To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Steve Prefontaine
Stepping outside the comfort zone is the price I pay to find out how good I can be. If I planned on backing off every time running got difficult I would hang up my shoes and take up knitting.
-Desiree Davila

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Just A Little Lovin' Will Go A Long Way

My entire life I was aware of the inevitable. Due to age differences, the odds were that my Grandpa would pass away before I would. My entire life I have had complete dread over what is about to happen. I've never known how I could even handle the day. How could I sit there and not just be a sobbing mess? And now it's upon me. I have to sit at the church with my family while we all remember my hero, my Grandpa.

It's been over a month and I still cry every single day. I have many photos up of my grandpa back when he was a teenager in high school, and a newlywed Army Sergeant. When I see photos of MY Grandpa as I knew him, then it gets way too real. He wasn't supposed to leave me yet. He still seemed so young and healthy. Man Friend and I talk about things a lot while I keep trying to process different things. Today I had to tell myself that I was lucky that I never had to see my Grandpa "become a burden" that he was so determined to not become. Until the end he always had his dignity. So now I have wonderful memories and can even look back on our last days and smile over special moments even in the hospital.

On November 3rd back in the late 1970s, Grandpa sat in his chair pretending to read his newspaper, while sneaking glances over the top at my mom while she was in the early stages of labor. At 4am on the 4th of November I made my grand appearance into this world. For the next 36 years and 4 months, that man and I had a very special relationship that can't be replicated. Around maybe 6 years old (??) Grandpa gave me my first taste of alcohol. We were in his boat in the driveway and he was preparing things for a trip to the cabin. He had a beer and I asked if I could have a sip. He laughed and said sure ---- you can all thank Grandpa for why I still hate beer to this day! So gross! But then when I was in college Grandpa gave me one of my first drinks of alcohol again ... his blackberry brandy! For Christmas this year what did Grandpa give me? A bottle of blackberry brandy .... some of which we passed around and had sips of at the cemetery after his first service! Grandpa took me to my first OSU football game. He helped me move into my dorm freshman year. He was even my dad one year for Dad's Weekend, and a chilly fall weekend that was! The first time I ever hosted Christmas was last year, and Grandpa was here for yummy breakfast, the parade and presents. I loved being able to have everyone in my home for a holiday for the first time!

There are so many 'firsts' that I have with Grandpa next to me. But sadly there are some 'lasts' as well. I get sad remembering, but then they are also memories and I am happy to have them. The last run I've had started and ended at his house. He knew I was going to have a great run before I left, and when I came home he still gave me big hugs even though I was all sweaty and stinky. Probably the last visit I will make to our local Red Robin was with Grandpa. The last phone calls before the hospital - I was the last to call him, I was the last person he called. His last steps outside in the fresh air were with me as I helped him into the car. But there are two lasts that make me cry every time I think of them, and summarize the bond between us Rons. Monday evening I stood at his side, still optimistic that he would be coming home. I would be getting to continue my Pinterest cooking experiments, and he would continue to be my guinea pig. I was looking forward to college football games and having Grandpa over to watch with me next to the fire. The future, I thought, was going to be just as it always was. Before I left to follow mom out of his hospital room, I bent over to give him a hug. It was then that I got his last kiss he was able to give. The next day my world flipped upside down when I entered his dark room and knew that I only had a short time left. Three of us sat at his side. I practically shooed the nurse out of my way so I could be right at his side as close as possible. It was silent, only noises of his last breaths and our tears. I couldn't take my eyes off of his face, nor my hand off of his shoulder. One at a time we talked to Grandpa. It was that day that I leaned over and gave Grandpa his very last living kiss. People always remember first kisses, but not me. Those two last kisses mean more than any others.

In this last month and a half I have been trying to figure out how to live without my favorite person. I've spent a lot of time in his chair and on his bed. I only use his bathroom, versus the main bathroom. I use his kitchen chair when we have lunch there. I listen to his music. I wear his slippers and sweatshirt. And while doing all of that I've been working really hard on his memorial service.  It's the last official event for Grandpa and I want it to be as nice as it can be. Pictures, music, memories .... I've been surrounded by it. I cry a lot, but I always smile a lot, too... and it helps!

