I’ve started something I’ve called the Dick Challenge. Oh, the fun of having a dad whose name was Dick. There were three Dicks in his class. He got off lightly. The others were Dick Fish and Dick Kurley. Imagine the roll call when last names come first.
My dad loved walking. He could haul himself all over Dallas for 1-2 hours. Sometimes more. He was obese, so that’s saying a lot. He exercised plenty, but he rewarded himself plenty more. To honor my dad and help me get through my grieving process, I’ve started the Dick Challenge. I have to walk 75 days in a row for (ideally) 45+ minutes and eventually getting to 75 minutes. Why 75? His age at the time of death. Four days short of 76.
I am up to day 9. I’ve had some hiccups, such as the flu, but the important part of any challenge I’ve signed up for is the continuity: 75 days in a row is more important than the length of the walk. That’s good. One walk was 13 minutes, and I thought I was going to pass out after 3.
While on these walks, I can’t help but think of my dad: how much I loved him and how much I’ll miss him. I’m most introspective on these walks. I’m surprised by that, as I’m a loner and always in my own head. I guess I’m not being critical in other situations. On today’s walk, I came to a realization: Since my dad’s diagnosis, I’ve stalled on job applications. There. I said it.
My dad was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) in October with a poor prognosis: 4-6 months without treatment, 6-9 with treatment. Chemo was not an option. He died in 4 months. From October to February, I’ve been going to Dallas almost every time he went into the hospital. I was “lucky” to be unemployed. I had the freedom to go up as soon as I heard. I also was lucky (no “”s) that I had friends who’d let me and my pets stay. Between visits to see my dying father and holiday chaos and then the suicide of my stepsister, I’ve been acting like I’m applying and looking. Oh, I applied. I looked. But I treated it like I would a date I didn’t want to go on because of a list of reasons he won’t be right or because I’d rather stay home and read. I attended, but I was not present. I kind of flipped through job boards the way I used to swipe left left left through Tinder: scroll fast while just barely looking. Before any cover letter went out, I worked myself into a panic about not being there for my dad.
I was afraid of getting a new job with people I didn’t know but had to impress and then asking for a cluster of days off because of my dad. I have no regrets. I was there when he died. I wanted to be.
He’s died. His memorial was a week ago. I’m ready. I’m actually looking forward to it. I even feel the fear of rejection leaving. I LIE! I’ll never lose that fear, but I’m willing to take that chance more often. Instead of starting a week strong and tapering off, I’ll start strong and do my best to stay strong. I say that. I have to. I believe it. It might not be Arnold Schwarzenegger strong at first, but I’ll be stronger than I was the day before.
I need to remember this when I feel tempted to cut exercise out if a day gets full. Leave the social media; take the walk.