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Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Long Run

With my mom's arthritis, she'll never run even a half a mile with me, but last week, I carried her for five. No, more like I took her for four, and she pushed me to go one more. Because of course, that's what mom's do.  Maybe it's all the talk about the American Dream in the convention speeches the past few  weeks, but I was thinking a lot about this whole life journey on my run that day.  There's no simpler way to say it.  My mom's childhood sucked.
Don't ask her about it because she doesn't want to talk about it.   Among other things, they called her dirty.

A little dirt never hurt anyone, and in my opinion, it's a sign of good play. Of course, they weren't really talking about the mud on a cheek. It was a deeper mess. Caked on so hard, maybe it never really comes off even with vigorous scrubbing.  No, I imagine no matter how far she traveled from that childhood, she always carried that dirt with her, a heavy burden.

But slowly, over the years, she's let the dirt fall down at my feet, creating a path on which I could run.  And she came with me.  My mom has traveled light years from her childhood.  I'm not even talking about trips to Hawaii or the Grand Cayman.  I mean that she's gone with my brother and me to college, earning a couple of master's degrees and a Ph.D. She stands in front of hundreds of students every year and teaches helps them get an education, to run their races. She writes novels with me.  She dances on stages and crosses the home plate.  She goes everywhere my brother and I go, and now, everywhere our kids go.  That's a lot of miles. 

It's funny how the dream shifts when you have kids—no longer your own destination but now, the place you want your kids to reach.  I still have goals (as you well know), but at my age and stage of life parts of the path are off limits.  For example, I'll probably never do that back flip I always had at the top of my bucket list.  In the beginning of my kids' lives, I tucked them lovingly in wraps and pouches, carrying them close to my heart.  While I won't ever get to pat my own baby's bottom through the soft silk of my slings, someday, Grace and Faith will use them to carry my grandbabies, and hopefully, they will know that it's not just a piece of fabric draped around them, but I'll be there, too, helping to hold everything in place. 
We all carry each other.  In that way, we go on running. 

It's a very long run, indeed.

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