Simple things

Just as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so go on living in him—in simple faith (Colossians 2:6, Phillips) I asked my friend, Randall, “When do you reach the grandfather stage when you don’t have to do every single thing your granddaughter asks?”

He said, “Well, can you say no to your daughter, yet?”

Good point.

Our Thanksgiving week started Sunday afternoon when Cyndi brought our 2.73-year-old granddaughter, Madden, to our house in Midland, from her home in Mansfield. We had her all to ourselves until her parents, Drew and Katie, drove in Wednesday evening.

Madden is delightful. She talks all the time in (what seems to me to be) highly complex sentences. And Making facesshe wants me to do everything with her. “Pops, let’s hop across the street together.” “Pops, come sit beside me and read to me.” “Pops, I want some cheese” “Why did you switch cars with Gran, Pops?” “I want to do it myself.” “Pops, can you make a funny face?” “I want to do it myself.” “Let’s go down the big slide together.” “Pops, watch out for the goose poop on the sidewalk.” “I want to do it myself.” “I want you to do it with me.” And, like that. It was great, but exhausting. I haven’t been on two-year-old duty since 1985, and I’ve lost most of my endurance. But simply hanging with Madden simply made me happy.

The thing is, because I wanted to spend as much time as possible with Madden, I didn’t go running or cycling all week. It was a good trade, but I missed moving down the road. I also missed Cyndi’s Wednesday morning Body Pump class, staying home in case Madden woke up.

I finally got to run Thursday morning, in the Midland Turkey Trot 5K.

My daughter, Katie, won the women’s race outright. Of course she did. I didn’t win anything. For one thing, I’m slow, but also because I was in the same age group as Popcorn (Boston qualifier) and Craig (Ironman triathlete). So there was no pretending I had a chance. I did finish ahead of the woman pushing a stroller, so I had that to brag about.

I could have gone to Cyndi’s Body Pump class Friday morning but instead I opted to stand in line outside Sam’s Club with daughter Katie. We tricked my son-in-law, Drew, into going to Cyndi’s class. It was satisfying to see him sore the rest of the day, being the workout beast that he is. It made me feel better about my own soreness from chasing Madden.

To maximize family time, I put all my exercise thoughts toward Sunday afternoon, hoping for a long and fast bike ride. It would be my big comeback, my reentry into routine. My chance to start moving again, as well as burn off holiday snacking.

So when it was finally Sunday afternoon, I got dressed to ride (after some premium time with Cyndi), but when I grabbed my bike from the ceiling hooks, I discovered the back tire was flat.

Not a problem, however. Still excited about finally moving, I quickly changed the tube and raced away down “A” Street.

I was about a mile-and-a-half from home when I realized the shimmy in my back wheel wasn’t from gravel in the road but from another flat. I had to creep back home, keeping my weight forward on my front tire. I changed the tube again.

My second time to leave home, I made it a half-mile before feeling the same unstable shimmy. Bummer, another flat. I was starting to lose my excitement about this Sunday afternoon ride.

When I removed the tube, I saw it was doubled back over itself, overlapping about three inches near the stem. The folding had caused the flat, and it was the second time I’d seen the exact phenomenon that afternoon. The tube must have crossed back on itself while I aired it up. Both flats were my fault; I was in a hurry. I’m not exactly sure what I did wrong, but I suspect I should have put a bit of air into the tube before fitting it between rim and tire.

By then, my brilliant Sunday afternoon had morphed into Sunday evening. It was too dark ride safely, no matter how much I wanted to log some miles. I was quite disappointed. All I needed to top off my excellent week was a simple bike ride, but now the opportunity was gone. I didn’t know what to do with myself except to drive downtown to check my post office box. A weak cure for frustration, I know, but I had to move myself somewhere, even if in my truck.

Later that evening as I told my sad story to Cyndi, I wondered where I had gone wrong with my plan for cycling Sunday afternoon.

But I hadn’t gone wrong (other than poor flat-fixing technique). I had invested my week in the best 389519_4986933197138_1527841045_nthings of life; the simple things, like chasing my beautiful granddaughter around the house, and standing in line at Sam’s making obscure wisecracks with my daughter. Those simple things bring me the most joy in life.

So I started making plans for Monday. I was certain I could squeeze twelve fast cycling miles into my lunch break. What could be simpler than that?


“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32

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