STROLLING THROUGH PARADISE essay
by Richard L. Provencher
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Preamble: Before my stroke in 1999, I didn’t spend much time chatting with those with lesser health, lingering by street corners, trying to catch someone’s attention, to be noticed as someone alive. After my stroke, I became one of them, and now, with God’s help, I know how to live. RLP
STROLLING THROUGH PARADISE
Walking in Truro, Nova Scotia is more like meeting a feast of personalities. Angels are definitely around us. And they come in the form of laughter and smiles from people often missed as they gather in little towns such as this.
As others hurry to work, Angels in Paradise may be overlooked. A slower pace easily brings them into view. When encountered, Angels are unduly labeled the “walking wounded” of society.
Since my own encounter with a serious illness, causing slowness in my daily walk, more meaningful moments have been drawn to my attention. And these very Angels have enriched my flagging spirit.
It was my joy to discover Ralph, a man of darker skin and whiter teeth than mine, who hailed me on the street. Since our many conversations, it is now “Hello Richard,” instead of simply “Hey.” His red baseball cap continues to attract my attention, and I no longer wonder why so many deliberately stop and chat with the man.
He is a dispenser of wisdom, unused to foul language, cheerful in spite of weather conditions and moves from one selected corner of Inglis street to other stations. His eager shuffle captures my admiration.
Then there is Hank. He saunters along, window-washing pole slung over his shoulder, pail of water in the other hand. Are his blue-painted running shoes a giveaway to his eccentricity? I can attest to the fact he is sane.
This man has a closet full of creative urges. He works away in the lateness of each night. When most of us are sound asleep, he’s preparing his theme for next day’s journey downtown.
And Hank carries himself with mature pride. No one knows much about his past, where he worked, if he had a family or how old he really is. Merry eyes belie the cracks of skin across his face.
Now everyone notices him when adorned in his latest creation, green painted hat a sash of green across his chest, green pants and similar colored running shoes. “Haven’t figured out how to carve a shillelagh yet,” he proudly boasts.
There goes Greg, stilt-like in his walk, as he maneuvers a tall frame around crowds of urgency. Beginning quite early he walks the streets of Truro, like some guardian of the town. Arm and leg movements visibly strained due to his car accident some twenty years before.
But that was then, and this is now. Once I too hurried on by with a wave and an admonition about the weather. Now I can barely keep up to that walking wonder. Limbs stretch forward each day, dispensing a will to overcome his limitations. And I feel privileged to inhale his cheerfulness, his vigor.
Then there’s Dave, hat pressed tightly to his forehead. Can’t afford to lose it in the wind, since his steps are slow in the event of needed chase. Some wrongly state he is a “special” person, unable to contribute much to society. So wrong are those statements of confused thinking.
I see him as a painting on a canvas. His colors are a never-ending smile. When he fixes his gaze in one’s direction, you can sense the depth of peace within his heart. And I seek to absorb that contentment. The steady movement of his broom across the asphalt, dust pan in hand at MacQuarries parking lot, is a fixture upon the scene, valuable as any cherished antique.
Watch carefully, as his wife nearby has only eyes for her man. And inside her breast is her own bucket of love, ready to be shared.
Each of these angels, are monitors during my daily walk. Yes, once I too hurried on by, off to some important destination, eyes focused on my wristwatch, not wishing to be delayed. So busy, and more concerned was I for a meeting, coming up sooner than a coffee break.
Each day is the same for so many hurried persons; their bustle in life, worrying and heading gosh knows where. Some destinations call to them as a mother loon anxious for her baby chicks. And when they arrive, perhaps continue on with unfulfilled lives.
Sadly, amid another day, some unknowingly have passed through Paradise. Not realizing that love, caring and blessings from nearby Angels are waiting to be dispensed. All it takes is a moment of hesitation, a glance, perhaps a pause.
Stop, watch and listen.
And I am thankful that I am now able to do so.
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© Richard L. Provencher 2008
Comments on my writing (adults only) welcome at: firstname.lastname@example.org
My poems, stories and novels combine a love of the outdoors with contemporary issues. Since much of my spare time in early youth was spent hiking and camping, my dad once said, “Be careful you don’t turn into a tree.”
I am “a persevering writer” at the young age of 65. Some of my work is in journals such as The Dublin Quarterly, The Windsor Review, Poems Neiderngasse, The New Quarterly, Bogg, Stellar Showcase Journal, Poetry Sky, Scribbulations, Canadian Stories, Quills, Rubicon Publishing, PusonWeb, Skive and Tower Poetry.
My Poetry Chapbook “In the Light of Day” is available through Mercutio Press at: www.mercutiopress.com. In my estimation, writing is a global adventure, a journey without borders. As a member of the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia, I am listed on their writer’s website at: www.writers.ns.ca.
My wife, Esther, and I are married 33 years, have four children, five grandchildren and we have lived in Truro, Nova Scotia, 22 years.
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FOOTPRINTS, a close family novel about a father’s search for a son he never met can now be ordered from SynergEbooks. Richard & Esther Provencher are also co-authors of two other novels soon to be published at: www.synergebooks.com.
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