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Living with Luke 65

April 2, 2016

Training. A word with many meanings, most of them involving sweat, tears and my lungs demanding to be let out of my chest. I used to train 3 times a week and play football on a Sunday. Then I trained 5 times a week, football on a Sunday. Then I stopped playing football and so now I train or do some form of physical exercise between 6-8 times a week. I should be easing down now, shouldn’t I? Sitting on my front step, with my long pipe, swearing at people passing by like an old sailor. But I’m not. Instead I get up at 5.30 (6.00 during the holidays – lay in!) and put myself through some form of torture for anything up to an hour in an effort to maintain the body of a Greek god (Hermaphrodite…which one was he again?). That may not sound a lot to some people, but it’s more than enough for me each day. And it is a torture. Back injuries sustained through bad falls playing football mean that it really is difficult sometimes to muster up the motivation. I don’t enjoy training, I never have done. I’ve never experienced that ‘runners high’ or rush of endorphins or Dolphins or Mighty Morphin Power Rangers – whatever it’s called – that I keep hearing about from all the other people who train. I’m with Muhammad Ali on that score who said amongst other things, 

“Put in the work”

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion!'”

Now I don’t in any way consider myself to be a champion, so I substitute that word for father. And that’s what this chapter is about. I’m training every day to try and make sure that I am taking care of myself as best I can to look after Tiddles, now and far into the future. 

With that in mind, I posted this on my FB page the other day…

What ever age you live to Tiddles, I’ll live one day longer, so I can be there to look after you, always…

It’s why I do it. Oh there’s a certain amount of ego involved as well – this blog wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t. I don’t want to be the stereotype late forties male. The sum of my parts have been thrown together to form this mass of humanity and masculinity. It’s not perfect and sometimes it’s not always very nice to be around. I beat myself up when I do or say something wrong. And if it’s to do with Tiddles then it’s worse, because he cannot understand me trying to make it right with him. And so we drift a bit further apart. 

So I train. To get stronger, to BE stronger mentally, physically and maybe even emotionally. I jump, I stretch, I lift, I pull, I push…but underneath it all, I want to love and be loved. All the training in the world cannot give that to me. I have to give love to hopefully one day be loved. 

And just sometimes I am. Maybe not for a day, sometimes not even for a minute. But some ‘time’.

The heart is a muscle, it needs exercising just like anything if you want it to work properly. But that isn’t just cardiovascular exercise. It’s as much emotional exercise as anything else. We all have our passions, our ‘hearts desire’, something that makes us feel alive. We need that as much as we need physical exercise. But our heart is one of the only muscles that can be ‘broken’. You can’t break a bicep, a quadricep or a brain. You can tear a bicep, or damage a brain, but you break a heart. Mine has been broken for a long while now, repeatedly over the years since Tiddles was diagnosed. It starts to repair itself and then something else will happen that breaks it again. But, like getting up and training everyday, I keep picking up the pieces and put it all together again. 

Because I’m Luke’s dad. I’m not perfect, I’m not always nice and I’m certainly not a champion. But I want to give myself a shot at being there for him for as long as is humanly possible. 

“So get up you sonovabitch…”

Tiddles may not love me, but he does show me a glimpse of what love could be.  And for that, he’s going to have to put up with me. 


“Get up…”


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