Inspired by the NPR series “This I believe”, I wrote my own belief story.
I used to see an elderly couple every morning on my way to work. I would be driving along, focused on what I would be teaching later that morning, and I would catch a glimpse of this man and woman walking along holding hands. I don’t know if they were just taking a morning constitutional, but I liked to think they had been to a small diner that was just down the road for breakfast together and were heading home, strolling the leisurely walk of the retired and carefree. Some days, they were on the south side of the street, some days, they had crossed over to the North. But every time I saw them, they were holding hands. He would help her step down from the curb; she would lean into him to say something. I would think to myself how envious I was of that – being free to walk down the street holding hands with one’s life partner, sharing those precious moments.
Several years ago, I moved and my commute to work changed. I found myself missing them. Of course, I had never met them, didn’t know their names, and I am certain they didn’t even know I existed, but I missed seeing them all the same. But then I saw her. Not her – a different her. An older her. A woman, walking alone, getting her morning exercise. Depending on the time and the traffic, I saw her at different places along a stretch of road, always in a long dress, often with a jacket for protection against the morning chill, and sporting a reflective vest for visibility. On a couple of occasions, I even saw her on a side road I don’t usually travel.
From all of the sightings I had, I estimated that this senior citizen walked at least 1-2 miles every morning. And again, I found myself feeling envious. This time, of her apparent comfort with herself – it didn’t matter that she didn’t have a walking partner – and her dedication to healthy living. Whether we grow old with a partner or on our own, being comfortable with life is a goal that I strive to meet. I believe we all need to grow old with someone we love, even if that is only ourselves.