Sunday, June 10, 2012

When Worlds Collide in an Explosion of Happiness: The Walking Gallery, June 4th 2012

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There are magical moments.

There are moments when all the elements of a linear life come together in a moment of friendship and awe.

Sometimes those moments are so very joyous.  When Fred Holliday and I married, he was ecstatically happy to have within the wedding party a friend from Northern High School in Garret County, Maryland, a friend from College at Frostburg State and friends from Oklahoma State University.  

Six months later we would be working side by side at Barston’s Child’s Play selling toys and helping customers. 

Almost 16 years later he lay in bed and created another party of friends.  These would be his pallbearers: a friend from high school, a friend from Frostburg, a friend from Potomac Video and friends from American University.

Worlds collided to celebrate the life of one man.  For many that is the end.  The friends scatter to the wind and both joy and sorrow is forgotten as we walk away each upon our paths.

But I know on Monday June 4th, 2012 Fred would have been so happy.  That night the Gallery Walked, that night people gathered from all over the nation to tell their tales of love and loss.

The friends I have made throughout this journey stood side by side as though time had slipped and for one sparkling moment we played together.

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I worked for 12 years selling toys at Barston’s Child’s Play.  On this night, we brought play into medicine.  The entire Walking Gallery was brought to the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health in the form of 160 Lego figures, one for every member of the gallery.  I wanted every member of the Walking Gallery to be there in this small way.  There were so many walkers like Ben Miller who watched from afar.

Ben Miller

We created a Lego map of the US with recognizable monuments due to the fact that Child’s Play had all the Lego architecture sets.


Wen Dombrowski, Jess Jacobs, Stuart McLean, Jake Miles-McLean, Nate Miles McLean, Kait B. Roe, Peter Guerber and myself assembled this mammoth project.

building the map Building the map DC Health Week HealthCamp - Walking Gallery 13225

We had a lot of fun.

Robin Miles McLean, Ben Merrion and Peter Guerber assembled nametags.  Each nametag had the attendees name as well as the high school they attended as well as city and state.  I was amazed how many advocates went to high school in New Jersey!  I was also happy to see one other Walker from Oklahoma.  We even found that two of our walkers attended the same academy years apart. 

Making the name tags

Morgan Staney-Kominers from Child’s Play recently joined the Gallery and ran into a good friend from high school who now works in the health field.

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Morgan was also glad to see Jon Francke from Potomac Video among the attendees.

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The reason we had high schools on our name tags harkens back to a post I wrote a few months back: All Fields Required.  Some of us working in patient advocacy circles only have a high school degree.  This night no one worried about who had an MD after their name and who had a PhD.  We were all meeting at the same point in time and we were joyous.

As the evening progressed, the noise level rose as each of us embraced the other.  New walkers were handed their jackets and soon it was time to sing.  First Gallery member Marsha Goodman -Wood sang “Nobody Likes Viruses and Germs.”


Then members Ross Martin, Dave deBronkart, Keith Boone and Casey Quinlan sang “Give Me My Damn Data.”

Wen Storify

Then David Hale treated us on his Uke to “My Little Data Shack.”

Wen Storify 2

Next Isaac and I with a little help from Ben Merrion sang a parody of a parody.  Building on a Lego/Minecraft theme little Isaac wanted to sing about big data.

HIT Dynamite (Feel free to sing along to the tune from Dynamite)

“I came to dig dig dig dig
I’m gonna get data make it big big big big
The Triple Aim is my trig trig trig trig
Walk the Gallery that’s my gig, gig, gig, gig
yeah, yeah

There must be something I can craft
to ease the burden of this task

I shoot my thoughts into the air sometimes
saying RHIO, gate keeper's KO'd

Boot my computer and now the data’s mine
saying ay-oh, but not today no

So then I'll go to work
under the planetree
I'll prove myself the
joy of HIT
cause We’ll use these backs
We'll build a big city
and data mine it
using  HIT

I came to blow blow blow blow
up bad care models you have known known known known
embracing HIT at home home home home
And in the Gallery you shall roam roam roam roam
yeah, yeah

And there’s here creeps who want to rob
all of your data that's their job

I shoot my thoughts into the air sometimes
saying GAO, MIB is KO'd

Cloud’s hosting and now the data’s mine
sayin' ay-oh, MU2 knows

And then I'll head back home
where I'll smile with glee
that now I am part of
lots of HIT
'cause I rule my world
my data lives in me
I'm-a change my care
with my HIT”

Then we began to walk around in circles with our friends rejoicing in the Walking Gallery.  Gallery children 2

 It was so good to see children walking among us. Three new artists joined the Walking Gallery 6 year-old Isaac, 5 year-old Jonah and 7 year-old Leela.  14 year-old Abigail Boone proudly joined us as a new walker and 13 year old Freddie d├ębuted his newly designed jacket.
Gallery Children

There were other children here this day that were paintings upon backs.  Alan Greene’s son, now a junior in high school became an infant again.   A child version of her future husband embraces the child Sunnie Southern.   Karen Herzog's infant daughter Sophia is still alive and rosy cheeked upon her mother's back.

The Gallery

On Ted Eytan’s back both Ted and I peer out as children who look concerned.  But in this moment we are safe and loved and surrounded by friends who support us. 

Ted in his jacket with Regina

 Soon it was time to leave.  We hugged and kissed and said good-bye until next year when we will gather again in another moment of joy.