Category Archives: Uncategorized

Movin’ right along

One of our things, Joe and I, is running together. Our first time out he was about three months old, our last time out was today. That’s roughly nine years, and at over 100 miles a year, nearly 1,000 miles. We love it.

I’ve been drafting this post in my head since last year, because I thought it was going to be a sad goodbye to running together. Joe was outgrowing the stroller, and does a nine year old who can walk really need to be pushed?

That would have stunk, because we’ve had some great times on the road. We’ve run in the heat, like today, both of us red and exhausted by the end. We’ve run in the winter, stopping often to put his mittens back on. My favorite so far, and our longest, was a cold 15 miles we did together on the Capital Trail in late 2011.

Our first organized run was the Airborne & Special Operations Museum’s second annual 5k on June 6, 2009 – four days short of Joe’s first birthday. We’ve done a dozen or more 5ks since, and even won a few that had a stroller division.

We used the same running stroller for the first nine years. We got it off Craigslist, and it may be the best $40 I ever spent, sincerely.

But even Joe has to grow, and he’s too big for the old ride.

Last year I started looking at larger running strollers. Since we’re into special needs territory, they become pretty expensive. So I was torn. On one hand, we love running, and it’s hard to put a price on the time we spend together. On the other hand, I’m Mike Tremblay’s son so anything expensive is stupid. Joe is nine, and maybe he should get off his ass and maybe push me for awhile.

Then I came home from work on Friday, and there was my lovely wife Lia, standing next to a smiling Joe sitting in a full-up asphalt assault vehicle big-kid running stroller, freshly serviced by Carytown Bicycles. Just one of my Father’s Day presents.

In the months I was fretting about spending money on time with my son, Lia was working on a fix. A friend at Children’s Assistive Technology Service of Virginia, a non-profit that gets kids with mobility issues adaptive equipment, said they had a dusty, broken chair in storage we could have. CATS doesn’t get requests for running strollers, so it just sat there for probably a decade or more. Turns out it’s brand new, and only needed to be cleaned up after years in storage.

Our time on the road together was just extended by a decade or more. Thank you Lia.

So many great things happen to us because of Joe. Getting a kick-ass running stroller is just another example. It makes me thankful, but it also makes me think of all the people with real needs that aren’t being met. Joe and I would be fine without our new wheels, and we could have sucked it up and bought one if we needed it. But there are people who benefit from CATS and other non-profits in huge, life changing ways.

There’s no moral to this story, and like usual I’m shocked if you read this far. I mean, really, don’t you have Netflix? If you do take anything away from this post, let it be this – look for small non-profits when you have a few extra dollars laying around. CATS and dozens of other organizations silently do great things. They don’t have money to spend on horn-tooting. They just help.

Pics or it didn’t happen …

Stroller II
The new ride. Joe’s old wheels are in the back. We’ll clean them up and pass them along.

Joe after the run 2
JUNE 2009: 361-day old Joe at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum for his first organized 5k.

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JUNE 2011: Celebrating victory after the Jack & Abby 5k. We won the stroller division in the first three runnings of this event, 2010-2012.

Joe's 5k Run
JUNE 2013: At the Colonial Heights Sunshine 5k. Team Joe was an official sponsor – a bunch of our friends came out and we raised nearly $2,000 to help build a playground in town.

Stroller II
JUNE 2017: Today at Petersburg National Battlefield Park. Our first run with the new chair, at our usual spot.

One last thing (seriously, why are you still here?) – I was listening to Chuck Mangione’s Feels So Good while writing this. He’s from Rochester. The song holds up. I don’t “do” jazz, but this is a solid song.

Nein!

How can it be that our little boy is nine?

The past couple of years I’ve gotten a little deep thinking about Joe and what he means to me and the world. This year, however, he and I are in a groove, and when things are this good, you shouldn’t waste too much energy thinking about it. Just eat it up!

Not that I don’t have things to say, I just don’t want to bother getting all the words together. Joe is greatness, he makes me a better person, meaning of life, blah blah blah. Pretty standard stuff.

Not having time or energy to write about all the greatness you’re surrounded by, because of all the greatness, is where I always want to be. Thanks Joe.

