Bob... he's 85 and walks faster than I do. (my pace is 3.5 - 4 miles per hour) He's been Mall Walking every day for 15 years. He's the encourager of the morning crew. Walks with everyone, matching his pace to theirs. Getting folks to move while he finds out their stories and loves them.
Jack... he's 90 and walks slower than most anybody. But he walks... leaned over, slow as the turtle and greeting everyone with a smile. His handshake is still firm and pleasing.
Dale... he's old and crabby, the stereotypical "grouchy old man". When I asked him how he was the other day, he told me "I always hurt when I walk". It obviously makes him mad, but he does it anyway. Brutally honest, but persevering in spite of cancer. He teased me today and I thought that a wonderful thing.
Arlo... he's a flirt! "Good morning, pretty ladies" is his byline. To us, in our late 40's or to the other ladies who are well into their 60's and 70's. But when you talk to him, he always mentions his beloved wife, who passed 10 years ago. And there is always a tear because he loves her still.
George... he walks with a cane and his carriage is still erect, more so than most. He forgets a lot, but not to come to the mall and walk. The other little old men look after him and make sure he is okay.
Dee... she's mid-50's and walks fast! She told me that she used to walk at the mall years and years ago, and that the same little old men were walking back then. It's cool to hear that.
Mila... she's a professional woman, 60's, who walks at a good clip and seems a no-nonsense person. Yet, she's got a frivolous side because she revealed her vanity when she told me she wished her hair would do like mine does when it looks nice curly or straight.
Rosemary and Zach... in their 70's, they walk together. I think they are married, but I'm not sure. She is a painter whose projects I've seen exhibited. Beautiful! He has lost his voicebox and speaks with the aid of technology. Their smiles are joyful.
Mr. "T"... can't really name him because he is my boss's dad. He walks like a bulldog, and can't quite figure out how I know who he is (or how I know when his birthday was!), but he moves along at a great clip in spite of injuries to his leg from an infected spider bite.
Mrs. "T" and the girls... she's my boss's mom and walks with 2 clients of mine. They chatter and laugh and keep themselves fit in their late 60's, early 70's. It's glorious to see their smiles and hear their laughter!
There are others who walk in the mornings at the mall and are only faces yet. But... they are faces that I know and care about already. They look for us in the mornings. They ask about either of us if we are missing. They care.
...may there be mercy and joy in the presence of those who are older.