2012 Preparations


8/14/12 foot surgery

9/13/12 Once my foot heals, I think I will be able to walk pain free, for the first time in over eight years. What a gift,  particularly at my age. What should I do with this gift?

9/15/12 I think I would like to do a pilgrimage. Some place like Spain or Italy. “Why not?”

9/24/12 Cast replaced by boot. Progress. Saw the movie “The Way” about a pilgrimage in Spain. Spain it is.

11/14/12 Boot off…first steps

11/16/12 first walk…almost 10 minutes…100 yards…exhausted

11/18/12 74th birthday. Feeling great. Frannie says I can’t do this pilgrimage thing on my own (aren’t you suppose to do pilgrimages by yourself?). Actually, I think I am relieved. Not sure I wasn’t just using her to get what I really wanted all along. I think I will invite son-in-law John McGrath. We did a week-long bike trip years ago and had a fun (and compatible) time together.

11/28/12 Walked ½ mile…felt like 50…need to lose weight

11/29/12 Why do I want to do this pilgrimage? Here are my initial thoughts: 1. Good to have a dream, 2. Demonstrate the possibilities and potential of the human person…when one puts his mind to using that potential, 3. Spiritual growth…pursuit of conscious contact,  4. Show at age 75 can still do a lot, 5. Why not?

12/2/12 I should lose 30 lbs. Walking any distance impossible when carrying this much weight. Maybe I should have a set of 2013 year-end goals: 1. Walk 5 miles regularly, 8 miles once; 2. lose 10 lbs.; 3. See Dr. San Giovanni, who said, “Come back and see me when you get back on your feet” (meaning if you are serious and can get your fat body in shape”), when I asked if his surgeries would hold up for 500 miles of walking.

12/5/12 1 mile…30 min. 15 sec. some muscle rebellion afterwards.

12/10/12 1 mile 27 min 1 sec. I think I should figure out what this pilgrimage is called and where it is specifically. John’s initial response: big smile…Sure… why not?

12/14/12 1 mile 25 min 11 sec; FIVE minutes faster than nine days ago. The body is incredible in the way it responds and seeks to grow with exercise.

Email to John:

It is good to have a dream!

I have no idea if our dream of making a 500 mile pilgrimage in northern Spain (I still haven’t bothered to look up the name of the pilgrimage) will work. But I want you to know my current thoughts.

First, I have started training. This is really important for me because I haven’t been able to take a real walk for almost seven years. On my first attempt I walked 100 yards (barely) and had to stop. Less than a month later I am up to a mile and am working on traversing the mile at something more than a slow crawl. My goals are to get to 3 miles (completed in a reasonable time) by the time we head north and 5 miles by October, when we head back down here. If I get this far, I plan to go see my foot surgeon next November. He seemed to have some reservations about my attempting the pilgrimage when I asked him about it after my last surgery. He avoided answering my questions and asked me to come see him next fall if I am still serious. If I get his ok, I THEN plan to start looking into specifics regarding the pilgrimage (starting with the name).

The last time we were together you asked when I might like to make the pilgrimage. If all continues to go well (primarily with my conditioning), I would love to go late summer/early fall (if Northern Spanish weather ok) of 2014.  I would like to allow 40 days for the pilgrimage and then another week or two to recover in Lucca and/or Paris. We will probably complete the pilgrimage in less time, but the buffer is there for planning purposes. So the whole deal will be 7 – 8 weeks, the last two of which our wives can take part in, if they so choose.

This is the extent of my thinking so far.

I know this will probably not work out, but, as I said to begin with, it is good to have a dream.

Love, Bill

Response from John 11:05 AM 12/14/12

Hi Bill

Got to have dreams!

Talk soon

Love and thanks, John…Sent from my iPhone


12/17/12 1 mile 24 min 57 sec. If this holds, will probably try to move to 2 miles the day after Christmas. Could feel the difference in my legs and feet yesterday at the five Masses.

12/23/12 2 miles 44 min 24 sec; this means two things: my legs are getting stronger (I just finished walking and they feel tired (particularly around my ankles and lower back/buttocks), but a good tired.) Anyway, FIRST two mile walk…less than two months ago I could barely walk 100 yards!

12/29/12 On the way to the gym this morning, Frannie discovered a Utube video of a friend of hers (Nan S.) sky diving on her 78th birthday. It was done in a wind tunnel and much fun to watch. This reminded me of one of the major reasons I am dreaming of my pilgrimage: to demonstrate it is possible to live life fully, and in seemingly extraordinary ways, as you age. Maybe the new fifty is seventy!