Old age can be lonely especially if you have lost your life partner. Time stands still. The house is full of memories and for Ann, the only therapy is to go out in the evenings and sit on a bench in the park and be an observer. The innocent laughter of kids made her feel happy. An hour of this daily therapy worked like magic for her. Lately, she had been noticing this old man who came for a walk in the park every evening. She had never seen him before. She wondered, “Is he new to this neighbourhood?” As he would walk by, his eyes would be bent on the path before him. He would walk with a steady gait and would smile and greet the children and their parents.
Then Ann got the flu and was not able to go the park. A week later, once her energy came back, she stepped out. ‘Wow! Does the fresh air feel so good?’ she thought to herself. Her favourite bench was waiting for her as if it had missed her. She felt the comfort of familiarity and sat down as the balmy breeze kissed her cheeks. She noticed the old man walking on the path. As he came by her bench, he stopped. She looked up and wondered why.
He hesitated, ‘uh, uh, hello, are you all right?’
In a surprising tone, Ann asked ‘Why are you asking me?’
‘Because I have not seen you for a week and was hoping all was well’.
Ann did not feel she owed him an answer, yet the words came out – ‘You see, I had the flu and I did not know anyone would notice if I am not here’.
He responded, ‘I have noticed you every day and have wondered about the cause of the pain in your eyes’.
She merely smiled and did not respond and looked away.
‘May I take you out for a cup of tea?’ the question made her heart beat a little faster. She slowly looked up and nodded gently, still in a daze.