Joe turns 9

Bigger feet, slightly

This week was the annual Little Feet Meet in Colonial Heights, a Special Olympics sponsored field day for younger kids. It was Joe’s fourth meet, and it was terrific! This year it was moved to the high school football field, and it seemed like everything was even more perfect than usual. The weather was perfect, the kids were perfect, everything was as good as it gets.

Almost every post here ends with a thank you, and as sincere as they are I wish it were more. The Little Feet Meet, for example – I don’t even know most of the people that put it together. It just happened, seamlessly, for us. I know a few names, but rather than leave anyone out … thanks to every person who was there. Organizers, volunteers, parents, athletes – you’re all tops in our book. Thank you.

A whole bunch of photos from Little Feet Meet 2017 here …
… and Little Feet 2016, Little Feet 2015 and Little Feet 2014!

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Joe with Piper, his coach for the day. Thanks Piper!

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Joe with Mr. McCoig, his mentor and teacher – and the guy who introduced us to Pete the Cat. Thanks Mr. McCoig!

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Joe with Ms. Finch, his assistant and muse. Thanks Ms. Finch!

Keeps on giving

I’ll always remember August 4, 2012.

For about 30 years I’ve had a song in my head, and for most of that time couldn’t tell you what it was. I knew the tune, could hear the instruments. I knew everything but the words. It was there almost every day, and I could call it up anytime I wished. But I’d never tired of it, and enjoyed having it with me. It had become my friend.

But I didn’t know what it was. I asked people for years, tried to hum it to them in hopes something would click. But even when Google and YouTube came along I couldn’t find it. Try finding a song when you’d last heard it in the mid-80s and don’t know the words. It’s almost impossible.

This is how I’d describe it … It’s upbeat, sort of raucous. It might be a Scottish band, something from the 1970s. No, definitely not the Bay City Rollers. It sounds like bagpipes but I think it’s guitars. It’s a call-and-response type of chorus. It’s kind of like a sea shanty, but not.

And it’s not an earworm. I would never call it that because this song is my friend.

Growing up my dad sang a song, to my beautiful mom’s dismay, that went “I got a woman as big as a house, as big as a two-story house with a porch and a fence.” My sister and I just figured it was a novelty song from the olden times, back when the vinyl spun at 78 rpm.

Then one day I discovered Louis Prima, and the original The Bigger the Figure from 1958. My dad singing that in 1979 is like me singing If I Had a Million Dollars to Joe. Time is weird. And as distinct as Louis Prima’s voice is, that song means my dad to me.

And that brings me back to the warm summer evening of August 4, 2012.

My favorite sister-in-law, nephew and niece were visiting us. We were all together, leaving an outdoor concert in Hopewell. I was describing my friend the song, for the umpteenth time, and my sis Amy heard it in her head, too. And she knew a few words! Something about a chameleon.

We’re in a minivan, but it’s 2012 and we have the sum total of human knowledge in our pocket. “Chameleon sun song” is all it took, and my song had a name … Run Runaway by Slade.

To this day I can call it up at any moment. I whistle it every day as I’m walking to the car on the way out of work. I whistle and sing it to Joe. He’s starting to sing along. It’s our song now. We pretty much share everything, but I like that this in particular is ours. I imagine him long after I’m dead humming it to himself like an old friend. You can’t take that away.

This is a long way to say thanks Amy, that was a great gift you gave us. And happy birthday!

Amy, August 4, 2012
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Me and Joe, April 29, 2017

Slade, 1983

And a little Louis Prima for the uncultured few who got this far. Sorry mom.

Known only to God

Today we visited the Southside Virginia Training Center, which is thankfully closed. A century ago we would have felt some pressure to send Joe off for “training,” and he may have lived on a campus like this his whole life. Our doctors may have said it’s best for everyone. There wouldn’t be the services and reasonable accommodations we have today. There wouldn’t be a Mrs. Ridpath or any of the dozens of other people we rely on.

Many of the center’s buildings are boarded up and there isn’t much to see, so we spent our time at the cemetery, where half or more of the graves are just crumbling, unnamed markers.

I know society was much different decades ago, and it’s not fair to judge family decisions made then. But I can’t imagine life without Joe, and am thankful he won’t end up in an unmarked grave.

Training Center Cemetery
“In remembrance of those persons who were served and buried in the campus cemetery during the early years and are known only to god. May they rest in peace.”

Training Center Cemetery

Training Center Cemetery

Training Center Cemetery