The Park Bench

In a hurry and slightly harried, taking a shortcut across a park to meet up with a friend and take a cab to LaGuardia I noticed by chance, a situation that so engaged me that I sat down on a bench to observe.  I was gazing at a perfect postcard.

The object of my attention was an older couple sitting on a bench about twenty feet to the left of where I sat.  A post light and an old hickory nut tree framed them.  I took the newspaper from under my arm, unfolded and positioned it in such a way to give the appearance of reading, when in actuality I was observing this couple.  I didn’t want to intrude, be nosy, or in any way make them self-conscious and realize I was watching.  But It would have been very hard to just walk away and not observe the simple beauty that was unfolding before my eyes.

It was not bitterly cold that day, and the New York “fall of the year” hung in the air.  I was comfortable in my sweater and mid-weight sport coat.  The subjects of my observation were both dressed as if it was later in the year and a “Norther” had just passed through. She wore an older gray wool long coat with leggings covering her lower extremities and boots that had traveled many a mile on New York City streets.  She had a multi-hued gray and black scarf around her neck and a stocking cap pulled low over her ears.

He wore what had been expensive slacks.  His black, wool coat was open in the front exposing his sweater in shades of gray.  He was wore athletic shoes, the kind with Velcro tabs.  The tabs are not stylish, but they are extremely useful for tightening shoes in that time of life when it becomes more difficult to bend over and tie your shoes.  He, too, had a stocking cap, but it just set on the top of his head, not pulled down, thus exposing his rather large “ears of a lifetime.”  I read once that the ears and the nose continue to grow, even after the rest of the body has stopped.  His ears and nose looked as though they were in the prime of life, almost expanding as I sat and observed this couple.

He had a cane resting next to him on the bench and she had what looked like a shopping bag next to her.  The bag, more than mid-size looked as though it could carry everything of importance.  This couple was playfully talking to each other—I couldn’t hear what they said. I could only gaze upon them, see the smiles and the gaiety in their eyes and the connection they shared, the deep rich connection that only comes from a lifetime of common experiences.

After that touching moment, she went back to the task at hand.  She gently moved his head with her hands at an angle that left him looking towards me.  She picked up a pair of manicure scissors and began to cut the hairs from his ears.  Ever so meticulous, one by one, she cut carefully with much precision and so much love.  She was preening and grooming her warrior, her lover, her friend and companion of a lifetime.  When she finished his right ear, she moved to the other side and groomed his left ear just as carefully.

When she was finished, she placed her scissors back in her bag.  She then took a thermos out of the bag and poured them each something hot to drink.  They sat side-by-side, talking some, and sharing the day as they drank their refreshment.  Once or twice she reached over and brushed his ear and his shoulder.

When they finished, he arose first.  He took his cane and steadied himself, and then he offered his other hand to his lady.  She rose from the bench and covered both of his hands with hers.  He reached down and gently kissed her on the lips.  She picked up her bag.  They walked down the path side by side; he with his cane in his left hand, she with her bag in her right hand.  After a few steps, he took her free hand in his as they assisted each other along the way.

I watched all of this and I marveled.  I knew about friendships; I knew about attachment; I knew what passion was, and now I knew what it meant to have them all–from the gut, through the veins, full of heart, all encompassing, total and absolute…love!

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