While I'm not big on putting a lot of personal information up online, for some reason i felt like this needed to be shared...
On Saturday May 22nd, 2010, my Pepere' (Granddad/Grandpa) passed away. While i never felt like he was a huge part of my life, in his death he showed me that he really DID in fact play a role. The strong values, hard work and dedication he passed on to his 8 children (one of which obviously my father) inherently became the same values that i got.
While thru hiking on the MS Greenway this week i unfortunately got the phone call that he had passed. And 32 miles in, i had to withdraw from the trail and take part of the service. Unknowing, I was to be a pall bearer, and was actually asked to read the eulogy but thankfully was able to decline to a cousin that did a fantastic job. I write a lot about ultra's and hiking and challenging tasks life throws my way as a history i guess, a log of hard accomplishments. Carrying the coffin of my first and oldest relative has to be the toughest yet.
Looking back, I never really knew a lot about him personally. Only recently have i started hearing more stories of his past. He was the pepe' that had the classic French-Canadian baked bean teeth and would chase me around the coffee table in his modest home in Winooski when I was a young child. The pepe' that would bark out, "eahh?" really loud when he didn't hear you and then say. "whelp, you're/he's/she's a real winnah!" He was apparently part of Winooski's Park Bench Boys, a group of guys that would meet at a park bench and then walk into Colchester around the town. He was always an avid walker, and when i would play hockey at Landry Park as a kid he'd occasionally walk by and stop and watch for awhile. Who'd have thought that my pepe was essentially an ultra runner/walker of his time.
The statement, and my favorite quote from him has given me strength through all of this. And i'd like to share it with you all, because not only does it have a personal meaning to me, it holds the truth that will make it stick.
"Whelp, you never know from one day to anotha..." and he'd fade off.
I'd hear, and I can still hear him saying this to whomever was in earshot. From his arm chair, in the living room, to the left of the bay window overlooking Burlington. You really never know, so today, go out there and make a story, make a tale that you can tell your grandkids. Sign up for a race that you don't think you can finish. A hike that's totally over your head. Go out there and fail if you have to. Whatever it takes to keep moving. To keep the spirit alive, to keep the pen in your life's tale writing. The cliche' and the priest said, it's not the date of birth or the date of death on your tombstone that matters, but the ~ in between.
My story? I'm off to Pineland's to run 2 races with a bunch of great friends this weekend. Then next week in true Team Robert fashion I'm going to be running at Peak with my dad, and for the last 20+/- miles, we're going to be joined by my 14 yr old brother Steve. I can't wait to share the tale.