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memorial for a stride

A couple things I remember about my Grampy Mitchell were his stride and that his pockets were always full.

His stride was confident, purposeful, powerful, and steady. It was a stride well-honed by daily practice. Grampy walked like an old time religion, three miles a day, come hell or high-water, both of which did, from time to time, during his 75 years. His was the sort of stride a boy might aspire toward. I did.

His pockets sometimes jingled when he walked. I don’t know what was in them. I suspect keys and coins, a hankie, a pen, and some papers. And other simple tools of a man with ideas to note and people to visit.

I’m thinking of him because he would have turned 90 last week, and because in the pocket of the vest that I wear on walks there is a length of twine that I pulled off of the roof of a truck yesterday where it was holding a tree that will be used to celebrate a holiday that Grampy loved.

In my pockets, along with the twine, I keep a pencil, a sharpener, and something to hold my scribbles. I keep a pocket knife for opening mail and freeing Christas trees from roof racks. I too keep some currency for daily exchanges and some keys for daily excursions. I keep a stone, the touching of which nudges my attention to earth’s elements as often as I reach into my pockets for warmth or utility.

Now that I’m grown my stride, compared to Ron Mitchell’s, contains a little more amble and a little less hurry. But my aspirations continue to trot alongside the legacy he left in my heart, trying to parallel his pace with assurance, deliberation, energy, and fidelity.

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