Interruptions on the Run…

Someone very wise once told me that it is the spaces between the notes that truly makes the music.  I wonder if that holds true for interruptions on the run.  I don’t think so ..insert eye roll.

Way back when in 2017 I was on a serious running kick.  I was starting out with a 10k.  I had run this 10k many times and this year I trained hard and was ready to be better than ever.  Life changing interruption when my Dad passed away the day before the race and so did my mojo for making it my year to do all things running.  It’s way too hard to run with a heavy heart even though I tried.

Fast forward to 2019 and I made a serious effort to train for a marathon.  I struggled in the summer heat when I usually swim and bike instead of run but I was determined.  So determined in fact that when we were on the Eastern Shore celebrating our anniversary I decided to go for an early morning run to beat the July heat.  I was kicking it despite the rising temperature and enjoying the quiet of the small town and its classic old homes.  In the enthusiasm of the moment and giving myself a mental high five  I decided to double back and do one more circle around the block.  My toe caught the uneven sidewalk and I went flying.  Didn’t break anything but bruised my entire left side.  I think a break would have been less painful.   Also this made for a very romantic anniversary…NOT!

Running put on hold…so was walking and moving in general.

There must be something about “one last go around” because thats how I broke my wrist ice skating in 2015.

2020 was MY year.  Do you see a pattern here?   Not only did Covid happen but lots of things with my elderly mother that took up my time.   I did a lot of biking to relieve stress but not much running.  I did manage an 8k which along with a half marathon and a full marathon was open to do for 20 days in November on our beautiful Virginia Capitol to Capitol trail.  I was grateful they had managed to make it seem like a real race.  Well when I did it there were  3 of us out there but hey it is better than being alone.

 

                     An unusually warm day in November for the 8k       

 So here we are in 2021 and I sit in front of the computer writing this with ice on my foot.

Sigh

 Despite the setbacks and being an all together cranky-ass ( said it before and I will say it again..running is my prozac) I am persevering.  It is back to my original love which is triathlons.  So if I can’t run or bike I am in search of a pool to start swimming.

Did I mention this is my least favorite thing to do?

Did I mention that the last time I lugged my aging body to the pool I happened to pick the time that the high school was practicing with all those young bodies right in my face as I slowly…and I mean super slowly made my way across the pool?

And yet I can’t give up, I can NOT tri. 🙂

Also being the somewhat snarky person I am, I may have just muttered under my breath that those young swimmers will get old like the rest of us…jokes on them..as it was on me.

I am also buoyed by the fact that should I be lucky enough to get all the training in I am still game for a marathon..virtual style..why?  Lots of reasons.

I get to pick the date

I get to pick the weather 

I get to pick the color of shirt…not so important but still a plus!

I get to pick my prize.  I’m choosing a trip to Hawaii or a bottle of wine…or a trip to Italy..need to talk to the race sponsor..oh wait that is me.

I will be the winner no matter what.  The one and only race I won in my age group they stopped giving out prizes (bottles of  wine) at 40+.  I went home a very unhappy camper…who does that?

I can take as long as I want .  I seriously wanted to do the Honolulu Marathon held in December ( still do)  Not only for the obvious reasons but also because we used to live there AND there is no time limit on the race..it runs on Hawaii time..you got this brau!

So yes I am still an over 50 ( way over) triathlete and writer triing to make a difference.

I will be writing more frequently about all things running, biking, swimming plus life in general because ..well because it’s my blog.

See you on the road, on the bike, in the pool and laughing at life’s little and big absurdities.

As always..Keep Triing    Jennifer

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday…thankful for the mess

In the last four years you have read about my monumental task of cleaning out my parents house after my Dad died unexpectedly.  At the same time we also had to move my mother into Assisted Living.  Honestly much of that time is a blur in my memory.

I am still dealing with some of the aftermath.  Well a lot of it.  My parents didn’t throw out much.  The moment that is seared into my memory is opening a box and finding throw pillows from  the couch we had when I was five.  If it hadn’t been 10am I would have started drinking and Kahlua in my coffee does not count.  Well maybe it does.

