Reluctant Runner

I hate running – it’s hard. I run to control my weight, because it makes me feel better, and because I think of things to write when I’m running – but I hate running.

Running for me means being an overcomer every time I head out the door. The broken ankle that never got medical care when I was a child is stiff and doesn’t bend. The hip that was injured in a fall off a ladder is painful and limits my stride. Shops in this part of the U.K. don’t carry my shoe size, so shoes are always either half-a-size too small or half-a-size too big. It is usually cold, windy or raining. For some reason, I am most comfortable running when I carry 2 KG hand-held weights. Running long distances at age 62 in a slightly overweight body is a hindrance itself. I run because I need to run and I run out of respect for my son’s memory. Marine Corps Major Luke Parker lived all 37 years of his life as an overcomer.

Being lazy is more natural for me than overcoming. Math was hard for me in school, so I convinced my seventh grade math teacher that pencil lead inflamed the fungal infection on my fingers and I couldn’t do my homework because I made too many mistakes with a pen. That might have seemed a brilliant ploy at the time, but I paid for it later.

When I was a senior, my high school chemistry teacher informed me that she was signing me out of chemistry so I wouldn’t flunk and miss graduating with my class. I had no idea I was failing her class.

My university economics professor watched me struggle through graphs and formulas and asked what I planned to do when I graduated. I showed him a newspaper with my front page bylines. He asked, “If this is what you want to do and you’re already doing it – why are you taking my class?” I explained that his class was required. He tore up my failed exams and gave me a “B” for the class, explaining that he had never seen anyone try so hard and fail so completely.

Seeing the negative results of math laziness does help get me out the door to run. My greatest inspiration, however, is the memory of my son’s determination to overcome. He had every possible excuse to fail in life: an absent father; a mother on poverty wages who could never afford to buy him all the things his friends’ parents bought them or take him all the places they went; severe ear infections that left him with a speech impediment; hyper-activity before it became a buzz word; a spine that was so badly twisted in two different directions that doctors wanted to install a metal rod; an apparently inherited lack of mathematical ability, and constant moving and changing schools.

Unlike me, Luke didn’t make excuses or allow laziness to determine his future. He took speech therapy, learned to channel his hyperactivity into sports, asked Jesus to heal his back (Jesus did), got tutoring in math, and began running eight miles a day to train for the Marine Corps. He was one of the only Marines in his unit to run a marathon in Iraq with temperatures topping 100-plus degrees. He hated writing but was good at it, so he wrote a newsletter for his unit.

The child who was diagnosed with learning problems learned to rock climb, play a piano, ride and train horses and scuba dive. Between deployments, Luke took flying lessons, bought an airplane, got an instructor and instrument panel rating, and flew in air shows, performing stunts and writing with smoke. He also continued running marathons.

His most important life accomplishments were walking with God and being a loving husband to his wife, Delight, and an adoring father to his daughter, Dulcinea.

So I run. I know Luke is in Heaven. I don’t know if he can look down and see me, but if he can – I want him to see a mother honoring his memory as an overcomer by becoming one herself. And running helps me write books like Bridge Beyond Betrayal (Sunpenny Publishing Group July 25th release), which is dedicated to Luke and includes a prophetic poem he wrote a year before his fatal airplane crash.

I’m not fast, I’ll probably never run a marathon, I’ll probably always hate running. But I love my son.


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