Thursday, October 13, 2016

How Things Change

I'm a small town girl who enjoys the simplicity of every day life. I determine if I'm comfortable living someplace by feeling safe while running around the premises any time, day or night.

When I went to college I knew I wanted to go someplace that allowed me the ability to run on campus/near campus around anytime that I wanted. I found just that in my second school..Kent State. I was that weird girl who was running at 9 pm on Halloween night while nearly everyone else was already stumbling over their own feet. I find comfort in the ability to know my surroundings by running. 

I've been running since I was 11. That's nearly 15 years of getting to know my hometown by simply lacing up my Mizuno's and heading out for a daily run. I used to be able to run nearly every day; however, my body nixed that a few years ago. After shin splits, stress fractures and a marathon, my body said it couldn't endure the daily pounding... So, I give it a break every other day now.

What I've found is that so many of my memories and knowledge of people have come from running around town. I'm deeply saddened by how many of those people have moved on to the glorious pearly gates and others who have moved to another area or just aren't capable of getting outside. 

In high school I walked to school, through a field and down a road, but I always knew one lady would be standing at the corner. She's the lady who always yelled "Go, go" when I went running past their house, and she would greet me with a morning hello. Her hair was always perfectly in place, and I miss her sweet demeanor and "good mornings!" She and her husband still live in the same spot, but it's rare to see them out; however, my head still turns hoping to see their faces.

Not more than a quarter mile up the road an older man and woman have lived. Often times I would see them sitting out in lawn chairs in the garage. Two winters ago, the older man was slowly shuffling his feet across the icy road to get the paper. I came upon him and thought about making a comment about his safety and that I could bring the paper to them any morning, but the more I thought about it the more I really shouldn't have been out on the road running either. We greeted each other with a wave and "morning" and I continued on my way. This summer this gentleman passed away. The house is now for sale, and it just doesn't look right as I pass and the garage door is down; it was never down.

As I continue around town, I pass my dear friend Ruthie's house. She was always sitting on the porch, and I wish I could turn my head and see her white hair sitting there. In her last few years, I would often pass her house extremely early in the morning on my way to work just to see if she was awake. Sometimes there she would be sitting at the kitchen table. Other times I remember shoveling her snow when we had snow days; she never let a day pass without coming out to greet me. And she's the only nearly 90 year-old lady who reserved People magazine at the library each week. I miss her dearly!

If I continue on through town I will pass an older lady and man who I would frequently pass walking their dog while I ran. They moved this summer and since, someone has come in and pulled out the nature land preservation area that used to be their front yard. No more waving as I passed or "good mornings" in the summer. 

If I would turn I would make it to my grandma's house. One year ago today she went to a better place.

 No longer is she suffering or in pain. She no longer feels like she's burdening my family and if I had to guess is baking, gardening or cooking up something yummy to eat.

A year ago I told her I would be back in the morning. It didn't matter if I had to break in; I planned to be at that nursing home before 5 am. I know she was listening when I told her I would be back because she drifted off not much more than an hour after I had left. It's fitting that she wouldn't go while my family and I were there.

Our final conversation involved life--I talked as if she could hear every word and made up responses in my head that I knew she would say. The ironic thing is I told her that I expected a lot of food. She could drop it randomly from Heaven ha! or have it show up in unexpected ways, but I could really use some of her specialties. A year later I sit here with her own homemade applesauce in a bowl. We found it while defrosting the freezer. In true fashion, it's in an old butter container, but it was crafted with love by my grandma, and no matter how old it is, I will savor every last drop! 

Life is difficult. Life is hard. Life is memorable. But life teaches us so much, and even though many of these people will never know their touch on my Mizuno's have taken me many places and taught me oh so much. 

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