There’ll be mosquitoes the size of pit bull puppies,” somebody grumbled, and after that there was no more talk about a North Woods camping trip.
But my youngest son, who’d suggested the trip, was determined to find a bonding opportunity and challenged his brothers to this year’s Sound to Narrows race, a call no real runner could possibly resist, and all of a sudden most of my family was on the way home.
My life is passing before my eyes. Ordinarily, a condition near death is required for this to happen, but in this case, the screensaver on my computer has miraculously come to life so I can look at pictures of my sons over and over as they cross the finish line of this year’s Sound to Narrows 12K race together.
Did you get that? Together!
The timer clock in the picture says 1:19:52, but that’s wrong. It took them years to get there.
There’s a mysterious attraction to running that I have absolutely never understood. My older sons have been running for most of their lives in the Coast Guard and the Navy, in Antarctica and around the deck of assorted aircraft carriers. It seems that nothing brings out the need to run like being on a ship in the middle of the ocean.
But their youngest brother was never a runner. Patrick and his wife started running only about three years ago when they realized that as parents of a young family they needed to take best care of themselves. They began to exercise, they lost weight. Between them, they’ve lost 150 pounds, the combined weight of their two boys, and they started to run.
And then Patrick began to look for bonding opportunities for him and his five siblings who are separated by age, distance, interests and politics. A race, of course was the perfect solution. Those who didn’t run could cheer.
We were up at 5 the morning of the race to arrive in plenty of time for check in. Number two son, Ross, lettered Team Wilhelm on the front of his shirt in electrical tape. Patrick did too, but his letters quickly fell off. “I think I sweat more than he does” was the explanation.
The four runners (three brothers and a cousin) planned to stay together, and they did, though Cousin Don, the oldest and fastest, was forced to resort to taking little side trips to view the breathtaking scenery of Point Defiance in order to match the pace of the little group. They didn’t exactly come in first; some did not come in the first 100, but that was never the point. They started together and finished together. That was what mattered.
As head of the cheer staff, I passed out cowbells to two more siblings and two more cousins and we rang like crazy to cheer the victors.
After the race, we did all Northwest things: attended a Mariners game, sampled barbecued salmon burgers, and I saw my first Sounders game. The game seems to consist of players kicking at the ball and immediately throwing themselves to the ground writhing in unbearable pain, while the audience stands up waving their Sounders scarves and singing X-rated jingles. Then there is an apparently miraculous healing and the player struggles bravely to his feet and goes on to the next play. We all wore lime green shirts and ate garlic fries. It is good to learn the customs of a new culture.
We’re talking about making this a regular event and Patrick writes from Minnesota that his oldest son can hardly wait to be old enough to run with Daddy. “So grab your running shoes – or cow bells – and mark your calendar: second Saturday in June, 2017,” he finishes. Maybe next time they’ll all be able to come.
Every once in a while, there’s a moment in parenting when everything comes together and allows the parent to look with misty-eyed pride at her brood. Never mind that in two weeks they’ll be insulting each other’s sensibilities and politics on Facebook again. For now, at last, after 50 years, my boys are playing nicely together!
Dorothy Wilhelm can be reached at Dorothy@itsnevertoolate.com. Find her at itsnevertoolate.com