Defining Moments – Rochester, Minnesota

Rochester Minnesota Map

Most of my professional life I have been a regional manager and because of that have travelled many times all over the midwest and beyond. One stop that I will always remember is Rochester, Minnesota. I have made many visits to Rochester over the years but there is one time I visited that I will never forget.

It was no more than couple of years ago and I got into town the evening before a trade show and decided to go out for some Italian food at a place called Bilotti’s Italian Village. I ordered up some pasta and was having a little bit of wine when it happened.

There was a couple sitting in front of me and they were discussing her funeral. I was captivated. Normally, I try not to eavesdrop but it was right in front of me. As I vividly remember, she was giving her husband instructions on what type of service to have, who the pall bearers would be, the type of food to serve and what type of flowers she wanted. She was spending her last few weeks (or days for all I know) at the Mayo Clinic.

She had cancer. She was dying and she seemed ok with it. Never once did she seem to stammer or stutter. Her voice was firm. Her husband’s was not. He seemed to be the nervous one. I suppose my wife Joanne would be the same way. She is the rock in our family. She takes care of everything. I just get dressed, show up and eat.

I have only told this story to few people over the years but it reminded me that even I have to soak in the moments and spend the time to make a difference. As Ferris Bueller so eloquently stated, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it".

Fast forward a few years later and I myself ended up at the Mayo Clinic. I was hit by a plastic toy and almost lost my sight. Nothing even as close to what that couple went through but I was scared. Scared because I worried about what a burden I would be on my family. Scared because my faith was being tested.

Sometimes I wonder if that evening helped play a role in my decision to raise money for cancer and cancer research. I’m not sure but, as I get older, it seems that these stories are the ones that my friends and neighbors are living with right now. I know alone I cannot just whip up a cure, but I would like to think someone, somewhere is benefiting from our fundraising.

It would be nice to know that someone is eating pasta and drinking wine celebrating a cancer free diagnosis …


  • Extremely moving Craig. Occasionally, we do have to stop, just for maybe a moment, look around us, “smell the roses” of life. See someone less fortunate that may need a smile, a kind word, or assistance in some way. I believe that our Faith is always being tested, tho’ we may not know it. Look around and pay attention to lifes challenges in everyday lving. You are fortunate to have seen this first hand.

    Comment by Ma Wallace — November 15, 2010 @ 1:43 pm