In any case I am currently going through all the boxes of photos and memorabilia we dumped in my office after the final clean out.  I had to take a break after we finished.  Going through boxes is the most mind numbing experience.  I’d rather go to the dentist or take algebra again..and fail it ..again.

Lately though I have been thankful for the “classy hoarding” my parents did.  “Classy Hoarding” is a phrase I coined to refer to a house that looks put together but has closets and a basement just plain stuffed!  If the house could have groaned and let out its’ seams it would have done it!

So why am I thankful?  I am thankful because I am finding so many unbelievable treasures .  Treasures only to me and my family but still they are priceless.

Among other things I have found a letter written to my mother from  grateful parents whose young son died.  They wrote eloquently about how much they appreciated her kind and loving ways towards their 12 year old son as he passed away from cardiac problems.  My mother could not fill in the details ( unfortunately) but it was during her last weeks of nursing school.  The only thing she could say about it was that it was very sad.

I found humorous photos of my Mom and Dad in their youth.  As a child you never envision your parents as being wild and while this was the mild side of wild it was fun to see. It was  long before they were worried about what anyone would think and I found it refreshing.  I wish I could ask both of them about this time in their lives but one is in heaven and one is sadly in the throes of dementia.

I found letters written by them as a young engaged couple in love.  And then there is a lovely letter from the father of my mothers’ best friend extolling her virtues to her new in laws who did not approve of the marriage.  My grandparents thought my father could do better . Then my parents eloped and that didn’t help. They did recant those feelings many times over and became  Moms’ biggest fans.

In that same letter Ted Holtzinger painted a picture of my Moms’ tireless efforts on the pediatric polio ward before there was a vaccine.  Also as you read this please know that at 5 feet tall and 80 lbs my Mom was not much bigger than her patients.

           Ted wrote:

        I wish I could tell you of her heroic efforts on behalf of the littlest victims of this city’s worst polio epidemic.  She worked around the clock for what must have seemed like endless days trying to save those who were most seriously afflicted from death or from a life sentence to the worst phases of crippling that makes polio such a dreaded scourge.

     I saw her there one night when the epidemic was at it s height., her hands and arms reddened to the elbow form the hot packs that she was administering to the sufferers of this worst form of polio, I watched her wince as she lifted hot pack after hot pack from the scalding water and I said a silent prayer of thanks for women like Betty who could forget self in service to others so grievously afflicted and yet so needful of  her administrations.

My mother never told us about any of this.  I am so thankful this letter and others like exist and were saved so that I may have a glimpse of my mother before I knew her.

By the way I also have the response my grandfather sent many years later and it was eloquent as well.  Not sure why he waited so long but grateful I have the two letters to go side by side.

So on this Thoughtful Thursday what is my point about all these treasures?  Can you guess?

Write a real letter.  A real one.  Not a text or an email…a real honest to goodness letter.  Make a copy and save it.  Who should you write it to?  That is for you to decide but in this day and age of digital it is refreshing to hold a letter that can be read over and over again without turning anything on.

Tell someone what they mean to you, write down memories of fun times , special life events and anything that has become family lore. If you see someone like my Mom doing something so very special let them know you noticed.

I know it is all the rage to be minimalistic and to get rid of everything that isn’t nailed down.  I get it.  And all that is found will be digitized in case the originals are lost.  In the meantime it is a joy to hold a letter once written by a friend, a grandparent, my Mom, my Dad.  They once held that piece of paper.  The connection is real.

So thank you Mom and Dad…it has been hard but the rewards are bountiful.  I am so happy you saved this part of our history.

Now as always, go make it a Thoughtful One..and if you are so honored go hug your Mom and Dad !                                                                     Jennifer

 

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Sifting through the ashes and letting go…

I am haunted by a video clip I saw about a month ago as the California fires devastated so many communities.  A woman of 70 or so was desperately searching through the ashes of her home for her beloved wedding band.

I prayed she would find it knowing that the probability was not good.  Tears streamed down her face as her hands ran through the ashes and I realized much later that it wasn’t so much the wedding ring she was searching for but some tangible remnant of a life that had been swiftly taken from her as the fires raged uncontrollably.  She was forced to let go of all she had known for decades.  Grasping for even one small thing to hang onto she continued to search for something she could hold in her hand.

