We were walking home from work in the early summer heat and noticed the older blind man seeming disoriented near the bottom of 18th Street, searching for the curb edge with his walking stick but finding only a light pole. “Excuse me,” was all he got out before my husband asked if he needed some help. “I’m trying to get up by the McDonald’s,” he said, smiling but clearly a little embarrassed. “We can get you there,” my husband said, offering his arm which the man eagerly took.
Slowly we made our way up 18th, the man apologizing for inconveniencing us, explaining that he was diabetic as he ducked his chin toward the medical bag slung across his chest. Even though he was born and raised in D.C. he hadn’t been in Adams Morgan in a while and was a little lost, he said. My husband assured him it was no inconvenience and gently navigated him around the early evening foot traffic in front of the restaurants and bars, asking him more about growing up in the city.
When we got near the McDonald’s the man said he was trying to get to one of the banks across Columbia Road and my husband offered to walk him right there. He helped him across the busy intersection and took him to the front door of the bank, opening it, shaking his hand, asking if he would be OK from there.
The whole time I’d walked a little ahead and to the side, to avoid getting in the way of the man’s walking stick and my husband’s path. I listened as he put the man at ease with his natural, reporter’s way of chatting with total strangers, all while helping him make the long trip uphill to the bank. I don’t remember what the man said on the walk, the names of the now-closed restaurants and music joints he’d mentioned, or what high school he’d said he attended. The whole time I was thinking that I was terribly lucky that the man guiding him was going to be my child’s father.
Happy Fathers Day,