One of life’s tricks is to bring joy into a person’s life while not trying. Sometimes, we do things that we think are meaningless, but to other people is very important. This is especially true of older people.
We go on our morning walks, really just bathroom sessions, and later in the day, our afternoon walks. It is usually at the same time each day. We didn’t give it much thought, it's just the way things are, especially during the pandemic, when there is little to do, and people find comfort in structure.
But, we never thought that anyone knew when we would be walking, or that the dependability of us parading by each day would bring comfort to a person we didn’t know. We were just living our simple lives.
We take our morning walks in the common area behind our houses. We travel near the line of bushes dividing the property. There are always a lot of smells there in the morning. Critters that come out at night prefer the safety of exploring along the hedge. It is safer that way. More importantly, they leave intriguing scents full of information.
We go by the same houses on our afternoon walks, but this time we are streetwalkers. We pass the front of the places we traveled behind in the morning. We never gave a lot of thought that we were going by the same homes. The front and the back of the units look different, and we are more taken with smells than sight.
On Sunday afternoon, on our walk, a man opened his door and came outside in a bathrobe and slippers. He yelled to dad that he loved his pretty dogs. Dad said, thank you, and kept walking. He might have stopped at another time, but he was unmasked, and with COVID, small talk with strangers is not recommended. The man yelled to us again that we were beautiful, and Daddy told him to have a nice day, and we kept walking towards the smells by the barn.
The following day Daddy stopped at the mailroom to drop off a card. He met a woman who apologized for her husband stopping Daddy the day before. Her husband has Alzheimer's. He doesn’t remember a lot about his life, but he knows when we are going to walk by. After he wakes up in the morning, he goes to the back window to wait for us, and then, before supper time, he moves to the front window to watch us from there. The woman said that seeing us is one of the few joys in his life.
When Daddy told us I was moved. I love helping people and work hard to do so. I never thought I could mean so much to a stranger. Thus, each day, we make sure we walk by his house, sometimes from two different directions so that he can see us twice.
Now, I look at the house, and I am sure to give the man a big smile. It isn’t much, but I know it is appreciated.
We dogs have been put on Earth to serve man. Never has my doing so meant more than what it does to this man trapped in his mind.
Someday, when we are both on the other side, I will look him up, and we will play ball, and any other game he wants to play, and we will remember my walks, and we will sit back and laugh.
But, for now, I will just walk on by.