Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Bench

As I’m navigating a life without a partner, I’ve discovered that I can venture out without feedback and it’s OK.

We had the blessing of so much time. Often, we’d discuss a scenario of something that might happen in the future. “What will you do?” he would ask. And he’d wait for me to mull and answer. As we were life partners for 40 years, many of my responses would please him. Once in a while, he’d say, “This is what I’d do.” And then he’d follow closely with, “But I won’t be here so do as you want.”

He knew that we had lined up friends who would/do serve as advisers. So far, so good. Mostly our patterns were set and unified. But I’ve stepped out and made some choices that, together, we might not have made. The planet is still spinning.

The only thing Mike asked me to do: when we walked along The Nickle Plate Trail up north, we came to a resting bench, secured in cement. He said he’d like to have one of those in his memory along the trail so walkers and riders could take a break if they needed to.

After the dust settled on his passing, I kept this one request in mind. However, I found it difficult to find someone connected to the trail who could help me with this. When I marked the one-year date of Mike’s passing, I knew I would be relocating to Texas in the fall and I moved his request to the front of my concerns. So in early summer, I asked my sister-in-law, a runner/biker and general all-around community person to guide me. She suggested a name and I contacted that name through a message on Facebook.

I told him that I wanted to place a bench somewhere along the trail and asked him to direct me further.

I heard nothing for several weeks and then the day before I was coming to Kokomo, I contacted him again.  “You may not remember me but….”

His return jumped off the monitor with enthusiasm. “We’ve been working on this and would like to show you what we have in mind.” Plus directions on meeting up at the city building.  This gentleman is a trail guy; he also knew Mike having met him at The Huddle. He had taken my initial request and met with the city engineering department.

In the months since Mike and I first discussed a bench, the City of Kokomo has undergone a renaissance in the downtown area; this includes the extension of the trails right past the west of the courthouse. Would I like a bench there? Wow.

I smile as I sit here, far away, with the photos: the city has installed a really nice bench along with a plaque right near were Mike practiced law.

I can see his face, nodding and smiling, at how this turned out. Thanks Charley, Terrance, and crew.