armstrong, bucket lists, cancer survivors, dads, moms, Nike, parents, reflections, running
“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” ~ Winston Churchill
The other night I was driving home when my mother gave me a call. She was lonely and wanted to have dinner. This might sound trivial to some, but since my father passed,my mother has been a non-stop whirlwind of energy. A breast cancer survivor, she has traveled the world (South Africa, Egypt, Germany, China (2x), Japan, India, Hungary, South America, Morocco, Russia, Yugoslavia, Kenya, Maldives, Seychelles, etc.). We joke in my family that we need to put a tracer on my mother as you never know where she is and although I live within a mile of her home, getting her to find a date to babysit is not an easy task. Playing Mah-Jong with her friends, seeing the latest movies, morning tai-chi, and such I have always afraid my mother never really stopped to mourn my father’s death.
When I picked her up she wasn’t her cheery self. Her other two children were on vacation and my own family was on the East Coast visiting my in-laws. We always hear about Fathers and sons, Fathers and daughters, and Mothers and daughters, but “Momma’s boys” has always had a bad connotation. I wouldn’t call myself a Momma’s boy. We’ve always butted heads and being the eldest we graduated to a peer-to-peer relationship pretty quickly. It was like having 3 adults in the house and my 2 younger siblings were the kids.
Tonight was different. My mom seemed lonely and tired. She admitted that the cancer had given her the desire to do and see everything. She admitted that she missed her family. Most of all, she admitted that she was really missing my dad. I realized that she just wanted to talk and I let her (by all means, not a normal interaction for me and my mom) She talked all through dinner about what she missed. I just listened and teared up. Finally as we ate our fortune cookies, she apologized for talking all during dinner and asked me if I still missed my dad.
I had seen the above Nike commercial the day before. It reminded me of my nightly running and how I process thoughts and ideas each night to clear my head. According to the agency it is meant to reflect the community of survivors and people who follow Lance Armstong and encourage him on a daily basis through his trials and tribulations. When I processed my mother’s question, I told her that amazingly, I think that while I will always miss my dad, that I am finished mourning him. That said, I don’t think I ever have a run at night where some thought of my dad doesn’t enter and pass through my thoughts.
The question made me think about some of the thoughts rattling through my brain. I got to do so much with my dad, but there are so many things I didn’t do. So my mom and I came up with a plan of 5 experiences I’d like to have with my children that my dad and I had done separately but never together:
1. Go to China & Tibet (visit Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall)
2. Hike to and visit Machu Picchu
3. Visit and play the Old Course at St. Andrews (walk across the Swilcan Bridge)
4. Spend a month in France and Italy driving the countrysides and eating great food. We’ll throw in a few museums and major cities along the way.
5. Watch a game from the bleachers at Wrigley Field and have a beer afterwards
After coming up with the list, my mother was so excited. The list combined some things that I wished I had done with my father and I learned from my mom about some things my dad had said he would have wanted to share with his children. It was quite surprising to hear some of his thoughts that I had never heard before. This is not a crazy list and there are many things on the list that are much more grand, but they are personal to me and personal to my dad. My mom loved it and by the end she was so happy that she wants to come along!
I definitely need to listen to the voices in my head more often.