Dear Daddy…

It’s been 40 years; since I am 47, that’s practically a lifetime, but the pain is still there. It’s usually just beneath the surface, waiting for some random moment – a father and daughter dancing at her wedding, a little girl walking hand-in-hand with her father – to remind me of just what is missing in my life. Forty years ago tonight, my sister graduated from Hammond Tech High School, giving the valedictory speech. I was only seven, so I don’t remember much about the evening other than being dropped off at my grandmother’s little house on 169th Street afterward. Our family was going to be moving from Hammond to Hobart the next morning so that we would be closer to my dad’s company, The R.W. Greenland Co. It seems my parents thought I would be more of a nuisance than a helper as the movers were loading our belongings.

Little did we know that our lives would be turned upside down the next morning. After breakfast at Grandma’s, her black rotary phone rang. I followed her back to her bedroom and listened to her end of the conversation. I wasn’t certain what was going on, but I would soon find out when she carefully replaced the phone on its cradle. It was one of those moments that one never forgets. When one receives devastating news, she nevers forgets the words. “Honey,” my grandma began, ” lay yourself across the bed and cry. Your daddy just died.” Dad had been in the attic getting things down for the movers, and dropped dead of a heart attack. Just like that, this young businessman who was just beginning to see the fruits of his labor was gone.

I remember small moments of time from that day. We made our way back to our next door neighbors’ house, and spent most of the day there until it was time to go to our new house. Of course, at that point we didn’t want to move, but we had sold our house, bought a new one, and had contracts by which we had to abide. Imagine my mom, 41 years old and suddenly a widow with an 18 year old daughter, a 14 year old son, and a 7 year old daughter. She was a stay-at-home mom who was dependent upon my dad for most everything. She was quickly forced to learn her way around the business world, while at the same time mourning the death of her young husband and caring for three children. Thankfully, our wonderful friends and neighbors, Clyde and Peggy, were there every step of the way. Clyde had been involved with the start-up of dad’s business, and was able to help my mother with decisions she was not prepared to make.

At that time, we did not have a lot of family living near us. My two grandmas were close, and I had one uncle who lived in the region. We were very active in our church, Southside Christian Church, and they were our family. They swept in that day and took over. They helped us complete our move, and continued supporting us over the next few years. The men in our church stepped in as father figures, and the ministers visited regularly. That evening, my uncle came to help us. My cousins were near my age, so my uncle took me to spend the night with him. My mother argues this; she said she remembers my sleeping with her that first night. I did sleep with her in the days following dad’s death, but I clearly remember that first night at Uncle Sonny’s house because I remember lying in bed in my cousin’s room hoping to wake up the next morning to find it had all been a bad dream. Honestly, for years I waited to wake up from that dream. When I realized it would never end, I began to wish I would dream about my dad so I could remember him – the sound of his voice, his laugh, his smell. 

I get really frustrated because I don’t remember much, but I was so young. Sometimes I find myself wondering if I miss my dad, or if I miss having a dad. I often wonder what traits of dad’s I am carrying. Does my drive to succeed come from his? My talkative personality? At every big moment in my life, I have missed dad. I needed his advice when I began a new venture, and I wanted to see him the first time he saw his grandchildren. I wanted him to walk me down the aisle, and watch me graduate from college. I wanted him to hold me when I cried, and laugh with me when I said something outrageous. I still get jealous when I see daughters with their fathers. What a gift.

My faith has allowed me to move on, and to still trust that God knows what’s best. I believe that He has our journeys planned, and that no matter what the situation, there are lessons to be learned. I also know that if Dad hadn’t died, I wouldn’t have my girls, my husband, or the life I have now. We moved to Tell City because that’s where my step-dad is from, and if we hadn’t moved here, my life would have been completely different. I have a great life now, and am surrounded by many incredible friends. For that I am thankful. 

On Saturday, June 7, 1974, the world lost a great man, and my sister, brother, and I lost our dad. He’s been gone many years, and throughout those years, many of our relatives have joined him, including my grandmothers, my uncles, and most recently, my nephew. I believe Stephen entered Heaven and is spending eternity with his grandfather. I believe that dad’s spirit lives on in unexpected ways. My dad was a pianist and organist, and also wrote music. What a blessing it is to hear Addison as she sits at the piano learning to play a song my dad wrote. I’m certain he is guiding her hands across the keys.

