Jane and I were walking in the park. A pleasant Sunday afternoon stroll, hand in hand as we like to walk, even if it seems childish to some people. We’d been together for over a year and I was trying to pluck up my courage to ask her to marry me. Suppose she said no!
As we passed the bandstand and the ornamental lake I saw an old lady sitting on a bench. She was busy knitting a small red sweater. She looked exactly like my gran. Gran was fond of knitting; every birthday she made me a scarf or a jumper. Now she’s living in a residential home somewhere on the south coast, I think. We kind of lost touch when she moved there after my dad died. I looked closer – it wasn’t just some old woman who looked like Gran – it was Gran! Dare I approach her? She was getting old, suppose she no longer recognised me? I couldn’t stop the hot tears that poured down my face. Why hadn’t I kept in touch?
I always knew Mark was a big softy, but I didn’t think he was the sort of bloke to cry in public. It was like this; we were out for a walk last Sunday after lunch. It’s one of our customs, even if it does make us look like an old married couple. I like it. But on Sunday we passed this old lady sitting on a park bench. She was respectably dressed, not a bag lady or a beggar or anything like that. She even had her knitting with her, a small red jumper the sort that would fit a toddler about two or three years old. Perhaps it was for a grandchild – or a great grandchild, she looked old enough. Imagine my surprise – and my embarrassment – when for no reason I could see Mark suddenly burst into tears. If the old woman had been frail and in distress I might have understood it. But…I was simply baffled. We’d had a bottle of wine with our meal but not enough to make Mark maudlin drunk. What could be the matter with him?
I went to the park on Sunday. It was a lovely day, the sun was shining and I felt like a walk. My sister had promised to visit. I find Lizzie a bit of a pain and wanted to avoid her. I knew she’d ring before coming, so if wasn’t there to answer the phone, there’d be no difficulty. I even mentioned to the warden of the flats – sheltered housing, it’s called – that I was going for a walk. You don’t have to account for your movements but if Lizzie turned up at least she wouldn’t be trying to persuade the warden to use her pass key to get into my flat.
Anyway I had a nice walk and a sit down beside the pond. I’d got my knitting with me. I like to have something to keep my hands occupied, now I can’t see so well to read unless I get a large print from the library. So there I was knitting a jumper for old Mrs Green’s grandson. She can’t knit now, poor thing, her arthritis is too bad. I was watching the people passing trying to guess who they were and how they were related. A mother and three small children, a father who looked as though he was a divorced dad taking his daughter for a weekly outing and a young couple holding hands. It seems to have gone out of fashion hand holding, now. Unless you are with a young child or a very old person who needs assistance crossing the road. I glanced up at the couple and I couldn’t believe my eyes; the man burst into tears. I hadn’t done anything, I promise. I wasn’t even thinking about my magic gift and I’d absolutely no reason to use it on this young man.