I hate running. I benefit from no catharsis, spiritual enlightenment or sense of great physical well-being by dragging my ungainly limbs over a great distance. Running is a joyless and personally thankless task. It makes me sore, irritable and ravenous. Among these generally undesirable attributes I have, one reigns supreme: sheer, bloody stubbornness.
To cut a long story short, I went for a run one day a year or so ago and found myself wheezing and ruined after a few ponderous miles. My body simply refused to co-operate. Well, I thought, I’ll be damned if I let this lousy mass of limbs dictate what I can and cannot do. So, in a Jekyll-and-Hyde-ish manner, I started running.
The body says “no.” The head says “Oh, yes you will, so help me…”
The reason I say all of this is because I think my bullish and stupid insistence on not letting my body have the last word comes from my Grandma. A loving and wonderful woman. Generous, funny and kind. However, she also possessed what could (in the most generous way I’m capable of) be described as a ‘hot head.’
She didn’t take kindly to being told she was wrong on anything. Nor did she allow retirement to slow her pace: there was no chance she’d let old age have the final say. I grew up watching her live her life with an iron will. It’s for this reason that her illness came as such a blow to both her and the people who knew her.
Watching cancer slowly extinguish a fire as hot as hers was something I hoped I would never have to see. But it is a cruel and merciless disease, which sadly cut her life short in its late prime.
As a society, we are fortunate that so much has been done to improve the treatment of long-term and terminal conditions. The sad fact, though, is that these illnesses still take thousands upon thousands of loved ones each year. Knowing that this all has an end is never easy to come to terms with, mostly because those facing it lack any say in the matter. But this does not mean that there must be suffering.
My Grandma spent the end of her life in Mount Edgcumbe Hospice; one of two run by Cornwall Hospice Care. She received an enormous amount of care, attention and, in the end, passed peacefully and without pain. I will never be able to fully thank Cornwall Hospice Care for what they did, but I can certainly try to make sure that they are able to do the same for others and I am doing my bit by running in the London Marathon.