Sunday, September 23, 2012

Boys.

 In the past thirty years, I've never been without a young child at home.  Right now my youngest is 13.  He is in that spot teetering between being my little boy (who I want him to stay) and a young man (who I know he must become).  Still.  I love that he doesn't hold back when it comes to his little nephew.  My guy still has absolutely no qualms about playing on the playground, riding bikes and just hanging out being silly with his favorite little friend.  I am so cherishing this time of being with my younger kids - the time I had with my older two kids seemed to fly by largely unappreciated because I was
always busy: finishing college, running, worrying about this, worrying about that.  I feel as if I never really enjoyed  them until they too old to enjoy being with me.    These days when I am running back and forth picking kids up and dropping them, watching football games and soon, cross country meets, going to football games and chaperoning the kids......I'm loving it.

This is a great time of life with kids!  I have my little grandson who although I really wished lived a bit closer, I can cuddle and enjoy 5-year-old stuff with.  I have my high school kids who I can watch grow into young adults and enjoy all of the things they do along the way.  I have my two oldest who I can sit back and enjoy seeing how well they've turned out - even though I think they both feel as if they are struggling right now.
It is a great time of life for me right now.  

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Race of a lifetime.

So yesterday I ran the US Air Force Marathon at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton OH.  The morning started at 7:30 am with the Star Spangled Banner followed by a flyover by the B2 Stealth Bomber.  I could have left right then and been fully thrilled with the experience.  It was simply and utterly amazing.  There was a runner standing next to me who really put it into perspective.  He was from another country and he was thrilled to tears.  He couldn't clap hard enough, he couldn't cheer loud enough. He said over and over that this could only happen in America and this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  Which made me profoundly proud and sad at the same time.

My purpose of running this race was to memorialize my dad who passed on May 22nd of this year.  I've written about his role in the military over his lifetime and it seemed as if the Air Force Marathon would be the perfect honorarium.  I raised money for a charity called Fisher House - an organization which, in a very small nutshell, provides housing for the families of military personnel who have been hospitalized.  I felt that this would be a perfect fit and a perfect ongoing charity to support in memory of my dad.  As a really nice aside, the staff and the volunteers completely made this race.  I've run in tons of races but this is by far, the most organized!  The most important factor - the port-o-potties - was so much better addressed proportionately at this marathon than at the Marine Corp Marathon.  And before you turn your nose up at the idea, simply having to answer nature's call during the race can set you back as much as a half hour.  And for the Air Force marathon, I stopped 3 times!   Mostly because the port-o-potties were there!

There were hydration stations at least every mile and a half.  Bananas, cookies, all types of things to keep the body moving for 26.2 miles.  There were bands playing music of every conceivable genre, there were volunteers cheering us on the entire time.  And at the one point where no human cheerleaders were in sight, were 3 of the largest buck I have ever seen!

I saw a replica of the Wright brothers first plane as it flew overhead at about mile 23.  I saw the plane that my dad flew.  I saw the plane that my dad flew and dropped people out of.  I half expected to see my dad somewhere on the course.  But I didn't.  I also didn't cry.  I saw a captain in the same flight suit that I remember my dad wearing and I nearly lost it then.  But I didn't.  I wish I had.  I really need to cry.

It was an amazing day yesterday.  I saw one runner with a picture of his dad on the back of his shirt - his dad was about the same age as mine and died about the same time.  I saw another runner running in memory of his very young daughter and yet another runner running in honor of a brother.  We were those people bringing up the rear of the middle of the pack.  We were there for a purpose, for the comradery of the marathon.  We are the serious runners but we are not doing it because we have any hopes of winning.  We are doing it because by stomping and running, we are trying to shake loose that part of us that will allow us to deal with, to accept, and to hopefully heal from the loss of someone we love.