Striking Stranger

We have crossed a bridge and entered the parking lot of the trail head. I’m not entirely sure where we are. The sort of place where folks to get their daily fresh-air fix. Not just open window or stepping out their front door, this was where the air is really fresh.
I descend from the cab of the truck into the sunlight. There are times when I know I’ve taken the good days for granted. Cooped up in my room with the window open in a vain attempt to recall the scent of nature bathed in warm sunlight. I suppose there are a lot of things I take for granted.
A waterfall falls ever so sure and strong from somewhere above. My parents coo into the heat of the day how beautiful the place is. I wish I could see it, but each digital picture I take will prove that I really can’t. The desperation to capture one beautiful moment in time and take it away with me, but somehow the moments evade the frame as I wander aimlessly snapping away.
An old man bends heavily over his walking stick, beginning a vain attempt up the mountain. I suppress the urge to laugh. What does this old guy think he’s doing? He is wearing what looks like a pair of hospital slippers. He inches his way forward, desperation weighing on each brow. His hair looks as though it hasn’t felt the stroke of a comb in ages. His eyes gaze upwards towards the top of the falls. What could possibly be so important that he feels the need to best the mountain?
My mind plays over some random, romantic scene. A somewhat younger and spunkier version of the old man, smiling. Eagerly dragging and equally young girl up this hill by hand ignoring her protests and questions. As he reaches the very top of the hill the crease in her brow softens as she steps into view of the dancing, plunging waterfall; the lush valley beyond; and the velvety sunset resting easily atop the tree-line. Maybe she comments on how beautiful it is. Maybe he comments on how beautiful she is. And his grip tightens on her hand as he slowly descends to one knee, producing a small box from his pocket…
And it had been happily ever after for years, until the day she left him alone with only his precious memories… And maybe just this morning he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease…
And two young aides in white rush to this old man’s side not sure how he had managed to wander away from the group. They steer him about and lead him back down the trail past my parents
and I…

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