Ironman Countdown

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Strong Roots Make for a Strong Tree

Happy Sunday to you all.  I will be heading out with my family to do the annual Howard County Police Pace 5K and Family Fun Run.  We're all going together, so it should be a fun morning.

Today also happens to be Grandparents Day.  Not a major holiday by any stretch, but something the schools seem to recognize, which makes it catch my attention.  I find it ironic, because today marks 20 days to go until IMMD, which means I'm at my second-to-last 10 Day Dedication.  And this one goes to my Mom and Dad.

4/11/64

Mom, honeymoon in the Bahamas
just hitched!

Dad, at the track in the Bahamas

I met them both on February 2, 1975, and it was love at first sight.  I was child #5, and their second daughter... the youngest of all.  To that end, in hindsight, I was definitely spoiled with their time.  Because the older four were so close in age, my parents were just busier and probably a bit more financially strapped during their childhood and teenage years.  By the time I became a teenager, I was the only one left to tend to, and they had a lot more time on their hands.

Martha's Vineyard, 1992

They have been married for 51 years.   And they still genuinely like each other.   Now that I am married and have children, I grasp what it must have been like for them when they were my age, raising their family.  It is hard to put the needs of your children first all the time.  It is hard to balance children and marriage.  As their child, I never saw that struggle... I mean, I heard them argue and disagree about any variety of issues.  But I never sensed what I now know:  that this is all much harder than anyone could ever tell you.  And I certainly never fully understood the level of selfless-ness it takes to be a parent.   I have a much deeper appreciation for all their sacrifices for us.  They are amazing parents

My Mom and Dad have always been there for me.  They attended countless swim meets, piano recitals, band concerts, school activities... they celebrated my victories.  They wiped my tears.   They instilled in me a sense of accountability for my own choices; they created in me a fear of ever disappointing them.

I have written a lot about my Dad through this blog and through my "spotlight" piece for Swim Bike Mom.  (in case you missed that, here's my SPOTLIGHT)  He is one of my major inspirations for doing IMMD, and certainly for tying my race into fundraising for The Little Things for Cancer.   My Dad was an incredible athlete growing up, primarily in baseball though he played football and basketball as well.  As many have already heard me say, at 80 years old he is still an active runner, and has been since college.
Dad, age 12
Dad, his 14th birthday, with his parents

He grew up in the Bronx, NY.  He was an only child of Irish immigrants, and by all accounts was the apple of his parent's eyes.  He was a good student, a talented athlete, and really good to them... he basically walked on water, as far as they were concerned.  His best friends were the boys from his neighborhood or from his school days.   They are still his best friends, and they make him laugh harder than anyone else.
Daddy's girl
My Dad is such an amazing man.  He is profoundly religious, but in a private way that doesn't make non-religious people uncomfortable.  His Faith is so strong, but he doesn't try to force it on other people.  He simply tries to live a good moral life, therefore setting a good example for those watching.  He most certainly isn't perfect, something he'll be the first to tell you.  He instilled in me a sense of priorities, starting in childhood, the order of which were:  God, family, schoolwork, athletics/swimming, and then friends/socializing.   His propensity towards neatness and preciseness in all things probably lended itself well to his career as an engineer.
5/15/04:  at Camden Yards on my way to get married

I guess you could say he was strict with us.  I don't know any different, but it seems to me, now that I am a parent, he really just wanted us to grow up to be respectable.  Back-talk was not acceptable, most especially if he heard it directed at my Mom.  He never disagreed with our teachers or coaches, at least not in our hearing.   He was always ready to help us study, to get us ready for tests and reports.  I fondly remember a few projects from grade school and high school history classes where Dad gladly took me to Antietem and Fords Theater so I could actually see the places I was writing about.
my first marathon, 2013
40 & 80

Dad also loves a good time.  He really likes people, and, like my sister, he can talk to anyone.  He is well known for the somersaults he does across many a dance floor at weddings and other occasions.  He loves when a pickup game of basketball gets started at family events; he enjoys going to baseball games and watching his grandchildren play their various sports.

My Mom is truly the most beautiful person I know.    She was the #6 child of 7 total; she lost her own father when she was only 8, so was raised by a single mom for much of her life in Brooklyn and Queens, NY.  I know that her childhood was not perfect, but I think that only made her a better mother.
Mom, age 7

dancing with Dad

Mom stayed home to raise the 5 of us.  My Dad traveled a lot for work, so Mom really was the day-to-day parent in our lives.   On any given day in the early 1980s, my Mom did the following:  made 5 breakfasts, ironed/laid out my father's work clothes, packed 5 school lunches, packed up 5 booksbags, oversaw the dressing and teethbrushing for school; drove a carpool of children to/from school; cleaned the kitchen; vacuumed; made the beds; did laundry for 7 people; managed the banking and finances for our household; volunteered at school; made afterschool snacks; drove a carpool to swim practice (or baseball or basketball); made dinner; cleaned up from dinner; made desserts; oversaw homework completion; dealt with whatever complaint one or more children had that day; ushered 5 children to bedtime at a reasonable hour; and tried unsuccesfully to stay awake to watch an episode of "Dynasty."  I'm pretty sure on most days, none of us said thank-you.   My Dad got the luxury of going to work each day or traveling for a few days and returning home the hero.  My Mom had to slog through life as the parent who really got the brunt of life with five children.
Mom with her five babies, 1977

She will probably read that paragraph and be a little embarrassed by it.  She would say to you, "Oh, it wasn't that bad.  I loved being your mother."  That's how she is.  Now that I am a mom who does the laundry and cleans and cooks... I totally understand the flip side of it.   It is hard to be doing all of those things and sometimes be invisible... even though I love being a mother.  Just like my mom, who I know loves being our mother, she was not really seen by us at the time for the giving person she is.  It takes becoming an adult, I think, for us to fully appreciate our parents, especially our mothers.
at a Paint Night

lucky girl with her parents, Jack (18M) -- 2009

And 5 children?  I really have no idea how she did it, and maintained her sanity.  I barely hang onto mine with the two I have.  If I am half the mother my Mom was, I will be doing a great job.  

at a wedding 2010
I know how lucky I am to have my Mom and Dad.  They still do so much for me, and my own little family.  And I know that my own sense of confidence, my belief that I can do anything that I set my mind to, comes from them.  They are the roots that made me strong.
Nags Head, 1984

Mom's 70th birthday

one of my favorite photos, ever

So thank you, Mom and Dad.  These next Ten Days are dedicated to you.  I am so proud to be your daughter.  During this time, I will pray with gratitude for all that you have given to me.  I will pray for your continued good health and more happy times to come.  I will remember everything you have taught me about not giving up, about always pushing forward, and about being thankful for every breath that I take.  I love you both more than I can ever say.  I hope I make you proud on October 3rd.


For this block of days, I have my last bit of long training, and I begin my taper.  I also have a race with my sister at the Dewey Beach Sprint Triathlon on September 19th.  I am so looking forward to that!

During these next Ten Days, I have:
4 Miles of Swimming
175 Miles of Biking
24 Miles of Running

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