We have this old wooden swing at my parent’s house. Dad bought it as a Mother’s Day gift. It is perfectly placed facing Monponsett Pond and provides the ideal vantage point for a spectacular sunset view. Dad’s handiwork is still evident, with his brick work (so you don’t kill the grass) and homemade arm shelves to hold your snack, or if you are any member of the Kaloshis family except me, your beer.
It is not incredibly comfortable, but once you sit down, you are hard-pressed to find a reason to rise. I’ve rocked both my babies on that swing, laughed with friends and family and simply let myself become mesmerized by the water.
I also had my last REAL conversation with my dad on that swing. He had been diagnosed with cancer and knew he was going to die. We would talk after that conversation, but those talks weren’t really with my dad—just his body and the few scattered memories the cancer let him keep.
He sat me down in his usual manner, “hey kid, come here”, and he told me his life story in vivid detail. Loves, losses, victories, challenges—he held nothing back. I listened with rapt attention, as I recognized the importance of this conversation. I held on to his words, and often find myself returning to that memory, wishing I could recall more.
One story stood out. He was telling me how as a toddler, I had fallen into the lake and it was several minutes before any one noticed. (nice). Dad said he picked me up by my ankle and plopped me on the dock “like a wet rat, like a very blue wet rat”. He talked about how calm he was. He knew I was going to be okay, because I was his “strong one”. He told me to keep that strength, because he wasn’t going to be around to pull me out of trouble anymore.
This weekend would have been my dad’s birthday, and I ran the Hashawha Hills 50k in his honor. This trail race provided ice, misty-drizzling rain, fog, tons of rolling hills, MUD, eight stream crossings (two knee-deep, in wicked cold water), and three brutal climbs called the ‘Three Evil Sisters’. It was my running paradise!
During the race, I let myself get lost in my music and just enjoy the day. My legs were fluid although I ran conservatively, as this was a training run. I knew my dad was with me, when I heard the song that Mark beautifully sang at my Dad’s funeral. It brought me back to sweet six-year old Noah, with tears welling in his eyes, walking over while Mark was singing, and gently placing his small hand on Mark’s arm--just wordlessly being there for him. It was something my dad would have done.
I find it unfathomable that we lost my dad ten years ago. But, his inspiration still empowers me. Dad, I will use the courage you instilled in me to move forward with the following areas of my life that have been a conundrum for me:
*I will climb Mount Kilimanjaro
*I will shut my door and teach. I really do love it. It is time to put the focus of my job back where it should be—with kids. But, I have not ruled out the new path I have been researching
*I will find time to just sit, relax and connect. Some of the best moments in life happen when you least expect them.
Happy Birthday Dad. I just know there is a swing in heaven, and I bet it looks a lot like this--