I hear my favorite Eddy Arnold song and I always immediately see my Grandpa's smiling face. I always have. It wasn't until he was gone that I realized I still don't hear Eddy Arnold singing, I hear my grandpa singing. He had such a lovely voice, if I do say so myself! So when I decided to do a photo tribute to Grandpa and set it to music, without hesitation I knew Eddy Arnold had to be included. For some reason that music never gets old to me. Even my last time I was at the cemetery two days ago I sat down in the grass with my grandparents and played Eddy Arnold and sang along for them. It just makes me happy. Strange as it may seem, good ol' Eddy Arnold has been a huge help in my grieving process. So without further ado, here's my video tribute to my favorite person!

Friday, March 6, 2015

A Love Like None Other

1930's handsomeness, Gpa on the right
One man in my life has always been my number one. Nobody could ever top him. An unkind word has never been uttered about him. He has always been my number one role model, although I fully admit I am nowhere close to being such a kind soul. He is Grandpa, and Tuesday, March 3, 2015 at 1:05pm I held his shoulder and cried at his side while he left me to go be reunited with my grandma, two of his children and all the family pets. My heart is absolutely broken. The only time I have been able to really smile and feel calm is when I'm in his house. There's something about his house. When my pets have died, it was the first place I would go to cry in his arms. When my aunt committed suicide it was the first place we went. As a girl in my 30s, there I was almost on Grandpa's lap with my arms around him, crying. I guess it only felt natural that before I could go home after he passed away, I had to go to his house and cry on his bed. Such a great man.

In the last two days my mom and I have been at his house going through old photos and memorabilia. This person that has always been perfect in my eyes has reached a whole new level of wonderful to me. I did learn that I am a merge of my grandparents -- I take tons of pictures like Grandma did, and I organize and label them like Grandpa! It was going through these organized, labeled photos that I could feel his love for my grandma. Just thinking about it makes me cry. This man loved this woman so much. I found a letter today that my grandpa wrote to his grandparents on my grandma's birthday when he was away in the Army. He wrote how the phone calls were delayed and he really hoped his would go through because Eunice would be so sad if he couldn't call. He also talked about a photo he had sent his grandparents, and commented on how beautiful she was in it. In his Army scrapbook that HE made (and labeled!), you could even see by the captions how he was head over heels for "Blackie". Such a romantic side that I didn't know about! And let me tell you, he was quite the looker, as was she. Good looking kids, they even made headlines in town when they got married!

But his love wasn't just for Grandma.  We found report cards for his children. Newspaper clippings of everything. He even had newspaper clippings of his parents' wedding announcement! Graduation announcements, programs from student plays, a chopped off ponytail from one of his girls.  Sentimental and sweet. 

Any person that knew him could see how kind he was. In these short days since he left us we've received so many comments and stories, some intimately private, of how he was such a help to them. He seemed to have impacted so many outside of our family just by being himself. He was so giving. He donated time, money, clothing. He would deliberately go buy things just so he could donate them to a good cause. As a pharmacist he went above and beyond. He was not like any pharmacist that exists today. I describe him as being a real life Norman Rockwell painting.  And you know what he did not do? He didn't brag about it. Things we are learning are things none of us ever knew. He was so humble. He didn't need to tell people that he saved a woman's life. He just did it because it was the right thing to do. 

This is rambling and I don't care. Did you know Grandpa was my roommate? Or maybe I should say I was his housemate. When I moved home from Florida I lived with him for a few months while I worked on the house that I rented from him. He was the best housemate. Every day he made me lunch without me even asking. I one time mentioned how I was craving a maple bar. The next morning I woke up and he had gotten me two! Each morning I'd go walking through his bedroom to the bathroom to shower. This is something he was so familiar with as he had 3 daughters that all grew up doing the same thing. And did he mind? Heck no! I think Grandpa loved having us all around! Even up until the day of his accident he was always saying "Ronnie Rae, don't you go buying such and such. You come check with me first, I probably have it!" I'm completely capable of cooking for myself or buying my own crock pots, but he loved any opportunity to give and do anything for any of his family.  Last month I locked my keys in my car, and thus was locked out of my house. He didn't hesitate to get in his truck and come rescue me. He was always rescuing me in his own way!

The point I was intending to make was that he loved unconditionally. He had five children. His memorabilia stashes show how important each one of them was to him. And grandchildren too. I have to laugh when my mom whines because compared to her oldest siblings, she is hardly in any photos. And I'm sure my cousins would groan over how many photos there are of me. But my mom is STILL camera shy. And apparently I've just always been a ham in front of a camera. I had no idea! And come on, I'm named after the man. He HAS to have tons of my photos. All the way until junior high I was probably at his house more than my own. So many nights I slept between him and Grandma. We'd all have ice cream in bed and watch Murder She Wrote and the Discovery Channel before I would roll over to sleep. I'm the only one in the family that was lulled to sleep by Grandpa's snore.  Even earlier this week I smiled and was excited when I sat in the hospital room listening to my grandpa snore. To say I'm a Grandpa's Girl is the biggest understatement ever. He even gave me away at my first wedding, and was so handsome while doing so! 

