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Gasping For Air

Posted Feb 10 2010 10:56am


Having continued my renewed commitment to exercising regularly and telling my family about it, I received a phone call from my father at the ungodly hour of 7 am. I ignored the call and turned over to return to a peaceful slumber...not for very long though. Papa dear called again less than an hour later. He left a message..."let's go for a walk together, father and daughter, it'll be fun".

My father, being very concerned about my physical health, wanted to help. In fact he could be an expert on health as he has just turned 63, but has the physical appearance and stamina of someone 23. As a matter of fact he thinks he's the expert on everything.

I called him back, and he answered chirpily, "Say" (he always begins conversations with "say"... I don't know why)" Did you get my message? Good. Let's go for a walk? What ya think? Meet you there at 8:30", before I could say anything. So rather than argue I rolled out of bed, dressed and met him at Briones Regional Park for some "fun".

"Fun" is not a word to use for going on walks with my father or for that matter any physical activities. I always felt as if I was in boot camp trying to exercise with him. I remember as a child going on walks with him that felt more like death marches...straight up the side of steep hills, unmarked trails, muddy slopes and gravely inclines walking on the balls of our feet, him barking at us to keep up the entire time. These are not my happiest memories.

One time we (my family and I) took what we thought was an innocent Saturday afternoon walk with some family friends of ours with my dad leading the way. After a while it was a apparent that dad was lost. We seemed to walk for days as we passed streams and hills and a group of cows who kept staring at us as we walked in circles. Then it got overcast and started to rain on us. We were all soaked by the time we reached the car. That ended Daddy's group walks... at least until now. He's getting ready to start a walking club with interested church members very soon, 5 days a week. Hopefully this time he won't lead anyone astray.

I met him at the park and he was already way atop a hill with his dogs waving and grinning. He laughed at my white aerobics shoes. He came down to meet me and said that we were going to "warm up" before we started walking. A "warm up" to daddy means walking straight up a hill and "getting your bearings" then you'll be able to walk on flatter surfaces because you've warmed up.

Mind you he's telling me all this without breaking a sweat or even breathing hard as you gasp for air and hold your sides, ready to collapse face first into the mud. He looked back and said, "take your time, go easy, you'll get used to it." "Don't let me stop you", I wheezed. "Don't worry I have nowhere I need to be today", he said. "Great", I thought. "He's going to kill me out here in these woods." The only sympathy I got was from JoJo one of his Australian Shepherds who seemed to know that my death was imminent and stayed by my legs as I drug myself up the hill.

Once I reached the first plateau which was smaller than the second plateau (according to him) I was given permission to go back down the (steep) hill and walk around the other side of the trail to the flatter walking part (why he didn't start with this I'll really never understand) which was much easier but still a really good work out. I was told that I needed to work towards walking up to the second plateau and eventually go all the way around the three mile loop.

Overall, I'm glad I went with Dad and got my exercise done. It is rare that he invites anyone on his walks and I felt privileged to be able to be with him. We don't always see eye to eye but I appreciate the little moments and blessings that come my way from him. He won't be around forever so now's the time to work on appreciating him.

He says I need to walk with him three times a week. We negotiated starting out with one day a week.

It's safer that way.
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