|Eli standing under one of the original FedEx airplanes.|
In late April, I sat at a table next to a window of the Kay Kafe at St. Jude with Eli as he played video games and we waited for his next appointment. I was on the phone with a customer service representative from FedEx trying to hunt down a package that I had been waiting to show up at my door at home for over a month. I had shelled out a pretty penny for 200 Eli bracelets to hand out, which I love to do, but the arrival at home was well over due. After a back and forth with the company, sometimes waiting on hold for over an hour for my turn, I was told that FedEx had the package. So, my second call to FedEx connected me to customer service representative Lisa Gump. Unbeknownst to me, the manufacturer had put a signature requirement on the delivery. Of course, no one was ever at my house any of the multiple times FedEx tried to deliver. After much hunting, she found that my package had been sent to FedEx’s unclaimed package warehouse – in Memphis! I snickered with a sigh and she said she could have it reshipped to Athens Alabama. “No, no, I’m actually in Memphis, unbelievably. I’m at St. Jude with my son, but have been having someone check the doorstep regularly for this package at home. It figures it was here all the while.” She inquired about Eli, and I gave her a brief background. Then, while I had her on the phone, I asked her if they did tours because the world headquarters for FedEx is in Memphis, including the FedEx “Superhub” at the Memphis International Airport. They do not do public tours any more after the 9-11 attacks. Well, it was no big deal, I said, we just thought it would be neat because I was tired of the zoo and Eli was such a big FedEx and UPS fan (which is so ironic, because, if you didn’t know, my daddy owned a trucking business, and his daddy owned trucks for coal delivery. So, I guess it is in his blood.). So, Lisa found the package and set it “on the road” to Target House. Today, Eli is in a pretty good mood. He had blood and platelets transfusion yesterday, so that helps how he feels. But his ANC is at zero, so we are holed up except for our appointments at St. Jude. We are playing lots of Xbox, and watching lots of Spongebob. We do two laps around the complex twice a day on some days, depending on how he feels and what we’ve already done at St. Jude. He ate half of an applesauce at lunch, and ate a decent size bowl of chips at supper. So, I think I’ve written about some of this FedEx stuff before, but I want to make sure I try to cover all of it since I finally have a couple of pictures to share. So, a couple of weeks after I talked to Lisa at FedEx customer service in Philadelphia, I think, I got a call from Ray at FedEx in Memphis who had heard about Eli through Lisa somehow and she (Ray) had FedEx goodies to bring to him that she and her co-workers had collected. To say she showered Eli with FedEx is an understatement. But, the most special gift was Ray’s gesture of giving Eli her first uniform shirt when she was a driver. I was moved, and it was incredibly thoughtful of someone who doesn’t even know us. But, I’m not done. I had a call from Camille at FedEx who offered to arrange for Eli to have a guided tour of the Superhub in a security car. What a rare opportunity! So, a few weeks ago, Eli was able to visit the hub and watch all the activity of the planes being loaded, trucks driving around, planes landing and taking off. It was heaven for Eli, even riding in the security car was exciting for him. The only pictures Vic was allowed to take were in the lobby. So, the picture here is of Eli standing under one of the first FedEx planes, a Dassault Falcon 20. The very first plane was named after the founder’s oldest daughter “Wendy.” I thought I read somewhere that it was at the Smithsonian, but I can’t find that information anymore, so I could be wrong. But, I’m still not done! Martha, who works with the pilots at FedEx, called and is arranging for Eli to take a plane ride with FedEx pilots in a personal plane. We are going to see if we can get that set up sometime soon. We are overwhelmed and so appreciative of the wonderful attention that FedEx employees have given Eli and the opportunities they have given him to do things he would not otherwise get to do. So, big thank you to them and FedEx (P.S., but we still talk about our favorite man in brown Mr. Black). On a sad note, I have learned of yet another child whom we met while here at St. Jude that has a recurrent tumor(s) at his three month post-treatment scan. Jack is a little guy; I think he is four. He is a medulloblastoma fighter having originally one tumor that was resected. I may not remember right, but I think he was “average-risk,” meaning he had one tumor and his spinal fluid was not infected. So, I know his parents Natasha and Jason are crushed. I remember the day they left to go home to Virginia, Natasha was beaming. I am heartbroken for them. It is also devastating news for those of us on the road behind them who are in the “high-risk” category. As I mentioned in an earlier post we are preparing plans B, C, and D, but from what I have gleaned so far the outlook is grim. Ironically, my emotions tonight were rescued yet again by my hero Drake. I received an email from his mother kindly taking the time to respond to my post on his site offering to meet us when they are at St. Jude toward the end of September. So, I am hopeful to have that honor, and it will be nothing less.