But now my sweet, perfect grandpa is gone. He's never going to be fully gone and certainly never forgotten. I can only hope that those of us that knew him would try to be more like him. Let's all try to be nicer. Let's all accept each other. If Grandpa disliked something, he'd just be quiet and shake his head. I'm going to try just shaking my head more. Let's all try to be generous. Let's all help each other and strangers. Let's all love more. I'm sure we all love people and just don't say it as much as we should. So let's try that, too! If I've learned anything from this week it is that you have no idea when your life could completely change.  Days ago my grandpa was independent, walking, driving, living on his own. He left his home to meet us for our standard Wednesday lunch date. After lunch, being the kind man he is, he went to the store to get a birthday cake and ice cream for a dear friend with Alzheimers who didn't even know who he was anymore. Doing something so sweet, and then one slight error caused everything to change. He never got to go home or share that birthday cake. This could happen to any of us at any day and any time. So I think while we are all still here and able, let's just try to be better and love better! I feel pretty damn lucky that I had the greatest relationship with him and continue to learn even more about how caring he was. Every moment in my life, he's been there for it. I don't know how to be without my Grandpa, but I will certainly try to be more like him!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Weekly Run-Cap: My Nemesis

Run 31.15: 63 degrees, rain   I had so many things to do. But what I wanted to be sure to squeeze in was a run. I had new bluetooth headphones arrive that I was eager to test, so I had extra motivation. The rain didn't even make me hesitate for a second. Garmin? Check. Hat? Check. Headphones? Check. Shoes? Check. Time to run!!  I was thinking so much about the headphones and trying to form an opinion that before I knew it I was over a mile in and just cruising along. As I neared the house of the asshole dog I saw the old dog wandering around. It was walking toward the house and I figured if I crossed the street just right I'd avoid it. That worked! I continued down the hill and up the next and made the turn around to head home. Or so I thought. Sure enough the little 6 pound asshole dog came flying down its driveway in full attack mode. Dammit!! I could have tried to avoid its attack, or turn around and attack my running nemesis ... THE Hill. It's a monster. I've been slowly building up to sometime tackling it. Here I was, already with sore legs and feeling exhausted, and now scaling the side of a mountain. Baby steps. One object to focus on at a time. Holy cow this thing was No Joke. When I got home I saw I had over 200 feet of elevation climb ... pretty sure the majority of that was just in that one hill.  Damn asshole dog!

I have no photo. I had no other run. It was a very strange week.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Weekly Run-Cap: It Was a GREAT Week!

Huh. I guess I sucked! I thought I had another run in this strange week of mine, but I don't see one. It's Super Bowl time, maybe while the game is on this will be a good time to check Garmin Connect and see if maybe I DID run another day? Seeing as I'm falling asleep during this game, why not! Phew, I DID run another day! Um.... I don't remember anything fancy about it. Oops..... 

Run 31.12: I remember it!!!  My training plan called for distance at a 5-10K race pace. So it was a fast one. I am kind of freaked out about how I am regaining some speed and how it's not killing me! And on the end of this run I again saw the man with the big white beard that is always riding his bike. We keep crossing paths at the same point every time we see each other. It's nice having a friendly neighborhood - as few houses as we have out here!

Run 31.13:  48 degrees, cloudy I wanted a "new" route, so I went to my mom's house to run my old loop out there. She took her puppy for his walk, so of course I had to be sure to run faster than he was going to try to walk. I heard him talk to me as I flew by at the start and I only looked back once. And then it just got crazy .... I kept going and going and feeling awesome .... I turned around to head back and eventually met back up with my mom and little fur brother for a quick hello. I became Forrest Gump again and kept going .... when I finished that, I was not far off of my 5K race pace ... and I even walked with my mom and dog during my last mile when we met up one last time! WHAT???!!!!? I was on quite a high after that run!

