This is pretty much the best video ever.
See more at Where the Hell is Matt
This is pretty much the best video ever.
See more at Where the Hell is Matt
Approaching 40 this past summer, I had smoked for 24 years and never accomplished anything athletic in my life. A trip up the stairs would leave me winded. I had a pack-a-day habit, unsuccessfully attempting every pharmaceutical approach available to quit smoking. It was not until I tied on a pair of running shoes that I was able to quit.
That is not to say that I quit smoking right away. I had bought the shoes in 2007 – a pair of New Balance 1223. They looked good, especially when I wore them out to the patio to smoke another cigarette. I thought they looked particularly good when I jaunted down to the grocery store for a case of Killians and a bag of Doritos.
Having lost my dad to cancer in 2007, and watching my mom’s health deteriorate since then, it was with increasing determination that I set out give tobacco the boot. It was not until I learned of my cousin’s success that I knew how to quit.
The Captain is two years my senior and had smoked all his life. Then, in 2008, he started running and quit smoking. He was running regularly, counting calories and losing weight.
On June 16 of this year, I smoked my last cigarette at midnight. I went to bed and, after a good night of sleep, I strapped on my running shoes and went for a jog around the block. Rather, I should say, I jogged from my driveway to the neighbor’s driveway and walked the rest of the way.
I was terribly out of shape. The pounding my lungs took that first morning was enough to keep me off cigarettes the rest of the day. Although I wanted the pleasure of a cigarette, I knew I could not suffer a cigarette. I continued this routine for the next several days.
It did not take very long for my knees to complain.
My doctor prescribed physical therapy, and I started riding my bike, instead. This lead to my riding the 100-mile course in Pelotonia in August but, that’s another story.
Now that the weather has turned south, I’ve put the bike away. My physical therapist cleared me to start running again, so I am working up to running the Commit to be Fit 5k in the Spring, and the Columbus Marathon in the Fall. I am presently running one mile, walking two, and haven’t had a cigarette in six months.
As for the Captain, he ran in the Akron Marathon this past Fall and qualified for Boston. He really had to set the bar high. Bastard.
“How did you meet this girl?”
“I split the difference.”
“You split the difference?”
“I split the difference, Steve.”
“What do you mean you split the difference?”
“Remember when we had pizza at Papa Tony’s? I liked the waitress, but you thought the food was rubbish.”
“Yes. Are we talking about food now, or did you shag the waitress?”
“I’m talking about the tip.”
“Oh, good. That clears up everything, Jeff.”
“I wanted to tip the waitress ten, and you thought that was absurd.”
“Then we tipped the waitress five. She wasn’t even that good. What does this have to do with your date?”
“Don’t you see, Steve? You and I split the difference on what to tip the waitress.”
“Nope. I still don’t follow you, Jeff.”
“When your sister set me up with Stephanie, there was no way I could just phone her up without a test run.”
“A test run?”
“Right! A test run!”
“What’s a test run, Jeff?”
“I needed to give a go on a complete stranger, somebody who didn’t know me, couldn’t know me, and would never know it was me who called.”
“Oh. No. What did you do?”
“I split the difference. Stephanie’s number was 555-4280. I dialed 555-2140.”
“You dialed a complete stranger? Absurd! What if you had dialed a bloke?”
“Don’t be a fool, Steve. I only date women.”
“Right. My mistake. Who answered the phone?”
“What happened when you talked to Julie?”
“She put Mary on the phone.”
“Why did she put Mary on the phone?”
“It was brilliant, Steve. Mary had gone out to Patrick J’s Saturday night. Julie just assumed that I was some bloke that Mary must have met that night.”
“Brilliant is not the word that comes to mind.”
“What do you mean?”
“Never mind, Jeff. Please go on with your story. I’m on the very edge of my seat.”
“OK. Well. Mary gets on the phone. I say, ‘Hi, this is Jeff.’ Why are you laughing, Steve?”
“Oh, I was just remembering a girl I went out with last Spring. Her name was Mary.”
“Wow! That is a coincidence.”
“She was nuts. A total fruitcake.”
“What’s wrong, Steve? Why are your eyes getting so big?”
“Do you mean to tell me that the girl you have fallen in love with is a complete stranger you dialed at random on the telephone?”
“That she’s in love with you?”
“You’ve been dating for three months?”
“Yes! What of it?!”
“You’re a fruitcake, Jeff! My ex-girlfriend is a fruitcake! Two fruitcakes passing in the night! You’re dating my ex!”
“Oh. Is that a problem?”
My Summer seems an odd title, as this has very little to do with me and everything to do with my dad.
My dad quit smoking two years ago. Since last fall, my dad had been walking up to five miles a day. He was losing weight and lowering his cholesterol. He regularly took his prescribed medications. He was sixty-five years old and taking great care of himself. When he started experiencing pain in his hip after his walks, he thought little of it except to take a pain-killer and a nap.
On Thursday, May 31st, I learned that my dad had been diagnosed with lung, liver and bone cancer. This was the diagnosis of the ER attending, not the oncologist. However, this diagnosis was confirmed a few days later.
We were told that his cancer could not be cured but progression could be delayed. He was given two months without treatment, up to two years with treatment. My dad was determined to put up a fight and began treatment right away.
However, treatment seemed to be worse than the disease. My dad was confused, hallucinating, in greater pain and often sleeping from the medications. We all agreed that quality of life was more important than prolonging life. Treatment was stopped.
We then learned that my dad also had cancer in his spine. Two of three doctors concluded he would only live a few more weeks.
My birthday was July 13th, and my dad was not expected to see my birthday. Laurie’s birthday was July 20th, and my dad was not expected to see her birthday. My parents’ 40th anniversary was July 31st, and my dad was not expected to see their anniversary.
My dad saw my birthday, Laurie’s birthday, and his 40th wedding anniversary. He was in hospice by the time of his anniversary, and the staff prepared the most wonderful anniversary dinner for my mom and dad.
My dad seemed to be doing so well by this point that he was sent home two days later. We all wondered if the doctors were wrong about his prognosis. Laurie and I had been spending all of our weekends, since the diagnosis, with my parents and even had taken time off from work. The weekend of August 3rd, Laurie and I considered we would take the following weekend off from visiting in order to spend some time with each other. We were tired, both physically and emotionally. On the afternoon of Sunday, August 5th, we left Akron to return to Columbus. My dad stepped to the front door to wave goodbye as we pulled out of the driveway, and we waved back.
The next evening, my dad was re-admitted to hospice for the last time. Laurie and I called off from work Tuesday morning, packed our clothes, and returned to Akron. I would have no more conversations with my dad as he had slipped into a coma. My only prayer was that he would not pass on the 11th, my youngest son’s birthday.
My dad passed at 9:48pm on Friday, August 10th.
Throughout that final week, and every day since his passing, I continue to remember him standing at the door and waving goodbye. A month later, this still does not seem real. I still think about how my dad might answer when I call.
In the time since the memorial service, Laurie and I have caught up on house work and with each other. We also spent Labor Day weekend in the Smoky Mountains.
My mom is doing as well as might be expected. She is getting out of the house, taking time to see friends and family. She has also started walking for exercise and is up to two miles a day.