Today is my last day here in VA. No running as my body and legs are tired from 5 days of straight running over hills. I need a rest and it will actually be two days since tomorrow I’ll be on the stupid train all day. As sad as it always makes me to leave, I look forward to going home. As I sit here I’m thinking about the things I’ll miss most it occurs to me just how many things I’ll miss.
- Morning coffee. Morning coffee is my favorite thing about VA as the first thing I do. At home I get up and the day starts, shopping or work it doesn’t matter, I jump right in. Here I sit and drink a cup of coffee which is best when enjoyed on the front porch when the weather cooperates. I guess you love the things you can’t do daily which is why they call it vacation. Morning coffee is what gets me out of bed before I miss it. I’ve always been an early riser which I wouldn’t change for anything. I love experiencing the morning quiet before the world gets up to call on me.
- The train. As much as I hate it, there’s a little charm about the stupid train that passes by several times a night. I’ll miss that in a weird sort of way.
- My Family. Leaving is always hard because I have to leave my family. My distance and length of time between visits enhances the small changes in my family that although nominal to their everyday lives is huge to me since I don’t see them everyday. My parents age and how they are slowing down. That makes me sad because I’m far away and my sister gets all that responsibility on her shoulders on top of her own life. That’s a lot to take on but I try to remember that they chose to come here and I don’t live here so it’s something we all just accept as the way it is because it is.
- My sister. I miss my sister. She isn’t physically well. She has many health issues that are a result of decisions she’s made in her life that are just consequences of her decisions. Everyone makes decisions that have consequences that we live with. I worry about her every day and fear that she too will fall into illness and I’ll be too far away to help. My choice to stay in MA. She has a much harder life than I do and is so much better of a person than me in many ways. We are very different and our distance magnifies our differences. I miss her strength and how she is as sarcastic as I am. She always makes me laugh and I admire the strength she has in making her life go and in taking care of my parents. She is one of the bravest people I know and fears nothing on this planet. She tackles things I would call my husband or a professional to do and never says “I can’t”. I love her can do attitude and love it when I hear her talk about doing things that amaze me like they are nothing at all.
- The air. I will miss the wonderful fresh air here. No smog, no pollution or exhaust smell from the highway.
- The vastly expansive rolling hills. Rolling green hills that go on for miles and miles are as peaceful and beautiful as anything I’ve ever seen. It’s what I see when I close my eyes and think about the next time I will be able to come here.
I will miss many things and those things are the things that always call to me the next time I book a seat on that train for the long ride down. I have enjoyed my visit here and am thankful that I can afford to continue to come down to visit while my parents are still here. I am a lucky woman in the best ways someone can be happy.
Sometimes life is so simple that when you have these moments of realization amidst the challenges that we face and the day to day tasks we take on, it stops us in our tracks. I saw a video of at an awards ceremony recently and his little 3 minute speech was one of those moments for me. I stopped to think about it. In life there are 3 things that motivate him which we all should give thought to and define for ourselves.
- We should have someone to look up to
- We should have something to look forward to
- We should have someone to chase (who is your hero)
These things seem so simple yet they are probably the three things we think about least. Life is truly very simple when we step away from the craziness that we invoke upon ourselves each day. We must work to eat and pay bills. We have children who have the luxury of doing a million things that add to the busy life we call hectic. Those activities inevitably cost money and our hysterically boisterous commotion of a life just keeps going in circles while we wonder why we don’t have what we want. Step away from that and define these three things for yourself and suddenly what you “need” will rise to the surface and lay a much more clear path to getting it. There are nice to have’s and need to have’s and as a people we misclassify wants as needs, getting lost in a process the is superfluous at best. Why do we refocus when people die using phrases like “life is short” or “I wish I had”? If we define our 3 things there will be less use of these statements because our focus will be much clearer.
These three things in part are what I think about when I run. The road is a place for me to work shit out. To think about my life and where I am going and how I am getting there. I think a lot about priorities and try to de-clutter my mind with woulda coulda shoulda or things I don’t have to focus on what I do have. I think a lot about what if I chased what I don’t have, would the grass really be greener or would I just realize that the sun was shining brighter at that moment over the fence. Most likely the latter is true and I come back to center to appreciate all I have remembering what is really important in my life. Running has been good to me in many ways. It has reshaped a misshapen me in mind, body and spirit. It has been my amazing therapist, councilor and friend in good and bad times and I owe my life to running quite literally.
Whether you run or not doesn’t matter. Yes, I think everyone should have some level of fitness, however the more important thing is finding your 3 things and simplifying your life. Life is short and you should appreciate and enjoy it not just on occasion but every single day and give thanks for all you have. Today is a great day to begin anew. You just need to take the first step.
