We’re Into The Fifth Generation
My love of walking was not created in a vacuum. It occurs to me that with my little granddaughter (now 16 months old), we are into the fifth generation of walkers in the family.
My mom died April 6, 2017. She walked every day up until a few months before her passing at age 94. Before mom, there was her mother (my mamaw) who loved a walk in the woods more than just about anything else she could name. She lived in a tiny town in rural Northwestern Arkansas, surrounded by heavily wooded hills, clean creeks, numerous lakes and ponds, and a nearby canal that led to the Arkansas River just a couple miles from her home. She walked to pick berries (muscadines were a favorite), to listen to bird songs (mockingbirds and cardinals were favorites), to get to the canal to fish (never ate the fish from that canal), and to get from here to there.
My mother fled that small town at age 18 for the big city and WWII where she was a Registered Nurse in the US Army for the duration. She did not begin her daily walks until she retired from nursing in her 60’s, despite the fact that nurses probably walk 10 miles a day during a shift at work. But, a different kind of walk.
I had taken many walks with my mamaw when I was a child. She was such a fun human being that I spent as much time with her as I could. She could make most things fun! The journey from picking berries to making jam seemed really long to me as I had absolutely no interest in any domestic ‘arts’ as a child or teen. But, my appreciation for nature was born in that era.
It only took me to about age 50 to begin daily walks. What started as a strongly stated second-rate activity because I had been forced to give up my beloved racquetball, soon became not so second rate with me. While I would go back to racquetball in a heartbeat, I would never willingly give up my walks. I’d enthusiastically do both!
Fast forward several years to the present. I have a daughter who invites me to walk with her once or twice a week. She has discovered the wonders of walking for her physical well being as well as for its tension relieving qualities. She enjoys walking and swimming, and walking in the pool.
And, for the fifth generation, little Addie (the daughter of my oldest son) and I take at least one walk every day I babysit her. We walk outside in heat, cold, rain, and soon, snow. We just suit up and show up and the walk proceeds. While walking with a 16 month old will not result in much of a work out, it has other benefits and lots of charms. We have a great time! Addie is constantly searching for rocks, sticks, and acorns, picking them up, sorting them, moving them from one location to another, making piles here and there, sharing them with me and others, and generally making an hour’s activity of all this. We ‘run’, walk, jump, and stomp, crunching those dry leaves in a way that can appeal only to a toddler. We even carry a rock ‘purse’ to save select rocks found during our walks. Since we are not purists, some of those ‘rocks’ are black walnuts masquerading as their far less edible counterparts. These daily walks occur mostly on the sidewalk between her house and the end of the street – five driveways. That world is plenty big enough for a toddler surveying her world under the watchful eye of a loving grandparent.
My fun-loving mamaw would be so pleased to learn that her great great granddaughter was happily tramping on trails similar to those blazed by her a hundred years ago and four hundred miles away. So far, the beat goes on. No evidence it will every stop.