Fair warning: this post will surely be a buzzkill.
So, I haven’t posted in a while. In fact, one of my more recent posts was nearly three months ago.
The reason that I know that it was three months ago is because I was out mountain biking with my brother, while he was visiting us here in Pennsyltucky.
He was here because our dad died on May 30th.
There is a lot that I’d like to say, but I don’t know how to say it. How does one describe the feelings of love, anger, frustration, fear, and grief that you feel when losing a parent?
Here is how I describe it: It. Sucks.
Sure, we all went through the grieving process in our own ways. And while I have always been one to post my thoughts on the internet as immediately as possible, this was different. I didn’t have the words then, and while I’m giving it my best shot here, I’m not entirely sure that I have the words now either.
My dad was a quiet, stoic man. He didn’t usually have a lot to say, but when he did you HAD to listen. He commanded attention, but in an unassuming way. The guy could fix anything. ANYTHING. He tinkered with stuff all of the time, and when he wasn’t tinkering he was woodworking. Shoot, my dad literally built the kitchen in his house. Out of oak. Heavy stuff.
In 2010 when we both got jobs at Penn State, The Wife and I decided to move back to our hometown. In doing so, we were provided the opportunity to spend more time with our parents. And, while there was definitely something to that, I feel like I could have spent a lot more time. A lot.
Alas, time is something that I no longer have with my dad. I miss him like crazy, particularly when I see or hear things that remind me of him.
The strange thing is that I wouldn’t describe my relationship with my dad as “close”. I would not say that he and I shared a bond the likes of which I have seen with other father/son duos. And, this is my biggest regret.
I had years — YEARS — to work on this. To work on THINGS with my dad. I could have helped him work on that kitchen. I could have helped him fix the car. I could have helped him build the roof over the driveway. But I didn’t. I didn’t do enough.
In the months leading up to his passing, my life had gotten increasingly busy. Between work and my kids, I didn’t have a lot of time for, well, me. So much so that my dad had said to me on several occasions, “Hey, you and I should go out and get a beer together. You need some time to just kick back and blow off some steam.”
We never did get that beer dad. And for that, I am truly sorry.
Lately, I have had the good fortune to get about 10 miles in each morning on my ride. This does wonders for my strength and stamina. Needless to say, I love the feeling of riding; the independence and freedom is fantastic.
I got up at my usual unGodly hour this morning for my morning bike ride. Got dressed, strapped my iPhone to my arm, set the GPS app and headed out. A little over one mile into my ride, I felt something ‘hit’ my front tire. The wheel then began making a ‘click’ noise with every revolution.
I assumed that I had hit something sticky, like a discarded piece of gum, and it had stuck to the tire and was rubbing the fork with each turn.
1.78 miles into what was becoming a fantastic ride, I got “out of the saddle” to hoof-it up a hill. That is when I noticed with each pump of the pedals, my front tire was rapidly losing air.
So there I was, nearly two miles away from my house, walking uphill, with my bike on my left shoulder and carrying the front wheel in my right hand. In the dark.
As you might imagine, there was not a lot of traffic passing by me at 5:30 in the morning. The glass-half-full dude in me kept thinking, “You know, this is good. This way I’m still getting my exercise, even if it’s not exactly how I had planned it.”
Right. Keep thinking that, Positive Boy.
As I was finally nearing my house — probably about a quarter of a mile away — a large pickup truck approached me from behind. The driver slowed as he was next to me, rolled down his window and said, “Hey, do you need a ride somewhere?”
I smiled, and politely declined, “Aw, thanks — but I’m just around the corner.” The driver waived and drove off, I imagine on his way to work or to Sheetz to get his daily cup o’ joe.
In all of my travels, this is the very first time that someone driving a vehicle has gone out of their way to stop and ask if I needed help. As I continued the rest of my hike-with-a-bike, my heart was happy knowing that someone saw my misfortune and wanted to help.