I see her walk by my house each and every day, her head covered with a kerchief or hat, with her hands buried in the pockets of whatever jacket or sweater she is wearing.
She does not take her eyes from the roadside before her with the exception of an occasional glance at the terrain ahead. I have observed her stopping for just a few seconds to adjust her head covering, but other than that, she is consistent and obviously devoted to reaching her destination.
She is slight of build and though I have truly never seen her face I am quite sure she is nearing her mid-70s or perhaps even her 80s. She certainly has my admiration, as I could not make such a journey on foot each and every day with such devotion.
I do not know where she goes on her early morning walks, but I have yet to see her return in the afternoon or evening. I believe she must have a ride home each day, or she takes an alternate route. She is an enigma of sorts and a welcome addition to my life as I admire her determination. I cannot help but wonder just who or what it is that brings her out each and every day, despite the elements.
I have not lived in my home during the winter months, so I am anxious to see whether or not she will appear on snowy, cold and wet days. I have vowed that should I see her making her daily trek under treacherous or unsafe conditions, I will be prepared to go out to the end of my drive and offer her a ride to wherever she wishes to go.
As I reluctantly grow older, I see the world differently. Velvety smooth, flawless skin of youth transforms itself into something beyond beautiful; an open book that speaks of laughter, love, faith, loss and tolerance. Colorful, abundant hair is now often warm gray, lustrous silver, cotton white or a sweet combination of each. Eyes of bright blue, green, hazel or brown — eyes that have been repeatedly washed with tears of joy or sadness — somehow become brighter and bolder. Bodies that stood straight and sturdy are softer now.
I do not always like this older version of me. I seem to worry over trivial matters that I could have easily shrugged off 20 years ago. I sometimes have to pause for just a split second before I snap back with a witty response. Each and every day, I discover new changes about myself. Some of these changes I welcome.
I will continue to watch for this fine lady. I would like to make conversation with her one day as she passes my drive, but to be honest, I expect she will continue on; no time for small talk. She has a purpose and a mission.
Perhaps that is the secret to growing older. One step after the other. Keep your eyes on the road. Never lose sight of your destination. And, most importantly, there is no shame in accepting a ride back home.
Belinda Ouellette lives in Caribou with her Goldendoodle, Barney. You may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.