The Rose Garden
I saw his aged features from about a hundred yards ahead. I was pushing my baby Tristan in the double stroller and a large stuffed dog was his company in the other seat. The nearby weeping willow harbored Tristan's noisy twin brothers.
The old man looked our way, slowly rose up from his park bench, and with obvious effort began to move towards us. I steeled myself for yet another polite conversation about my children and the weather. To hasten the process I gathered up the boys and quickened my pace toward the painfully crooked vestige.
Ten yards away from the spectre, the boys grew quiet and even the baby seemed to notice the old man's poor condition.
I took a deep breath to prepare for the expected dialogue and noticed the heavy fragrance of roses in full bloom. The smell in turn made me notice the vibrant colors of the countless flowers scattered throughout the park.
The man was next to us now and I could see that he had no interest in speaking to us. He merely crooked his neck to bend his head and exchanged glances with the baby and then with me.
I noticed his eyes and reeled.
Perhaps I assumed too much, but my feelings were that this person knew that he was seeing these roses for the last time.
Was that envy I noticed when he looked at the baby? Or was it something else? A shared bond?
I see dying men and know that they were once young creatures wrapped in shimmering skin. I see newborns and know that they will wizen. Are the days between ever as important?
Tristan's first summer must be so wonderful for him. He pulls up grass with his little hands as if it were the most precious element in the universe. He grabs warm sand and smiles with the discovery of yet another feeling. I hold him and as we reciprocate pats I feel the glow as he anticipates a lifetime.
In the man's eyes I see a recollection of infinite experiences. He sees a flower and appreciates the beauty and wonder of it. He feels the warmth of the sun and saddens at the looming loss of that sensation. We exchange fleeting glances and we share an appreciation for our lives.
I've never had a more meaningful conversation.© 2005 - 2012 Hal Levy and the above captioned author.