Tomorrow, June 7, 2014, I will get up early and run. I will remember that day so long ago, and probably shed some tears. But I will also think about my life now, my family, my friends, my job, and all that I’ve accomplished, and I will know that my dad is proud. I miss you, Dad…every single day. 

40-Day Running Streak

Just before Memorial Day, Runner’s World, via Facebook feed, issued a challenge. I was at a point that I felt like I needed a challenge; since running a half marathon in April, my running had been lacking. I had little endurance; the humidity had already set in; and we were crazy busy with end-of-school-year activities. It was so frustrating that after running 13.1 miles the month before, I could hardly eek out three miles in May. 

The challenge was a 40-day Running Streak: participants run at least one mile every single hot, humid, busy, exhausting day from Memorial Day to the Fourth of July. I signed up (which only required that I ‘like’ their running streak Facebook page). Today is day ten. I have been a runner for five years now, and have never run ten days in a row, so that in itself is an accomplishment.

No one really cares that I am doing this. No one on the Facebook page knows if I really run or not, nor do they care. This is a challenge I embarked upon for my own satisfaction. I want to prove to myself that I can do it. Some days I only run a mile, particularly if it is typically my day off from exercise, or if I have taught two Tabata classes and busted out a bunch of squats. I like that I am pushing myself to do something I’ve never attempted. Will anyone care if I complete the 40 days? I will, and that’s all that matters. 

We, as runners, are often asked why we run. Why would we suffer through injuries, give up our time, trudge through snow, battle through rain and wind, and tolerate the heat and humidity? If you are not a runner, you probably should avoid asking that question unless you have a large chunk of time to kill. The reasons are endless, and most of them very personal. I’ll give you my short list:

  • It’s healthy. My dad and his brothers died of heart disease in their forties. With that family history, wouldn’t you run?
  • It makes me feel strong and accomplished. I feel good about myself after a run, no matter how bad that run was. I did something most people can’t, and that feels darned good.
  • It helps me control my weight. I try to have decent eating habits, but it’s a daily struggle. If I want to eat sweets or burgers, I have to run. 
  • It makes me happy. I can be so stressed out or upset, and running just makes things better. It gives me time to think and process my feelings, and it gives me time to chat with God. I have survived some of my worst days by going for a run.
  • Running makes me a better wife, mom, nana, friend, and teacher. See above. 
  • I want to set a good example for our kids and grandkids. I want my grandkids to tell their friends that their nana runs races. I want to be able to keep up with them. I want to be a cool nana!
  • It gives me a connection with my students. Seriously, most teens think English teachers are pretty geeky (shocking, I know). When I tell them I run and teach bootcamp classes, they seem to rank me a little higher on the cool scale. I want them to see that one is never too old to set goals and work toward them. 
  • There is nothing like running with friends. I could (and have) write a whole blog on running friends. I’ll give one example. Monday night Jackie and I decided to run sprints at the track. We used to do that pretty regularly, but hadn’t for a long time – like a year or two. We arrived at the track, and it started raining. Hard. We decided we were tough, and a little rain wouldn’t stop us. We’d run in rain before, and in the summer it can be quite refreshing. We ran our sprints in the rain, and it was awesome. Jackie is 50 and I am 47, and we were out in the rain running sprints. We felt like rock star runners. Athletes.
  • I run because I can. There are so many people who can’t run, or walk for that matter, and I run for them. I am so blessed to have a body that will allow me to run, and as long as I am able, I will continue. It’s hard, and sometimes it completely sucks, but there is always another run. 

I have 30 more days to complete my streak. Because my legs are tired from running every day, I haven’t been able to run more than three miles, but I will continue on. There is a 5k on July 4 that my daughter wants to run, and I think it’d be the perfect way to end my streak. But then will I wonder how many days I could run if I just keep it up? Will I feel guilty if I don’t run? That’s the way my mind works. 

When was the last time you challenged yourself? It doesn’t have to be running; it can be anything that pushes you. I believe if one wants to totally embrace life and live with no regrets, he or she has to face challenges and try new adventures. Come up with a summer challenge and go for it. If you want to be held accountable, put it in the comments or message me. I’ll help! 

