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How Sports Training Makes A Difference.

The Team.

The Team.

A couple in New York state ended their lives in front of a freight train.

The woman had a new medical condition that was slow to improve.

The man was down because of the changes in his wife.

They were married 42 years, both of them fifty nine years old.

There’s a lesson here for the rest of us, besides me being fifty nine too.

Since the lady was in a weakened state she needed her husband’s help. It looks like she needed lots of help.

He helped her make it to the train tracks.

Most bloggers see a story like this and roll out the platitudes. Not here, ladies and gentlemen. Your boomerpdx blogger knows how it feels when someone needs you, when someone has needs to tend to, all day and all night.

I was my father-in-law’s 24/7 home caregiver for five years. Sports made a difference with him because we talked in game terms.

If he was slow, and Parkinson’s makes you slow, I’d say, “We’re behind on the scoreboard big daddy. We need to kick it in hard the next few hours.”

See, if you’re a family caregiver time ceases to matter. If you project years down the line thinking of the worst day you’ve had so far, you’re headed for mental problems.

The trick is one play, one day, one hour at a time. Not next month or next year. That’s too far out to think about.

Engage a loved one in sports analogies and you’ll sound like a jock sniffer or an inspiration. Aim for inspiration, but expect some judgement from the non-sport side.

With sports, you’re a team. And the team needs everyone to pull their fair share.

When a loved one can’t do anything they used to do, find new things for them.

Non-sport guy gives up. Sports guy finds a way to win the moment, to do what losers don’t do.

If it’s your wife, your kid, your parents, or in-laws, think of sport talk as a way to mask the sadness you feel at their reduced state. Remember, you’ll be on that side of deal too, if you live long enough.

I understand how hurt it feels to watch someone play out their line. You’ve visited someone in that condition, maybe lived with them.

Heading to the train tracks to end it all might look like a good idea, but let that moment pass.

Every morning with my father-in-law I’d ask him how he felt. Sometimes he’d answer, sometimes not. When he didn’t answer I used my grave voice and answered for him.

“You must feel horrible. Here you are, sleeping in diapers on a rubber sheet. It’s got to be miserable. It is, isn’t it. You probably feel like letting go, like giving up.”

Then I’d ask him if he wanted to die. Some mornings he’d say yes, which was what I was hoping for.

“Do you want to die?” I asked.


“Well that’s too bad, because I’m not going to kill you. So let’s get rolling, get cleaned up, take a few laps, shadow box, and kick the crap out of this day. We’re going to win until we lose. Are you a loser? Not today, boss. Today you’re an ass kicker looking for a chance. You might kick my ass.”


“Do you want to kick my ass? Sure you do, and you might. Let’s roll, Pops.”

Do that every day for five years and you end up fine tuning the message, but stay on the theme. You’re there to help, and you need the other person to find a way to help. You need to help them find a way.

Once you’ve got your teammate revved up, set the goals and work toward them. That’s the sport way. It’s a tough road. Are you tough enough?









About David Gillaspie


  1. David, Great thoughts. Your sincerity shines through the entire story. Very well done and you are to be applauded for the efforts you made.

    • David Gillaspie says:

      Man, Rob, you’re choking me up. You saw what it takes to do it right. The man who took his wife in front of the train needed something extra that wasn’t there. We know what it takes, whether we decide to act or not. Now, if we can be sure our millennial kids catch on….

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