I have been in possession of a extremely rare and valuable gift: a walking buddy. Anyone who knows what it is to need and to search for a walking buddy knows this is a special gift indeed. You have to find someone you are compatible with personally, who wants to talk as little or as much as you do, who walks a speed that is rewarding to you, who has a similar schedule to you, and who has the same commitment level you have for an ongoing date.
Melissa and I have been walking together for more than a year. We walk at the same place each day and have been able to see many sunrises, experienced all types of weather, and have seen each season come and go.
We have also found ourselves joined by a new community. We have seen wildlife including bald eagles, osprey, and beavers. We once saw a mother beaver swimming with two babies on her back. In addition to our new animal friends, there are a handful of familiar faces who join us on the trail.
We don’t know all of their names, but we notice when the others of us are gone, or have had a change in schedule, and when we see each other again, we inquire about the absence. Some people walk in pairs, and some walk en seul. One lady tells us each day, as we pass each other on the trail, “Hi ladies. Be safe.” The individuals in this committed group are a comfort to the others, reinforcing habits hard fought for.
One such couple of walking partners are two elderly men. We have noticed over time that they arrived each day at 7:30 am. They are known as the Captain, and Mike. As I pulled into my parking spot yesterday, I noticed the Captain talking to Melissa, my walking buddy. Usually if they are talking, it means I am late and will soon be dutifully ribbed for being so. I joined the group and he waved goodbye and left. This group does not like to be caught in long conversation. Melissa and I started on our trail and she shared with me what she and the Captain were discussing. Mike had died of a heart attack last week.
Mike was the type of old man who seemed grumpy, but on further investigation, was quietly charitable to people in need. He and Captain met each day, walked at the lake, picking up bottles, and shooting the breeze. The Captain shared with Melissa that he knows Mike is still with him, but his walks are not the same anymore.
So, the Captain asked Melissa for help. If she’s ever out at 7:30, in need of a walking partner, could he walk with her? And her gift to him was to say, yes.