It's been a heavy week for me blog followers. Some of you already know that my dad passed away on Tuesday. Now you all know. Even the parents of local superheros aren't immortal I guess. He was my biggest cheerleader, and I will miss him dearly.
I'm not one to wallow in self pity. My grieving process has been less about guilt and mourning, and more about reflecting on my dad's contributions to my life, as well as thinking about how to honor his memory. He would have wanted me to keep on keeping on...so I am. And when I think about how my dad has influenced my past, and will influence my future, I immediately think about running.
My dad always supported me, regardless of the ridiculousness of my endeavor. When I started playing soccer, he used to go out to the field and kick the ball around with me. When I decided to play with the school band, he bought me private lessons. When I grew my hair out to be more "metal", he shrugged and said something like, "Well...Hanson is a popular band nowadays."
He didn't really understand what would possess me to run long distances. He was pretty amazed when I ran my first 5K. He was baffled when I ran a 10K. He was dumb founded when I ran a half marathon. And I'm sure he signed up for some sort of support group when I ran my first marathon. But he would always tell me he was proud of me. Confused...but proud.
I wouldn't say that my favorite memories of my dad revolve around running, because they don't. Running wasn't something that we had in common. My dad didn't run ever...even when chased (really...he'd rather be caught). I think he felt like it wasn't something he was physically able to do. We couldn't talk running like we could talk all the other things we had in common: soccer, music, football, bad haircuts, an appreciation for really bad beer. Running was something that I did, and that he watched with amazement (and sometimes amusement).
While we were planning the service to honor my dad, one of the things my mom asked the funeral director was that any memorials go to my fundraising efforts with Team in Training. I am trying to raise $4,900 in order to compete in the Honolulu Marathon in December (link on the side of my blog...donate...DO IIIIIIIIIT!).
At first I didn't get it. Memorials should go towards funeral expenses. And my dad wasn't really involved in my fundraising. He didn't die of any type of cancer. The two didn't seem very related.
Then I remembered back to when I first heard that my dad had died. I was at work and I hurried home, going 90 mph on the freeway. I met my wife in my parent's driveway and cried my eyes out. I wandered around my parent's house looking for comfort. I sat in my dad's room and looked at pictures of him. My mind was a blur. I was thinking everything and nothing at the same time.
So I went for a run. It was a crappy run. It was 30 degrees outside with blowing horizontal rain. I could barely see, much less move forward. I only went out for 3 miles because I was losing feeling in my toes. When I came back in I was soaking wet and smiling from ear to ear. What happened on that run is between me and my dad, but let's just say we worked everything out. Things made sense.
I came into the kitchen grinning from ear to ear. It was the first time I had felt happy all day. I told my mom that I was running the Honolulu Marathon in my dad's memory. He wasn't a runner, he didn't love running like I did, but he loved me. And he was one hundred percent behind everything I wanted to do in life. He made me the person I am today. And since this was probably the biggest thing I'd ever tried to do in my running career, why not honor the guy who gave me the encouragement to be that person.
I'm telling my dad what I probably didn't tell him enough when he was alive. You inspired me and you gave me the inner strength to pursue my passions. You will continue to watch over me and guide me.
Folks...don't let it take the death of a loved one to tell them how much they mean to you. Tell them today. Dedicate your efforts in life to them. I think my dad can see what I'm doing for him, but it would be more comfort to me if I knew that HE KNEW. If you wait...you'll spend your entire life wondering if they knew what was in your heart. Do it today...
My dad, Laurence K. Peterson, August 12, 1948 to October 26, 2010. Rest in peace dad. I love you.