Almost every morning I set out for a walk. Some days I only manage 2 – 3 miles, others it could be 5 – 6, depending on how I feel that day. I have always enjoyed walking and in the past it has sure helped me keep semi-fit and lose weight. Now, as I’ve retired, I find another aspect of it ( the fitness/losing weight benefit doesn’t seem to be working!) – the great scenery, the beach, and getting to see/know the people in our ‘hood.
I have mentioned before how friendly people here in our little community. Most everyone I pass during my walk, greets me with a warm ‘good morning’, a comment on the weather or just a nice ‘hello’ and a smile.
Given these experiences, I was a little take aback when I met up with an elderly(ish) gentleman and his little orange dog walking toward me one day. I gave him a bright smile and said ‘good morning’. His response was barely audible and almost like a grumpy sigh (do I have to speak to this woman), ‘mornin’. I thought he might be just having a bad or sad day.
It became apparent that him and his dog and I had the same morning routine. I often meet him on my walk and his response was always the cranky sounding ‘mornin’. I started to refer to him as ‘cranky pants’ in my mind. I grin to myself when I see him approach. Poor guy obviously thinks – oh no, her again. Some days when I’m not in such a great mood, I don’t even say anything to him and he doesn’t initiate a ‘mornin’ either.
I also tend to meet up with another gentlemen most mornings. Without trying to make assumptions or judging (but I guess I am doing both), I would surmise he’s had a rough life. I would also surmise that he is working really hard at turning his life around. He has a sparkle in his eye and a big smile when he says ‘good mornin’. I’ve seen him at the beach as well, looking out at the water with a reflective stance.
I was recently following a woman walking ahead of me for a few blocks. She stopped and said that she knew there was someone behind her. We walked together for the rest of the way home – she lives in the condo complex across from our house. Irene barely took a breath; she talked nonstop for 3 blocks. I heard of her ill health, her husband’s recent medical tests, their plans for the winter, where they’ve lived over the last 20 years. When we stopped at the junction to our homes she said ‘thanks, I needed that’. Not sure what she needed but I enjoyed her company.
I walk past a seniors complex every day. It’s clear that the residents range from very functional to bed-ridden. The path I take goes in front of some of the lower level windows. Often I see a resident sitting in a wheelchair looking out. In every window is a little personal keepsake – an ornament, stuffed animal, ceramic church. There are afghans, pictures and pillows visible from their windows. I get sad when I walk by because its clear that some of the residents are looking out, but they are not really seeing. Or, if they are, they are wishing they were in another place.
Last week I heard a knock, knock from a second story window. A lovely lady was standing there, waving at me. I vigorously waved back with a big smile. A few days later, I saw her again so I waved happily. Oops, wrong room – the woman looked at me like ‘who the heck are you?’!!
It is comforting and refreshing to meet familiar faces living in this smaller community. We all go about our own personal lives but we have that bit of commonality in our ‘hood and from what I can tell, we all like it here.