“Boy, I’m already late! Go get your shoes and hurry up, you’ll have to catch up because I’m leaving. I have to go to work.”
Granddaddy was a mechanic and heavy machinery operator, and I would constantly bother him about taking me to his work.
BAM! “Sorry!” Racing across the yard to get my shoes, I would push through the screen door and hear it slam shut behind me. There is no time to pause and apologize, so I’d shout it out loud, hoping he’d hear the excitement and sincerity in my voice. On the island, most families have one big property, usually a couple acres, with everyone having their own house dispersed on the land. Well, almost everyone, my dad moved to the city to be with my mom when my older sister was born, so when we come back to the island, we stay with my great grandmother, who we call Tidda.
I can’t run in Tidda’s house like I do my granddaddy’s, so this sometimes slow me down a few seconds. “Ya granddaddy going early today boy, you still in that room?” She knows I’m in a rush so she acts as my watchman, keeping me aware of my limited time to get ready. There is a latch on her screen door, I’m force to slow my pace when exiting her house, unlike the slammer over at my granddad’s. The tractor starts up, horn blows and he’s on the move. The race begins yet again, across the yard, I dash through the trees.
There’s a row of coconut trees in his front yard that I never seem to escape because the limbs hang so low. I doubt he can hear my screams due to the loud roar of the tractor’s engine. It’s safe to run in the road now, we’re still on our property, he hasn’t reached the main road for public as yet. I’ve had this morning chase more than 100 times, and only been successful in catching him twice. This particular time, he allowed me to sit in his lap and control the steering wheel. My cheeks cramping from how much I’m smiling as the wind blows against my face. He’d stop by my aunty Michelle and let me off; I now have to walk back to Tidda’s house, about a mile back.
That’s where I found my love for running- racing up and down the yard, chasing my granddaddy on his tractor heading to work. I’d watch the Olympics and track & field competition every chance I got when they came on TV. I never had a favorite athlete, I really just enjoyed watching the thrill of the 4x400m relay. The adrenaline reminded me of the different phases of my race with my granddad. Through watching NCAAs on TV, I imagined myself in the relay races. Acting out the entire race in my living room, I’d walk around the couch as if it was a track.
“And there goes Bowleg with a surge to the front! Wow look at him go.” I’d create my own scenario as I listened to the commentators announce the action in the race.