My Mom was the runner in the family, not my Dad. When he died in July 2011 I felt like my head was going to pop and my heart was going to literally burst out of my chest. I starting running because it seemed easy enough, easy in the sense that I could put on a pair of sneakers and head out my front door. So I did. In those early miles I could temporarily let go of being a mom and a wife and just be a grieving daughter. Through the tears and pounding, my head began to lighten and my heart slowly healed. My Dad often showed up on my runs - in the lingering scent of Old Spice as I passed a hardware store, in the old man sitting on his porch, wearing overalls, sipping coffee who offered up a friendly mornin' and once, as I rounded a corner, the sun shifted, and my shadow startled me, I heard a clear, kind, Hey Termite. Mile after mile after mile, strength and peace filled in the empty places.
My Dad was however a very talented writer. He wrote a column for our small town newspaper for over 15 years. I appreciate his writing so much more now as an adult with a changed perspective. He had firm convictions, and strong opinions but he stood by them. He suffered left side paralysis after his stroke in 1999 and never really wrote much again. He gave voice automated software a try but as he so eloquently said, the written word flows so much differently then the spoken word and I think something got lost in translation for him.
I miss him tremendously. I miss our conversations. I miss sharing this specific journey with him. I know he'd get such a kick out of my son's strong desire to hold regular lemonade stands to help me raise funds, and I can hear his laughter. I can hear his, Way to go Kid, upon telling him about my latest twelve mile run. I know what he'd say, how he'd respond, the advice he'd share because he was such an encourager.
So I will do THIS - I will run and write and hold on to the spirit of my Dad.
I became a runner because of loss. I remain a runner because so much is found.