This morning I read a NY Times piece about a Canadian family, just outside Edmonton, that does Bikram yoga together. There’s a great picture of them standing barefoot in the Canadian wilderness, each of them, perfectly executing a pose.
There is something so gratifying about this picture, it’s almost indescribable. But, then this post would be over, so let me try and put the feeling into words.
I think there’s something intrinsically healthy about working out with your family. There’s something really unifying about -as Olivia Newton John would say- getting physical.
Pretty-damn-near-everyday Wifesy and I do our P90X workouts together. I’m not sure I’ve lost a whole lot of weight from it, but I am getting stronger. It’s also really great to push each other in a healthy way.
I can’t remember doing very many physical things with my mother. My mother is more of a laugher and a talker. She used to like to have a cocktail and tell a story. That’s my biggest memories of mom. A year or two ago, she gave up drinking entirely. But, still she likes to hold court. It’s something hard wired into her personality. She’s the mayor of every dinner party.
My dad, though, is not much of a talker. When he does talk, it’s more preachy. After a while, even the most focused listener finds themselves tuning out. BUT, my dad and I communicated in other ways. I’d say we communicated by doing things. Dad built half of our house from scratch. Literally. He dug out a basement. With a damn shovel and a wheelbarrow. He’s not a carpenter. He did it all by reading Time-Life DIY books. My brother was too young while dad was rebuilding, so a lot of the right hand man stuff fell to me. I helped him lay a concrete floor, put up walls, nail things, install windows, pick up sheetrock from Home Depot, etc. Name a home improvement project and we did it together.
I also have vivid memories of my father working on the car. He had this huge auto repair book. It was like the encyclopedia of auto repair. He’d look something up and then go out and toy with it. I remember him bringing me outside, opening the hood, and pointing out the carburetor, and how to check the oil.
My parents also have a liquor cabinet in the living room. The doors to that cabinet are these ornate, old school, German, winter and summer, hand-carved, scenes that my dad found in a library book somewhere. I remember coming up the stairs at night and passing his room to go to my own. He’d be sitting up in bed with an X-Acto knife and a sheet of wood. Night after night he worked on his German carving. I don’t know how mom didn’t kill him for getting those wood shavings all over the bed.
Years later at college, I was in a car with a group of girls while we suffered a flat tire. It was a nice, older, red, BMW that the girl’s dad had given her. We pulled over to the side of the road and the girl who owned the car started to panic and whine. She called her father. I said, “Why don’t we just change the tire and put on the spare?” She talked to her dad and panicked some more. I got the jack out of the car.
I changed the tire, I think, to everyone’s amazement. We got back in the car and drove to campus. By the time we arrived, the girl’s dad had also arrived. He was very quiet. We all moved away from the car, while he inspected it. He looked at the flat in the trunk. He looked at the spare donut now installed where it should be. He paused for one long moment and then said, “Good job, Donohue.”
Maybe my dad couldn’t give me a red BMW himself, but he most certainly gave me much more. I always think, “I got my heart from my mom, but my spine from my dad.”
(Hey, Brother J, this one’s for you…)
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