A 39-year-old’s thoughts on a man who died at 49

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Mom and Dad, 1979. No filter, just good ol’ late 70s film awesomeness.

By the time I was old enough to be curious about my dad’s life, he was gone.

Like all children, I took my dad’s presence for granted. He was a unique man. He loved dance as a kid and often performed in public. He reached the rank of Eagle Scout along with his four brothers. He pursued the Catholic priesthood but left seminary an atheist. He became a follower of Jesus through reading Evidence that Demands a Verdict. He shared his family’s passion for airplanes.

His daily home uniform consisted of blue gym shorts and a white Fruit of the Loom v-neck undershirt. He danced in the living room until he got a reaction from his kids. He laughed like Ernie on Sesame Street. He grew roses. He was passionate about eschatology. He never asked famous people for autographs even though he regularly met them on the job at the airport. He was a voracious reader, spending hours in the garage smoking cigarettes and pouring over history books. He spoke in facts, not feelings. He rarely disclosed personal information. His hair was as thick at 49 as it was at 19. He had the smallest traces of grey above his ears. Mondays were for the bank and McDonald’s. He snacked on blocks of cheese and Cherry Coke (later the Cherry Coke morphed into Crystal Light, which may or may not have been mixed with vodka). …

A lesson, curtesy of churro-eating Disney guests

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Spaceship Earth; or as all humanity calls it, the Epcot Ball. Photo by Anthony Rivers.

Sharon and I ran the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon in 2012, two days after arriving in the US from Asia. We spent all day in the parks, laughing in the face of common race wisdom, drowning our jet lag in turkey legs and nostalgia. After a 6 PM Epcot parking lot nap, we lined up for the 10 PM start, our Malaysia-acclimated bodies shivering in the Florida autumn night.

The Riverses are Disney dorks to the bone. The race was magical. We ran through Animal Kingdom, past Expedition Everest and the Tree of Life. …

Tips from your middle-aged mzungu friend

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As a life-long sea level dweller these numbers scare me. Photo by Anthony Rivers.

1. It’s more trail running than street running. Doesn’t Nairobi have sidewalks? Yes and no. More often no. Mostly no. If your ankles weren’t strong before, they’ll be tree trunks after a season in Nairobi. Uneven sidewalks. Single-track dirt paths. Rocks. Debris. And dust on top of dust on top of I’m not entirely sure what (see number six).

2. You will fall in a hole. (See number one.) Last week I fell after mile one of a five-mile run. Instead of limping home, I angry-ran the remaining four miles with a bloody knee. …

Accomplishing your goals while keeping your money

I told Sharon we need a second guitar to teach the kids. Not just any guitar. Oh no. A Martin. We need a Martin. We bought a Martin.

Do we own guitar already? Yes. Is it sufficient? It’s a Taylor, so again, yes. Was I already teaching the kids with this more-than-sufficient-Taylor? Of course not, because if I was serious I would make do with the one guitar.

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Like any self-respecting five year old, Ivy has a Martin. Photo by Anthony Rivers.

I myself learned guitar on a 1970s wood plank with strings fifteen feet off the fretboard like a suspension bridge. A carved rose decorated the plastic pickguard. I grew a 70s’ stache the minute I strummed the strings. Fittingly, one of the first songs I learned was The Eagles “Peaceful Easy Feeling.” I loved that guitar. I bled on that guitar. …


Anthony Rivers

I do logistics for a religious organization. I say “yes” till the money’s gone (see my coffee-brewing paraphernalia for proof). Runner. Photographer. Reader.

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