In 2000, back on the Appalachian Trail eight months after losing my beautiful only son to suicide; it seemed, no matter how hard I unknowingly tried to remain miserable, I kept having little encounters with people who unknowingly, just were not going to let misery stand.
In Bear Mountain, New York, the trail winds through Trailside Museum and Animal Exhibit, the site of America’s first Nature Trail. I was walking through the tunnel-like nocturnal animal exhibit, with my head down when I was approached by a young lady in her twenties, “Are you a thru-hiker?” she asked. I looked up startled and told her I was. She then said, “children, children, come here quickly!” In an instant I was surrounded by little munchkins, kindergarten age, I think. There were two other young teachers there as well. She introduced me to the class, “This gentleman is a thru-hiker, and he has walked over a thousand miles to get here and he is walking on to Maine!” There was an instant chorus of “wows” from the sweetest voices on earth! She then said, “Let’s ask him some questions, I’ll go first!” And she asked, “Do you ever get lonely out there?” I answered, “Yes, as a matter of fact; I just got off the phone with my girlfriend in Florida.” There was a pretty little blonde girl right in front, and with eye’s opened wide as though totally astonished, asked, “You have a girlfriend!?” I, with a slight smirk, answered, “Yes I do.” And with eyes still wide, she said, “Wow! You’re too old to have a girlfriend!” The three young teachers, in unison, while trying to keep from bursting out in laughter, said, “Beverly!” Undaunted, little Beverly continued, “You’re too old to have a girlfriend, you’re supposed to be married to a grandma!” “Well, I do have a girlfriend,” I said, sheepishly. “Is she pretty?” Beverly asked. “I think she is.” I said. Then the precious little darling asked, “Is she as pretty as Miss Davis?” A crimson faced Miss Davis said, “Beverly!” Struggling for an answer to this one, I said, “To me she is.” To which, with eyes even wider, she exclaimed, “Wow!” I looked at a blushing Miss Davis, being teased by her co-workers and said, “That sure beats getting an apple doesn’t it?” She was speechless. Life and all its wonderful participants were not going to let me stay unhappy! Push on, LOVE LIFE and let Life heal your wounds.