Since 1982 I've written a newsletter, Running Commentary. A new issue appears here each week, and material is archived.

Sun, 28 Jun 1998 09:02:47 -0400

Reflections at 55

(from RC 273)

Dear Dad:

This month's running and writing, even more so than in other months, was for you. Each mile and each page repa id you for interests you passed on to me so long ago.

You were a runner, and high school and college sprinter and jumper, 20 years before I was born. You were a writer and editor for a magazine when I arrived on June 1943.

This month, 55 years later, I become older than you ever got to be. Brother Mike is already two years past that age.

We still feel the loss of you. But we continue the good work that you started.

Mike still works with the girls' state high school athletic association in Iowa, collecting and tidying up that event results that you once treated with such reverence. He moonlights by keeping the numbers in order at the Drake Relays, as you did before him, and the university's other sports events, which you attended so faithfully.

I'm a specialist in running, your first sports love. You're behind every line I write and every mile I run because you first took me to a track and first handed me sports writing to read.

Your daughters follow you too. Anne works as a newspaper editor in Omaha, and has married our old family friend and Drake track legend Elliott Evans.

Along among your four children, Emily didn't take the journalistic path. She's a social worker who lives out your concern for the less-blessed. Her older daughter Abby directed her athletic talent into theatrical dancing, and Annie has taken a liking to distance running.

My daughter Sarah is a third-generation journalist. Son Eric, was a sprinter like you in high school, and his sister Leslie has sprinted in the Special Olympics.

Your wife, our mother, Virginia carries on well at 81. Arthritis has slowed her step, but her mind hasn't lost a beat.

She still writes a weekly family newsletter. She still lives in your old hometown of Coin, Iowa, for warmer two-thirds of the year and your adopted home of Des Moines (with Mike in your last house) the cold third.

I think about all this at 55. That would have been your next birthday if an unsuspected flaw in your brain hadn't stopped you a few months earlier.

Now I'm into territory you never got to visit. You can be sure that I'll keep visiting it in the familiar ways. I'd never want to leave the running and writing paths that you set for me.

I make you another promise. I'll look after my health to have the best chance of seeing as many as possible of the years that you missed.

Specifically I'll take care of my blood pressure, which has inherited from both sides of the family the tendency to be high. Yours went unchecked, and our best guess is that it climbed high before your final attack.

Having now caught and passed you in age, I see how young this was for you. It was far too early to say good-bye.

Then again, anytime would have been too soon. I would be no more ready for it now, in what would be your 82nd year, than I was in your 55th. I still miss you, and you're always with me.

Love, Joe

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