Monday, September 19, 2011

On The Day I Passed One Thousand Miles

My husband and I got up this morning, fed the cat, had our coffee (mine decaf), and watched as our young son got on his bus.  By 0715hrs, we were on our way.  I told him I wanted to walk a nearby neighborhood called Montclair.  We used to live there once upon a time on an assignment long long ago.  Montclair is a peaceful place frequented by runners, walkers, folks walking their dogs, and moms pushing strollers.  I once pushed a running stroller there myself.  But that was back before the old knees finally said "no more".  It was a beautiful cool morning, perfect for a long walk through a quiet neighborhood.  We passed the dry cleaners we always use, the manicured golf course, the country club we've never been inside, and finally stopped at the 7 eleven for water and well...a potty break.  By then, we had gone about 3.5 miles, I guess.  My pedometer has been acting up.  We chatted the whole way catching up on things we never seem to catch up on with our hectic lives.  We passed the little league baseball field where our son once played two seasons.  We passed the shopping center where he took three years of Taekwondo.  A couple of cyclists passed.  Then, a runner with the strangest shoes went by.  We crossed route 234, Dumfries road and kept on walking.  There's a guardrail I used to kick every time I passed a certain point on my walk, an obsessive compulsive thing I think.  When we passed it, I didn't stop to kick it this time.  So, my husband grabbed my arm gently and pulled me back around so I could kick it.  I don't know.  Maybe he is more superstitious than I am.
When we reached five miles, I asked him to take a photo commemorating the point when I officially passed one thousand miles.  It wasn't anywhere special, just a spot on a road near the local Exxon just a little over two miles from home.  He leaned over, gave me a kiss, smiled and said "congratulations, you did it."  Then we continued on our way.  We had to get home before his conference call.  No time to slow down.  I was happy just to have him there beside me as I crossed my imaginary finish line.  Come to think of it...I wasn't really crossing a finish line.  After all, I would continue to walk.  Walking has changed my life, gotten me out of that broken soldier rut.  I had no idea had far I would end up going by the end of the year.  And heck, I wasn't going to stop after that.  I would continue to walk as long as I had my Shape Ups, and as long as my body allowed.  I'd continue to walk well into 2012 and beyond.
Well, I had hoped to do a few push ups, sit ups, etc when we came home but Murphy struck home.  My husband went to reach for a coffee cup and the kitchen cabinet came right out of the wall.  We spent a couple of hours trying to fix that before my husband could wait no more.  He had to go to work.  I found a new place for all its contents and sat down to write.  Breathe... Time heals all wounds, right?  Does that apply to cabinets too?  Ugh.
By now, you are probably wondering which charity I intend to give the thousand dollars to.  Some may have already guessed.  Years ago, I was retired from active duty because of disability.  I had gone through two back to back medical boards in the two years prior to the final decision.  Honestly, all I really wanted was someone to fix what was broken so I could get back to what I had done for most of my adult life, wear the uniform and serve my country proudly.  However, I was literally told I was beyond what they could do for me.  I was retired.  I went back to quarters, took off my combat boots and waited, hoping someone would call and say "Come back.  We made a mistake.  We do need you."
Time passed.  My husband came home from the war and we moved on to the next duty station.  It was not an easy transition, from soldier/spouse/mom to retiree/spouse/mom.  Everyone thought I handled it so well, but inside I felt positively useless and a bit abandoned.
I am eight years older, but I still have those boots in my closet.  The old uniform is now obsolete as well as too big on me, but its still there.  You know what?  I'm beginning to think they aren't going to call.
Still, "Once a soldier, Always a soldier."  So, I've thought it over and I've decided that I want to give to "Homes For Our Troops".   With this charity, I can support a local veteran from Virginia.  I know its not much, but in a small way, I can help him regain his independence, and the whole family benefits.  I like that.

2002, I think.  : P
I may not wear an active duty uniform anymore, but I am still a soldier at heart.  There are things I can do to win my personal battles.  With working out and eating right, I have not only lost weight, but I have regained some of the strength and confidence I once had.
Today, I can say I have walked over one thousand miles this year alone.  I did it...despite the pain, despite the injuries, and regardless of my age.  I did it!
I know there are other warriors out there, warriors who may have lost hope, who might feel as I once did.
I am here to tell you,  "Whatever it is you aspire to do in life, you can do it."  Me?  I'm just getting started.  

My husband just called.  He says he'll pick up the hardware he needs for the cabinet on the way home.  I miss the days when we could just call on post housing and say, "please come fix this", but I'm so very thankful for what we do have.

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