I Carry Your Heart

On December 17th of last year, my grandma, Mimi, passed away. Mimi was 98 ½ and bursting with enthusiasm for life. When she wasn’t hosting bridge club or winning games of Bingo at her retirement community, she was preparing her costume for the Halloween party or constantly sharing smiles and stories with others. I think about Mimi every single day on the trail. I know that she’s with me, because I feel her in cool breezes and in warm rays of sunshine. I know that she’s proud of me.

My brother, Will, wrote a beautiful tribute to Mimi that he shared at her Celebration of Life service in January. He highlighted a few specific lessons (of many) that he learned from her. They resonate with me as well, and I think about them often on the trail.

1.) Never take a Mulligan.
Mimi was an extremely talented golfer, winning tournaments well into her eighties. Golf was never really my thing. In fact, the one time I tried to play I accidently hit my mom in the head with a nine iron. Needless to say, that was the beginning and end of my golfing career. But I don’t need to be a golfer to understand the importance of following through with something, of not taking shortcuts to achieve my goals. I am reminded of this daily as I hike. There are no shortcuts to Katahdin, and this isn’t supposed to be easy. The reward will be that much sweeter when I reach my goal knowing that I didn’t short change myself in any way.

2.) Always vote for the Democrat.
This is less about politics and more about passion (though due to the Huddleston blood that courses my veins, I will likely always vote for the Democrat). Mimi was passionate about politics and spent a lot of time standing up for what she believed in. She taught me the importance of chasing dreams and nurturing passions, and that’s exactly what I’m doing out here.

3.) If you love me, you’ll have another piece of cake.
Mimi was an incredible cook. She made delicious cakes and pies, including Red Velvet, Hummingbird, and my personal favorite, Derby Pie. Mimi often reminded us that there was always time for another piece of cake. Growing up, I thought that she just wanted us to eat more, but my brother pointed out that it wasn’t actually about food. No, it was about taking a few more minutes to sit together around the table, sharing stories and laughing. On the trail, I admit that I find myself occasionally obsessing over miles…how many can I cover today? How much more daylight do I have? Go, go, go! Thinking of Mimi reminds me that I’m not out here to rush through this experience. In fact, this journey is about slowing down, enjoying each mile, and spending time genuinely interacting with others.

Today is Mimi’s birthday. She would’ve been 99. The sun is shining brightly here in Shenandoah National Park, and flowers are blooming abundantly. It’s very hot, but that’s okay because Mimi loved warm weather. It’s a perfect day to celebrate her, and that’s exactly what I’ll be doing by living the way she taught me – with enthusiasm, joy, and deep gratitude.

“I carry your heart with me
I carry it in my heart.”

Until next time, peace be the journey.
Yellow Bird/Liz

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