As I watch Mr. Goldstein climb the stairs to his apartment, I think about him living alone. I am sorry his wife died while I was away. I would have liked to have seen her again. The two of them were inseparable; I can't imagine him living alone.
He is frail without a companion. It is obvious he hasn't been active and he probably doesn’t eat right, either. For the most part, he seems to do all right on his own.
Mr. Goldstein returns unexpectedly as I am preparing to leave for the beach and my evening walk. He wants to walk too. I accept his desire for companionship and acknowledge my need for the same.
He is wearing his everyday street shoes since he doesn’t have athletic shoes. With his shoulders back and his chest swelled, he looks proud in his new warm-up outfit, complete with price tag still dangling from his arm pit. With a quick snip, the price tag is removed and we are officially walking buddies.
On this first walk, Mr. Goldstein makes it across the street to the edge of the sand. Technically, we are on the beach, but at least a hundred yards from the last high tide mark. It is obvious this is as far as we are “walking” today.
Now that we are in the sand, I am not sure he can make it back across the street on his own. Apparently, neither is he. He slides his arm desperately around my waist, while I slip mine around his back to steady him. I hope this is enough support for his weak, spindly legs. The urgency in his grasp doesn’t boost my confidence in this endeavor. It seems the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Mr. Goldstein has an odd quick-step gait that is hard to match. His pace throws me slightly off balance, causing us to be even more out of step with each other. We stop to rest several times before we make it home where we are safe.
I think we were both scared he wouldn’t make it back, but neither of us mention it. We breathe a sigh of relief when I finally ease him into a chair to rest before going upstairs to his apartment.
Mr. Goldstein becomes stronger as the days pass. We walk a little farther each time. Bit the end of two weeks he is walking to the water's edge with ease.
During our walks, we begin to talk about things people with a two-generation age difference talk about with each other. They are comfortable non-intrusive conversations. Still, a deeper warmth is developing between us. I love the easy way we laugh together. It is always preceded by a slow grin on Mr. Goldstein’s lips and a twinkle in his eyes.
From Kathryn's Beach: http://www.nadinelamanbooks.com/