A half, bent over, old man was moving very slowly in front of me as I walked to the gym this morning. Every, single step he took was arduous, deliberate and pained me to watch. Even though my own step these days lacks some of its’ old spunk, I slowed my pace. He was working so hard just to put one foot in front of the other that I could not bear to pass him.
He was dressed in elegant, pressed dark slacks, with a brand new knitted Polo and had that snappy hat like Frank Sinatra used to wear cocked slightly over his right bushy eyebrow. However, nothing hung quite right on his humped, misshapen frame. His outfit would have looked sharp on a younger, stronger man, but on him, the overall effect was rather sad. . .and yet…as I drew up to his side, I realized that he once WAS a younger man.
“Good morning!” he bellowed with a voice ten times the size of his body.
“Good morning, to you Mr. Sinatra in that classy hat!”
He stopped. It was probably just so he could bear the weight of the huge smile that now raised even the edges of his sagged and lined mouth.
“Ya remember his hat do ya? You’re not old enough but you’re right. It’s the exact kind he used to wear.”
“Well it looks handsome on you.” And strangely enough, at that moment he did, indeed look handsome. “You don’t see men in hats anymore and I rather like them.”
“Ya know. Best part of my day now is when I put on the hat. I figure if my arms can still reach up there and my head can still hold it, it’s gonna be a good day.”
Wow. At that moment, I felt 17. He’s the kind of guy we could all use more of. So if you have someone like that in your life, hang on to them. If you don’t, just put on the hat.
*Helen Hudson is the author of, “Kissing Tomatoes,” an Alzheimer’s memoir.