I love to walk. Alone. Or with dogs. Sometimes with people. But mostly I like to walk alone (which sounds like the title of a good country song but that’s another story.)
I didn’t always.
A little back story. I have a long history of walking, which began with my mother. She too loved to walk. She didn’t drive so in order to get around and maintain her independence, she walked or took public transit, which in our town meant the bus. When my father wasn’t working, he drove her to and fro, mostly to the grocery store and the plaza, which eventually flourished and grew into a mall. Progress. But I digress.
I loved walking with my mother. And talking. Ma wasn’t a big talker, but she was an excellent listener. This gift alone made her an extraordinary conversationalist. She was quite simply, transcendent in this talent. With Ma, there was never any competition for airtime, cutting off mid-sentence, interrupted chains of thought, one-up-man-ship, running rings around, nor upstaging in quick wit and repartee. She was a delighted, polite and interested listener. I liked that. I could pour my heart out and bare my soul endlessly and still she listened, with kindness, patience and love. She offered her opinion when asked, her advice when needed, her consolation and comfort unconditionally. I liked that too.
I think over the years Ma and I must have traversed thousands of miles and covered an infinite array of topics while doing so. Everything from soup to nuts (literally). We solved all of the world’s problems, or at least had a few good recommendations. We walked off pain, sorrow, anxiety, fear, and a few extra pounds. We laughed. We gabbed. We gossiped. We wept. We commiserated. We stopped. We started. We looked back. We looked forward. We thought we could walk forever. At least I did.
Although Ma is no longer with me physically on our walks, she is with me none the less. I have conversations with her in my head. I still seek her advice. I still hear her laughter. I smell her face cream, subtle and clean. I ask her about God. Is there anything I need to know Ma?