Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Out of Town and Out of Sorts

For about a week, my sister and I operated as satellites. We were two small masses revolving around Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital at the whim of forces greater than our own. We survived on the Turkey Jerky I stocked up on from the Health food Store and grossly inappropriate doses of bad coffee. I even used a dash of the Stevia she keeps in her purse just to make the coffee feel like a different food group - something with nutritional value. Every now and then on the long drive back and forth to the hospital, my sister and I would glance at each other and share a look that said, "I feel really yucky," but as my mother struggled, we were hesitant to say it out loud because it sounded selfish.

My sister Stacey, a yoga instructor who teaches two-hour classes sometimes twice a day, and me, a personal trainer accustomed to 1.5 hours of grappling each day followed by a CrossFit class, were thrown into an unavoidable space of ill-health that consumed my mother and both of us. My mother died on Sunday and my sister and I began to tentatively reassemble our lives.

First, just to cap off the stress, the grief, and the overall yuckiness, we all had Ice Cream Sundaes topped with one indestructible, bawdy marshmallow peep. My mom loved those little buggers, stale. She was stoic and severe about her nutrition most of the time which led to these little explosions of naughtiness that manifested in what felt like food field trips which included things like peeps, and pound cake in the toaster. Come to think of it, she also managed to eat more fake cheese than anyone I know.

Then I finally started noticing the two young men running about the house in a perpetual MMA bout that included plastic swords and a Lacrosse stick. 'I'm in!', I thought. Which led to a rather impressive goose egg on my head from my sister's dresser when I engineered an ill-advised but exciting take-down in the middle of her bedroom. Seriously, hauling down a 12 year old can take some work but trying to figure the geometry in your head simultaneously is too much for my middle-aged brain. And, as Dustin, the 12-year old in question points out, the Gibbons' family may be damn near bullet proof but our grey matter goes first. As my head made an impressive thwack, I didn't hear the running play-by-play that usually accompanies Gunnar's finer moves but I bet it went something like, "aunt Heather rocks." It was worth the goose egg.

I have noticed, and not for the first time, that the 'trainer' conflicts with the aunt and I find myself trading mass doses of sugar for my 'cool aunt' title. The cost is not mine. I've dosed the two of them so heavily with sugar and caffeine that I thought one of them was going to blow a spark plug as they whirred through the house swinging blunt weapons and chattering nonsensically and nonstop. I tried to stuff chicken in Dustin after I unwisely bought him something called a 'Strawberry Colada' at Dunkin Donuts in town which happens to be the only place I get cell phone reception (thanks tons, Cingular).

I forget how hard it is to avoid crap especially if you're a teenager and things like 'Nutrition' mean nothing to you other than a boring science 'elective'. And establishing your dominance where adults are concerned can be as simple as slurping down a 'Strawberry Colada' and calling it dinner. I did however manage to make what I think is a positive impact. Yesterday, with a little prodding from Michael, I did three rounds of 21 Lunges, 21 push-ups and 21 Double-unders in the melting snow and mud of the cul-de-sac. My nephews took part. Well, if 'taking part' means pelting me with tennis balls using the lacrosse stick. Isn't 'accuracy' one of the lesser-applied measures of fitness?