Major League Baseball’s annual All Star Game was played last night at Target Field in Minneapolis.  My dear friend, Karl Vollstedt, was a huge Minnesota Twins fan.  As I leaned over to pick up the phone to congratulate him and chat during the game, I was jolted back to reality: Karl died in April.

For six years, Pattie and I lived an hour from the ballpark, just across the St. Croix River in Wisconsin.  That’s where my multiple myeloma journey began.

KARLNo one was more important to me during that journey than Karl.  Founder of one of the oldest and most successful myeloma support groups in the country, I met Karl–and his lovely wife and caregiver, Lorraine–when I attended my first meeting in Stillwater, Minnesota.  It was during the summer of 2007.  Moving forward, I rarely missed a meeting.  Karl never did.

Karl was like a father to me and so much more.  After Pattie and I moved to Florida in 2009, Karl travel down to visit each winter.  And I would fly north every chance I got to stay with him.  Karl and Lorraine opened their home and hearts to me.  We would speak by phone every week or two.  He was the type of guy that was always positive.   Karl was a large man; a big German with a laugh that would be the envy of Santa Claus.  His public persona was one of always being hopeful.  Karl was like that privately, too.  From time to time he would share his concerns or fears with me.  But he never stayed down for long.

Last year we toured newly built Target Field together.  It was a magical day.  We had plans for me to fly-up and watch a game together this summer.  He would have reveled in the fact that the All Star Game was being played in the Twin Cities.  Karl’s Minnesota pride was as big as he was.  God I miss him! I can’t believe he’s gone.

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat