It was 1977 in Ft Collins Co., I think, I could be wrong (about the year, it was certainly Ft Collins).Â It was about 2:00am (give or take an hour).Â I was sound asleep, until she woke me up to see the snow.Â It was amazing, so we, on a school night, went for a walk.Â At the end of that walk we wound up at a city park making snow angels and playing on the usually overcrowded play ground by ourselves until sunrise (give or take an hour or two).
I remember it like it was yesterday (give or take 40 years).Â The thrill of being awake and playing in the snow in the middle of the night.Â Going to school the next day and telling all of the other kids what I had been doing all night.Â Perfecting snow angel after snow angel; the entire playground was covered with them when we left.
I remember asking her why we were allowed to play so late on a school night, and she said something like â€œbecause itâ€™s the first snow, and you donâ€™t miss an opportunity like this because you might be tired the next day.â€
When we were still living in California, before the move to Colorado we drove half a day to do a 7 mile run together.Â When we got there, she realized she had forgotten her running shoes and nothing other than her hiking boots to run in.Â She completed the race.Â They sent her a certificate â€œwomen ages 25-35, wearing hiking boots – first place.â€ (Well, it said something like that, I donâ€™t remember the exact words).
Ten or fifteen years later, I was in New York to run the marathon and got food poisoning the night before.Â I spent the entire night before the race in the bathroom getting sick.Â I believe the term for what I looked like the next morning is â€œdeath warmed over.â€Â I completed the race.Â I got sick a couple of times on the course, and did not have a very good time, but I finished the New York Marathon.
Several times over they years people have asked me why I ran that day and my response has always been the same, â€œI didnâ€™t train for all those months, and fly over 2000 miles to New Your to not run the marathon.â€
After some 20 hours on a train, when we arrived in Canberra Australia, we could not find a place to stay.Â She spent a good hour on the phone, calling hotel after hotel; hostel after hostel.Â The whole time with two children, 14 and 11, looking to her for a solution.Â I remember her coming out of the phone booth across the station from us, throwing her hands in the air above her head, making a human â€œYâ€ and singing across the station at the top of her voice â€œweâ€™re gonna stay at the… Y-M-C-Aâ€ complete with all of the necessary hand gestures.
We stood together at the top fo Ayers Rock, we shared a Singapore Sling at Raffels hotel in Singapore (where the drink was invented), we shopped for Thai silk at Jim Thompsons shop in Bankok and visited Koh Samui before the rest of the world knew it existed (you had to take an overnight boat just to get there… now people fly in directly).
This woman showed me the world, and how to relentlessly grasp everything it had to offer.Â From lessons learned at a random grave site in the heart of the Outback (http://puntiglio.com/blog/?p=263) to a sense of conviction I didnâ€™t even recognize as coming from her at the time, and so much more, she made me what I am today.
Twenty years ago, today, she died on that same Thai island, peacefully in her sleep.Â Gone far too soon, a mother that never lived to see her children fully blossom; but who, none the less, shaped them into the people they had no choice but to eventually become.
I am Penny Fuersts son, I carry her and her legacy within me everyday.
I love you, mom….