Thursday, January 15, 2009

What Will You Do When You Retire?

In the midst of the blustery winter weather that January brings to western New York stands my dear old Dad with his bike. Equipped with studded snow tires, special space age clothing to help him bear the negative temperatures, and a mustache to catch the drips- he starts his 30 mile trek.

Pop retired this past December, and hasn't let grass grow under his bicycle seat shaped butt. He can ride his age in miles faster than I can scrape the ice off my car windshield.

Biking isn't a recent hobby, but rather a reclaimed one. When he was much younger...younger than I can ever imagine him being- he and a just-as-crazy friend rode their bikes from Boston to San Diego in 50 days. With a tent and few spare tires on their backs they pedaled across the country.

My Dad has indirectly taught me that life is like a bicycle ride. Overall it is good. Often there are tough hills to climb, but always with a down hill reward. Sometimes you hit a pothole and get jolted from your path- other times you can take your hands off the bars, and feel the wind blowing through your hair. Pedal fast, and then let your feet go to see how far you can coast. Always keep your eye out for traffic, then take the back roads to slow down and enjoy the wildflowers along the way.

This is the poem that Dad left for me when I went away to college. I can never read it without crying.

To A Daughter Leaving Home

When I taught you

at eight to ride

a bicycle, loping along

beside you

as you wobbled away

on two round wheels,

my own mouth rounding

in surprise when you pulled

ahead down the curved

path of the park,

I kept waiting

for the thud

of your crash as I

sprinted to catch up,

while you grew

smaller, more breakable

with distance,

pumping, pumping

for your life, screaming

with laughter,

the hair flapping

behind you like a

handkerchief waving


Linda Pastan

Dad, you've taught me a lot about life. I've always admired you and your many passions.

Enjoy your retirement. Make it long and fulfilling. And as I begin my journey in your bike tracks, I'll aim to fill my life with enrichment as you've done. I love you.


Janice said...

awwwwwww. ((hugs))

Anonymous said...

Katie, what a sweet tribute to me. If it was your intention to make tears roll down my face, you have succeeded. I love that poem too --- it always reminds me of you. What a wonderful writer you've become. I love you too! Dad.

kateri said...

Hi Katie,

I got to see your dad this morning and one of the first things he told me was about your blog and what a great writer he thinks you are. And he told me about this entry, and how it made him feel. He is right. This is just a wonderful piece of writing, full of great simile and metaphor and wonderful images and true emotion. It flows so nicely. And your jewelry is just beautiful, too. ;)

Anyhow, I just wanted to say hello and let you know how much I enjoyed reading this. Your dear old dad is indeed a special guy.

xo, Kateri

(and congratulations on your engagement!)

KMJewelryStudio said...

Thank you Kateri!

Laura said...

Dads are the MOST SPECIAL people in the world! Love and cherish every moment-
Mine has been gone for 26 years, but every single day he is with me- his words of love still sound in my ears as if they were just spoken. It is a great gift- the love of a Father.