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THE LAST WALK

...hold my hand...

By Margaret BrennanPublished 19 days ago 6 min read
6

THE LAST WALK

…. Hold my hand ….

~~~~~~~~~``````````````~~~~~~~~

She walked everywhere. It was her favorite pastime and also her favorite method of transportation.

Mary never learned to drive a car. If where she needed to go was too far to walk, she enjoyed riding the buses. Rarely would she be temped to walk down the steps to the darkened hallways of the city subway. It wasn’t because she was afraid. I doubt she was afraid of anything. She enjoyed the buses because she could look out the window and watch the scenery, which never changed.

Living in the city, Mary’s journeys took her past the same old buildings, most of which had the same old stores that sat at the street level with the same old apartments located on the floors above, many with the same tenants that for years rented them.

What amused Mary was her imagination. Although she didn’t know them, she would wonder about the people who lived in each apartment. How old where they? Were they married? Did they have children? Did they still live with their parents? Each day found her fantasizing about a different family.

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I had the talent and time to sit and write a book?” she’d often wonder.

To Mary, it was a fun way to pass the time until she reached her destination, which during the season, was a school several miles from where she lived.

One summer, her husband, Frank decided she should learn to drive. “It would be so much easier for you when you’re teaching,” he would remark. “You wouldn’t have to stand out in the cold snow waiting for the bus.”

Mary always replied, “Why on earth would I want to drive? I’d have very little to look at, except the road and how boring would that be? I couldn’t daydream or let my mind run wild with imaginations if I had to concentrate on driving.”

After the summer passed, Frank gave up trying to convince her to get behind the wheel of their old Buick. Mary loved pulling her old two-wheeled shopping cart behind her when she’d do her shopping. She just loved to walk everywhere. It was that simple.

One sunny summer Sunday, Frank asked Mary to go for a ride. He wanted to show her something in the next town.

“Mary, we haven’t driven over this bridge in years! Remember when we were teens? We’d walk over it with our friends, not because we had anywhere to go. We just walked over it because it was here, and it was something to do.”

She looked dreamily out the window as she answered, “Yes, I remember. Those were the days! Oh, Frank, where did the time go?”

For the next hour, they reminisced about how quickly time slipped away. They spoke of their wedding day, their children who married and moved away, the grandchildren that were due in the next few weeks.

“Frank, what a pretty little town. Do you know someone here?”

While she knew they had no relatives or close friends who lived there, she thought that perhaps a co-worker of Franks did.

“No, Mary, but I was thinking. Now that the kids are grown and moved away, and the city changing for the worse all too fast, how about if we buy a small house like one of these? We could have our own backyard. We’d have room for the kids to come for weekend barbecues. I know you like to go for long walks and this small town is perfect for that. What do you think? Would you at least like to look and see what’s around?”

He seemed to hopeful and Mary could see the eagerness in his eyes.

“Frank, I guess we could look. And another point of view is that we would no longer be paying rent each month. What we pay in rent could go towards a mortgage and property taxes for something we would actually own!”

For the next thirty years, they enjoyed their little piece of heaven. Their children visited almost every weekend and celebrated the various holiday dinners together. Frank continued to work until one day, he was struck down with a stroke. While it didn’t take his life, it took about seventy percent of his mobility. Yet, they carried on. Mary continued teaching until the traveling became too cumbersome. Although Frank was able to drive short distances, Mary still insisted on walking to the local stores and supermarkets. It’s just what she did.

Frank lived with a paralyzed arm and severe limp for the next ten years until cancer took him permanently away from the family who loved him.

Mary grieved but found comfort in her daily walks. She’d walk to the local church where she’d kneel and pray for the soul of her Frank. She’d visit a local florist and once a week, purchase a small bouquet of flowers to put on the small rock that she placed in her backyard to memorialize her husband. Once a week, she’d walk to a local restaurant where she’d meet her friend, Diane for dinner. Although she walked there, Diane insisted on driving Mary home. “It’s getting too late, Mary. I can’t in good conscience let you walk the eight blocks home.”

Ten more years passed by which left Mary almost completely blind and frailer than she wanted to admit. Unfortunately, one winter, just a few days after Christmas, she fell down the stairs in her home and the injury left her with no choice but to move in with her daughter. She wasn’t happy but knew there was nothing she could do. She’d lived in the little house with her Frank for forty-five years and all she took with her when she left were the memories she carried in her heart.

After heart-tugging move, Mary accepted the new phase of her life, adjusting to her new home in a new state. For the next six years, she seemed to be enjoying her life and all the new friends she was making. Her daughter took her walking as often as possible since she knew that’s one thing her mom missed.

And yet ……

One afternoon, Mary called to her daughter. “Please come here. I feel … well, strange.”

Her daughter, Laura rushed into Mary’s bedroom where Mary stood holding onto her walker as though it were a lifeline. “Mom, what’s wrong?”

“I’m not sure. My legs feel strange.”

With that, Mary slumped to the floor. She stretched out her arm as though reaching for something. As Mary took her final breath, Laura heard her say, “Frank, hold my hand.”

married
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About the Creator

Margaret Brennan

I am a 76 year old grandmother who loves to write, fish, and grab my camera to capture the beautiful scenery I see around me.

My husband and I found our paradise in Punta Gorda Florida where the weather always keeps us guessing.

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (5)

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  • Shirley Belk12 days ago

    This makes me so sad and so happy, too. I believe the walks will start anew for Mary and Frank...

  • Sid Aaron Hirji18 days ago

    Wonderful story. Yes when we lose something we take for granted like walking we look back and realize life is a lottery. Mary at least enjoyed herself

  • ROCK 19 days ago

    What a meaningful and endearing tribute!

  • Daphsam19 days ago

    Thank you for sharing such a personal touching story.

  • Lana V Lynx19 days ago

    Heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time. Well done, Margaret.

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