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Thinking things through on Thanksgiving

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Running has been Smartmom’s best friend in these months since her father died. The feelings of deadness, lethargy, and deep sadness that come with the loss of a parent are temporarily soothed by the endorphins produced during strenuous exercise.

So when she needs a lift, Smartmom puts on her black nylon running outfit, her Lulu Lemon running jacket, and her purple and white running shoes and heads for Prospect Park.

The natural beauty of Olmsted and Vaux’s masterpiece is also a consoling salve. The autumnal trees, a patchwork of yellow, orange, red and brown, are uplifting, as is the cumulative energy of so many others exercising at the same time.

A few weeks back, Smartmom listened to Bob Dylan singing “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” on her iPod as she ran. She remembered that it was her father who introduced her to “Blonde on Blonde” back in 1966, when she was only 8-years-old.

The tears came as she remembered her father’s passion for music. What a gift he left behind: the memory of him in music of all kinds.

What a curse. Every time she listens to music, she thinks of her father and gets sad.

Thump. Thump. Thump. During a recent run, Smartmom thought of her sister spending many hours recently trying to find a home for their father’s collection of jazz 78s, which he collected as a teenager in 1940s Los Angeles. Ever resourceful, Diaper Diva checked with the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University and even Phil Schaap, the legendary WKCR jazz DJ, but no one wanted them.

Finally, a good friend came forward who collects 78s. He will house them in his upstate home where Smartmom and Diaper Diva are welcome to visit and listen to the music.

This kind of problem solving is how Diaper Diva is dealing with her grief.

Running around the park has always been a kind of therapy for Smartmom; it’s where she does her best thinking. So it’s no wonder that during these tough times, she finds that the steady thump of her running shoes inspires her to come up with solutions to problems of all kinds.

Will Teen Spirit have all his SUNY and CUNY applications done by Nov. 29? She makes a mental note to ask him how that’s going.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

What about the Oh So Feisty One? Her room is so small and she’s been pining for a loft bed for so long. Maybe it’s time to go to Ikea and get that damn Tromso loft bed even if it does come in 1,000 pieces and Hepcat will probably come undone putting it together.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

What about Hepcat? He’s been experiencing all kinds of joint and muscle pain. He did see an internist, but he’s still not feeling better. He needs to start exercising. He’s put his body on the back-burner for too long.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

Smartmom breathes in and out, taking in the majesty of her park, the memory of her father, the faces of her family, and her heart’s elevated rhythms.

When she runs, Smartmom feels enormous gratitude to her body and its ability to transport her at running speed from Third Street, past the lake, Wollman Rink, the Audubon Center, the Zoo, Long Meadow, Grand Army Plaza and finally back to Third Street.

On Thanksgiving morning, Smartmom was set to run the Turkey Trot in Prospect Park, a joyful gathering and a highly energetic and exuberant way to begin Thanksgiving Day.

It also means guilt-free eating later in the day as in, “Hey, body, I just ran five miles I can eat what I want. Got it?”

This Thanksgiving, as she runs, Smartmom will give thanks to her wonderful and supportive community; Dr. Gruenstein, her father’s oncologist; and, yes, she will give thanks to her favorite park, a place to be soothed, a place to remember, a place to run.

Louise Crawford, a Park Slope mom, also operates “Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn.”
Updated 5:10 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

KarenPease from Lexington Township, Maine says:
Wow! Smartmom has the answer. What a powerful statement, and how well put! While writing my soon to be released "tween" novel, Grumble Bluff, I realized that keeping busy and staying in motion were excellent ways to divert a troubled mind when living with the imminent death of a parent. I never thought of the "endorphines" angle. Good luck to smartmom and the rest of her family as they face these first holidays without her father. You're in my thoughts. Karen Bessey Pease, roomtomove@tds.net.
Nov. 24, 2008, 7:54 pm

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