Some Reflective Moments on a Long Run

My parents with my three kiddos this summer. (Note my dad's Runner's World tee!)

My mother was very much on my mind during my weekend long run: At 86, she's having hip replacement surgery today. I'm spending this week at my childhood home in Connecticut to take care of my dad while my mom is in the hospital and rehab. My mom, from hardy stock, is strong, stoic, and in relatively good health. Still, it was hard not to let concerns and thoughts of "what if?" cast a slight pall over an otherwise exquisitely gorgeous early fall day.

With about 15 miles to cover, I wound my way along sun-dappled roads lined with lovely homes, many built nearly two centuries ago. But it was a house completed a mere 63 years ago ("recently" in New England terms) that made me stop for a closer look: the Philip Johnson Glass House. Despite growing up only about five miles from it, I'd never visited this famous house--and its stunningly beautiful grounds and outbuildings--until a few years with my mother. Turns out she'd never gone to see it, either. The tours of the house and the property are tightly controlled: My mother and I opted for the shorter tour, in large part because her already-ailing hip wouldn't allow her to be on her feet for more than the hour the tour entailed. This tour option also didn't allow visitors to take photos.

The view from the Glass House: a surprisingly well-framed shot, despite me shooting it blindly on the sly.

As soon as we arrived--on a beautiful summer day, reminiscent of Sunday, except for the air temperature--I regretted being unable to snap photographs. So, let me confess, I  took out my iPhone, and as casual as could be, surreptitiously started taking pictures by simply holding the phone down by my side and pressing the camera button without looking through the viewfinder. My mother, who I thought didn't know an iPhone from an igloo, wandered over to me, and quietly asked, "Does your phone take photos?" My covert reply, "I'm on it, Mom."

Yesterday, as I stood on the stone wall surrounding the Glass House in my running clothes, I chuckled as I remembered our shared sneakiness. My mother is a devout Catholic, yet her conscience let her bend the rules ever-so-slightly to allow us to get lasting images of our visit.

Then, like a gust of wind rustling some early fall leaves, my mood turned more sober. As Peter Gabriel's poignant song "Wallflower" played on my iPod, I focused on the thought of something going wrong with my mom's surgery or recovery. My smile vanished, and tears sprang to my eyes. I look up at the cerulean sky, where wispy clouds jetted by. Unlike my mother, I rarely turn to God, but I asked that all will go well with my mother in the coming days. Maybe next summer, her new hip will allow us to return to the Glass House and take the longer tour--and some proper photos.

40 responses to “Some Reflective Moments on a Long Run

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  2. Beautiful post that brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing something so personal. It is amazing how a run can transport you to another place and time. I am missing running right now as my therapy. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  3. Prayers and good thoughts coming your way today and always. May your Mother’s recovery go smoothly and speedily, like all of your best runs. Looking forward to reading your post about your visit to the Glass house with your Mother next summer!

  4. You’ve given your mother tremendous peace of mind by being there for your father. She won’t be worried about him while she is in the hospital. Hip replacement is a bit of a tough go in the beginning, but it gets better and better with the rehab. Everyone should hang in. We’re all thinking of you.

  5. Hi Sarah – Good Luck with your mom’s surgery today. This morning’s miles were run for you and your family with prayers and wishes for a speedy recovery. Please keep everyone posted about her progress!

  6. That is one of my favorite parts of running – when those moments come over you & your run connects you to something bigger. Thoughts and prayers are with you & your family. Blessings upon you!

  7. I loved this post. It made me get teary. God bless your mom! I will be praying her surgery goes well today and that she recovers quickly. Enjoy the time you spend with your dad this week, too.

  8. My best friend’s father just had his hip replaced last week. My friend was in the same boat with worry as he is in his late 70’s. The surgeon said his hip was the worst he had ever seen in a surgery and he is doing GREAT! Sending good thoughts your way. (:

  9. Thank you all for your comments, prayers, positive vibes…and funny lines (love the “heal like a mother,” Wendy!). I feel wonderfully supported by this amazing community of mother runners. Much appreciated. Hugs back at you all.

  10. Thinking of you and sending good thoughts for your mother’s surgery today. Your post reminded me of 2 things…first, of my grandmother who had 3 hip replacements, no, she didn’t have 3 hips but out lived one of them and needed a shiny new one. Second, I too took out my iTouch and snapped a photo of “David” when I was in Italy. So unlike my rules following ways! I’m sure your mother will be fine with you there to help her. Hugs.

  11. What a beautiful memory you have with your mom. I will pray that things go well with her surgery. She sounds like she has a lot of gusto so I’m sure all will go well.

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