Photo credit : Soumi Haldar

As in all her stories, Barbara looks at little things in life, values them and delves into the deeper aspect that usually get ignored. Here is the latest gem from Barbara Stanifer.



About a year ago I started seeing a man and his wife making their way down the walking path near my house every evening. The man looked as if he had suffered a stroke, his right arm was drawn in and he could hardly walk dragging his right leg behind him. But every day they would walk, the two of them. You could see the emotion etched into his face and the worry on his wife’s. I would see them every few days and could see little glimmers of improvement in his gait, and over one month, I saw them walk a little farther down the path than the month before. I felt so inspired every time I saw him. Inspired simply by his ability to get up and do it again, inspired by his… walking. I could see how difficult and painful it was both physically and emotionally, but he kept on moving through it. I never said anything because I was worried that calling attention to his disability in any way might be offensive, so instead I would just smile big and hope that he could feel my encouragement coming at him.

Tonight I saw this couple again, farther down the path than ever before, and because I hadn’t been out walking myself in so long, the amount of improvement in him was astonishing! Walking at a faster clip, able to move his arm a little and unfurl his fist just a bit.. and a face not so pained. He was able to hold a conversation with his wife while they walked along, which he couldn’t do before. And his wife, smiling. So I finally did it, I stopped and said, Congratulations! You’ve come so far; you’re walking so well! And his face lit up. He wasn’t offended at all. We talked for a good long while, he explained what had happened to him and what it felt like in the beginning, how he climbed each hurdle and that he was indeed feeling much better and had a goal of being back to work in another month. And he said all this with zeal, glad to be telling his story of perseverance, maybe it was an out loud reminder to himself of how far he’d come. And I said you know I feel inspired every time I see you out here, it truly is amazing what can be accomplished with faith and hard work and I looked at his wife… and love. He looked at her still filled with the excitement of the story telling and said yes I couldn’t have done it… and then he melted, he choked up and his eyes filled with tears. Rendered speechless by the love and sacrifice of this woman, his wife of 30 years. He was able to eek out; yes there has been a lot of sacrifice from my family. I touched his arm and said well that’s what love is all about isn’t it.
It all made my heart sing, the love, the perseverance the connection. We never have any true idea of how we may inspire one another even with the smallest, most mundane thing like walking, or walking beside someone.  We all ripple out. So go forth and be mundane and don’t be afraid to stop and tell someone when their everyday-ness has lifted you up, you have no idea what beauty may lie behind the reaching out.
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