“Are you ok, Mum?”
Big Boy held out his hand to help me up from the asphalt.
It was Friday morning, and we were nearly at the end of our morning walk, when I’d turned my ankle on a twig and ungracefully fallen face first onto the ground.
As he fussed over me, I reflected, for the umpteenth time that week, on how fortunate I was. I’m pretty grateful most of the time, but rarely more so than when I’m walking with our eldest son.
Bless his heart, he crawls out of bed every weekday morning at 7am to keep me company as we spend an hour or so strolling the length of Hawthorne Canal. We’ve been doing it now for three months. My feet ache and I haven’t lost any weight, but I’m completely addicted – if I miss out on the movement and conversation, I feel it keenly for the rest of the day.
It is, like all things in life, a brief window of opportunity.
Our eldest son is now twenty-three. He might not be at home for much longer, so these morning walks are a precious gift, and I treasure every minute of them. I’m always thanking him for coming with me, which amuses him no end.
We have a set route, which takes us through parkland and down to the water’s edge. At our walking pace, we can observe subtle changes from day to day – new graffiti here, a different variety of bird there. Hey, the new bubblers are working today. And isn’t the tide high this morning?
One of our great highlights has been watching Bruce and Shirley raise their chick Junior. Named after my childhood neighbours, B & S are diligent white-faced herons, who take turns guarding the nest while the other one is hunting. Junior has gone from nest-bound and downy, to clambering along the tree branch and glossy. He looks like he’s just about ready to fly. We stand there for a few minutes every morning, willing him to take off, but he’s not quite there yet.
As we walk, Big Boy and I talk.
You’d think we’d have run out of topics by now, but there’s something new to discuss every morning. We chat constantly, from the moment we leave the house until we’re back home again. It’s the most wonderful thing in the world.
My son, the tiny six pound four ounce treasure I gave birth to all those years ago, has become my grown-up friend. Apart from being respectful, loving and teasing, he’s also incredibly interesting to talk to. Our conversations are relaxed and easy, and occasionally deep and contemplative. His manner has always been very like Pete’s, but his outlook on life is uniquely his own, and I listen to him with equal measures of awe and pride.
Big Boy works from home, so these morning walks are important for him too.
He’s gone from swimming three times a week at school, to walking several kilometres a day at uni, to sitting at a desk in his room. The transition from active to sedentary happened almost overnight. He tells me that our morning walks help him in all sorts of ways – he’s lost weight, his sleep has improved, and he’s more mentally alert. Oh, and his knowledge of the local birdlife has grown significantly.
So…I’m enjoying our walks while they last. I’m no longer baking as much in the mornings as I used to, but that’s a small price to pay. After all, how often do we get to spend quality time with our adult children?