My father wasn’t a runner, but he shaped why I run.
When Tata (“Daddy” in his language), was alive, his only exercise was sitting in his easy chair. He would read the newspaper until he fell asleep.
The only time I actual saw him run was when he almost missed his graveyard shift at the steel mills where he worked. My sister and I tried to wake him, but he rolled over and told us, “It’s my day off.”
Five minutes later Tata burst out of my parents’ bedroom. His pants were around his knees. He was trying to pull them up while also grabbing his things to get out the door. He dashed out with speed we never knew he had. My sister and I laughed so hard at the crazy sight of him we nearly peed our pants.
Comedy aside, however, there was once a time in Tata’s life he ran for far more serious reasons.
It was long before he became my father, during World War II. My father was 16 when he fought against the Communists who took away his homeland and innocence forever.
He spent the next few years in refugee camps in Italy and Germany before receiving political asylum in England, all by the time he was 21.
My parents married in England. My father waited another 20 years to legally immigrate to America. He was about my age now when he started over yet again in the U.S.
Tata didn’t talk a lot about what he went through, but he shared enough for me to realize my life has been a privilege. In America we run for our health and recreation because we choose to. Tata ran for his life because he had to, like a hunted animal.
Tata died in 1999. Among the milestones I wish he had been here to see: my wedding, the birth of my children, my son whose middle name is the same as his.
I know he would have enjoyed Boston, too, and its history.
As an immigrant’s daughter, though, I can’t think of a better way to honor my father than crossing the finish line at the Boston Marathon. footsteps from the Freedom Trail, America’s past, and the places that represent the reasons why he was willing to wait so long to come here.
Aging is inevitable, but growing old is a choice. Lace up your shoes, and let’s go.
Mileage today: 7; Denver to Boston miles logged 500; Miles left to go: 1,270.