Thursday, April 19, 2012

My Dad's Back

When my back hurts, the best thing I can do is to keep moving.  It's part of Dad's legacy to me.  How easy it is for me to see Dad reaching up with his fingertips on the door frame, stretching those lower back muscles; or walking slowly with a slight limp; or reacting suddenly to a back spasm.  I picture those every time I find myself cautiously stretching my back, limping along, or gasping as a spasm rips through my lower back. 

It's what happens to me when I don't move.

This weekend I didn't move much.  Dad (Ed Esch, in case you didn't know) died unexpectedly last week, so on Sunday I found myself in a funeral home, receiving love and memories from hundreds of people whose lives he touched.  Four hours of standing takes its toll on a back, as do several hours of sitting in a van to and from churches, a funeral home, and a cemetery.

The cure for this pain?  Movement.  The more I keep moving, the better I feel.  I see some symbolism there, and I hope you do, too. 

On the crosstrainer this morning, my lower back moaned in protest but felt a whole lot better than it does after I've sat for five minutes.  I worked long and hard, and every now and then I'd take deep breaths in honor of my dad who couldn't do so.  I pulled the air into my lungs and imagined the oxygen moving through my body, healing me and keeping me alive.

My faulty lower back is a bittersweet reminder of a dad who loves me.  We're connected in our pain and in our determination to learn to cope with it, and not give in to it.