My dad has been a skater for as long as I can remember. But it wasn’t always his favorite pastime. When he was younger, he was an avid jogger. He used to tell me that running to exhaustion created a high that was addictive. So, he would jog 3 miles every day except Sunday (or 6 miles every other day), until his knees started bothering him. When he realized he couldn’t jog anymore, I think he went through a depressive state.
He didn’t jump into skating right away, because, well, life happens. There were so many life-changing events that hit my father in rapid succession; I’m not sure he even had time to think about skating. He went through a divorce, battled cancer and moved in with his father to provide end-of-life care. These events are all-consuming and difficult to endure without an outlet.
After my grandfather passed, my father started skating again. When he started going again, he wasn’t as good as he wanted to be so he would practice. Practice getting the rhythm. Practice his pivots. Practice his slides. He practiced so hard that one day, he knocked himself out, working on his slide.
“Ange, one minute I was sliding into the corner and the next minute I was on the floor and someone had taken my skates off.”
I went into mother mode.
“Dad, this is ridiculous. You are going to kill yourself. If you insist on practicing these moves, you need a helmet!”
There would be no helmets; they aren’t cool. It was at that point that I realized the importance of skating to my father. It was his outlet. It challenged him. It released the endorphins he lost when he stopped running. It wasn’t just a hobby, skating maintained his health and fed his soul.
Now, on any given week, my father, who is a minister, can be found at his local church where he supports the pastor during service on Sunday morning and Wednesday evening; at the nursing home, where he leads service every Sunday afternoon; mowing his neighbors lawn because he couldn’t give up ALL his landscaping clients, repairing one of our cars or fixing the furnace, porch, plumbing or fence.
Whew! Just reading this schedule makes me want to take a nap but that’s not all. Dad’s most joyful activity happens every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, when he laces up his roller skates and “get’s down” at the roller rink.
Later this year, my father will celebrate his seventy-sixth birthday, but he still acts like he’s thirty-five. Recently, he attended Soul Skate 2018, a bi-annual skate party that attracts skaters from across the globe. Why did my father attending a roller skating event? To perfect his moves of course!
You see, Soul Skate isn’t a bunch of kids from the neighborhood, skating around the rink and holding onto the railing. Soul Skate is an event where some of the best performers and dancers on four wheels get together to hone their craft. If you aren’t familiar with this style of skating, you can check out some of the YouTube videos from the 2018 event.
I have a sense of pride when I think about my father hanging with these artists. If I’m blessed to reach the age of 75, I don’t want to spend my days sitting in front of the television. I want to participate in an activity that challenges me and pushes me to grow and learn. I believe being active is one of the secrets of living a long healthy life and my father is my example.
He whispers advice, daily, through his actions.
Angelia McFarland is a writer, marketing guru and entrepreneur. Through her company EOP Media, LLC, she helps people use the power of digital and social marketing to amplify their authentic voice. Follow her on Facebook at @eopmedia