Mark D’Agostino, my T, is a man who loves simple joys— family, friends, his bicycle, naps, Red Sox, an icy craft beer and church chicken barbecues. He isn’t a fancy guy, preferring jeans and sneakers to a spiffy suit and wing tips. And he definitely doesn’t like hoopla around him, especially for his birthday. Consider this the un-birthday post,T darling.
One of the best things about T is how he views life: don’t get worked up about things you can’t control—economy, terrorism, global warming. Do try to live lightly and find as much joy as you can, by taking care of the people around you, and giving your all to the task right in front of you.
By T’s example, we who share his last name have learned to avoid “piling”—reciting the litany of woes and things we don’t think are working out the way we want: work, life, money, people. His sage advice is to appreciate and focus on the things that are working : a sunny day, time well spent with our friends, petting Fenway and Margot, and celebrating the high points of work.
T’s never-fail cure is time spent in nature no matter the weather. That worked for our little family one icy wet New Year’s Day when we had a picnic on the snow-covered table in Highland Forest after hiking with the Boinkers (age six) through slush exploring the landscape. Steaming tomato soup from a thermos, tuna sandwiches and cookies rated as a 5-star meal. To this day, thanks to my smart husband, we know how to cure what ails ya, head for the great outdoors.
My dearest believes in a cause, the Pan Mass Challenge, PMC. For 10 years, he has ridden his bicycle in the PMC, in which riders raise money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute’s Jimmy Fund. 100 percent of the rider funds go to research. Some cancers have been obliterated through the PMC—in 33 years, they’ve donated more than $430 million to Dana Farber! My beloved has personally raised more than $43,000!
T started riding in the PMC in 2002 when our sister-in-law Chris died from pancreatic cancer and for my mom and dad, Joyce and Henry who also died from cancer. And his dad Vic and our brother-in-law John who beat prostate cancer…and for too many family members and friends touched by this scourge.
Each January, T starts his ride prep on his indoor trainer. As soon as the road is dry, he hits the asphalt, searching for the highest, steepest hills he can conquer. When not pedaling, he fundraises, going door to door in our neighborhood, mailing hundreds of letters and emails. It’s why we know so much about so many people in our wide circle, because this is also an opportunity for him to ask how each person is doing, what’s new in their life. True to his nature, he prefers the stories of others to his own blustering, and defers words of praise about his contributions to those who support his ride.
The PMC always takes place on T’s birthday weekend. Riding, he says, is the icing on his cake. Over 4,000 riders pedal 192 miles over two days from Sturbridge, MA to routes ending in Provincetown. Thousands of people line the routes, cheering these riders on. He has shared the poignant sight of children undergoing treatment bearing colorful signs thanking them, and the throngs of exuberant survivors who are healthy because of Dana Farber’s Jimmy Fund contributions. These people, and names of our friends and family taped to his bike cross bar are the ones who fuel his feet when exhaustion sets in. The finish line is a joyous cacophony of cow bells, victory cheers and happy families celebrating their riders as they pedal the last hundred feet of wall-to-wall people lining the road.
This year, T couldn’t ride because life gave us a new adventure—moving to Baltimore. He is still fundraising as a virtual rider, and hitting the road , mining the new territory and locking in training routes for his 2014 ride. August 6, 2013 you will find us celebrating T’s birthday at Regi’s American Bistro in Baltimore. Alex (Boinker/The Artist) and I will raise our glasses to toast this cherished man for all he means to us, and for the PMC to come in 2014.
Alla salute carissima—we love you with all our hearts!