A doggie park is the scene of my five-mile morning walk. It's gentle switchbacks, by no means menacing, can still provide a challenge to an elderly person. Such was the scene I encountered today.
The white-haired older couple and their yellow lab started out at the trail head. We exchanged "good morning" pleasantries, as is the habit when meeting other walkers. I remember thinking, "What a sweet older couple," as we headed out on opposite trails.
On my 2nd lapse, I met the older woman far ahead of the man who was standing on one of the steeper climbs. The woman's sweet demeaner had been replaced with acrid annoyance as she would walk a few steps and look back with an icy glare at the old man. Immediately I got the picture, she resented the fact that he couldn't keep up with her. When I reached the man, he was pale and very still. I could almost hear his racing heartbeats. I smiled and said "Hello again," but he remained breathlessly silent.
As I put distance between us and saw the woman moving still farther ahead, I remember thinking, "This park is really too much for that old man. They should go to a flatter park." My thoughts raced on, scooping out the whole picture. Women that age rarely ever worked, but were free to enjoy their clubs and social life while the husband took on the work burden to provide a comfortable home for the family. Probably chained to an office job that shouted out a life-time of nutritionally poor lunches, lack of exercise and loads of stress, it all took it's toll on the man's health.
All too often women that age forget to honor the man who provided them with a comfortable life. What would it have cost her to wait with her husband and encourage him as he regained his breath. Oh well, it was their pattern of life and I tried not to think about it.
I did think about the glorious mountain air and how lucky we were to live in this magical spot in the universe. And finally, I thought about the cool drink of water I would have from the pump at the trail's end.