Forty-five years ago I told my neighbor’s German Shepherd to go back inside. He barked and came running at me.
I jumped into mom’s arms and watched my dad make that dog run home or at least that is how I remember it.
He put himself between us and whatever was coming…always.
I saw him get swallowed by the darkness of the cave and started walking faster because I didn’t want to lose sight of him but he moved too fast or maybe I moved too slow and they grabbed him.
I heard a muffled grunt and moved harder and faster figuring if I could get there fast enough I would do whatever it took to free him, but I still wasn’t fast enough.
They couldn’t stop me from moving forward but I couldn’t get close enough to free him.
I kept fighting, kept pushing forward until I collapsed and then when exhaustion took a nap I fought some more.
Got to the shoreline of a sea inside the cave and spotted them on an island. Took a deep breath and started swimming for the other side, cursing time and age that had robbed me of being able to move with the ease of the competitive swimmer I had once been.
But there was one choice, drown or make it to the other side and drowning wasn’t an option.
I tried to swim with the current and not wonder what bumped into my legs and I heard a voice in my head ask how many seasons of love we get.
There are different kinds of love ranging from the romantic to that of a parent to a child.
Sometimes the romantic is of the sort where you can’t get enough of your partner and would spend countless hours with them without getting tired of being with them and sometimes it is not.
But that parental love is pretty consistent. It hits you early on and no matter how irritating or challenging the child or children may be there is almost nothing that can be done to break it.
A decade and some years ago during a lunch time conversation a business colleague asked me what I would do if my children did something horrible.
What would it take for me to stop loving them he asked.
I told him I wasn’t sure there was anything that could be done.
“This isn’t me challenging you to find something so horrible I can’t ever see or speak to them again. It is not about trying to figure that out because I don’t want to think about it.
What I know is they could do horrible things and break my heart. They could do something awful and I would probably turn them in, but I don’t want to figure out what lines they have to cross.
Leave it at this, if they were cat burglars stealing jewelry but didn’t hurt anyone physically it would be different than if they were serial killers.”
The guy tried to push me into giving him a specific answer and I shook my head no.
“Not interested. I don’t have any reason to visualize them as being anything other than the great little kids they are now.”
Rope Climbing & Weights
The 20 year-old kid at the desk tells me he thinks I need to lift more weights.
“You are always on that elliptical. You need to add some weights, it is going to help you.”
“The one thing that time hasn’t taken from me is my strength. I still don’t need much time throwing iron around to see changes. Walk with me.”
We wander over to the free weights and I grab a 45 pound dumbbell and curl it.
We hit the bench and I throw up 240 and then we move over to the new rope machine and I tell him I’ll be impressed if can go three minutes without a break.
“Dude, you weren’t kidding.”
“Nope, this is easy for me, as long as the tendonitis and all of the wear and tear doesn’t act up. It is part of why I don’t focus on the heavy weights so much any more.
It appeals to me, but getting bulky isn’t the best idea. Give me the rope machine, endurance and more of a wiry strength.”
The kid tells me I need to check out something called Ostarin that he says will help with tendonitis and I ask if he has taken it.
“No, but I hear guys talking about it.”
“I’d be real careful about that. Some of these guys who have got a few years on me look like they have tried a shortcut.”
“Maybe, I haven’t seen it but I don’t know many guys who are pushing 60 that look like them. Something feels odd.”
We’re interrupted by another member and his buddy arguing about Trump so I throw on some music as my passive aggressive protest of their moronic mumblings.
Hit Me Again & You’ll Piss Me Off
There are a couple of photos of Vince Lombardi that kind of remind me of dad. The resemblance really isn’t that strong but the glasses and smile set off something in my head.
It is dark on the island so I can’t see much of anything. Can’t say if I got hit in the head with a coconut or a rock.
But I don’t feel like giving out warning that it hurt so I don’t yell, I just mutter hit me again and you’ll find out what happens you really piss me off.
I am fighting my way through bushes and rocks ignoring the nicks, scrapes and bruises that I am accumulating by the dozens.
Occasionally hands try to drag me down but thus far they haven’t succeeded because I have been very effective at breaking fingers and wrists.
I wasn’t built for grace, but I know demolition.
I know how to tear down walls, doors and break windows. This I do with great impact.
And then just when I think I have gotten to where I need to be I discover another cave and another pool inside.
One more deep breath and as the darkness envelops me I silently sing and keep swimming…one more time.