With the morning quickly warming up, there was no way I was going to delay my five-mile walk.
The air was pleasant, but not the refreshing cool that I prefer. A few minutes into the walk, a woman who was jogging smiled at me, and seemed to slow down. It did appear to be purposeful. I smiled.
She kind of jogged in place and as we approached each other said "hi, you are the one who writes editorials in the newspaper, right?"
While I am no good in identifying accents, this one was not American. Perhaps British.
"Yes, thank you" I replied as I continued to walk as she also appeared to increase her pace.
"I recognized you from the paper" she said as she faded away.
As I passed the bridge and headed to the other side, it amused me that she recognized me. Six years ago, after the paper had published a couple of my op-eds, the editor emailed me suggesting that I go over to their offices in order to be photographed. I had become their regular columnist and, thus, my columns would thereafter include my photo too.
Six years ago, I had a lot more hair. My hair and my beard were way less grey. I am now very different from that, I think. Further, I was wearing a wide-brimmed hat. Yet, this woman recognized me based on that six-year old photo. Cool!
A few steps ahead of me, a young woman climbed up the bank with two dogs on leashes. Her outfit was some kind of a summery/beachy attire that hung from her chest to quite a few inches above her knees. My pace being a lot faster than hers, as I neared her before overtaking, I noticed that her back had a huge tattoo.
I was now nearly on par with her and got a clear view of that tattoo. It was one that I had never seen before on a human. An outline of the world map. About a eight-inch by five-inch panel it was. The tattoo was no different from the image below:
An 8x5 of this tattooed on one's back! Wow! Different strokes for different folks, indeed!
Before reaching home, I decided to get down to the river, not only to say hi to the waters but to also eat a few blackberries right off the vines.
A tad sour they were. A few more days of warmth and they will taste sweet to my tongue as the jogger's compliments were to my ears.
I sat by the river. I consciously reminded myself that I am fortunate to enjoy all these.
I heard approaching sounds. A dog slowly walked up to the water and quenched its thirst.
A dog with a harness and a collar. "Surely the owner is not far behind," I thought to myself, as I clicked a photo.
"Hello" said a woman wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
"Lovely day" I replied.
She grabbed a stick and threw it into the river, and the dog waded in and fetched it. He brought it back to the pebbly area, put the stick down and shook the water off his body.
"Not next to to him" the woman said.
"You have trained him well. Not to spray on you, but on others" I laughed. "How old is the dog?"
"Oh, middle-aged like me."
"And me too" she said. "He was so helpful to ease my parents in their final days" she added.
"Oh, he was your parents' dog ...?"
"No. Mine. But, we shared the dog. He was there when my father died, after which we moved my mother to an Alzheimer's care home."
Damn this Alzheimer's. It is appearing way too often for my liking.
"She wasn't there for long. I think she wanted to go after her husband died."
"Oh, I'm sorry. How long ago did you mother die?"
"Just six months ago!"
"Yes. It was a peaceful death. She opened her eyes one last time and we hugged. My dog gave her a kiss."
"Thanks for sharing that with me" I said. She nodded her head and smiled.
It seemed like she continues to feel the loss of her parents, and in a healthy way. As she prepared to leave, I wished her a good day.
I sat there for a few more minutes appreciating my good fortunes.