Run 31.14a: 48 degrees, rain/mist Being a Sunday and no plans on our schedule I sweet talked Man Friend into joining me for one loop of my long run. He has "retired" from running, except for any relay races that may present themselves to us, so he hasn't run at all since the Wine & Dine Half Marathon in November. We went out to the farm land loop I did last week, and I loved it. It was my favorite weather, nice company, quiet and peaceful. Having him run with me was a great benefit because I was able to talk a lot .... and force myself to slow my pace down so that I could run longer today. He never complained once and I finished that first loop feeling great and energized, ready for more!

Run 31.14b: 48 degrees, rain/mist We went back home so MF could do whatever he wanted (and recover) and I set out on the second half of my long run in my own neighborhood. It was a nice change of pace to start my run and already be warmed up and starting in the zone. Sure, my mind told me it would be okay if I turned around early -- my ego thought it would feel better to do what I had told myself I would do today. So that's what I did! I must admit since it was my first "long" run in a long time (thank you, stupid Meniere's Disease), I had to do a lot of mental work during my last loop. I kept repeating something I saw on Pinterest. It said to Run the Mile You're In. By the end of this I laughed when I realized I was running the tenth of a mile I was in ... but it got me to the end, and helped me make my last mile of the day my fastest of the day!

All in all, this was a very successful week. I'm feeling more and more confident in my ability to tackle March's half marathon! 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Weekly Run-Cap: Skirts, Tanks and Sunshine?

Run 31.9: 55 degrees, sun, clear skies. This was supposed to be a normal run on my regular route. I didn't have work that day so it was nice to just feel free to do whatever. You know what I wasn't free to do?? Run my regular route! That asshole dog was back!!!!! I got in my desired distance but had to zig zag through what are essentially long driveways. It made for a not fun ending when you have half a mile and are looking at your house wondering where to make up the distance. But I got it in!

I missed a couple days of running due to again, more annoying Meniere's issues and being too dizzy to even sit upright on my own. I keep making progress and then dang it, knocked back down again.

Run 31.10: 61 degrees, short sleeves, skirt. I had no goal. I took off running and suddenly it was like "oh hey, we are going to do some speed work!" ... so I just went with it. Nothing spectacular to report. I cut it a bit shorter since I knew the next day was going to be long. It felt rather nice to just go out there and give it my all and survive!

Run 31.11: 63 degrees, a tank top, skirt and wonderful views! This was supposed to be a long run in honor of Steve Prefontaine's birthday. Supposed to being the key part of that sentence. I was enjoying myself so much. The views were so nice, perfect weather... it was just me, some cows and sheep, and very few humans. But I was only 1.7 in when my trusty Meniere's had other plans.  I had to start walking more than I care to... but when I saw my final pace at the car I was shocked! So I guess my running is getting faster and I didn't even know it. Woo!

On this run I learned how to get 20 sheep to run together ... and then is, just breathe and run by. Then I learned how to get them to freeze and stare .... just pause your Garmin so it makes that little beep! Simple things amuse me on a run!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Weekly Run-Cap: That Damn Dog

Run 31.6: 55 degrees, sunny, absolutely gorgeous! If all runs were like this one I would be running multiple times a day, every single day! I don't know what it was, but I just got in the zone and this was the single best run I've had in my new neighborhood. Each mile was faster than they normally are on the neighborhood route. I wasn't deliberately going faster, but it just seemed to happen. At the time I didn't even realize it, but when I hit the end and checked my Garmin - well let's just say some of my neighbors are fully aware now that I was happy with what I saw! It concerns me that the hills that used to bug me are hardly even a blip on my radar now. I guess it's time to graduate and move on to the next mountain on the path!

*My next scheduled run didn't happen. Instead I found myself on a brisk 2+ mile walk with some dogs in the park. I may not have run, but boy did I work up a sweat nonetheless!

Run 31.7:  50 degrees. With the warm, misty air, I found myself happy to be out running. The "rain" stopped before I even had a chance to work up a sweat (which kind of disappointed me). As far as running, I did good, tried to push my pace a bit to help get back to my old normal. The hiccup with this run was the damn dog near the turnaround. I had already passed its house, continued along to where I like to turn and was heading back ... and then it spotted me. This dog is the very definition of ankle biter. That little bastard came flying down the hill from its house and made a beeline for me. And again, as per usual, went right for my feet. Last time it almost tripped me, so this time I was prepared. I LOVE all animals. This dog is an asshole! The one good thing about that little brat is it makes me pick up my pace even more just so I can get away from its bark and dive bombs at my feet!

