Another Day in the Country

Run, Girl, Run!

© Another Day in the Country

My daughter is a runner. Who’d a thought?

It was painfully noticeable as a toddler that she had flat feet and her ankles turned in. When go-go boots were a thing, she desperately wanted some. We have family pictures from when she was six or seven of her standing in these silly boots with an elevated heel, her ankles bowing.

At one of her early check-ups, I asked the doctor about those ankles of hers. He smiled and said, “Just let her run barefoot a lot; they’ll straighten up.” And so she grew up, rather care free, in the countryside above Napa Valley.

Never did I think she’d be an athlete, let alone a runner.

When she was in college, she took up fencing. This was the strangest sport in the world, to me. “Who fences?” Meanwhile, I watched her and her friends jumping around on the back deck with swords in their hands, practicing the required moves.

“This too shall pass,” I mumbled to myself, like the craze for go-go boots.

It didn’t.

She loved it, this sport that requires strong legs, sturdy ankles, and quick reflexes. And she was good at it. She ended up marrying one of her fencing buddies, and he quit the sport. She didn’t. Back in the day she had to drive almost 50 miles one way to get to a fencing club. Fencing fees were expensive. Equipment was expensive. She didn’t let that stop her.

The fencing club offered her a job teaching younger kids in exchange for club fees, so she did that, too. Meanwhile, I just shook my head in surprise and still do.

Jana’s been a fencing instructor now for over 20 years, and today, as we are reading this newspaper, she’s probably teaching a class of college students eager to learn the growing sport.

They say that talent can skip a generation, and that surely is what happened in my family. My dad was an athlete, playing basketball right here in Ramona, and during his high school days, they even won a championship. We have the little trophy hanging on the wall in a glass case to prove it.

My mother, a cheerleader, who remembered the chants they invented for the Ramona team until the day she died, was a high-jumper and a runner. So, I shouldn’t be surprised at the fencer in the family.

This is the thing about our kids: You never know what is going to shine forth as a talent. It’s our job as parents to watch for the spark and fan the flame.

“Yeah,” we yell, “Good job,” when they’ve done their best, even when they lose.

“I ran six miles tonight after work,” my daughter texted me on my extremely smart phone.

“Why?” I texted back.

“I’m training for a race,” came back the words on the screen.

“What race?” I wanted to know.

She works at a Spa and sometimes they sponsor races among the members. I’ve seen them jogging around the parking lot in their fancy exercise clothes.

“The ‘Angwin to Angwish’ race is coming up,” she texted back.

Her Dad had been involved in starting that race some 30 years ago. In fact, he came up with the name and he wasn’t even a runner. He just loved puns.

“Really? They’re still doing that?”

I remember her Dad running in the race, even though running wasn’t really his thing. He’d trained hard, finished the course. I took a picture of him running and made it into a poster, as a joke, because running a race was so out of character.

“Remember that picture?” my daughter wanted to know. “Do you have a copy?”

She knows we’ve been divorced for 25 years; but she also knows her mother is a ‘keeper’. And although her Dad is gone, she’s running in his honor.

That’s why I drove two blocks to the office this morning. I dragged out my old art portfolio full of prints, pictures, sketches, and memories to see if by chance I’d kept a copy of that moment in time which is repeating itself, as another generation jogs by on another day in the country.

Last modified Oct. 19, 2016