5 Years: Remembering and Moving Forward

Saturday, July 28th marked the 5 year anniversary of my Dad’s passing.

It seemed oddly fitting that I spent most of last week out in the Black Hills.  It happened to be that the interns my family sponsors in Dad’s memory were doing their final presentations on Thursday.  We made our annual family trip out West to honor Dad by attending the presentations.  I always feel a bit awkward about all the attention we receive when we go, but I suppose that’s just a bit of my Dad showing himself in me.  He wasn’t ever one for the spotlight really, and even after his diagnosis he just wanted our lives to continue on as normal as possible.

I was partially left to my own devices while I was there, which I secretly sort of love.  Anymore, feeling like you’ve escaped the hustle and bustle of everyday life seems to be a rarity for people, but I think it’s important to be okay being alone.  If you’re going to be stuck in a place without a car, I would strongly recommend Lead, SD.  I had what amounted to about 24 hours essentially on my own without a car.  I was staying with Lil B, but unfortunately she had to work both Thursday and Friday.  I spent the time reading, hiking with her Momma, and generally just enjoying the outdoors.  I  had a wedding and bridesmaid duties in Rapid City on Saturday, in case you were confused as to why my Momma and Sister left me in the Hills. 🙂

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Cute little twins and their momma just off the trail

Friday morning, while waiting for The Engineer to arrive in town and the start of the wedding activities, I went for a 6 mile jog/hike on a new trail that runs between Lead and Deadwood.  The trail is gorgeous and is perched high above both cities with stunning views of the mountains and hills surrounding the towns.  Out here on the prairie, we would say the towns are nestled in valleys.  Out in the West…they don’t have valleys…they have gulches.  They are sharper, more severe, and create a much more nerve racking albeit amazeballs view when you stand on the edge.  It really can’t even be described in a way that does it any manner of justice, and my photography skills will never capture the true feeling of standing on the rugged edge of nature.

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I’m not much of a runner honestly, but while pounding my way down the pine lined trail, I think I finally began to understand why my Dad liked to run so much.  Normally, I consider the thin mountain air to be a major struggle factor when I try and exercise out in the Hills.  In fact, Thursday afternoon I tried to jog up a large hill and across Lead to the grocery store…..I didn’t even make it halfway up the hill before I was doubled over and trying to pull all of the oxygen out of air that seemed too thin for my lungs to even hold.

For probably the first time ever, I didn’t feel like I was struggling to get enough oxygen to fuel my legs down the trail.  It was cool, breezy, and clear….and I just ran.  The air out in the Hills has a specific smell about it.  It’s pine, but such a subtle, delicate pine that you’d have a hard time recreating it.  Take every Christmas Tree candle you’ve ever smelled and toss it out the window.  It isn’t like that at all….not that I don’t enjoy a good pine scented candle during the holidays!  There’s a slight sweetness to the air, but I find that I only notice it when I focus on it.  It’s something to be discovered and savored, and is probably lost on people who don’t take time to pause and enjoy the surroundings.

Before I’d even realized I had ran almost 2 miles straight…..with brief pauses to carefully traverse down a particularly steep or gravely section of trail.  I’m no running expert, and I’m certainly not well versed in trail running.  Better safe than sorry….sorry being hands and knees scraped up and full of dirt, gravel, and pine needles.

I RARELY…..EVER…..MOSTLY NEVER RUN MORE THAN A MILE AT A TIME.

It was glorious.  Honestly, for how ever brief a time I think I really understood what my Dad always saw in running.  It cleared my mind and was just such a nice time to reflect.  It was easy…I just ran.  I’ve only ever felt that way one other time running, that I can remember.  The first Father’s Day after Dad passed I headed to my townhome’s gym and ran a 5K….but it didn’t feel natural, I’m sure it was fueled purely on sadness, anger, and stress.  This run felt different, it felt natural….like I was put out there specifically to go on this run, and have this time, and feel a connection to my Dad that I haven’t felt in a while.  That’s the thing about being raised by parents who taught me to move forward, even in times of difficulty, and to never quit.  I sometimes  forget that moving forward doesn’t mean I can’t pause and take time to reflect.

I’m not sure when I’ll have another run that feels comfortable and easy.  I might not ever, and I came to terms with the fact that running just isn’t my jam a long time ago.  But, I might try again next time I’m out in the Hills on a high up mountain trail.  Worst thing that happens is it’s horrible and I end up walking….which out there isn’t all that bad either.

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I ended up doing more walking than jogging most of the way back to Lead once I got to the end of the trail in Deadwood.  Turns out that the whole trail, even the “flat” parts had an ever so slight downhill trajectory….which suddenly explained why going to Deadwood felt so glorious, and why going back to Lil B’s house felt less than stellar most of the time.  Also, about a mile from the end of my run/walk I got distracted and forgot to check where my feet were landing.  I took a rather large rock right to the side and/or arch of my left foot and ended up with a rather swollen and bruised foot.  Still not the worst thing….I ended up walking  back to Lil B’s house and came upon a cute little buck in velvet hanging out on the edge of town.

