment I turned the key in the ignition.  Since I drove, scanning the day’s events would have to wait. 

Buzz, ding, buzz… notification after notification. 

When I finally got to sit down and look at the pictures, my heart swelled with pride at the physical commitment and sheer inner determination he displayed.  

All by himself. 

All for his brother. 

Anthony would have been so proud of Luciano and Michael.  Knowing Anthony, he probably would have been at their side, running the race with them.  

Little did I know, he was there.  

Anthony was there!

Rainbow at top, fainter from this angle but still visible

Anthony sent down a rainbow for Luciano and Michael.  Notice how the rainbow is touching Luciano’s leg.  

During Luciano’s  worst struggle of the race, his brother was watching over him, giving him the strength to carry on, and finish.   

Guardian Angels do exist.  

Luciano is stronger than me, and I couldn’t be prouder.  He has his Guardian Angel supporting him every step of the way. 


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