One of my favorite Saturday morning movies is Speed. It’s Sandra Bullock’s debut film and it’s a doozie. I mean, Dennis Hopper, COME ON! So these guys are all on a bus that has to stay above 50 mph or else they get blown up. Klaboowie. Game over.
Kinda like me now. 50. Stay above 50. Cuz, see…
…when I was 17, a major life event occurred. It was two weeks before my senior year in high school and my mom took off in the morning to exercise my brother’s English Sheep Dog, Vickie (Victoria.) She would do this by jumping on the bike and letting Vickie pull her on a long leash across the street in a huge parking lot of a Catholic church. I thought it was stupid, like, it’s Jerry’s dog shouldn’t he be doing this but they (moms and pop) thought this was a good idea. Whatevs.
However; on this particular day; Vickie decided to jump in front of the bike and Mom went flying. Fucking dog. Luckily, she was just across the street and Dad noticed right away that Mom was on the ground and the stupid dog was just standing there. He ran over and there ya go, Mom broke her leg. Off to another trip to North Memorial and the break was bad enough that surgery was scheduled; pins and screws inserted, and hopefully Mom home shortly. Then she got Staph infection, and in many ways, in was game over. By the way, to this day, when someone mentions staph, I take that shit seriously.
Mom’s overnight stay was extended to a couple of weeks. She missed the first day of school. It was bad. See, the first day of school was special to my mom. First off, we always had breakfast for school but the first of day school included regular breakfast plus Dunkin Donuts. (Just the donuts, they didn’t have shitty coffee yet back then.) So she had my Auntie Karen bring over donuts but she called from the hospital crying telling us to have a good day. Yowzer. Not fun.
Something happened to my mom then. Something not entirely awesome. She got a lot of attention for being broken. Broke leg. Broke infection. Sickly. People started to feed a need in her that she only got when she was broken. And for much of the last 30+ years, she’s stayed broken. There have been at least 20 surgeries; many cancer scares, and many illnesses that although I would say much of this has not been her fault: it’s also not been avoided through healthy diet and exercise. By the way, she turns 80 next Monday so good on her for surviving for this long.
But I watched. And I knew. I didn’t want to survive past 47. I wanted to fucking thrive. No sickness. No weakness. No getting attention for anything other than being strong and tenacious. While I am so sorry for her that she has endured so much; I will walk every day trying to avoid her fate. Sorry not sorry. I will not be fed, emotionally or physically, through weakness or illness. I will be fed internally through strength. It’s all I have. It’s what drives me.
However; today I realized something very awesome. That while I am driven to avoid behavior I saw; I also strive for lives I see. Look, I am in constant companionship with amazing women far into their 50’s and beyond. This is the gift I receive not only at every competition but just here on social media. Women who have chosen not to stand back and let aging just happen to them but to redefine what again means and usually, it just means a different kind of PR. PR’ing your lifts at 80 is the shit. Hitting a new WOB PR at 60 is beyond the shit. YOU! You girls? You da man.
Sue Hallen; Ruth Welding; Dawn Higgins; Karyn Dallimore; Terri James; Denise Houseman; Vivian Dawson; Jodi Stumbo; Jane Black (I adore her); Michaela Pennekamp; Teresa Nystrom: these are the women I strive to be. Those who have said goodbye to their 30’s and 40’s and said, “Fuck that, I’ve got more in the tank!” I guess I realized today that THOSE are the women that are driving me.
And I’m so thankful. So very thankful. So thankful to have all of these women to look up to. To admire. To want to beat. Heh. But I know I have to work harder. Longer. More efficiently to do so and that’s what they do for me. They make me better.
So here’s to the 50’s and beyond. May I be blessed with a touch of the talent and longevity that so many have. But when my ride ends I can look fate in the eye and say, “Fuckin’eh, we’ve sure had a blast!”
I’m very sane about how crazy I am.