It is not uncommon to see a vehicle parked on the side of the road, the victim of some sort of mechanical failure. However, considering all the traffic which passes through Riverview Park, I always thought it was unusual to not see something broken down there. But of course, as fate would have it, the first time I would see such a sight in that park it would involve me.
On a sunny and unseasonably warm October afternoon, my son, Caleb, and daughter, Anna, invited me to join them on a walk in Riverview Park with Anna’s two dogs, Luna and Athena.
With Anna walking Athena, and Caleb holding onto the leash of Luna, who was constantly on the lookout for squirrels and bunnies, I was focused simply on keeping up.
Our walking route took us to the river overlooks. When we reached the final overlook rather than turn around and head back we instead continued to walk south on a section of the park’s road system that is now closed to vehicles.
I toyed with the notion of sitting down at the overlook while Caleb, Anna and her hounds walked on to the roadway’s end, turned around and returned. However, not wanting to be a killjoy I joined them as they made their way on down the trail. It would turn out to be a tactical error on my part.
I do not know if I had noticed it previously or not, but walking north on the closed section of roadway represents a slight, but still noticeable uphill grade. That proved to be the point of the walk where I began to encounter problems.
As we pushed on I could not help but notice I was walking more and more bent forward while my pace grew ever faster. I considered just stopping, but I did not know if I could without pitching forward and landing on my face. Finally, as we approached the four-way stop, it became obvious to me that I had just two potential options, fall or ask for help. I chose the latter as I asked Caleb to assist me in stopping.
My request came as a surprise to my son, who had noticed I was setting a brisk pace, but had detected no other obvious indicators that I was likely within a short amount of time of crashing.
Getting my body to stop proved to be easier said than done. While Caleb latched on to me it was as if my internal accelerator was stuck to the floorboard.
Sensing it was going to take more of an effort to get me stopped and keep me upright, Anna passed Athena’s leash to Caleb so that she could take a two-handed approach to getting her dear, old dad stopped.
I am not sure if Anna and I looked more like we were ballroom dancing or engaged in a hand-to-hand fight, but we must have been a sight to see because multiple people passing us in vehicles slowed to ask if we needed assistance. However, because our car by then was not too far away Anna declined the offers of help.
Thanks to Anna and Caleb I made it back to the car without anything more than a bruised ego. As I sat there contemplating what had just transpired on a walking route that I had taken numerous times before without problem, a silver lining came into mind. While my body had essentially broken down on me that afternoon, at least I did not have to call a tow truck.