Have you ever suddenly noticed something you do unconsciously? Something you’ve done a thousand times without thinking? Then as you notice yourself doing it, a memory comes back. This happened to me today as I knotted the end of a piece of thread. As I have probably done 10 thousand times, I licked my finger (yea, I know, gross) and wrapped the end of the thread around my index finger, rolled it between my index finger and thumb and as I watched myself do this, because normally I don’t, the memory of learning that trick came flooding back to me.

I can remember standing next to my great Aunt Margaret, watching her use the sewing machine in her home. It was so magical to me to watch the needle go up and down and create one piece of fabric out of two. As one of over 30 great nieces and nephews, there was not a lot of time for teaching one of us to sew, but I loved watching her when we would visit. The one thing she did take the time to teach me was how to make the lace garters that she gave to each of us as a shower gift when we got married. These little bits of lace and blue ribbon were put together during one very special visit. Aunt Margaret was getting older and she wanted to make sure the tradition was passed down. As we sat in her sewing room together, I was in awe of how much more I still had to learn about sewing. At 20 something when she taught me to make the garters, I had been sewing about 10 years, but I sat there with a woman who had been sewing for decades and watched, feeling honored that she was taking this time to teach me. As she prepared to show me how to close up the seam in the ribbon, she pulled off a piece of blue thread, picked up a needle, licked her finger and swiftly knotted the thread. I stopped her and asked her to do that again! That was awesome! She handed me a piece of thread, slowed herself down, and taught me something that I have done over and over and over since. One little moment. And a tiny skill that makes my work move along faster.

Why now? Maybe because I spoke with one of my Aunt’s yesterday. Maybe because we talked about people we miss, getting old, learning to use a fax machine at 86, but feeling bad because she didn’t know how to private message someone on Facebook. (Ok, but you have a Facebook account and you know how to use it.! At 86!!!) Maybe I wouldn’t have remembered when I learned this knotting trick if I hadn’t had the conversation with my Aunt, but I did, and I think that’s what triggered the memory. I’m so glad I did, and it did.

Today I ran the Broad Street Run. Ten flat miles through the city of Philadelphia. In the pouring rain. Not spitting. Not drizzling. Total downpour!  I did it, and I’m happy with myself. More than a little annoyed that the app on my phone and the chip on my running bib don’t match up. One says 1:59. The other 2:04. Which would you choose? Here’s a clue; I seriously wanted to beat 2 hours!

But my biggest take away from this is the same that it always is after I’ve run this race. This City, and the people in it are AWESOME!

It started with the volunteers in the SEPTA station, directing us and telling us to have a great race. And smiling!

The volunteers who stood in the rain handing out Gatorade and water, laughing, cheering us on. And smiling!

The Temple University Band, with the adorable young woman with the sign that said, “Worst parade ever”. Made me laugh out loud!  We made eye contact, I gave her the thumbs up and yelled thanks!

The church and school members who danced and sang as they held cups of water to people who grabbed them and ran. When I thanked them, they thanked me.

The Church members who stood outside of their churches, under umbrellas cheering and telling us to keep going, we were almost done. At mile 3!

The police officers who stood in the intersections. And cheered for us as we ran by.

The people holding the signs as they waited for their loved ones. They were hilarious!   Some of the ones I remember:                                              
  • Why do the cute ones always run away?
  • It’s okay, I peed my pants a little, too!
  • I’m wearing my lucky underwear, too!
  • I run so I don’t kill my husband.
  • Run now, wine later! (truly a personal favorite!)
  • Hey there random stranger, I’m cheering for you!
  • Just keep swimming! (Not really sure how funny I think that was today!)   
  • Hey Liz, can you run faster? We’re cold!
Even on this miserable day, people lined the race route, cheering, calling out to us, telling us we were awesome. This was no easy fete, getting 40,000+ runners and their cheering fans through the city. I’m sure there were a few glitches, but it sure seemed like it went off without any!  And all with the help of thousands of volunteers who showed up with smiles and rain ponchos!