Thursday, November 27, 2014

Giving Thanks

There is no one I think of more on Thanksgiving than my mother. During my childhood, we usually spent Thanksgivings, just the two of us, watching the parade on TV, cooking a modest Thanksgiving chicken (no need for a full turkey for two), making whipped cream for our pumpkin pie from scratch, and sometimes heading to the movies afterward. On a day when many people are surrounded by dozens of friends and family, we spent a quiet day, just the two of us.

My mom, Charlotte, around the time of the chicken-chasing episode. 
Unfortunately, I also think of her on Thanksgiving because of that terrible Thanksgiving five years ago that we spent in the hospital, hoping her turn for the worse didn't mean what the doctors thought it did, after her recovery and release from the same hospital the day before after an eight week stay. I said goodbye to her in that room as the sun rose the day after Thanksgiving, November 28, 2009.

There are many enduring gifts my mother left me. One of my favorites is the image of her, chasing me around our small apartment pretending the dead chicken we were preparing was alive and flying (gross, but it still makes me smile). More life-changing than that chicken, perhaps, is the way she slyly convinced me to run a marathon, something I thought I'd never do.

A runner before having (non-running related) knee problems, she always encouraged my new-found love of the sport in my early twenties. After she spectated at the California International Marathon in December 2008, she asked if I'd thought of running a marathon. "Gosh, mom, why would I ever want to do that?" When I moved from 5ks and 10ks to the half marathon in March of 2009, she asked again. Again, I said no, and she left it alone. One weekend in October 2009, I ran a half marathon before visiting her in the hospital. Of course, she asked me if I was going to run a full, and of course I said no.

When 2010 came along, I was underwater and couldn't make my way up. In the summer, I realized I needed to find something to help me feel like my life mattered again. When I saw an email advertising a marathon training group, I heard her ask me again if I was going to run a marathon some day. And the rest is history.

Today, I'll give thanks to my mother for the gift of the marathon. Sometimes it makes it very difficult that I think of her when I run, but I'm always glad when I do.

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