Susan and I met Meg when she was 12. We were brand new to Barrington with six-month old Mack, and Susan was looking for a mother’s helper. Susan put a flyer on a bulletin board at St. Anne’s School in hopes that a responsible 8th grader might be interested. It was Meg who answered that flyer, and while she was only a 7thgrader, she was the oldest girl in her large family, and thought that she could be helpful. Meg came to our house and when Susan watched her in action for a short time, Meg was quickly elevated to full-fledged babysitter. That first meeting took place more than 26 years ago. Quite literally, Meg walked in our front door and she never really walked out.
Because of the time we’ve spent together and the unavoidable trials and tribulations we’ve faced together, we are as family as family can get. It’s as simple as that. In addition to babysitting for Mack when he was just a baby, she was right by our side when we brought the rest of our children home through adoption. She learned to be a mother by the fire of helping to raise our four kids and now she is the most excellent mother to her own little girl, Eileen. In many ways, Eileen is Meg’s “Mini Me” and has been a blessing, and we’ve stood by Meg every step of the way.
I cannot remember a single time when Meg didn’t have a big smile on her freckled Irish face. She has a wonderfully infectious laugh, and she is one of those people whose eyes sparkle – really sparkle – every time you see her.
As our kids have grown up we’ve continued our friendship with Meg. In fact, she lives down the street from us now. She and Susan are thick as thieves. Susan calls her the best friend she has ever had.
Meg got involved with A Long Swim almost by accident. Susan, the kids and I were in Florida for the 24-mile Tampa Bay Marathon Swim in 2011, which we were using as a bit of a shakedown cruise for the English Channel swim a few months later. Meg happened to be in Florida also, seeing family near Ft. Myers. She and Susan were talking on the phone, and Susan said, “I wish you were part of the crew here. We could use an extra set of hands.” The following morning, Meg was up at 2:00 a.m. and in the car on her way to Tampa to help.
Just like when she walked into our lives as a 12-year old babysitter, Meg quickly went about to organize all that needed to be done on the escort boat. She is the “we’re gonna get organized, and we’re gonna get this done right now” person, and everyone really fell into line. Think of a job supervisor on a construction site; Meg was able to make sure that:
- My strokes were being counted every ten minutes, and recorded in our log book
- My drinks were mixed and delivered every 30 minutes
- My well-being was satisfactory at all times
It is no surprise, then, when we were making plans for the English Channel swim a few months later, that Meg’s would be the first name on the list. There, she did all of the things that she had in Tampa, but also had to keep track of the throw-up bags for the crew. One of my favorite pictures of Meg is during the English Channel swim, and she was bundled up from the cold. In the photo, she has two watches on her wrist, and she has the log book opened in front of her. It is as though she is the director of an orchestra, but instead of performing a symphony, our goal was to swim to another country.
Meg has an abundance of all the attributes needed of the director; she is detail oriented, responsible, level headed, creative, and never flags. She’s also full of spunk and wild humor. She is the indispensable Project Manager of theA Long Swim team. We love her.
The rules for the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim state that only two crew members are allowed on the escort boat. We weren’t sure at the beginning who the second crew member would be, but we knew that Meg would be the first.
During the MIMS swim, there will be lots of communication with observers near and far, about location and progress, and about stroke counts and feeding details.
If you watch the story unfold that day, thank Meg; I know I will.
Three weeks to go before MIMS. Lake Michigan is approaching 60 degrees. Taper starts next week.
See you at the beach. I will report back.