Monday, June 05, 2006

June 3, 2006 - On the Boardwalk, with Ben

This morning our son, Benjamin, comes to me, and asks if I want to join him for a walk on the Boardwalk. Personally, I suspect he’s on a mission to see that I get more exercise (a worthy endeavor). I readily agree.

Our house is about six blocks from the Boardwalk. In healthier times, I would have considered walking the entire distance, but with my stamina still low, I know that just making it to the Boardwalk and back will be all I can manage. So, I suggest we drive there.

It’s a Saturday during the busy summer season. Ordinarily, on such a day we wouldn’t have been able to find a parking place within about four blocks of the beach – thus rendering our driving plan moot. But today is cool and gray, with a forecast for rain. We find a place a block and a half from the boards with no difficulty. Out on the beach, the lifeguards are sitting on their wooden stands, with nothing to do. The only people on the beach are some high-school kids tossing a football. The badge-checkers are nowhere to be seen – evidently, the beach management has prudently decided they would pay out a lot more in salaries today than they would take in, in revenue. Free beach admission, to anyone hardy enough to want it!

It feels good to walk – although I have to stop a couple times to rest on a bench. I don’t make it the whole, one-mile length of the Boardwalk, but I do make it a little further than I did the last time (Marcia, my physical therapist, has suggested I keep track of which bench marks my turn-around place, then try to go a little further the next time.)

We talk about a lot of things, mostly inconsequential. Ben does lecture me gently about my health, and particularly my diet. He’s right: I don’t eat as well as I should. He’s a good example for me, being very conscientious about his diet (no surprise, since he works nights as a cook in a vegan restaurant). Now that I’m in remission, it probably is time to try again to modify my diet in a more healthy direction (a lifelong struggle for me), and be more diligent about exercise.

Ben will be 22 in about a week. He has one semester to go before graduating from Monmouth University. We're talking together, man to man. This is the first time I can recall that he’s urged me, so strongly and so intentionally, about some steps I could take to improve my health. I’ve heard people much older than I am speak of how it feels to have the tables turned, as the child starts parenting the parent. It feels a little like that to me today.

I’m not sure I like the feeling, on one level; but on another level, I welcome it. I need all the encouragement I can get to lose weight, and get myself into better physical shape. My son’s words today are an act of love. Thanks, Ben.

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