Last November, I was bopping along the Bishop Park boardwalk and, in between photo sessions with the seagulls, I met an interesting person. You may remember I wrote about our encounter, as this petite older woman left me in awe and gave me cause to pause about MY own morning walking regimen once I reached the age of 90.
The chit-chat occurred after we were strolling in opposite directions on a brisk and windy Saturday morning. We were about to approach each other when a mighty gust of wind looked like it might send us over the railing into the Detroit River. We both clutched our wool hats with a free hand at the identical time, while our opposite hand gripped a walking stick and camera respectively.
After that hefty gust subsided, I quipped “I’ve been there – I’ve lost a few hats down at the park where I walk – they go airborne. I watched one cartwheel across the snow and right into the depths of the murky Ecorse Creek and one sailed off my head and hooked onto a branch over the Creek, so both were gone forever!”
Having dealt with the wily wind gust, we each lost momentum in our walks so we chatted for a few more minutes. I learned she was a widow, had just celebrated her 90th birthday and she made a round trip from her senior apartment building down to the River’s edge every morning. Once at Bishop Park, she walked the entire length of the boardwalk three times before heading home. Whenever it was hot or wintry weather, she had a Plan B and simply walked along Van Alstyne Street which runs parallel to the River. It is tree-lined in the Summer and always plowed and salted in the Winter.
That morning we discovered we had a few things in common, including that she and her late husband had also lived in Lincoln Park and enjoyed a daily walk at my favorite nature nook, Council Point Park. We learned we had several mutual acquaintances who were once parishioners at the now-shuttered St. Henry Church, also in Lincoln Park.
As we parted, I told her I admired her stamina and willingness to walk all-year around and hoped to be similarly enjoying a walking regimen when I was ninety and she replied “you will be dear.”
As I walked to the car that morning, I knew I would be writing about our conversation and wished that even if I hadn’t asked to take her photo to enhance the post, I should have at least asked her name.
Fast forward to August 2021 …
On August 4th, a warm and muggy morning, I made an early stop to enjoy the cool breeze down at the Detroit River and stroll along the Bishop Park boardwalk, camera in tow.
There were the usual items of interest along the way …
I walked along the wooden pier that juts out over the River and chatted with a couple of guys, who, just like me, whined about the heat and humidity and incessant stormy weather.
While enroute to the boardwalk to return to my car, I checked out the kayak launch, sometimes a gathering spot for waterfowl, but those Mallards were MIA. Then I glanced over and there she was –the nonagenarian walker. I snapped a photo of her as she hurried along, but wait … she was using a rolling walker. Hmm – I was sure it was her though.
She was moving pretty quickly.
I finally caught up with her and asked “do you remember me from last November?” “Why yes I do” she replied. We walked together, chatting amicably as if we were old friends. This time I asked her name. I learned it was Joanne and I told her my name. I remarked on her new “wheels” and she explained she had taken a bad fall, broken her glasses and it was suggested she use a rolling walker going forward, especially for her morning excursions along the Riverfront.
I asked if I could take her picture and told her briefly about my blog. Unfortunately this spry walker is not on social media, or I would have sent along the photos and this post.
I walked three lengths of the boardwalk with Joanne and then it was time for her to leave, so we parted. I told her I’d been to Bishop Park several times over the Winter and Spring and always looked for her, hoping to rekindle our conversation and she smiled. “See ya around” I called out and once again I told myself that when I reach my 90s, “I wanna be that gal!”
P.S. – I went to Bishop Park last Saturday hoping to see Joanne to wish her a happy birthday but we did not cross paths.