The morning drizzle gave way to sunshine by noon and even though I’ve been tired today, I decide to take advantage of the clearing before retiring for the evening. I grab my camera and go in search of worthy images, but my legs are useless today, so I decide to sit instead, on a picnic table beside the stream. I hear, before seeing, the family of geese I’ve been tracking making their way towards the water. A I raise my camera I see movement in my peripheral vision.
The man approaching is a regular here; I see him walking past several times a day. I raise my hand to wave.
“Do I know you?” he asks. “I’m sorry, but I’ve had a stroke and this doesn’t work very well.” He taps on his temple.
“I know how you feel,” I say. “I have inflammation on the brain. Mine’s not in the best working order either.”
His eyes open wider and he steps closer to me.
“I’m Ric’s wife,” I say and point to our motor home.
“I’m photographing the baby geese. Trying to keep track of them.”
He nods again and then steps back as if he’s in my way.
“They grow fast.”
“Sure do. Good thing kids don’t grow that fast.”
He smiles, then blurts out: “The hardest thing is that I feel like such a burden.”
He has caught me off guard – hit a nerve. I glance at him and see that his eyes have filled. My tears come too.
“I do, too,” I croak.
“I came here thinking I could make a difference,” he continues. “I wanted to help out, and now I rely fully on my sister.”
“We are lucky to have someone who loves us enough to care.”
“All we can do is focus on our progress – even if it seems awfully slow.”
“Oh for sure. They thought I was dead – had to force feed me.” And then: “I’m sorry about that. I’m over it now.”
“You’re doing well,” I say. “I see you walking every day.”
“I made it through the winter,” he says, still fixated on his own story. “I guess that is something.”
“It sure is!”
“I was here all alone, too.”
“Wow. That is something. Good for you.”
He thanks me for my time and walks away. I linger and take a few more pictures of the goslings, then limp my way back to our home.
Everyone has a story. Everyone is battling something. The best way we help one another is just to listen.