What urged me to put myself out on the road was to grieve the loss of my brother-in-law. Talking to hundreds about his passing during the walk along the Arkansas "Trail of Tears" helped to bring my feelings up to the surface. Sharing vulnerable thoughts is not a practice "hard wired" in the culture today. For years after my mother passed I bemoaned her loss. Through a strange development of circumstances I found myself literally telling the world about her death over and over. She did many great things during her life to help others but, after sharing what she could have done had she lived longer I had to "come to grip"that she had faults(hard to even write those three words) like anyone else and had not balanced her life properly with exercise, healthier diet, proper sleep, checking her "sugar" while working to champion causes as a state legislator. Two days before she died she was in intensive-care, her heart too far gone, she wanted only to attend a hearing as an advocate for coal miner's rights two days later. Dedication? I am proud that she was determined to the end and have to take a lesson or two that "come knocking" as I open that door over and again. Einstein said life is like riding a bike, easy as long as you keep your balance. Stubborn dedication toward a goal is fine. Giving myself an equal measure of care is a hard lesson to grasp. Even if the need is great giving myself permission to heal (on many levels) is part of life. Of only I can remember that as I charge against windmills or traverse rocky fords in the dark.
It took my walking about two hundred miles for me to get in touch with something about my brother that escaped me until the day I walked to downtown Hot Springs. I was angry at him, frustrated he left two daughters like my mother left us, sad that I knew his habits and the way he balanced his meals with a shot ,didn't exercise or seem to care, and I spent the day telling everyone about it. I mimicked dead brother-in-laws' tone of voice, I flailed my arms in his characteristic style, I called him every name in the book and professed my love for the old grouch. To my surprise many, too many, shared tales of lost loved ones and friends who did the same and had passed. A photographer from the Sentinal-Record in Hot Springs got the same as all the rest. When he asked how far I was going. " I have walked in thirty eight states, walked with this dog over six thousand miles during seven other walks and this one began in West Memphis. I've walked thru Little Rock to here. What more do you want from me?" I told him I had a torn heal, I should allow to heal and I missed my son so I was debating going home for Thanksgiving. He was very understanding, our photo was on the front page the next day despite my honesty.
We laughed with one another the last time we met, I smile with your memories.