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The Park Bench

Updated: Jan 23, 2021

I sat on the bench next to the river just off the trail. I noticed that the words “In loving memory of....” were engraved on the backrest although I did not notice the name. I had been walking for several miles, was tired, and just wanted to rest quietly and look out over the river.

But I was interrupted. A woman sat next to me, even though there were more benches nearby. I was irritated, especially when she began to talk to me. I was not in the mood to listen or talk. This was my space, my bench, my time. Not hers.

And then I listened.

She (let us call her Mary) talked about her daughter who had died the prior year. Her daughter drank too much and no matter what Mary tried to do or say, she could not get her to stop. The daughter would not, or maybe could not, change. She was only 35 when she died.

Mary was not a wealthy woman, but she wanted to do something to honor and remember her daughter. She managed to find enough money to pay for an engraving on a bench in the park, which her daughter loved. This park. This bench. My bench.

I never knew the daughter whose name I still do not remember, nor did I talk very long to her mother. But the daughter who could not find her place in life, seemed to have found it in death. I could feel her as her mother spoke to me. No scolding. No reprimanding. Just love and acceptance and understanding.

Some lessons come to us from the most unlikely people and places. All we have to do is listen.

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