Month: May 2013

Off, Huck!

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This is our new puppy, Huckleberry. See Huck leap, run, fetch, sleep, eat, bite, chew and, of course, jump up on everything! See our sons try to “help” my wife and me train our newest family member. See them try to stop Huck from jumping up on them, the counter, the bed, the couch, the dinner table. Hear the boys yell “Off, Huck!” over and over again. Now say “Off, Huck” real fast, as if you were six and didn’t know what a comma was yet. “Off, Huck!” “Off Huck!” OffHuck!” “AwwF*ck!”  Uh oh.

Go home and see your mother!

Going_and_ComingAs a little boy, I remember visiting my dad’s mom every Mother’s Day. My mom’s mom probably came to visit us at our house, but everyone went to see Nana–she did not usually come to you. The ride there was always quick, as she only lived two towns over, so it was usually pleasant, especially at this time of year. The trees would be dripping with flowers, and the sickening sweet smells of lilacs and honeysuckle would intoxicate the air.

On one occasion, I remember my dad was in a very playful mood. We passed a few country clubs on the road, and there were always golfers on the greens. Well, this Mother’s Day, my dad rolled down the window and yelled out to these men “Go home and see your mother!” All eight passengers who were crammed in the car thought this was hilarious. Since dad did this after passing golf course number one, us seven kids asked if we could yell it out as we drove by the second course. He agreed. We were ecstatic with excitement

“On the count of three. One. Two. Three. GO HOME AND SEE YOUR MOTHER!” Seven children clamoring out the windows to shame these golfers for not spending Mother’s Day with wives and mothers. Shame, shame, shame! Some looked up, I’m sure, but I remember being too afraid to actually seek a reaction–I thought I was cool just shouting this out the window–to a bunch of adults, no less.

I recalled this memory yesterday, when I passed a beautiful golf course at the height of Spring. It is such a fleeting moment, but it is one of the sweeter, unencumbered memories I have. Until I was a teenager, whenever I went to visit my Nana, whether with the whole family or just my dad, I would usually roll down my window and shout this phrase as we drove by any golfers. It didn’t matter the time of year or the season, I just loved shouting these words to golfers: “Go home and see your mother!” Nothing like some good old Irish guilt to pass around.

So, on this day where Americans celebrate mom, I hope that you were able to enjoy your family, especially those mothers in your lives. And if your mother happens to be far away or has passed on, I hope that you are comforted with happy memories of home, and of her.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms who read this blog, especially my wife, Pam. Our boys are very lucky to know your love. And to my own mom. Thanks for your love and support.

We’re All In the Dance

Often, I run with my friend Keith. We can go as many as ten miles together, and the conversations run the gamut. But I always have my i-Pod (I just wrote the word Walkman and had to delete it – Google Walkman if you are under twenty). Once, I joked with Keith that if I ever died while we were running–via a tree limb or a plummet from a cliff–that he was to make sure there was a cool song playing on my i-Pod. My playlist is eclectic, to say the least. And I would hate for someone to find my body and have Kelly Clarkson, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj or any number of Pitbull songs blasting from my ear buds. I’m 43 for Christ’s sake. I love pop music and I’m very top 40, but I would hate for my legacy to begin with Lady Gaga’s Edge of Glory (even though the late, great Clarence Clemons plays saxophone on it). But there is one song that I would proudly play in any situation. We’re All in the Dance by Canadian singer-songwriting sensation, Feist.

Life’s a dance, we all have to do
What does the music require?
People are moving together
Close as the flames in a fire

I heard this song yesterday as I was running the trails of the Schuylkill River on the outskirts of Philadelphia. My mind immediately took me to the Broad Street Run, the premier race in the city of Brotherly Love–which just happened to be yesterday morning. This song was part of my race day repertoire about five years back when I ran that race. Its simple piano melody and waltz-like tempo seems contradictory to music one listens to to stay 240px-Phenakistoscope_3g07690dpumped in a race.  Yet, when I heard that song, something magical happened: The world slowed down. We were all speeding towards a finish line, but everyone seemed to look like they were moving in slow motion. The people around me seemed to bob up and down like horses on a carousel ride. I looked left, then right, at total strangers, and felt like I was surrounded by loved ones, by family, all moving in unison to the beat of this song. Then, there was a wave of emotion; chills that began in my shoulders scattered in every direction, ending on the top of my bald head with a million tingly strands emanating from my brain. It was such a moment of clarity: “We’re all in the dance!”

On that day, it was a race down Broad Street with tens of thousands of people from as many different experiences as there were bib numbers. But it’s also the dance we do as people in the parade of cars during rush hour traffic, or standing in the checkout line pretending not to read the trashy headlines from the tabloids, or the trips to school one takes beginning as a kindergartner, then one day returning as a parent, then a grandparent. The visits to the hospital, from newborn to old man, the times spent in prayer, in sport, in taking in a play, a game, a concert, an art exhibit. The dance involves the person at the restaurant who serves you the food, taken from the kitchen where many hands prepared it, and the one whose hand you lovingly grasp as you leave the establishment, to the homeless person you pass by guiltily with your belly full and your hand growing heavy with more of your meal in a doggy bag.

Even though the Broad Street was always one of my favorite events, I have moved away from road races. Yesterday, I was training for an upcoming trail race. But the runner’s high is achieved in both situations. And this song is always on my i-Pod come race day. I wait until I’m a mile or two in before I let the words wash over me, always to the same effect. My memory floods every time I hear the ethereal voice of Feist remind us that:

We all go ’round and ’round
Partners are lost and found
Looking for one more chance
All I know is,
We’re all in the dance

Feel the beat; music and rhyme
While there is time.

And that is my wish for you. For all of us. That we may feel the beat; music and rhyme–while there is time.

So, if you ever come across my body lying on a trail somewhere, and there happens to be an embarrassing song playing–think of my children and please advance “Now Playing” to Coldplay, Pearl Jam, Green Day, or The Killers. It’s the least you can do after my nice wish for you:)

Take a moment to listen to this song. And don’t worry if you start swaying–I won’t tell anybody.