I walk every single morning.
The trail is about two and a half kilometers of forest and then side street that connects a catwalk to a second trail that leads to a beautiful bridge with a grandfather willow that sways back and forth in the morning.
I walk that same trail.
I have an affinity with birds—cardinals, finches…I saw a crane the other day!
I’m a Virgo who goes home and looks up all of the symbolism in a chance natural encounter—a Curious George of every sort. I pray at that bridge every single day. As a single mom of four kids, it’s how I got through—lots of prayer!
So, as I was walking last week, I came upon the section where the second trail starts and you have to cut through the catwalk. On the left is a beautiful, small, grey bricked bungalow. The side of the house facing the catwalk is adorned with a mass of vines that intertwines and grows up its entire side.
I had chatted with the owner of this house on many occasions. His house is evidence of his love and talent in tending to his garden. He has every type of offering out for the wildlife (baths, trays of seeds, plates, pots)….and, as his entire yard backed onto the park, it became a social meeting place for the birds.
A slight Asian man with a twinkle in his eye, he seemed to revel in the moments he spent alone puttering back there in his little squirrel and bird oasis.
As I was passing through the catwalk that day, there was another neighbor who sometimes joined up with me. A lovely gentleman who would kindly ask, ‘How are you today, dear?'” He a cute elderly miniature poodle—a little senior ball of fur who walks with a spring in her step and her tail straight up and wagging, like she owns the park.
That day, my friend said to me “Did you hear that this man died?” and he pointed to the little gardener’s house.
I placed my hand on my heart and I said, “No…not this man who lives right here. Really?”
And he said, “Yes, dear. He had a heart attack. I went to his service yesterday.”
“No, not my gardener friend…”
It really hit me.
My friend and I kept walking and he said, “Did you take your kids to school this morning?”
It occurred to me that we walk sometimes but we don’t really “know” each other.
I said, “Yes. I have four. They’re 29, 25, 25 and 14…so one still does go to school, yes” Then I ask him, “You have kids?”
He says, “Yeah, two boys.” Then he pauses.
“One I lost 15 years ago, but I think about him every single day.”
How profound, I thought. This stranger and I—talking life and death, walking along with his dog and sharing this moment in time thinking of our gardener friend who is maybe watching down over us, probably checking his trays for seeds.
At the end of the loop at the park, the paved path veers in two different directions. Mine is the path to the bridge where I pray. His is the path back home to his family home across the street from our gardener friend where he saw the ambulance from his little balcony that day.
“Goodbye, dear. God Bless,” my friend says as his little furry queen shuffles along at his heels, sniffing and wagging.
“Goodbye to you too, my friend, and God Bless”
Author: Kim Harvey
Image: Penelope Dullaghan
Apprentice Editor: Lois Person; Editor: Khara-Jade Warren