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I know I haven’t written anything in some time, it’s not as if I haven’t had plenty to say. I’ve been busy. Just a lot of business of this and that, here to there. My mind’s been busy more than my feet and that makes me dig into my little hole of loneliness, while I am surrounded by many. This does not mean I was lonely, I just can’t say I was fully invested in many of the conversations and actions that surrounded me. I need to be fully invested, because even being fully invested I can’t remember what always happens around me. So here I am, back for today, but not promising my mind will pay full attention to tomorrow.

Today, this morning, I was busy. Under a very cloudy sky and what my brain remembers as gale force winds (it was windy, but not blowing me over) and temps at my guess in the lower 40’s, I went out for my first 5K of the year. I haven’t ran for 4 months, which if I was maybe 30 years younger like my friend Laura, who said she hadn’t run either, I might have been able to keep her in my sites. That’s wishful thinking and it’s okay to pretend once in a while I would have been an amazing runner in my 20’s. Fact is I didn’t run at all in my 20’s except one time, 8 3/4 months pregnant I ran pretty good trying to keep my baby girl from toddling into the street at my Aunt’s house, afer everyone told me she’d be fine with the other kids. Note to young mother’s, having been a child myself, I should have very well-known, the other kids were too busy playing to watch the little toddler.

Today I didn’t run as fast as that day, I know this, but I don’t care. I signed up for this, knowing full well this would be a walk/run. I did however surprise myself that I ran without walking for maybe 3/4 of the first mile. I thought for sure I wouldn’t make the first block, but then we weren’t running blocks, it was country road after we left the school grounds. Once the walking began I knew I needed to push myself. I would not give up and just quit, I never do, but I didn’t want to just walk. I set my sights on the telephone polls. Run to the telephone pole, walk to the next, run to the next, walk to the next. And that was my race. I raced against me and those telephone polls, although I would have liked to kick a couple of shins of 2 that kept running past me, and then walk again. Making me pass them several times. It happens to me more times that I care to count. I finally got past those two one last time and they didn’t pass me again. I think they gave up. I mean seriously they were half my age and they let the old woman beat them. I’m usually a pretty good sport. I mean just the fact they were out there deserves a pat on the back, but I get cranky with those who use me as their goal. It’s just not nice. Now if they had passed me once and stayed ahead, well they would have deserved my pat on the back, maybe.

Forty-five minutes later I finished my 1st of what I hope to be many more 5Ks this year. I didn’t stick around for the awards ceremony, not so much because I knew I didn’t finish first in my age group. Crossing the finish line was my own little awards ceremony. It was all about crossing that finish and once again I made it. I got in my car and tooled myself over to meet up with my family.

I ran this race in my home town. I grew up here, my mother grew up here. One of the places my mother lived was in what they refer to as the Old Mill House. It sits down in a valley on the edge of town. I’ve heard numerous stories of how my Grandmother cleaned up a kid after losing control of their bike down that huge hill or fishing some kid out of the creek. I remember my Mom mentioning to me, as a kid, she played in the woods by that house. In my 20’s I spent a lot of time at the ball field across the street from those woods, watching various friends play baseball, while I sat. Not once did I ever have one thought about those woods. As a kid I never walked in the woods. I lived in that town all of my growing up years and never walked in that wooded area.

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I have a friend Mike. I like to think we are friends, but we’ve never spent time together. He’s younger by a year I think. His sister is the same age as me. She and I were born a day a part. Her mom and my mom, in the hospital together. Her mom used to babysit my mom and I remember her telling me one time how old she felt when she saw Edie with her baby girl. Well now Mike, he seems to spend a lot of time in these woods and others too. Mike’s my friend on FACEBOOK, of course. We became friends there after I ran into him, in the woods. He was taking pictures and I was running a 5K. So I didn’t stop to chit-chat and I took me about 5 steps past him, to realize it was him. Even though he hasn’t changed much, I don’t run with my glasses on, he was a bit blurry.

Mike loves to take pictures, as do I, but his pictures are a lot better than mine, he “captures” a lot of wild life, especially birds and deer. I think he goes out there, to the woods, by himself, so it’s quite, while I have my 10 year old, walking along behind me, “Banging” through the trees, so I don’t always see the things Mike “sees” with his camera, but I wouldn’t trade these walks for the quite ones. I love that kid, that kid is what got me into the woods. Someone to be with me. As a woman, I don’t always have the guts to walk alone, I feel a little safer with the 10-year-old and the pepper spray and the Bear Grylls humongous buck knife I asked for and got for Christmas.

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Now Mike, posted some amazing pictures yesterday, one of which was a beautiful bird I have never in my life seen. He or she was a beauty, with bright yellow marks on either side of its chest. I looked through my bird book, but couldn’t find it. I asked Mike if he knew what it was and where he had seen it. He didn’t know what it was, and he had never seen one like it either. He had seen it, back in those woods by that old Mill house where my mother had lived as a kid. Those woods have been on my “To Do” list for a couple of years now, as another couple of friends had mentioned being out there trasping through there to the spot where the old dam had been. So today, with that 10-year-old in tow, who griped when I told my husband that I was going to those woods before I came home to try to spot that bird that Mike had seen. We drove in separate cars and for whatever reason, the husband decided the child needed to go with me. That kid always chooses going with me, but today when he had to, well, he griped, but just a little.

I parked the car by that old house, where my mother lived and we headed out on pretty clear path. We walked along the creek and I looked into those woods and thought of my mother. She died about a year and 8 months ago. I thought of her as a kid running around those woods with her brother.

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We walked and walked. I tried to walk slow, as another reason I don’t see things is, I’m always looking everywhere but into the trees, and most people who know me well, know I don’t generally like to stand still. I stopped and waited and looked up in the trees. I saw some birds, a blue jay, a cardinal, a wren and chickadee. We just kept walking and this was the first time that 10-year-old walked mostly beside me, chit chatting with me and not 50 paces behind me. As we walked into an open area I could hear the rushing water and figured we had to be coming up on where the old dam was, that I had heard was out here. I headed in the direction of the running water and there it was. I could see the cement, by the bank, the only thing left from the dam. I had seen pictures that others had taken in this spot, and thought of them. I could see my Mom, here, playing as a kid and I was full of a strange kind of joy and sorrow all mixed together making my eyes a bit wet and my heart a bit weepy. I was sad that at the age of almost 53, my birthday is a week away, I had never been to this spot, so close to my childhood home and where my mother had often played. I have never been brought here, nor ever thought to come here. I didn’t know it was here, till others pointed the way through their stories and pictures.

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It felt like a right of passage to be here. Like I had crossed some finish line, yet again in my new life, given to me by a cancer diagnosis, so many years ago. I wish my Mom had brought me here as a child. After my Mom and I had both had our cancer diagnosis I took her with me, into the woods, but she never thought to bring me here, where she had played, and tell me stories. As my son and I stood there, me looking out over the creek and he hunched over looking for rocks, he said to me, “Mom, you’ve got to promise me, you’ll bring me back,” and I told him, “I don’t have to promise, because I will bring you back again and again and we hunched over together looking for rocks.

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I never did see that dang old bird, Mike, but my son saw these woods along side me and with me. I brought him to the woods where my mother used to play. It was worth the trip, even though I didn’t see that beautiful bird, I made a beautiful memory with my son. Thank you Mike.

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About jlturtlerunner

12 plus Years Surviving Stage IV Oral Cancer. I have become a "Turtle" runner since that diagnosis, as a way of saying, "Take That Sucker!" After 12 years of being a Turtle Runner, I'm adding a new title, Turtle Rucker!

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