Tee ball, Mules, and Chris LeDoux

Chris LeDoux 2

Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,

After church on Sunday I helped you change into some “play clothes”, Max. I noticed that all of your blue jeans, excluding one pair, have holes in both knees.

That’s the way it is with little boys;

constantly falling down while running through the yard

spin outs on your scooter

some weird Jedi fighting.

catching your little toes in the holes each time you put them on and ripping the hole bigger. You girls don’t tear your jeans up like Max.

I couldn’t help but think about own life and the spills, spin outs, and weirdness and how much of it has been me just being reckless or not reckless enough

and how much of it hasn’t been my fault.  I wish life stayed simple enough that holes in my jeans and bubbling hydrogen peroxide on the horizontal scrapes were the worst that might happen in a single day.


Saturday we went to your first tee ball game, Max and Kate.


We’ll remember it forever. Nana and Papaw came to watch and we screamed for you to run and throw the ball. Nana said as we laughed “Take it all in. Its never better than this moment.” Hard to imagine that they watched me play tee ball 34 years ago. Max, you ran to the pitchers mound after your first hit carrying the bat, and to 3rd base after your next hit – but you remembered to drop the bat. You kicked at the dirt and seemed more interested in dancing, making a gun with your hand, and giving us the occasional thumbs up. Kate, you were a little more focused, getting into your baseball stance in the field, but occasionally strolling over to Max to tell him something. Your worlds still revolve around each other. Everything else, including a mid-progress tee ball game is peripheral.

 Before your game on Saturday I ran in the Mule Day Kick 5k down in Columbia. It was my first open 5k since 2006 (also the Mule Day 5k). I wasn’t sure how I’d run. It was the longest winter I can remember. I was sick. I was lazy. I gained 16lbs from what I weighed a year ago at Rev3 Knoxville. A lot of time and life has passed since 2006 when I pushed you in a jogging stroller to win the “stroller division”, Izzy. I’ve put holes in the knees of a lot of jeans since then.

I got to the front of the pack of nearly 600 runners, remembered what it felt like to line up in the front because I honestly had a chance to finish among the leaders so many years ago. But Saturday, when they said “Go!” I hesitated slightly – let the young guys take off and then set off to see what I was still capable of, despite the years and minimal real training and everything that made me question something as simple as a 5k. The leaders ran off ahead, but I kept them in sight during the hilly first mile. 6:40 pace at mile 1.

They rounded a corner and went out of sight and I was alone. Not with the leaders, but somewhere comfortably ahead of the next group. The road continued uphill and I thought about walking, but pushed on hoping I’d hold on to beat my goal time of sub-22 minutes. 14 minutes flat at mile 2.

The 3rd mile turned downhill and I felt like I picked up the pace. I didn’t pass anyone and no one passed me. But I could hear them back there. Wheezing. Spitting. Straining in the last mile.

"That old man ain't gonna ride?!"

“That old man ain’t gonna ride?!”

I finished in 21:34. 23rd out of 590 overall and 1st out of 25 in the male 35-39 year old age group.

I thought about the old Chris LeDoux song “It Ain’t the years, it’s the miles”. I’m still holding on. Falling down. Tearing up my jeans. But still kickin’.

 I walked behind the chute, strapped my spurs to my boots
At that big Rodeo in Cheyenne
Feelin’ tired and sore for a ride the day before
And a thousand other rides since I began
As I climbed up the gate I heard that young cowboy sayin’
Well, that ole man ain’t gonna ride, and I had to smile
I said son it ain’t age that makes me look this way
It ain’t the years boy it’s the miles
It ain’t the years that I’ve known that have taken their toll
Cause they’ve been few
If you took all the mashin’s the draggin’s and the crashin’s
You’d probably look the same way I do
It’s the million miles of road and gettin’ snatched around and throwed
That finally put the cramp in my style it ain’t the years boy it’s the miles

Went on and made my ride only scored a sixty-five
But you know what really made my day complete
Was when I looked up just in time to see that young cowboy goin’ flyin’
And land in a pile at my feet
And as the first aid came to haul him away I said son you’ll be
Alright in a little while
He’s on his way to findin’ out what it’s all about
It ain’t the years boy it’s the miles
It ain’t the years that I’ve known that’ve taken their toll
Cause they’ve been few
If you took all the mashin’s…
It ain’t age that makes me look this way it ain’t the years boy it’s the miles

I love you,

– Daddy