Father’s Day Race

This coming weekend, my husband and I will be running in a Father’s Day race. His father will be coming with us, but I will bring my father in spirit.

Since his father will be mostly walking, and my husband will run a longer leg, we will be doing our own paces. That means I will be listening to my music, and I’ve been trying all day to find some music that will be inspiring to run to as well as something that I know my dad would appreciate, something that reminds me of Dad.

My first thought was to find some gospel music, which Dad loved, but I couldn’t find the kind he liked. When we used to live in Chicago, he’d go down to an inner city church occasionally and got to know the people there and got close to them. I still remember potlucks we had there in the summer, and the ladies fanning themselves in the hot congregation where there was no A/C. He was a math teacher during part of his life and so tutored children on Tuesday nights. I often went with him and Mom to help. The church was poor but had great spirit, and their music was lively and upbeat, and seemed to come from the heart. It would make Dad dance around. I just couldn’t find any music that reminded me of that kind, exactly.

I then thought back on when I was a kid in the 1970s. Mom and Dad liked some music back then like Roberta Flack, John Denver, Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Emmylou Harris–sort of the mellower folk or similar artists. Anyway, James Taylor has a new album out, “Before This World,” which is a possibility. I am listening to it now on Google Play, and it’s very reminiscent of his older stuff, which I too learned to love! I’m not sure if it’s upbeat enough to run to, but we’ll see. Another possible playlist is Enya, one of their other favorites.

Whatever. The main thing is that I want to run this for Dad. I’ve blogged about him before. He died on February 27, 2009, and it was a heartbreaking time for me and my whole family. Yet, at the same time was a bittersweet reunion among family far and wide. When Dad died, a part of me really did die as well. He died too young, and his last two years especially were brutal on his mind and body (Parkinsons). I was with him in person when others couldn’t bear to see him like that, and I did so to help Mom as well as because I knew I had to swallow my own sadness for seeing him in that way in order to be by his side to give him what little light I could as he was fading–light that was a tiny portion of what he’d doled out over my lifetime to me, my siblings, my mother, and the rest of our extended family. Such a good, gracious person he was.

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Mom and Dad

In keeping with this blog’s purpose (related to nature and the environment), Dad and Mom were always impressing upon us kids how important it was to care about our natural surroundings. They didn’t preach this to us. They simply guided us outdoors and into the mountains, deserts, lakes, rivers, forests, etc., from the time we could open our eyes. Whether we saw the wilderness from a baby backpack or our own two feet, these journeys were key to our upbringing and strongly enforced my love of the outdoors. Family reunions were outside in parks. If we traveled, we wouldn’t eat at fast food joints but pull over in rest stops (back then at least they were in forested areas and had picnic tables) and have food Mom had put into a picnic basket. If we visited with relatives, we hardly sat around inside. We went hiking, boating, fishing, or just went outside to sit, run, play Frisbee, or toss a football in the yard. When I grew up people were outside more than they are today. And because Mom and Dad had grown up in a more rural area (and simpler times), they were used to living off the land, being outdoors a lot themselves, being more neighborly than you see these days, respecting the mountain wildlife, and doing without the kind of technological convenience of today.

So this race is for my dad. Sometimes I wish he could look down and see me. He may not completely approve of the several beers after the race I plan to imbibe in, but something tells me he won’t care about that.

Previous comment: Lovely article, Mary. Have a great race, totally inspired. -Paul Collins