Run 31.8:  57 degrees, cloudy. I was so tired. I wanted to run longer and leave my neighborhood, but I always really wanted to vacuum and test out my new Swiffer Wet Jet. (Housewife hours after all, sometimes I have to earn my keep around here!) So I stuck to what I know and hit the 'hood. I heard the neighborhood turkeys today but never could find them. Dang it. The squirrel carcass was finally gone, but the banana peel I've been watching for a couple weeks is still there and taking forever to decompose. This time I thought I might make it to my turn around without that dog .... and I was wrong. That pipsqueak came flying down and I decided to immediately turn around. It still chased me, even though I told it to go away. Ugh. To make up the distance difference I turned on the road I keep only looking at. I am happy to say I made it a good way up this hill that I dread. My goal is to actually get up and down the full loop, but this thing is a bitch and I'm gonna ease on into it! I felt pretty awesome when I hit my goal point before I turned ... and after that the rest of the run was a piece of cake. This picture is very deceiving. This is the hill that I even had a hard time walking just past the view of the photo. ... and I am awesome at walking up hills passing people trying to run them!

And now I'm writing about my last run feeling disappointed and annoyed -- because it didn't happen. I was dressed to run, had my plan set for a nice, long run in absolutely perfect weather .... and then a Meniere's attack hit me out of the blue and pretty much ruined all of those plans.  Here I sit, typing in full running clothes and just longingly looking outside. I had such a good week going, too. I can only hope tomorrow I will be steady on my feet and able to take advantage of my day off with the long run I missed!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Weekly Run-cap: The Animals Took Over

In honor of marathon weekend in Walt Disney World, I start this off with a moment I think about often while encountering difficult moments in running .... You can't see my face, but I was absolutely full blown crying from every possible emotion while getting my Goofy Challenge medal. For non Disney peeps and non-runners ... that's the weekend I did the 5K, the 1/2 marathon and then the full marathon. It was crazy hot, crazy emotional, crazy everything. Post Goofy, everything just feels easier!

Run 31.3: Well that sucked.  It was a beautiful run, weather wise. I had sunshine AND warmth! My first mile was my fastest first mile in a while, too. *My entire first mile, if I run at home, is uphill and always the hardest mile. But my body changed its mine and sent me home sooner than I wanted. I at least got out there and tried, but it wasn't anything to write home about. . . so here I am at home writing about it.

Run 31.4: This run wasn't for my legs or fitness. This was one of those runs where you go to clear your mind and forget about real life for a while. I had no goals other than to just relax. Turns out when I run to relax my brain I end up tackling a ridiculously hard hill. I was planning on building up to this one -- but the annoying dog near my turn around was already chasing me before I got near the turn... so I altered my course. Dang, that hill became a hike, and even running down was a little touch and go. It felt great to accomplish running up most of it though! My favorite thing about this run was getting to finally be near my neighbor goats up close. They are always wandering around the hillside, but today came down by the road. Goats and horses ....can't dislike neighbors like that!

Run 31.5: I have to say I absolutely LOVE where I live! It is so quiet. All the time, just quiet. Every run I go on it is rare I encounter any vehicles. Usually it is just myself and nature. Today I went outside and was greeted at the start by 4 deer just hanging out! One mile in I was treated to a couple dozen wild turkeys just hanging out near the horses. I'm so happy they made race belts that easily hold my phone because I would have really regretted not getting photos of my new friends! My run itself was freaking awesome! I felt better than I have since before my really huge Meniere's attack a couple weeks ago. Finally I feel like I am almost back to where I was, and ready to start rebuilding my distance to prepare for my upcoming half marathons! Also, I've done all of these runs in the new Adidas I got and I have nothing bad to say about them at all. They are so light and incredibly comfy. Love!

Monday, January 5, 2015

She Did NOT Just Ask Me That

I was busy with myself buried in spreadsheets, hard at work. An instant message window popped up on my screen from my darling mommy.
"Can you do me a BIG favor?"
I knew right away this wasn't going to be to give her a vehicle inventory number, or look up how much we last paid to a vendor.
"Is this about your dog?"
Yep! I was right! I meant to screenshot it, but I forgot to before I closed the window. The reply went something like this:
Yes. I left my house in a hurry this morning and it's his first time home alone in nearly two weeks. I forgot to leave the television on and am concerned he might get lonely being alone. If you'd like to go "water" him and turn the TV on, he likes to watch Bones and Castle. They are on channel 36.
She got her way. I went home to get my little Lady, and the two of us went on a road trip to see Buddy and turn on his dang TV! Spoiled dog!