Tag Archives: walking

The Only Story I Have

6/23/13

“Tell us a story,” he said. My mind went blank. I thought back to the time when I loved nothing better than sitting in the back of a pick up truck surrounded by my brothers and sisters making up story after story as the truck bounced along the red Congo roads.

A story… now all those make believe tales seemed flat, and the only story I wanted to tell was theirs.

We took a walk today the whole tribe of us minus two. Ruthann took the lead looking her usual confident and beautiful self with two kids clinging to each hand and the rest floating around her.

I brought up the back. A newcomer to the Sunday walk, but loving the feeling of two little hands in mine as we walked along the dirt road jumping mud puddles and enjoying the view. I almost lost a flip flop at one point when I miss judged the depth of a puddle. I managed not to lose it completely, and we went on our way past the kid’s school and down towards town. Ruthann left the kids piled up by the bank of the road while she and I ducked into a shop to buy some batteries. The Duka’s (shops) are barely big enough for five people to fit in and the owner sells his goods through a barred window.

The first shop did not have batteries, but the store keeper directed us two stores down. This time we were successful AA’s for 60 shillings (about 70 cents). Now the boys would be able to finish their haircuts. The razor’s battery had given out halfway through leaving two of the boys with partially shaved heads (a sight I’m sure our guests had wondered about earlier in the day when they dropped in unexpectedly). No one had said anything, but I’m sure they were wondering if some new hair style was going around.

After purchasing batteries, we rejoined the kids and headed back down the road. Once again, Ruthann looked like the pide-piper just without the pipe. We of course got looks from people as we walked along—two girls in their twenties and 15 kids parading down the road. We passed the 2 in 1 butchery, and I had to wonder what the second half of the business entailed.

“Make a hole,” Ruthann would yell back, and the kids would part to make room for a bicycle, piki (motorcycle), or a donkey cart. At this point in the walk the two kids holding my hands had switched to two different kids. We took the scenic route back, and by the time the Children’s home was in sight my group of four of the smaller ones was singing and playing with sticks they had picked up on the side of the road.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to tell any other stories for awhile Diki, Kevin, Zippi, Jane, Zach, Nicholas, Veronica, Ruth, Samuel, John, George, Little Kevin, Charity, Virginia, Michelle, Esther, and James have completely captured my heart.

The only story I have

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Walk With Me

He never called me by name. I wasn’t too surprised. He didn’t use my name when I saw him last at my cousin’s wedding. Still it was hard not hearing him say it.  Grandpa is a solid six foot four, at least he was when he was younger. He prides himself in taking long walks and eats a banana with peanut butter for supper to keep his good cholesterol up and his bad cholesterol down. I’m sure his heart is healthy, but his mind is beginning to slip.

When I was younger, I used to go with grandpa on his daily walk. It was one of the few things I’d actually get up early for. We would bike for a stretch then I would do my best to keep up with his long stride. He’d cut his walk short when I tagged along so that my little feet wouldn’t get too tired.

On this visit to Florida I was feeling a bit restless. It was a beautiful day outside and my Canon Rebel was begging for some attention. I asked my sister if she wanted to go for a walk and Grandpa decided to join us. They walked ahead while I snapped pictures of Spanish moss and anything else that caught my eye.

Grandpa took the lead showing us the scenic route which cut through several private yards. I tried to steer him back to the road as best I could. Along the way he picked up several empty beer cans, and a monster can telling the story of how when he first took crushed cans to the scarp yard they’d paid him sixty dollars. I smiled. So far this trip I’d heard that story three times.

It’s not easy seeing a man who earned a master’s degree in mathematics struggle to come up with the word “wasp” describing what he wants to say until someone gives him the word. “That thing that flies and builds mud houses.”

I knew grandpa wouldn’t admit when he was tired, so I suggested we turn back after going 15 minutes out. As we entered the cul-de-sac an aluminum can in the neighbor’s trash caught his eye. He circled back to grab it. I watched him teeter as the sharp turn upset his balance. Grabbing the garbage can, I tried to steady it and prevent him from doing a complete head dive into the trash can. My sister grabbed his arm, and we both stood there straining under his weight wondering how we were going to call for help.

“I can get up,” he said after we had stood there tense for what seemed like ten minutes but was more likely 30 seconds. Methodically he paused to regained his balance, reached for the aluminum can, then pushed up on the plastic garbage can to get back on his feet. I reached into the trash to pull his watch out which had fallen from his front shirt pocket during the tumble. There was a time when Grandpa cut his walks short for my little legs now I just wanted to get him back home so he could rest in his favorite chair.

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