Thank God for Pickleball
Let’s be real. Pickleball gets us out of bed even when we don’t want to.
When my sister LuAnn and I were young, our dad often woke us up in the morning with the phrase, “up and at ‘em, you two,” as he turned on the lights. The last thing we wanted to do was get out of our warm beds on a cold day and go to school. This memory was the inspiration behind one of our very first jojo+lo tee designs…Up and Atom.
It’s time to write our jojo+lo blog but this month it’s difficult to do. Jojo and I are normally lighthearted, motivated and approach each day of our business with joy. But unfortunately, sometimes life delivers us blows—on and off the pickleball courts. We always want our message to be authentic and our brand to reflect who we are. So, for this blog, we have to be real and not talk about our latest, cute tee design, because it just doesn’t matter.
My sister LuAnn, who I loved so much, just died after a sudden two month battle with brain cancer. She had a heart of gold and she was the best sister, daughter, aunt, friend, wife, and pup-mom ever. Everyone who knew her loved her and misses her terribly. She was always so present—which makes her presence so absent. She was the real deal. Most of us have someone that we miss, who was the real deal. So, all I want to do is talk about my sweet sister right now.
LuAnn always let me talk as long as I wanted to about how much I loved pickleball, our business, and our new pickleball designs. She had just retired from nursing, and I kept telling her she should try it. I told her, “You will love pickleball—anyone can play it! I will teach you!” My sister wasn’t super techy, but I got her to go on our website one day. She loved what she saw, was all-in, and wanted to place an order. However, I told her, “Thank you, but you don’t even play pickleball yet! Order something when you start playing pickleball.” She was never able to play pickleball or place that order.
My daughter Stephanie and I visited my sister in New Mexico for four memorable days shortly before she died. We laughed a lot together, shared memories and had the chance to express our love. I knew it would probably be the last time we would ever see her. One of the last gifts I gave to her was a jojo+lo XOXO Beanie and a comfy Pickle Tee to keep her warm. She needed comfort and warmth. After our visit, I returned home to Michigan late on a Monday night. Even though I was emotionally drained, I scheduled pickleball for early the next morning. I knew I needed a reason to get out of bed.
Lo, Stephanie, and LuAnn in New Mexico
My sister declined rapidly, and just before Christmas she died while my husband and I were in Arizona. It was a night that I will always remember sharing tears, laughter, and stories about my funny sister with those who loved her. The day after she died I needed to get moving and spend time in the sunshine, so I went to open play at a nearby park in Scottsdale. No one knew me or knew what had happened, but people were so friendly and kind. I am convinced that pickleball draws the nicest humans.
After the difficult holidays, we returned to snowy, gray Michigan. I set my alarm and got out of bed to play pickleball every morning. When I arrived at our club, I was welcomed with teary, heartfelt hugs from my friends telling me how very sorry they were about my sister dying. I would be in the middle of a match and I would see a friend across the courts who would make a point to stop playing and say, “I am so sorry about your sister.” After pickleball as I walked to my car, friends would stop me and say, “we’ve been thinking about you…what can we do to help?” It has only been a couple of weeks since my sister died, so I keep setting my alarm to play pickleball because I know it will help me get through my grief and move forward with joy.
Our squad in jojo+lo Dink Local MI, and Jojo and Lo on the court.
Jojo and I have heard from many of you that pickleball has also helped you through difficult times…Covid, the death of a spouse, parent, sibling or child, a difficult divorce, injuries, addiction, depression or just feeling alone. Pickleball unites us and lifts our spirits. As my sister said to me, the last time that I saw her, “Life can be hard Lori…but it is good.” Jojo and I believe people are good, and pickleball is good for our souls and makes life a little easier. When my alarm goes off in the morning, I keep saying “up and atom, Lori…and thank God for pickleball.”
If you have a story about how pickleball has helped you through a challenging time, we would love to hear from you. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note to the reader ~ Lori worked for 15 years at a children’s grief organization that provided children support groups and a safe place to share their feelings and memories after the death of a loved one…which is why this topic is so important to her.
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