Wasn’t too many years ago I’d be the one bouncing in the lead, maybe with a little less patience. Probably with none at all. But the old bones ain’t what they used to be, and even with the all the pills I take with breakfast and dinner, the joints creak and groan with each step up the trail.
“Come on,” he encourages. “We’re almost to the top.”
We’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember, a daily ritual – weather permitting – after he gets off work. The trail leads over this “small” hill and then drops down to the beach, where we sit at the edge of the sand and reminisce about “the good ol’ days.” Used to be we’d chase a wave or two, maybe even toss the Frisbee, and then head back, taking the longer bluff loop to the car. But with me slowing down, we’ve pretty much made the crest of the hill the turnaround point.
“See, that wasn’t so bad.”
Easy for him to say.
The return is the part of the walk I enjoy the most. Yeah, it’s all downhill – that’s a bonus – but Frank rattles on and on about his day at work, telling me every last detail of how things are wearing him down. He’s still got a few more years until he can retire, and I guess the stress is piling up. But I must be a good listener, because by the time we get to the car, that smile of his has brightened and takes up most of his loveable face.
Once we’re in the parking lot he does that little clicker thing to unlock the doors, and then opens mine first, ever the gentleman. Used to be – there’s that phrase again – I’d hop in and push my nose to his window making faces while he went around to the other side. Now, he has to pick me up and set me in the chair.
But not a complaint one. He actually seems to enjoy it.
“Who’s the good boy?” he asks, making sure to give me one of those wonderful rubs on the top of my head.
Well I am, of course.