Earlier this week I was standing on the sidewalk chatting with a girlfriend after our daily workout at the local park. I spotted an older gentleman walking towards us and started to move my stuff as we were taking up the whole sidewalk between our bodies and workout gear. When he yelled “Oh don’t you worry about that stuff I can get around it.” As he came closer he asked if we were a part of the group of ladies that work out at the park everyday.
“You’re doing the right thing, do you know how I know?”
“No how?”, we asked.
“Look at me! I’m 96 years old! And I walk everyday.” He proceeded to take off his WWII Veteran Museum cap and show us his full head of white hair, and when he smiled his large grin, we could see his very own teeth.
He told us how he graduated from the local high school in 1935 and grew up on a nearby street. And that the street across from that was later named after his family. He now lives in town and walks everywhere he needs to go. To the grocery store, the post office, back to his house and out again for something he forgot.
“Four miles in total just the other day”, he told us.
I stood there thinking what a gem this man is. Not only did he happen upon my friend and I at the perfect moment, as we had been talking about our body aches and difficulty making time to come workout each week, but he just created joy automatically for the both of us. He has lived in our little town, I believe, his whole life and the stories and history he must know could fill books.
“I don’t have my hearing aide with me today.” He told us as he started to walk away. “But next time I will, cuz, boy I got stories to tell ya.”
I can’t wait to see Fred walking by again soon. This time I’ll be ready with my voice recorder.