High Bridge highlight


My commute to work is five miles round-trip, and most days, I do it on foot. It takes me about 40 minutes each way and allows me to decompress, get fresh air, and appreciate sunrises like this one (I took this picture yesterday morning). The bonus, of course, is getting in my exercise for the day.

My walk takes me across what St. Paulites know as the High Bridge, and it is there that I pass two older gentlemen on their morning run every day. Over the months since I started commuting this way, our greetings have progressed from polite nods to cheery waves to jaunty "good mornings," but today was the first time one of them ever stopped to talk to me.

I had passed him a couple of weekends ago when Teagan and I were walking home from the park near our house, so this morning, he stopped to ask if the little girl he saw me with was my daughter. I told him yes, and we chatted a bit about schools and whatnot.

And then I said something that I had been wanting to say to him ever since Dad's diagnosis: "My dad used to be a runner until his knees gave out. Now he's a cyclist, and he and I do 360-mile rides through the Rocky Mountains together. But I look forward to passing you every morning because you remind me of him. Because right now--"

At this point the tears started to come, so I had to stop to collect myself. He made a reassuring murmur and waited patiently. "...right now he's dying of leukemia. He's only 76, and he was so healthy and active, we thought we'd have him around for another 10 or 15 years. But he's in hospice. My daughter and I are leaving today to go to Wyoming to see him."

I shook my head impatiently, brushed away some tears, and barreled on: "Anyway. I just wanted to thank you for the smile you give me every morning. It makes me happy to see you, because you make me think of my dad. I'm Allison, by the way." I stuck out my hand.

He smiled--he has white hair and beautiful blues eyes which I swear actually twinkled--and said, "I'm John. And I'm not going to shake your hand. I'm going to give you a hug, because I think maybe you need it." So there I was in the middle of the High Bridge, morning traffic streaming blithely by, crying and hugging a complete stranger. Or rather, hugging a new friend.

John took off again, but not before he patted my shoulder and said, "I'm so sorry about your dad, Allison. I'll be thinking of him. Nice to meet you."


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