 

Just Three Years

The other night my husband and I were sitting at a baseball game with our friend Jeff. His son, Sam, just completed his freshman year of high school, and I commented about how quickly time is going. Later, I thought about how Sam will graduate in just three years. Because my mind is often filled with crazy random thoughts that spin out of control, Sam’s future graduation led me to think about all the changes that would occur in the next three years, and how those years will pass so very quickly.

In just three years…

  • Addison – my baby – will be halfway through college, and she will be 20 years old.
  • Bethany will have a couple of years of teaching under her belt (Lord, I hope she finds a job in that three years.)
  • Morgan will be nearing 30 years old. Yikes.
  • Layne will be starting kindergarten.
  • Rhett will be 3 1/2, and following his big brother around.
  • Molly will be driving.
  • Lucy will enter her teen years.
  • Gabe will hit double digits.
  • The first class I had as third graders will be graduating.
  • My first eighth graders will be starting their senior year.
  • And I….well, I will be 50, no longer able to deny middle age (Hell, I will be just about past middle age. What comes after that? Upper middle age?).

Add to that list that loved ones will die, babies will be born, new friends will be made, and lives will be changed, whether it be for the better or worse, by choice or circumstance. Just three years.

So, what is the point of all of this? It enables me to see how quickly our lives evolve, how change is inevitable, and that I had better make the best of each day rather than letting those three years pass without making them count. What changes do I want to make in those three years? Who do I want to be three years from now? What goals do I have? Here it goes…

  • I want to continue to run. That might sound simple, but with the knee issues I have had, it is no longer a given that I will run into my twilight years. I want to take care of my body so that I can continue to do what I love.
  • I want to continue to teach classes at the gym, and hopefully inspire a few people to love their bodies, and to never give up on themselves.  In the past two years, I have made so many incredible friends through Everbody’s; I am blessed by their presence in my life.
  • I will continue to grow and learn as a teacher. I will care about my students, encourage my students, and help them find their talents. I am so fortunate to have such a great job, and I will not take that for granted.
  • I will stay fit and strong. I will continue to cross train, and set a positive example for our kids and grandkids.
  • I want to be living in town within the next three years (in a house with a large yard and a pool).
  • I need to work on taking time for prayer. I always wait until I go to bed, and then my mind wanders like crazy. I will be in a big old conversation with God, and suddenly I am thinking about what to wear to school the next day. I need to focus.
  • I will run sprints. I will run sprints. I will run sprints. I don’t like sprints, but know they are good for me, so I will do it.
  • I will stop avoiding running up Mozart. Just like sprints, hill work is a necessary evil. I will run hills.

And, there are some things I know won’t change in three years:

  • I will still dislike most vegetables. Give it up, Mother.
  • I will stay say stupid crap without thinking.
  • I will still be neurotic about arriving places early.
  • I will still like candy, dessert, and junk food.
  • I will still tell my girls what to do, even though they’ll all be adults.
  • I will still tell Gary where to go when he is driving.
  • I will still use sarcasm when I probably shouldn’t.

Where will you be in three years? Will you make that time count? It’s just three years.

A couple other random thoughts for the evening…

Thanks to all who read and shared my last blog about accepting homosexuals. It was read by over 1700 people. That might not seem like a big deal, but 1700 readers learned that this happens to real families with real feelings. If that blog makes even one person think twice about how he or she treats others, it was worth the effort. Just be nice.

Running. My goodness, we went from a long, cold winter straight into hot, humid weather. I am not complaining (because I complained all winter about the cold), but my running is suffering tremendously. Six weeks ago I ran 13.1 miles in a race; now I am struggling to run three miles. I committed to the Runner’s World Running Streak, which means I will run at least a mile every day for 40 days, from Memorial Day to the Fourth of July. I finished day seven today. I thought this might help me build back up my endurance, and it forces me to exercise every single day. I am also doing more walking because my daughters like to go. This is the first time that all three girls have been home for an extended period of time in a few years, so it also gives me time to spend with them.

Make this week count! You won’t get a do-over. Peace and Love..