And they know almost everyone.
My husband and I grew up in their city, so we know quite a few people as well, including my father-in-law and many more family members, but my parents can't travel two blocks down the road without stopping to chat with somebody. This has a lot to do with my mom's occupation. She not only knows hundreds of people by name and face but could rattle off their phone numbers if she wasn't so trustworthy as to keep them confidential.
Since Dad's retirement he's become quite social, thus he knows a lot of people too. From playing piano at a local church to performing at many art shows and singing in the community choir, he's rather active. When he and Mom walk down Main Street, they might end up visiting with people outside of every other store. Usually what happens is someone will say, "I saw you walking the other day!" as sort of an ice breaker to a further conversation.
Walking is probably the main hobby or activity that my parents have in common. When they really want to do something together, it will probably involve walking, which is great considering the health benefits. It might be an early-morning venture to get in a quick walk before the heat of the summer settles in. Or it might be an evening walk when Mom needs to shake off the work of the day and Dad needs to step away from his computer. Then there's the walk to the library, the river, the ice cream parlor, the art showing, or the aforementioned movie theater when they just want to get out of the house.
When my family or my sister and her family visit, we get swept up in the walking schedule. I love it, as it brings back memories of all the walks of my childhood and teenage years. We used to walk for fun or when there was something important to discuss that just seemed easier to talk about side-by-side instead of face-to-face in the living room. Burning off stress while having someone to talk to makes walking, I think, a relationship must in our family.
What's also great about my parents when they walk is that they often hold hands. Maybe they've been frustrated with one another, maybe they haven't had the best day, but I'm willing to bet if they hold hands when they walk, they just know that they have each other's back. Love in the beginning is fireworks and fun. Love after 45 years is commitment and trust (and probably some sparklers and bottle rockets, but sheesh, I'm talking about my parents, so I can't really go there!).
A few weeks ago my parents shared a story with me about how their simple walking routine speaks a testament of love to all who see them.
They were not far from home, going or coming I don't know, when a young man walked past them on the other side of the street. They noticed him but just kept walking, as did he, when abruptly he stopped, turned back, and approached them. He told them that he had often seen them walking about town, holding hands, and he just wanted to say that it meant a lot to him, especially with the recent passing of his grandfather. Something about them made him think of his grandparents and the love they had. My dad shook his hand and told him that walking would be good for him, too, as he went through the grieving process. They then parted ways, walking into their separate spaces of life, having collided for one moment to recognize and appreciate a little bit of love.
Just this morning my husband and I went on a walk in our slightly-bigger-than-hometown city. Our four-year-old son, not willing at first, joined us. We did a lot of stopping for ant inspections, stick collecting, and careful avoidance of "laser" cracks in the sidewalk and "lava" rocks that our son warned us about. But here and there we had the chance to hold hands with each other and with our son. I thought about the people who might be noticing us, out of the corner of their eye or through their windshield as they waited for us to cross a street. Would they see a little bit of love quietly passing before them?
Love takes your hand, remembers the best, forgives the missteps in life, and walks with you side by side.