In the chapter titled “The Half-Centenarian Club” in Twenty-four Years to Boston I wrote about celebrating my fiftieth birthday with a thirteen-mile run. No big deal really, especially considering there are guys in their seventies who cross the finish line before me in many of the races I enter.
Since joining the ranks of the sexagenarians, I figured I should up the ante so I registered for my first ultra-marathon. Actually, this is my second ultra registration, but my first was wiped out last year when I slipped on the ice and suffered a hip injury that took four months to rehab. What a knucklehead!
This year I have extra incentive. I’ll line up for the ultra on the thirtieth anniversary of my dad’s death. Hard to believe that three decades have slipped by since I lost the man who still influences my life, my writing, my stories.
At the funeral for my buddy’s son recently the priest said that we keep alive those who are no longer with us through our words, our stories. Hundreds of people read Smiling Through the Clouds about Billy and his son, both who passed away this year. Many readers took the time to write to me, some from as far away as New Zealand. They thanked me for sharing the story, said they felt a connection with my friend. Perhaps it helped them remember one of their own loved ones. I hope so.
So I’ll run with my dad in January. Even though he passed away thirty years ago he will be with me for 31 miles, every step of the way.
The most effective way to keep the memory alive of those we have lost is through our stories.