An Unabashed Democrat

(Essay)

Winter is a bad time for outdoor activities. Especially if the temperatures are below freezing, and there is snow and ice on the road. In summer we had made it a habit to take walks in our new neighborhood. That is when we met most of our neighbors and made new friends. Lately, there is a craze of taking ten thousand steps every day to be fit. We don’t subscribe to that regimen. We are happy to finish half of that count. What good is an exercise if it is not pleasurable?

In Fairfax, we were members of the upscale LifeTime fitness gym. We liked other members and made many casual acquaintances. We made a trip to the gym at least three days a week. I enjoyed the Yoga and the strength training class. On days when we didn’t have a group fitness class, we used the rowing machines and the recumbent bicycles. After moving to Ellicott City, we thought we should join the local branch of LifeTime fitness. The gym was half an hour away from our new house. We searched other gyms in Ellicott City as well as visited the local YMCA. There was nothing to our liking in terms of the environment and the general aesthetics. On the recommendation of one of our long-time friends, we joined the Howard County 50+ center. We liked it. Two separate buildings belonged to the center. One of them had a clean but small fitness center with limited equipment. But it was pleasant and not too crowded. I joined the Tai Che class and Bharati joined the water coloring class. Unfortunately, my Tai Che instructor developed a health issue and the class was canceled. Bharati completed her beginner’s painting class.

I was hoping my class will resume after the new year. As everyone knows it is the peak of the new Omicron virus. The 50+ center canceled all group classes. The fitness center was open but due to the highly contagious nature of the new virus, we didn’t want to risk exposure in a closed environment. It was disappointing but that’s life. Some things are beyond your control.

We continued our walks. When it got very cold, we stayed home. On days when the weather was bearable to venture out, we decided to explore and check our town. On surfing the internet, we discovered several lakes within a very short driving distance. All of them had walkways and beautiful scenery. Surprisingly there were a good number of people who had the same ideas as us. We started to enjoy our outings to the lakes.

One of the lakes we began to like more is the lake in Centennial Park. It has about a 2.5-mile loop for walking. It is only a ten-minute drive from our house. It has tennis courts, basketball courts, a children’s playground for rock climbing, handlebars for hanging, and slides. The first time we visited the lake we saw a crane meditating standing on one leg. There were flocks of geese making a ruckus in their “language”. We just fell in love with this place. 

On our first visit, we kept walking enjoying the scenery. At one point I wanted to rest. Bharati pointed to a bench and recommended for me to sit while she went further. While I was sitting and enjoying the beautiful scenery of the lake I waved at passersby. Some responded, others made small talk while some others ignored and kept walking. Maybe those who didn’t want to make a contact were warned by their parents not to talk to strangers when they were growing up, especially a foreign-looking stranger.

I was glad that the park had provided these benches. On subsequent visits, I noticed that each of these benches had an inscription. Out of curiosity, I started paying attention to what was written on each of the benches. These were words of dedication to the departed ones. Here is a sample I noted. I am omitting the names.  

Heavens to ——. So Sweet. Please Rest and Share Her Seat. The Circle of Love Complete.

Dedicated to the memory of ——. Beloved Husband, Father, and Grand Father.

—— Beloved Wife, Mother, and Grandmother

Loving memory of our parents —–.

In Loving Memory. Family and Friends

—— Profesora de Español

I was moved by the love and respect expressed in these short sentences. Each gave a glimpse of the type of life the person had lived and how it made a difference in the lives of others.

Then I came across an unusual sign.

—— Howard County Democrat

That’s it. Three simple words to put a person’s entire life in perspective. Isn’t that wonderful? One does not need to be of the person’s political persuasion, but one can picture the person and her dedication to her cause. She must have been proud of whatever she did as a member of the democratic party. She must have desired the world to know.