It was heart wrenching to witness.

My mother is doing the same thing although the circumstances are vastly different.  Her life changed drastically when my father passed away suddenly on March 31st.  I have watched her try to hold on to what she knew, what they shared, what they enjoyed.  She continued to buy the same groceries, making meals my father would enjoy.  Wanting my husband, her son and son in laws to do the things Dad did in the yard, finish the endless projects he started, follow the same routine.  She even wanted me to fill Paul’s plate and serve it to him as she would my Dad.

I got it.  I have been here and witnessed it all.  And it suddenly occurred to me that she was searching through the ashes of her life as well looking for what once was.

It was, is and continues to be heartbreaking.

This week it is especially evident. We found her an apartment in an independent living place near me.  We moved her furniture into her apartment last week-end.  It looks so cute and I was so pleased to see it all come together.  We headed back to Mom’s house to spend the week saying goodbye and pack up her personal items etc. She started focusing on things that didn’t matter, gathering up knick knacks,things she will never use, endless dried flower arrangements, wreaths,  platters, and other odds and ends. I was constantly reminding her that we only had my car and my husband’s car to carry all this and we really needed the room for her clothes, coats, shoes etc. She kept piling it up and I got testy knowing we could get this stuff later. She spent a whole morning looking for placemats that matched napkins she found ( hadn’t been used in decades). She scolded me for putting something on the floor in an emptied bedroom ( floor was clean) and scolded me again for packing her favorite pan and casserole dish. Sigh.

I measured my car to see what we could fit.  I started to panic. We had words. We made up. I realized then that she was still sifting, still looking, still yearning for the life she had with my Dad.

We did find some humor when she mentioned how much she missed Dad. I agreed and told her I missed him as well. She sighed and said she just wished he would come and get her.  This was just after we took her furniture down to her new place. I patted her on the hand and told her  I wouldn’t like that.  Then as an after thought and weary from moving  I asked if she could ask him to wait at least a month before he came and got her, she laughed and so did I.

For being almost 91 years old she is doing well and I am so  proud of her for taking this step forward.

Be like Mom…Keep Triing

What a cute couple !!!

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Unpacking my suitcase and my heart…

I totally unpacked my suitcase today.  I just dumped it out on the floor. Socks, shorts, pj’s, underwear, shirts,loose change  and little pieces of trash spread in a not so artistic heap on the rug at the end of my bed.  I  went to the bathroom and dumped my other bag and watched my makeup, hairdryer, shampoo and other stuff tumble  all over the vanity and into the sinks.

I shut the door and walked away.  Later tonight or tomorrow I will gather it up and repack it for the umpteenth time since March 31st.

Max , my goofy golden retriever, understands.  I dumped his bag out as well  and then hid it.  He is tired of being packed up as well.

I wish it was as easy to unpack my heart.

I didn’t mean to put my grief on hold.  It just happened.  I was the one to make the phone calls.  My sisters cried, my brother swore. I immediately went into nurse mode where I parked my emotions and did the tasks at hand.  I packed as quickly as I could and got on the road to be with Mom.

Almost 3 months later I have not spent an entire week at home.  I long for that sense of routine, the comfort of my own bed, and the warmth of familiar surroundings.  I get a few days here and there but not enough to settle in and truly be with all that has happened.

I need that time to unpack my heart.

Unpacking my heart cannot be done quickly.  Unlike my suitcase I will not unceremoniously dump it onto the floor.  It will take some care and finesse.  I want to embrace the memories and feel my Dads’ presence as I unpack.  Much like pulling a well loved book or photo off the shelf I see myself running my hand over the cover or image and smiling as the texture of each memory feels familiar in my hand and my heart.  Gently I will place it where it will wait patiently  to be brought forth again and again and fill me not with sorrow but with gratitude and joy.

I needed to dump my suitcase today if for nothing else than to realize I cannot do the same to my heart.  A gesture out of frustration and weariness unexpectedly led me to a new beginning.

Everyday I have prayed for guidance to help my family and especially my Mom.  I forgot to pray for my own needs and yet I realized today I was not forgotten. I did not ask and yet I received.

I know He  will be beside me as I unpack my heart and I am grateful for His presence.

 

 

 

 

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