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So close I almost could have touched him!

 

Memorial Day Catch Up

I feel like I’ve been running around like a crazy person lately, and the blog has sorta suffered.  The Engineer and I were gone every weekend in May, so the weeks have mostly been spent trying to catch up on things you normally get done over the weekend.

Scout and I have been home alone since last night.  I was doing Memorial Day/ Family Reunion things with my Momma’s side of the family, and The Engineer went to Nebraska to spend time with his family.  Scout a Roo and I got home late last night and proceeded to do our favorite single girl activity…..fall asleep on the couch together watching Netflix! It’s been a busy morning of laundry, cleaning, working out, and sunning like geckos waiting for The Engineer to get home.  It feels good to finally feel caught up on the day to day activities of just keeping a house in order.

I’ve probably forgotten to share a few adventures alone the way.  Last week, The Engineer and I managed to start our grill on fire….so that was something.  Technically, the grease trays underneath the grill started on fire, but it soon lead to the thermometer maxing out on the grill and thick black smoke started rolling through the neighborhood.  I’m sure our neighbors thought we were crazy as we sat and watched it for a couple minutes.  I was unaware that the trays were as full as they are, so I thought it might just burn itself out quickly…..that wasn’t the case!  The Engineer unhooked the propane tank while I tossed some water down into the trays.  I know that water+grease fire is supposed to be an avoided activity, but something had to be done before the house and/or stupid shrub that I hate started on fire!  The shrub on fire would have been fine….I want it gone anyway, but it touches the house so removal by grease fire is a less than ideal means to an end.  All is well that ends well I suppose and the house and the grill have lived to see another day.  Actually, we don’t even know if the grill still works….that’s tonight’s dinner plan though.  I guess if it doesn’t work hopefully someone has some good Memorial Day sales happening!

I didn’t end up filling my turkey tag this Spring.  Our last weekend got rained out.  Well actually, we were in the field as the thunderstorm started rolling in.  I thought it was maybe best that we didn’t sit out in lawn chairs in a blind during a storm.  Besides, turkeys aren’t likely to leave their tree roosts when it’s storming, so we probably would have sat there in the storm for no reason anyway.  Also they had moved their roosts further back into the thick trees than the morning we were set up right under them, so all in all in just wasn’t a great morning.  In talking to people who are much better and more successful at turkey hunting, it just wasn’t a great season I don’t think.  The weather was either storming, blizzarding, or blazing hot…..all make for less than stellar hunting.  I feel like we’ve learned some things, and anytime you spend in the field is bound to make you a better hunting eventually.  When fall rolls around I’ll try again!  In the meantime, we’ve cleaned out a spot in the garage for me to set up my target bag, so I’ll be getting plenty of practice time in!

Hopefully everyone is having a great day off, but please remember why we have the holiday weekend in the first place.  It’s easy to get caught up with friends, family, great weather, and drinks, but the bravery and sacrifices of many are the real reason to celebrate.

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Quick Memorial Day Thoughts

It’s Memorial Day…..of course you all know that, the day is mostly over by now.  I’m not in much of a writing mood, but I felt like I should say something.

I’m not a huge fan of cemeteries.  The one where my family is buried in my hometown brings to mind nothing but awful memories.  It’s dark, dreary, and in my mind’s eye it’s always raining there.  The reason’s for my distorted views are long and involved, and this isn’t the time.  Yesterday, I vowed that I would go back to that cemetery to see if age and time have given me a different perspective than youthful me possessed.  The only cemetery I don’t mind visiting is St. Anthony’s in my Momma’s hometown.  It’s good that I don’t mind…it’s where my grandparents and my Dad are buried.  Yesterday, as is the custom, Momma and I drove up for the day to put flowers out with my Aunt and Uncle.  On our way back home we also stopped at my Great Grandma’s and Great Aunt and Uncle.  Even though it was a rainy, sorta of bleh day, I didn’t feel sad.  I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing, but it’s just reality for me.  St. Anthony’s cemetery just feels like a nice field in the country.  It has nice views of the countryside and has never felt dismal to me.

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Floral arrangements by my Momma. She does wonders with a hot glue gun!

Today, in honor of my Dad, I tried to go on a run.  It’s strange, but a miserably unsuccessful run made me more depressed than visiting his grave yesterday.  One would think I’d be able to pull out a mile, Dad ran races with lung cancer.  Alas, today was not my day.

Tomorrow, I’ll live to fight another day, and tonight we remember those who are not.