Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Things They Carried

My youngest child turned 18 today. My oldest child turned 21 last week. It's a bittersweet time for me. Why? Consider the following "Boombox" essay which I submitted last Father's Day to the local newspaper about my experience as a dad in our society. The piece wasn't accepted. Maybe it wasn't upbeat enough, or maybe it just wasn't any good. Maybe it's unbelievable. But it does explain why I run and what I carry with me every time I run.

What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.
By a father, age 54, living in Virginia.

My three sons don’t speak to me. They live with their mother nearby yet haven’t seen me for years. Visitation orders are useless in face of the pressure put on children by a bitter divorce.

One in two boomers goes through divorce. Maybe it’s too easy to get. Divorce as practiced in my state tears families apart and destroys the childhoods of the children. My children reside in my house, their childhood home, amongst boxes of mementos stacked in the basement.

To cope, I run. On Father’s Day, I ran virtual "downtown mile races."

At 9 am a nearby town conducted its Annual Father's Day Mile Race. At 9:00 I started at my house and ran a mile through my neighborhood. Legs burning, chest heaving, I was back in 6:36. Calling that the virtual "Masters Mile," at 9:30 I ran a virtual "Open Mile" in 6:38. At 9:50 I ran a virtual "Cooldown Mile" in 6:48.

My children didn’t acknowledge me on Father’s Day. So I gave myself a new pair of running shoes and pretended it was from them. I took myself out to lunch "on them." Modern divorce caused my very "virtual" Father's Day.

1 comment:

jeanne said...

never give up on your kids. they may yet come around. I guarantee you they do not feel good about the situation either. Nice essay! stupid wapo.