Our dad has always been very competitive, both in the business world and athletically. Back in the day nothing made him happier than sweating it all out on the handball or tennis court. Aching hands and midnight charlie horses did not bother him if he could boast that he beat Webber or Kelsey in the third set.
When the courts were full or an opponent couldn't be found, he would walk. Not just a stroll, but an aggressive, all out power walk. He would time himself on these walks and would announce the "new record" each time he returned home. If someone happened to be walking with him, he would encourage the fellow walker to check the time and together they would "circumcise their watches" (a line borrowed from his favorite high school football coach) and then they were off. Conversation was held to a minimum during these walks, mainly because his fellow walker needed to focus on breathing and keeping up. If our mom happened to be the fellow walker, it would not be unusual to see her trailing a couple houses, or a couple miles, behind our dad. He would look back occasionally, a look of barely disguised disdain on his face, and encourage her to keep up.
My dad is still a walker. I see him headed out from across the street numerous times each day. His stride is shortened, his gait a little awkward, and his pace much slower. But he's out there. Usually by the time he gets to my house he is checking the time and mentally circumcising his watch.
The next time you head out for a stroll, think of our dad, and say a little prayer for him and for all AD people competing against this awful disease.
As a humorous aside, I encourage you also to say a little prayer for the patient sales staff at Szabo shoes, where our dad used to buy his shoes. He would buy them and return them (sometimes weeks later after logging many miles in them) with bizarre explanations like "these are causing my arches to fall" or "the laces are too slippery and won't stay tied." I can't make this stuff up. If any of the sales people at Szabos are battling an addiction, it's probably due, in part, to our dad. Our apologies . . .