The Irony of a Short Run

I was out early this morning for my usual jog. It was chilly with a few fleeting flakes of snow blowing around. I took my usual winter route that takes me though Greenwood Cemetery on the Northwest side of Grand Rapids.

It's an old cemetery that I have been coming to since I was a kid. There's a creepy old 19th century caretakers house up on the hill. It serves as an office now, but every morning I pass by it, I imagine how the caretaker used to live there in decades past.

Today, when I slowly jogged past that old brick house and rounded the hill, I saw the yellow trucks and back hoe digging a new grave. The workers were still there working the equipment trenching the ground. 

This isn't that unusual, it's a cemetery after all. So, as I passed by, I briefly acknowledged things and went on with my run, not thinking much more of it. 

Last Sunday...

I got a text from an old friend of mine letting me know that his uncle, that I knew quite well, had died.

I've know my friend Mark and his family since I was 5 years old. I think I spent more time over at his house than my own when I was younger.

During that time I got to know his family quite well. His Uncle Roger was a good guy. He was about 15 years older than us, but it didn't seem like there was such an age gap. 

Over the years, I actually spent a fair amount of time with him. 

As a matter of fact, he lived not too far from Greenwood Cemetery, that I was telling you about earlier. 

Sometimes I'd bump into him on one of my runs. Actually, the last time was just before the pandemic. He was out snow blowing his sidewalk. I stopped and he and I chatted for a few minutes before I continued on my jog.

Last Year Sometime...

I was talking to Cathy (Mark's Mom) when she told me that he had cancer. I suppose it can happen to any of us. I've had several family and friends succumb to it. In Roger's case, it took a couple years. They tried everything they could, but it was just his time. Cathy (Who's Rog's sister) cared for him throughout his entire experience. 

No Surprise...

The last time I talked to Mark and Cathy (Mark's Mom), they said Roger wasn't doing well, so when I got the text Sunday saying that he passed away, it wasn't really a surprise. 

Roger's service was earlier this morning, so I brought my nice clothes with me to workout, so I could change into them and go straight to the funeral home after I finished training. 

The service was nice, nothing overdone. It was very appropriate. Mark, Cathy and rest of the family was there (Al, Mark's Dad passed away quite a few years ago). 

The service was thoughtful, slightly melancholy, but overall pretty light, I even heard a few laughs. Everyone had known that Rog was ill for a long time, so we were prepared. He wasn't ancient, but at 66, he wasn't young either. He lived a full life, accepted his fate and died with a sense of grace. 

The Irony of My Short Run...

When I went, I didn't know if it was going to be just a showing, or if there would be a service and burial too. I guess I didn't really think about it. 

When the funeral director mentioned the burial and said where it was, a feeling came over me that I can't quite put into words. 

The irony of Life.

Those workers I came across this morning on my run at Greenwood Cemetery, were digging Rogers grave.

This really struck me more than merely ironically.

We're all on a Short Run so to speak...

How Does This Relate?

You may be asking yourself how this relates to training, self defense and why you may have (or have not) signed up for these emails in the first place?

Well, if you realize what training is really all about, it will make perfect sense. 

It's the irony of Life. 

We're all going to die. 

Someday that grave they're digging will be mine... and yours.

Roger made a difference in my Life. He was a good influence on me in ways I didn't even realize at the time. 

In this case, he influenced indirectly. It was the little things. It was him just being a kind person. A good guy. The impact wasn't anything big or dramatic, rather it was the mundane, everyday things over a lifetime that had the impact. One more reinforcement that although imperceptible in the moment, was yet another layer of positive influence that helped to mold me into the person I am today.  
I'm only beginning to uncover these (numerous) invisible mentors that I've had over my Life... One's I never even realized.

You and I also wield influence on other people. It's what you say and do everyday. Things that may not even be realized by them or you.  

Even though these small experiences are difficult to measure, they add up and make a difference, either negatively or positively. 

This Is Why...

Your training matters...

Because if you're training in the right way, you continue to work on yourself and become a better person. 

And when you're a better person (like Rog was), you will influence people in a more positive way...

More positive experiences creates more positive people, which in turn reduces the amount of conflict and violence in the world. 

And THAT's why it matters. 

A Final Word and a Beer...

I just wanted to take a second to remember and thank Roger for being part of my Life and for mentoring me though his example... By simply being a good person with a kind heart. 

I have many memories of him in everyday settings... 

Just good times hanging out with him, Mark, Cathy and Al. Just everyday people doing everyday things. 

Good people, good things... 

A good Life. 

Roger was into photography and brewing his own beer. I remember back 'in the day' when he first got into brewing... That was waaaay back before it was trendy.

It started off a little rough, but he got quite good at it!  

Thanks for everything Rog! It was good knowing you. Godspeed my friend. 

If you'd like to see some of his photography, here's his website:

Keep going,


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