That right there is the face of my son. He hates to work out but loves to be on the team. He struggles with putting in the work every day to ready himself for things like Football and Wrestling and Track. It isn’t that he can’t or even that he won’t. It’s more like he puts it off until it’s too late in the day and then decides that tomorrow is another day. He knows how important it is for sure and his intentions are good but in terms of determination for the physicality of preparation let’s say he needs prodding and more support than my other son who looks like he’s chiseled out of marble. That being said, football is right around the corner. Hot practices, awesomely long drills, never enough water for my liking all waiting for my son like a firing squad waiting for the condemned to show up. My son is a BIG boy…a big boned solid 220lb 6’3″ beautiful specimen who just doesn’t like heat or physical exertion. So I worry about him puking and overheating and hurting himself for lack of preparation. Therein lies my effort to make running and workouts sound fun. Very “Mom” of me but I can’t help it! So I took him on my morning run today to get the wheels in motion for getting his wind. I did forget his stupid ankle is still healing from what we thought was a bad twist / sprain that is taking forever to heal. He complained about it when we got back and then I felt bad. He made the entire 3 miles with just a few stops for water and to catch his breath but he made it. I talked to him the whole way to take his mind off the run, encouraged him when I thought he was tiring and jabbered on about stuff that he probably didn’t care about but listened to anyway to get him to the finish. When he bounced back, a giant water, banana and yogurt later, he seemed pleased with himself. That’s the feeling that drives me but it stuck with me the moment I finished that first mile on June 27, 2011 and it does every day. James isn’t so sticky so it seems. He needs some Ductape to stick that feeling to him so he wants to do it again and again and again. When he gets there, watch out! He’ll be scary AF when he takes the field, the mat or the starting point with his disc / jav. I want to be part of the reason he gets there because I want him to truly enjoy what he’s participating in. He likes it but because he struggles with the practice part and the working out part it’s less enjoyable due to the struggle. And lets face it, lugging around 220 lbs makes everything harder, longer and heavier, however, with practice those things get better and easier. I am motivated to help him get there. Today my run, despite the fact that I am actually in training for The Falmouth Road Race, was not about me. It was about another in need so the stops and the slower pace were irrelevant to me. It was all about James and I was happy to make it so. I have learned that I love helping and motivating others a lot. If I were younger I might be a marathon coach says the girl who hasn’t run more than 13.1. LOL! I could totally see me doing it because talking people up during a run to make sure they don’t quit inspires me…drives me…..gives me strength.
Think I’m exaggerating? Here’s what James and I were doing a year ago:
That’s right! Prepping for football and notice the same exhausted face he has on and the oh-so-happy face of exuberance I’m wearing! I do love running and even more when my buddy James can come with me! Love that kid and I hope we can always pound some pavement together because he makes me feel like I make a difference to him even when I’m a little annoying like the gnat in the summer sunrise on the African plains…ok maybe not that annoying!
This year for my Birthday I got the usual birthday wishes and kisses and some super thoughtful gifts. Gifts that my kids for the first time purchased all by themselves without prompting or being given money. Most of them work now so they have their own money. Although I did love the gifts, it was something else that made me so happy. Something that I feel will be the thing I remember about 47. It was what they wrote in the cards they bought that makes me love them even more.
My daughter wrote how happy she is that I am her mom and how much it meant to her that I loved her gifts. I always love them but she thought of them so I imagine it means more because of that. All the firsts of motherhood came with her and that is something only the first child can claim. So many firsts that I tried to make a big deal of and cheer about and encourage. Many hard days had me wondering if she thought I was a good mom even on the days where I was the “Mean Mom”… she did think that and every kiss and every word she wrote in my card tells me I am so lucky that she was my first child. The one who imprinted what mother – child love is and helped me to love my sons like only a mother can. Thank you Katy for being my first baby!
My youngest son wrote how lucky he feels to have me as his mother and how spoiled he feels he is because of what I sacrifice to make sure they are well cared for and yes, spoiled. Sometimes I have wondered over the years if they know how much I try to give in the day to day so they will someday realize as they have children that A) it can be done B) it is a sacrifice made from love. As I read those words I realized, he knows. So much love reading those words that were unsolicited and written in the neatest print with thought and care to each thing he wanted to say. Thank you James for noticing and appreciating and being the best last baby I could ever ask for. You have taught me so much about love and perseverance and being tough. I admire you and I am a better person because of you.
What my oldest son wrote touched me most. He is headed to college in the fall and I am dreading it. I miss him already and worry about him because I won’t be there. Not because I feel like he can’t take care of himself because I know he can and will…I just feel sad that he’ll be without his family and I’ll be without him for days on end…perhaps weeks. What he wrote made me cry tears of happiness because I know he’s ready to leave and be on his own and I helped prepare him for that. The son who still calls me Mama, maybe because he knows I love it so, wrote three things that to me are the foundational successes that you want your children to reach.
He wrote that he is not “scared” to leave because he feels I did a good job preparing him to be out in the world. He wrote that he knows that I helped him be the man that he WANTS to be (not the man he could be) who is as caring about others as he is of himself. Good boy..you make me so proud. He also wrote that although he will be away from his home that he will always come back to his “safe place” and that he knows the door is open always. I just smile thinking about these thoughts that he wrote in my birthday card. He must know how hard his leaving is for me even though I try not to dwell on it. I don’t want him to be sad. Apparently it’s all ok but he knows in his heart and somewhere deep down I think he’ll be sad about leaving me too. I will miss him so. You are my first son Johnny and you have taught me how to never give up and to be strong and have goals. I began running because I knew you would never let me give up and that I should be strong for you and your sister and brother. You came with me on that first mile and didn’t leave my side and helped me finish something that I don’t know if I would otherwise have. You inspire me.
As I think about all the words from my children I realized that I helped to create a home for my children where they feel safe from all the sadness and hurt that the world can sometimes deliver. They know they can come home and find peace from troubles, smiles to replace frowns and well a home cooked meal any day of the week. I have loved my first 20+ years as your mother and I can’t wait to see the next 20 as you travel the road of adulthood. God has been good to me because he gave me each of you who helps me in different ways every minute of every day. There was a time when I wondered if I should be a mom…now there is absolutely no doubt that motherhood is the greatest gift of all. I sang it to each of you from the moment I knew you were coming and at every opportunity I could and now I know that each of you knows that you are truly My Sunshine.