Yeh, I changed my major after freshman Chemistry. Ugh! ** -- Femoyer Hokie 06/18/2017 4:06PM
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Happy Father's Day from Hokie Heaven
I’m one of those lucky bastiges some are envious of. I have been fortunate to spend over a quarter century in Blacksburg. A few years after graduating, I had the opportunity to return there. Since, circumstances dictated a move for my wife and I, but we have the good fortune of still having a home there, our home, where our daughter, grandson, and son-in-law live, so I get to go back pretty much when I can and want to, so this weekend we were back for Father’s Day, for family time.
The last trip was the weekend of April 16, and the hustle and bustle of all of the things going on related to the worst day in Virginia Tech’s history. I’ve gotten back into running after a long lapse, and where better else to run than the peaceful, bucolic setting most of us love, our beloved Hokie Heaven. I ran the 3.2 with the throngs of others that weekend.
But this weekend, I did what turned out to be a little Father’s Day ‘memory run’ of my own. There isn’t any place I’d rather be than on campus in the summer time. It is so serene. Just a person or two here and there, especially on the weekends, so I figured there was no better place to lace up the Nikes and have some solitude.
For whatever reason, habit, divine intervention, or some cosmic force, when I went to campus and parked in the Coliseum lot to start my run. I parked in space 410, the same space, give or take one or two, that I’ve parked in for countless basketball games.
It is at the end of the lot, a long walk, relatively speaking for the lot, but it is a good “getaway space” when it comes to traffic in the lot. For years, my young son would grouse about the walk, “why park SOOOO far away?” Apparently he got it as he grew older. Some games, he would be there with the parking pass, after he started driving, or working the games during his internship in the athletic department when he was at Tech, and he was doing the same thing. I guess he did pick up a thing or two from the old man.
I queued up my running tunes on my phone, and I started my run by the stadium, and passed a number of our tailgate spots over the years in lots 2, 4, and 5.
Yeah, we were some of those “horrible parents,” as many would say, that started taking their kids to games before they could walk. The cheerleading outfits, the little #7 jersey, they’re all packed away.
We have had many great memories, and a couple not so good ones that became “life lessons,” because each got in a measure of trouble at one game each, growing up, but along the way, home and away, hopefully they learned something going to them, and they saw some cool places we might not otherwise have taken them to.
I ran back up Beamer Way, turned onto Washington Street, and passed West AJ, and the door I moved my daughter in during 2007. That is a bittersweet memory, as she was part of the first class to arrive at VT after the shootings, in the dorm where it all started. As I was leaving, I got turned around trying to get out, making my final trip out, only to stumble across an area that had obviously been renovated. She was just one floor and a couple of turns away.
A few strides later, I’m passing Pritchard, where just four years later, I moved my son into the next phase of his life at Tech, where he seemed to make more memories than anybody should be allowed to during their college experience.
Then, I strode passed the same doors that my father moved me into, in Lee, a few years back, but yet, it seems so recent. All three days seemed to have happened in the last couple of months.
I did the Drill Field route the “wrong way,” first passing Eggleston, and again remembering how my father and I were roommates for a night, when I came for my freshman orientation. Dad, despite tremendous success in life, was of that generation that college wasn’t necessary. It was his only night in a college dormitory.
Then, it was down to the Duck Pond, seeing parents there with their toddlers, feeding the perpetual VT students, the ducks. Living in town, on a pretty summer day, that was a great “go to” as a way to get out of the house, and have some spontaneous fun with the little ones.
Coming back from the Duck Pond, I passed my least favorite building on campus, Davidson, where I got that D in General Chem. Again, more fatherly advice my kids listened to, no matter how insignificant, “for crying out loud, don’t take Chemistry if you aren’t going to be an engineer.” Both gladly followed that advice.
Of course, that takes you right to the most somber place on campus, and the reminder that ten Father’s Days have not been the same for all of the father’s that lost a child, or for the kid’s that lost a parent. It makes one very thankful for what you have, however things are going, or if they aren’t going how you’d like.
While not a deeply religious person, I did feel compelled to take a respite in the run, and stop in the War Memorial Chapel and offer up a short prayer of thanks for my father, my daughter, son, and grandson.
Somewhere along the run, Darius Rucker is in my ear, “Wagon Wheel.” Yeah, yeah, I know, a weird song for the running place list, but it gives you good pace. Anyway, in that song, the lyrics mention Johnson City, Tennessee and Roanoke – where my two were born. Yeah, corny, but it was just so odd that it played along the way.
Anyway, I haven’t been the greatest father ever, nor the worst. Those of us who are father’s, that is the way it is. I’ve had my ups and downs, as we all have. As they say, every rose has some thorns. But, it is the little things that matter. Being there.
As I was headed back to the car, I’m starting to get a little gassed. I noticed a familiar vehicle. It was my wife, in our daughter’s car, with our grandson. She’d taken him on a visit to a friend of hers. I caught them at an intersection, knocked on the back glass, and he smiled, and waved back at me, I couldn't help but wonder what his memories would be like down the road.
The running playlist is only so long, because I can only go so far, so I knew it had to be about to play. Yeah, I got back to the vehicle just as “Enter Sandman” was finishing up.
I feel like Linus Van Pelt, standing on stage in the Christmas episode, “that’s what Father’s Day is all about, Charlie Brown.”
Posted: 06/18/2017 at 2:57PM
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