After moving to the new apartment complex a luxury that I have been using regularly is the gym and the swimming pool. The best way to beat the boredom was to hit the gym and relax later at the swimming pool. Every day I push myself to run the extra minute not to be fit or anything, I do it because it gives me a chance to be with some people and restore sanity in this strange lonely Haven.
As I started to go about life with the precision of a Swiss watch, I noticed two people who shared my routine. Everyday Big Ron and Joanne would be at the Gym, and then walk back to the swimming pool. Big Ron was 78 years old, had Parkinson’s disease and came to the gym to use the treadmill and for his physiotherapy sessions. He reminded me of Clint Eastwood from the movie Gran Torino. They used to sit and talk about anything and everything. Soon I joined them and the three of us shared stories, jokes and strangely enough we enjoyed each other company very much. After our Gym Session we would walk back to the pool where Joanne works as the instructor.
One day I did not see both of them on the Gym, I knew that Joanne would drive to meet her son every month. But Big Ron was supposed to be there. I went to check on him and found him in his balcony with a half empty Malibu bottle at the side. “You have been drinking” I said. “It has been 50 years since my wife left me”. He had never spoken about his family and Joanne and I had never asked him about it. I did not know what to tell him and I tried to help him inside his house. He asked me to sit down and he showed me a picture of him and his wife. “You know why she left me?” He asked. I looked back and his eyes showed his despair. The best I could do was sit and hear him out. He told me about his wife she had been his college sweet heart and had married her. Life had been picture prefect as she was expecting their first child. When Ron learnt that his kid had a speech disability, he reacted badly. He told me that he had become scared of thinking about the kids life and started to spend more time at work and away from his family. He told his wife his apprehension and she had walked out with the kid without saying a word. It was hard for me to see him feel so bad and mumbling something about an important phone call I had to make I walked out of his house.
I become very uncomfortable when people are sad, I just do not know the right words to tell them. Probably Joanne could have comforted him had she been there. I avoided him the next couple of days. When Joanne saw me alone at the Gym, she asked me where Ron was and I told her about the earlier incident. She was furious when she found out that I had not checked on him for the past two days. She headed straight to his house and was back after some time. I was sitting at the swimming pool alone. She tossed a photograph at my lap; the same one that I had seen at Ron’s house. I understood slowly. She continued “The only happiness je gets now is by knowing that there are friends who care for him I cannot and will not remind him of his family and cause further despair and neither will you.
Two days later we are at the gym together. To others it is a funny sight to see Big Ron walking, Joanne jogging, and me sprinting side by side. For Ron we are two very good people who are helping him in his old age. To me they are the only friends that I have in America. But to Joanne it is Father, Daughter and me.