Over the last couple months, I have been riding a bike at the gym. I’m not in a spin class or anything, but I have a program I have built up on different gears and speeds, sitting or standing and an output I am looking to improve on whether that is miles or calories burned or whatever. Nothing against a spin class with loud music and flashing lights and people yelling, but they don’t offer it at the gym at 5 am. There aren’t enough crazy people working out that early, so I am left on the bike by myself. Just me, my music, my sweat and my thoughts. It’s my meditation. There are no distractions at all.
I get lots of things done during those rides. I bring myself back to center a bit, whether that’s from work stress or home stress or stress I have created for myself. I have finished a few books on tape, and I have my standard playlists I use. But lots of times I am catching myself up on or trying to find new music that my kids like. I did the entire Taylor Swift album when it came out, not because I love her music, but because I knew my daughters would be talking about it and I wanted to be able to bring something to the table. Don’t get me wrong her music is good, but I know it wouldn’t be a top choice of mine without being the dad of my two girls.
As I have written a bunch, music is a connection I can make with my girls. I learned that from my Uncle Billy. He’s a big fan of music, live music, similar to me a bit. Seventies folk, or reggae. A little weed smoking jam session style music. But when I would hear he was taking his daughter to a Marilyn Manson concert I would be confused. I knew he liked lots of music, but I never thought it was that style. I’d hear about other shows he took his kids to, and I didn’t understand it until I had kids of my own, all he was doing was creating a small connection with his girls. Just a dad who took an interest in what his kids were listening to.
I get a lot of joy in thinking about my uncle completely lost at a show, not dressed the part, but just there. He probably loves lots of the same bands his kids like now. You know, it’s like my Uncle Matt not knowing anything after his divorce other than “I’ll go whenever my daughter goes”. I’m sure it’s much more complicated than that. As divorce often is, but what I saw as a dumb teenage kid was a dad who would follow his daughter to the ends of the earth just because he knew that was the right thing to do. Moving wasn’t an option it was a necessity for him. Can’t comprehend that completely, even in my forties with two daughters of my own, but I know a great dad when I see one and that hat fits perfectly on his head.
Anyway, last week as I was nearing the end of my ride and my Spotify list was ending and just playing random songs a song came on that made me smile. Reminded me of someone I’ve lost. Someone I’ve writing a million words about but somehow,I always feel like I have a million more words to write. Lots of songs do that, but this one I hadn’t heard in a few years. Thinking of him always makes me smile, even if that’s followed by a few tears I always come out on the better end when I get reminded of him.
And there he was just sitting on the bike next to me…
Whatever god you believe in, or don’t. Whether you think these things are fake and made up in peoples heads or not. I don’t care really. It isn’t for you. When people say they saw a heart or whatever sign from someone they lost and you roll your eyes and think “that’s just a leaf that fell from that tree right there, it’s nothing special”. It wasn’t for you. Maybe I needed to see him, or maybe he needed to see me. Whatever the reason, it was only for me.
So, I listened to the song and hid a few of my tears in my sweat as he rode on the bike next to me. We didn’t say much, partly because I was pedaling much faster knowing he was there but mostly because I just was completely mesmerized that still, after all these years, he still checks in on me. All I really remember him telling me is that I will figure this thing out. I didn’t know what the hell he meant, a bit like “if you build it, he will come” from Field of Dreams.
But as I sat with those words all day I slowly understood.
I’ve had a hard time adjusting to this new world I’m in with a daughter at college and now an only child at home. Feel like sometimes I’m texting my daughter too much at college and asking my other daughter a million questions when she gets home from school or cheer and all she wants to do is sit and relax. I’m either talking too much or not saying anything at all. I have been off kilter trying to find my place again.
I don’t know the answer yet, but I know I’ll search for it. Constantly trying to find where I fit in to my daughters’ lives is something I know I’d never stop attempting. However big or small that is. It’s something I still see when my dad brings cookies to a football game for his granddaughter’s teams. It’s his connection to his girls. It’s why there is always plenty of dessert for my little niece Alice around the Sunday dinner table, because that’s her favorite meal of the day and it’s his connection to his granddaughter. We all get so much joy watching her eat whatever dessert he has come up with. Smiles all around. Smiles he helps create. She may be too young to see it now, but he’s building something.
I don’t even like his cookies…. but I do love that man…
Thanks for the visit as always Chris. I know you have a lot of people to look after and look in on, but I very much appreciate that I’m still always on your list. You ever find that word that encompasses how lucky I feel please let me know so I can start using it.
Until next time Chris