Tradition, guilt powerful motivators

Tradition and guilt.

Guilt and tradition.

Such powerful motivators.

We do a lot of things based on those two nouns, I was reminded during a recent phone conversation with my sister Cathy, who lives in the Columbus area.

She called me the other evening, and when I saw her name on the caller ID, when I answered the phone, I sat down at the kitchen table and made the hand motion to Better Half to please put on a pot of coffee for me.

Coffee, ironically, is the beverage that neither wakes me up or prevents me from sleeping.

I pointed my left index finger toward the coffee pot, stabbed my finger in the air in the coffee pot’s direction and mouthed the words “Make me some coffee, p-l-e-a-s-e!”

I smiled with animation, too, at his ability to read lips and follow the secret Janice codes with such skill.

Ahh coffee talk time.

If I’m talking to my sister — “Chatty Cathy” — it’s going to be an investment of time because our sessions are the kind that leave an ear red from prolonged pressing of the phone to it. Or your elbow aches or both.

If we have a conversation less than an hour and a half, it qualifies as a briefing, just quickly touching base.

I don’t know what it is about us, but just when you think the conversation is over and ending for good — a little pause makes you think that’s happening — another comment comes, another topic surfaces or one of us says “Oh, I forgot to mention this” or “I forgot to ask you something.”

In the “I-forgot-to-ask-you something” department is where the tradition and guilt come into play.

We’re chit-chatting about all kinds of stuff — what’s going on in her neck of the woods, what’s going on in Richmond and elsewhere, and she asks, a bit hesitantly, “We’re doing Wheeling again, aren’t we?”

I felt an expanding “ughh” well in my throat.

There was a pause, but this conversation was far from over.

“I thought we said that’s it for Wheeling last year,” I said, a little hesitantly, too.

Translated, “Wheeling” means participating in the Ogden Newspaper’s half marathon on the Saturday morning of Memorial Day weekend.

She’s done it forever.

I’ve done it for what seems like forever, because Chatty Cathy got me into it.

I reminded her that, last year, as I plodded along the never-ending 13.1-mile course of hills and mountains I had asked myself, why am I doing this.

“It’s tradition,” my sister offered.

“My legs felt like rubber,” I complained.”

“It’s tradition,” she said, apparently assuming I hadn’t heard her the first time and noting her goal is to run the route 20 times — not all at once, of course. She’s at 17.

“We’ll need to start training, plan our Richmond run, too,” she continued, probably looking at a calendar somewhere to plot the pre-race long run, another tradition.

She said all this with the authority of an older sister talking to a younger sister.

“OK,” I said, feeling tradition, guilt and a weak moment take control.

“We’ll do Wheeling again.”

(Kiaski, a resident of Richmond, is a staff columnist and features writer for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and community editor for the Herald-Star. She can be contacted at jkiaski@heraldstaronline.com.)


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