Wednesday, January 04, 2006

soulful running

During the Christmas break, we took a quick trip back to my hometown to have a belated holiday with my family. (You may have already read about the gift-napping that ensued during our gift opening night.) While I was there, I decided I would try to go for a run.

This was a difficult decision to make, actually. For one reason, I grew up in a town with only about 3,000 people in it and two stop lights. Deciding to run around the neighborhood really means you are running around the entire TOWN. And, what else does running around the town mean? Well, it means that Brenda Sue might just see you and then go pick up her phone to call Betty and tell her ALL about seeing you. "Did you know MomCat came home for a visit finally? Oh, you didn't? Well, let me tell you, she has really put a spare tire over the years! You should have seen the jello shakin' as she ran by just now!"

Is also puts you in the awkward position of possibly having to stop and talk to someone during your run, which I really don't like. When I'm jogging, I don't like to have to say hello to someone I haven't seen in almost twenty years or one of my Dad's buddies from the coffee shop. I'm in the Z-O-N-E, people! I've got Eminem or Nine Inch Nails blasting in my ears, or perhaps some Guns N Roses. I don't want to stop and play catch up with you right in the middle of "Welcome to the Jungle!" I want be "anonymous running woman" who answers to no one and who lets the angry music keep her driving onward. I'd rather hear those gossipers say, "Brenda Sue, who was that masked jogger with thighs of steal? Why Betty, I just don't know. She ran by so quickly I couldn't see, but wasn't she just FABULOUS?"

Gossiping risks aside, I was motivated to run anyway. I'm trying to keep up with the fitness routine I've been working at this past six months or so. I also felt I was sort of showing an example to my Dad (as strange as that sounds). He has to lose a lot of weight for his medical procedure and completely quit smoking. If you knew my Dad, you'd know both of those things are going to be very difficult for him, but he will act like he can do them so easily to everyone watching. He's been going to a gym and walking on a treadmill every day trying to get in shape for the first time I can even remember. I'm really proud of him. So, I think I can get my fat gut out of bed and go jog about a little bit, even if it fertilizes the local grapevine.

Headphones in place, I set out on a mission. I chose to not run my old tried-and-true running paths from my high school days. Instead, I took the closest road and headed straight down it, making a beeline for another place I have needed to visit for a long time. This run would be a much longer one than normal, but it was the only thing I wanted to do.

As I approached the gates of the city cemetery, I cut off my MP3 player and looked at the archway above it. Old brickwork with an iron arch that bore the cemetary name, "Hope." I never knew if it was named after someone, but I loved that name regardless.

As I walked in, I could already feel my heart filling up with sadness. But, my grief was withheld a few moments longer by the distraction of reading the various grave markers. I was amazed at all of the names that I knew. Families who obviously had roots back to the beginning of our little town, and still lived there today. Some headstones had lives that dated all the way back to the mid-1800s. It was amazing.

It sounds depressing, I know. To be walking in a cemetery and see the last names of old friends and teachers, acquaintances, and so forth. But, it actually felt so comforting. I am not sure why, but it made me feel calm and at peace with being there--like I was home. As I walked up to her gravestone, I felt the weight of my grief pressing down on my shoulders as I went down on a bended knee.

Holding back tears, I just talked for a little bit. I told my grandmother about our year, our current stresses and worries, and a lot about my little girl. I said I felt certain she would have instantly felt a connection to Miss Kitty. I lost my grandmother just one month before my daughter was born, but I feel almost like a piece of her spirit lives within my daughter just the same. Miss Kitty has a zest for life, a twinkle in her eye, and a penchant for mischief. The same could have been said for my dear grandmother all of her life.

My time there was not lengthy. Once again, I found myself unable to feel the full magnitude of grief in my heart, for fear that I would never stop crying. So, I allowed a little out, and then left before it got too hard to leave at all.

As I ran back, I took note of the ground beneath me. Roads I had been on so many times in my days of growing up there. The streets were even more worn down that I remembered them, some having more potholes than flat surface to drive on, others were even worn to crumbles of asphalt and gravel. I passed by homes and took note of how amazing it was that a completely new house was built immediately next to a complete shack of a house. Or how someone would spend the money to put nice new siding on what amounted to a double-wide trailer of a house. I saw many houses of friends I knew when I grew up and wondered if their parents still lived there.

As I made my way back to my destination, I thought about the house to which I was returning. It had been my grandmother's house. Now, it was my parents. This was something I never thought I'd adjust to initially, but now I was glad it was so. I could not imagine running by this house that I spent so many mornings before school over warm oatmeal and the sweet smell of my grandmother's bacon cooking, and seeing anyone else living there than those who knew her soul. Yes, it was exactly as it should be.


Blogger Carol said...

Sounds like you had an amazing experience. running does that sometimes...good for you.

10:22 PM, January 04, 2006  
Blogger Karen Rani said...

That was amazing, and I'm so grateful you shared it with us. Thank you.

10:34 PM, January 04, 2006  
Anonymous irene said...

thanks for sharing with us, indeed. so beautiful.

2:37 AM, January 05, 2006  
Blogger ~Sorrow~ said...

I have had similar experiences in graveyards, it's pretty difficult to retain a hint of happiness everytime I go even remotely close to one. Good post, thanks for sharing.

3:41 AM, January 05, 2006  
Blogger Tyra said...

In my hometown we have a small cemetary where my grandparents, great grandparents and numerous other family members are buried. We also have a cemetary at the church which is extremely old, dated back to the early 1800's and it's so sad to see all the gravemarkers for children.

I still can't bring myself to ride by my mom's home, my childhood home though.

7:50 AM, January 05, 2006  
Anonymous theresa said...

What a wonderful post!

I drive by my late grandparents home every day, and it's hard to see the new homeowners changing things. When they pulled out my grandma's red tulips, I cried like a baby.

8:20 AM, January 05, 2006  
Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

You were very lucky to have your grandmother in the same town. I wish I did. I spent every summer with her. Luckily, she's still alive, but posts like this one remind me to spend as much time with her as I can. Thank you.

12:23 PM, January 05, 2006  
Blogger daysgoby said...

How beautiful!

Graveyards are so calm. A town I lived in (in Michigan) had ths enormous graveyard and walking paths and benches set up inside it - so that people could quietly stroll through, or rest a bit, and soak up some of the peace.

You remember your grandmother well. You can tell that you loved her very much.

5:29 PM, January 05, 2006  

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