Weekend essay: A precious moment

Weekend essay: A precious moment

I knew not their names. Nor did I necessarily want to. Perhaps I feared too much information somehow would diminish the evocative moment to which I bore witness several years ago.

For years I waved to, and smiled at, the elderly man of Asian descent who lived just over the hill. When the weather permitted, he loved to take walks. The woman I assumed to be his wife often joined him.

Sometimes we passed on opposite sides of the street as I walked one of the dogs of the day. Other times I’d see him as he meticulously tended to his trellis garden on the side of his home.

The pair never spoke. From the vigor of his wave and broadness of his smile, I doubt they knew English. But no proficiency in a specific spoken language is needed when one has mastered the universal language of a happy and sincere greeting.

It was near dusk one night when the pair crested the hill above their house and turned down the cross-street. Yet again, big waves and wide smiles. And then, the precious moment:

As the dog paused to investigate the scent of some recently passed deer, I watched the couple, a few feet apart and side by side, walk down the brick street. Their heads were bowed and their respective hands were clasped behind their backs. They spoke not a word to each other.

The remnants of the glowing sunset framed this contemplative trek in the perfect light — two people as one.

In an era in which we too often, as a poet once said, “view life as a bridge of groans across a stream of tears,” this was a most endearing moment — one that reaffirms how wonderful life can be with another.

Colin McNickle is a senior fellow and media specialist at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).