The story of Fellow Flowers began when thirteen women that I knew committed to run a half marathon with me for my birthday. These dear friends crossed a finish line that day wearing orange gerber daises in their hair, but there was someone else who is quite special to me that did the same. My Dad. This part of the story has gone untold. I share it in honor of his birthday.
It read, “I bought new shoes, new running tights, and a dri-fit mock turtleneck. I have printed off my training program. I want to run the first three miles of the training with you and the last thirteen on your birthday weekend at the Cellcom. It’s not about the drinking, it’s about the thinking.” He called us the Tortoise and the Hare.
My Dad has often said that his real birthday is the day he sought sobriety and entered in-patient rehab, which he did in late 2006. While I was on the third floor giving birth to his third grandson, unbeknown to me, my father was staying in the same building seeking treatment for his addiction. It was the hardest and best decision of his life as he has walked away from it and never looked back, beating all statistics of relapse and has been sober for more than 6.5 years.
Watching him cross that finish line is something that I never thought I would witness and I couldn’t have been more proud of his effort. This race was not about me. It was about him and his journey.
As his birthday approached this year, I was having a hard time coming up with a gift idea for him. And then, this past weekend he asked about the date of the Marquette Marathon and was wondering if he had time to train saying he was considering another half. He hasn’t run much since that last race due to a foot surgery he had to have. I instantly knew his gift and at lunch today handed him his twelve-week training schedule and a print out of the registration. I told him to let me know when he was ready and that his registration was on me.
He has endured. He has fought. He continues to fight every day. As a birthday gift in 2010, he gave me his first AA medallion. I hold it close to my heart, but consider seeing him be his best self the greatest gift he’s ever given me.
If you’re wondering if you’re able to run a race, beat an addiction or have faith in a loved one who is battling one themselves, please let his story be a source of inspiration and strength for you.
Happy Birthday Tortoise!
Tori (Your Hare)