The Old Man - Short Commuting Story
It was a beautiful spring morning. First time she could put on a thin jacket only instead of a winter coat but she was walking briskly as the morning wasn’t that warm yet.
She was on her usual route to work. The 50 min. walk was the first part of the journey and she usually enjoyed it, especially when the weather was great. She did it so many times now that she could let her mind fly while her legs were choosing the right route without thinking.
While part of her brain was day dreaming, another was lazily observing the surroundings. The trees started to have first buds and all leaves had this vivid fresh green colour. She could spot some spring flowers in front gardens of the houses on her way. Everything looked fresher and more alive.
The lady she has always seen waiting on the bus stop, didn’t have her purple scarf today and the cyclist she was meeting every day near the factory, changed his waterproof yellow jacket to grey jumper. He smiled to her wider than usual - he was probably also sensing the spring in the air.
She was in an excellent mood so she was a bit puzzled seeing the old man with two beautiful golden retrievers with his head and shoulders down. The dogs seemed to follow their owner mood as they were slowly walking next to his leg instead of running forward and back. He noticed her and nodded his head as usual but was something in his face that told her it wasn’t his best day.
She nodded her head as well and crossed the street heading to the station. She noticed more buds on trees and she quickly forgot the man and focused on her own happy thoughts.
The old man patted his dogs on their heads and directed them towards a side road. He wished he could be in such a cheerful and happy mood as the woman was. She was almost flying over the pavement and her whole face was telling everyone what a lovely and fantastic day it was. He wished he could share the joy. Unfortunately his mind was full of worries and black thoughts.
In a few hours he needed to check in to the hospital for a very serious surgery. The doctor told him that he has a tumour in his brain that needs to be removed. He said they do this all the time but obviously his age increased the risk. Still he had no choice as the tumour was growing and soon it could either kill him or paralyse for life.
He had this painful awareness that it might be the last walk in his life. Even if he survived the surgery, something could go wrong and he could end up on a wheelchair. He looked at his dogs and he knew they could read his mood so he tried to comfort them. He was worried about them as well. He knew his daughter will take care of them but she was working long hours and lived in an apartment on the fifth floor. They were used to long walks and spending a lot of times outdoor so no matter how luxurious the apartment was, they will feel imprisoned there.
And they will miss him as much as he will miss them. They’ve been together for more than 10 years. He still remembered them as little funny puppies and now they were getting old as he was. He couldn’t walk as briskly as he used to and started to forget things. Yet he knew he could live long enough they wouldn’t need a new owner. He could if that tumour wasn’t discovered in the brain scan. Now he wasn’t sure and felt sorry for his dogs as he knew his daughter would not be able to take care of them full time. He knew that if he died, they would need to learn to live with strangers.
He looked around, surprised as he was standing in front of his own house. ‘So this is it’ he sighed unlocking the door. His hospital bag was already packed, he fed the dogs and made himself last cup of scented green tea he loved waiting for his daughter to pick him up and drive to the hospital.
The spring arrived fully so she was happily walking to the station every morning. She was meeting the same people every day except for the old man. For some reason after that day when he looked upset, he disappeared. She hoped he will reappear one day as she really liked to watch the dogs playing but days were passing by and he didn’t show up.
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A month or so passed and she was walking in a real hurry as she left home later than usual. She was in a foul mood as she managed to break her favourite cup when she was making a tea in the morning. She also made a mess in the kitchen when she dropped a bottle of mayonnaise and of course some of it landed on her trousers. It was simply one of those days.
She had to clean the trousers so that delayed her and now she had to run to catch the train. She kept looking down on the road. There were many puddles everywhere after last night rain and knowing her luck she would end up in one of them once she didn’t watch.
So she almost hit the old man who suddenly emerged from the side street. Luckily he was more observant than she was and managed to avoid her. She came up with quick apologies and only then she noticed it was the same old man with beautiful dogs. Somehow it improved her mood and she ran to the station with hope that maybe the day won’t be that bad as she thought.
The old man was quite amused - he noticed the woman early but she seemed to be so deeply focused on the puddles that she kept changing her direction randomly and he had no chance to guess where she will end up next. Still he managed to avoid her at the last moment jumping back a little.
He didn’t really need to jump but he felt so alive that he wanted to run, jump and whirl. He was on his first walk with dogs after coming back from the hospital. It was so good to smell the fresh air, feel the wind on his face and the grit of the dirt under his shoes. He was absorbing the environment with all his senses, he felt enormously alive.
‘I survived, I have my life back’ he sighed deeply enjoying the moment. He looked around and kept walking home with much more energy than he used to. ‘I’m not that old’ he said to himself. ‘I have a life to live’ he thought and started pondering all the possible things that he always wanted to do but thought he was too old for them. He didn’t think like that anymore.
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