“The day you lose the child inside marks the beginning of the end.” – jmb
“It feels like seven degrees out,” were the last words I heard on my way out the door. I ran a trail run four days ago on a sunny forty-five degree afternoon, and it felt like fifty-five, so if Jo was telling me it felt like seven degrees outside, in my mind it was probably closer to seventeen. Seventeen seems to be a safe temperature to take a run. Besides, thirty-five years have taught me that Jo tends to err on the side of caution. I call it extreme caution, but time has proven it’s actually sensibility, a department I’m admittedly a little short.
When I got to Lake Galena, I found that ice had formed around the shoreline. I headed up the east side of the lake, a blustery wind in my face, the wind-chill probably, well, cold. The narrow north end of the lake was almost entirely covered with ice. I didn’t pass one runner the first four miles, but there were plenty of geese and ducks.
Watching wildlife, listening to geese and enjoying the cold, crisp air cleared my mind to ponder about my sensibility quotient. There was a day when I ignored sensibility. Run when it’s 105 degrees out—no problem; or five below zero—okay. But now I give a few seconds thought to, well, consider that maybe I should exercise a tad of common sense. If I got out of my Jeep this afternoon and it did feel like seven degrees, I might have cut it short. But it didn’t seem that cold, and the wind died down by the time I got to the end of the lake. When I was on the final stretch I considered doing another loop, and then thought, maybe I should wait for a warmer day. So I packed it in.
This is where it gets funny. I was walking up the hill to my Jeep and reached into my pocket. No keys. They fell through a hole in my pocket. So that second loop was decided for me.
As I approached the north end of the lake for the second time, I figured I’d stop in the Nature Center and check to see if anyone had found a Jeep key. No such luck. I decided to call Jo and ask her to meet me at a rendezvous point on the west side of the lake. I hadn’t planned on a twelve-miler, and I was famished. I had about a mile and a half to go, up the steepest hill on the trail, but my favorite part of the course on the high ground overlooking the lake. A young woman approached in the distance. She looked familiar, I’d passed her on the first loop. She eyed me and smiled, I smiled back. “Did you find a Jeep key?” I asked.
She pulled a key from her pocket and said, “I saw you the last time around and figured it might be yours.” I thanked her and told her to enjoy the rest of her walk. When I ran down the other end of the hill I saw Jo pulling up in her RAV-4. I could see her shaking her head and smiling as she pulled up, the same gesture I’d seen many times before. I stood next to the passenger door, pulled out the Jeep key and dangled it outside the window. She just shook her head and laughed.
I opened the door to the remark I’d heard many times over the past thirty-five years, “When are you going to grow up?” It was a rhetorical question. We’ve been together long enough for her to know the answer. My kids don’t even bother to tell me to grow up anymore, and I’m getting the sense my grandkids accept me the way I am.
One of my favorite memories from when my kids were young was the time my daughter was in high school and her friends were over the house on a Friday night. I can’t recall what I did, but what I do remember was the line. She screamed, “Why can’t I have a normal father like everyone else?!!!” Maybe in the next life, babe.