Tuesday, May 28, 2013

In Boston - Grandkids and Marathon Finish Lines

"These are the days, these are the days you'll remember, never before and never since I promise, will the whole world be as warm as this" - Natalie Merchant, These are the Days

Still learning this grandpa thing

So, here I am again in Boston doing my bimonthly trip to see my family. Adam and Emma are growing WAY too fast. Consequently, their energy levels are through the roof. When they are awake, it is constant energy, enough of which could solve all the energy needs of the world if we could harness it. Ah yes, to harness it...that would be nice...at least sometimes. From 6:45am until double nap time around 1:30, it's a virtual whirlwind of running, games, reading, diaper changing , and lifting. Emma is not that heavy, but at 3.5 years old, Adam is getting up there. Oh, what am I whining about? There are enough of you mothers that read this blog that are saying "Oh, quit your bellyaching and zip your mansuit on".

It's not just the physical angle of this grandpa thing either. The emotional rollercoaster of a toddler is all it's cranked up to be. Holy Crow! At one point during this weekend I said to my wife "I feel like I'm constantly on the edge of doing something wrong", something that will tip the emotional seesaw the other way and we have a short lived volcanic outburst that shakes the leaves off the trees. Oh, it's not just me, the spark can be anyone, including his parents. But the the instigator, the true spark to much of this, is his sweet 18 month old sister. Emma is the constant nudge that fans the flame. She has to be where her brother is, doing what her brother is doing, and wants whatever he has, only because he's there, doing this, or having that! Despite outbursts that register on the Richter Scale, Adam shows incredible restraint not to just show the girl who is in charge.

But, despite all of that mularchy above, learning to be a grandpa is quite the joy. Oh yeah, four days wears me out, but for every valley there are two hills with "I love you's" or hugs or "Will you read me a story?". Take your grandkids for ice cream and see what doors that opens. Peanut Butter Oreo Ice Cream makes Grandpa a hero. I don't understand how parents do this everyday with multiple children, because kids are kids. Maybe they do it just out of pure unconditional love, and kids being kids is part of the deal you knew going in. Or maybe you just learn along the way, the same for the kids, the same for the grandparents. We've all been doing it forever... Nothing new here...just keep movin' on.

Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston

As I usually do when visiting Beantown, I go running along the Boston Marathon course. This year, the course was basically the same, but the pulse of the run was much different. I was last here a week before the marathon in April and wondered if the feeling would be changed running the last few miles from Brookline to the finish line. Yes it was. From the moment I stepped onto the course, my main thought was that of the runners at this point in the run...legs carrying on but not crazy about it...lungs inhaling as much oxygen as they can muster to keep the fire burning...and the mind, ah yes, the mind trying every trick in the book to get you to ease off. These runners at this point cannot in their most nightmarish thoughts ever dreamed up what lies 3 miles down the road. As I climb "Mt Kenmore", this is where many runners start hearing that something has happened up ahead. I cross under the famous Citgo sign (one mile to go) and then approach the Massachusetts Avenue tunnel. This just about my favorite part of the race, but today I recall a picture I have on my screensaver at my office of thousands of hopeful finishers at a dead stop here...their race over...their questions unanswered. A right on Hereford, a left on Boylston, and I feel my emotions welling up. Just a month ago, it was here that hell literally was on earth. I pass the spot where the second bomb had gone off. There are crocheted blue and yellow hearts on the lightpoles. I see a couple of shirts and beads wrapped around a parking meter and I know this is the exact spot! I keep running towards the finish line around tourists and other runners almost feeling guilty about wanting to see this. When I come to the finish line, I stop. Here is Marathon Sports where the first bomb exploded. Along the front window sill are about 20 votive candles, unlit due to the wind, but their meaning so powerful. I say a silent short prayer and back off out of the way of the sidewalk pedestrians. I lean against a mailbox. After a few seconds, I realize this is the same mailbox that we all have seen countless times on the newscasts. This is the spot where the bag with the first bomb was put down. This is where loved ones cheered for an instant before their lives were ended or changed forever. I felt the cold chill. I shouldn't be here. But I am a runner. I have run Boston 5 times. I have family in Boston. Maybe I should be here. I'll say this - it made it seem very much more real than it has to me thus far. I retraced my steps back home...straight on Boylston, right on Hereford, left on Commonwealth, one step at a time. Be careful out there. 

I'll see you all on the roads - AL

"One child lost is too many...one child saved can change the world"

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