If you’re a reader, I would recommend almost anything by Andre Dubus II, or III. Like his father, the son has a gift to tell a tale, stark, simple, full. In his memoir, Townie, he writes about running with his father. His parents divorced, they didn’t have a lot of time together. His father never really asked to spend time with his son, other than running. The first time he asked, the son had no running shoes. He was too embarrassed to tell his father. He didn’t want to make it seem like his single mother couldn’t provide – she was working night and day, after all. So he grabbed his sister’s tennis shoes as his father waited out in the car. His sister’s shoes were at least one size too small. But they were the only ticket for time with his father. He crammed his toes in and jumped in the car. He tells of the experience much better than I, but his toes began to bleed early on. He didn’t say a word. He wanted the time. His father knew he was lagging behind, but thought it was just because of the hills they were climbing. He told him, on the hills, go as hard as you possibly can, as fast as you can, and so he kept running. For the words spoken. The time spent. His feet now glued to his shoes, lungs burning, he kept running. When finished, they found a fountain. Old style. Water rusted. Tin tasting water. The best, he says, he ever drank. Part of his skin came off with those shoes. But what he remembers to this day, was being with his father.
What we will do to be with the ones we love.
These connections, they are really all that matter. Yesterday we watched my niece run in a cross country race. She was brilliant. Fast. Strong. I was so proud of her. But I saw something else. There was a young handicapped runner, running in the race before my niece, still running to complete the race as this new group completed their two mile course. Yes, he was slow. Each step, hop, jog, was an effort. He went more side to side than forward. The race that followed his race had completed and he kept running. His mother ran beside him. Each wearing purple. Their colored shirts blending together as they ran. More heart, I imagine, than all the other runners combined. I don’t know if they finished. It doesn’t matter. They ran together. They will always remember this. I will remember.
Some days it seems easier to let a day go by, let a birthday slip by, let the years go by without taking the time for those around us. I don’t want to chase the racing time. Chase the days slipping away. Let me ever run beside the ones I love.
Lace up. It’s going to be a beautiful day. A memorable day. Together.