I walk to a coffee house every day, a mile there, one to three miles back, depending upon the chosen path. I like the time out, the solitude, smells and weather. It's an exercise time for mind and body.
Been doing this since 2006. I figure I do the walk 345 days each year. The coffee shop is The Beanery. They know me, as do some of the regulars. I do a double shot skinny Mexican. Their shots are twice normal size so it's four shots of espresso.
Ed was a regular I encounterd in my walks. Shy of five foot four, he wore a brimmed straw hat, tie and jacket and walked with a cane. I learned a lot about Ed during our brief enounters. He was born in 1925, in Missouri, the oldest child and only male in a family of three children. They lived on a working farm. Ed accompanied his father to a farm chore involving dynamite when he was fourteen. Something went wrong, he says, and his father was killed. Ed remembered it with a far off gaze and a nod accompanying, "That was a terrible day, terrible."
Ed and his mother did what they could to make ends meet but they ended up losing their family farm and had to move into town and live in a rented place. His Mom became a laundress. Ed had family in Oregon and when he was sixteen, he and his Mother discussed it and he headed west.
He worked a lot of jobs, living in a small attic room and sending money home. One of his favorite memories was working in the chicken factory because it paid twenty-five cents an hour. He'd work ten hours some days, pleased to get that money and send it home.
I didn't encounter Ed during the winters and came to learn that he went to Arizona for the winter. He and his wife had an RV and drove there, where they had a second house. Two years ago, the journey was in danger of being compromised. His children thought him too old to make the drive. His youngest son, who was 63, was going to drive them out there.
Ed didn't make take the RV last year. He ended up selling it to a grandson up north in Oregon after much discussion because he and his children all felt too old to make the drive and nobody else would do it.
I only saw Ed a few times this year although I kept an eye out for him. I never knew his last name or where he lived. I thought of him today as I walked along the path and kicked up leaves. I first met Ed when he was cleaning the pebbles off the asphalt walking path. He said they made it hard for him with his cane. He needed his cane because of an injury suffered in the Korean War. Someone had cleaned the pebbles off the path today.
I wondered if it was Ed.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com