Charles and I once lived in a neighborhood that wasn't too far from the developing Cool Springs area. This mall property is huge now, but back then the sprawl was in its infancy, with little more than a few gas stations selling soft drinks and snacks. But Moore’s Lane itself was busy becoming a busy connector road.
We drove that road almost daily and often passed a tall, lanky, older gentleman walking on the side. That alone was dicey because the two lane was narrow and the shoulder was worse. But he walked in every season, in every kind of weather. We became waving buddies. Occasionally we would run into him buying a snack once he had hiked to the nearest gas station. Sometimes we would see someone else offer him a ride.
We eventually decided that if he was going to kill anybody he'd have done it already, so we began to stop also and invite him to hop in. He never declined, and we always got a kick out of talking to him. Henry told us he was a rambler, said he just never could be satisfied unless he had total freedom to come, stay, or go. He had somehow found his way to our area and in these, his latter years, he had received permission from the kind owner of a larger older home along Moore’s Lane to live in a small outbuilding on the property. Although other, better offers were extended, our rambler was content with his humble living conditions. But he was always grateful for a ride and lots of folks offered one.
Over the years, he became something of a fixture along the road and one day Charles and I realized we hadn't seen Henry in awhile. We checked around and soon learned his rambling was coming to an end, but not alone. Somehow one of my neighbors, a nurse, had learned that he was sick and she began to check on him in his shed. He opposed her attempts at more intervention until finally his condition worsened and, at her insistence and with his approval, she sought appropriate medical care for his final days. Henry died peacefully, surrounded by the respect and compassion of strangers who had become friends.
Each of us gets to different places in our lives. Sometimes we choose events and sometimes events choose us. But whether we're lost, alone, grieving, mourning our youth, our health, or a loved one, or just need a little help, my experience - and I believe that our rambler would agree - is that we just need to start walking. Someone will meet us where we are and pick us up.