Every morning my son, Fernando, and I spend about thirty minutes walking together. There are many benefits early morning walking can bring to those who do it.
Let me share a little background of why Fernando and I take our walk. Twenty years ago Fernando was involved in an accident. At that time he was eighteen and living in Puerto Rico where he and his mother are from. Their family was a well-to-do family, his father a surgeon and administrator of a hospital and his mother a business woman who had her own business in home decor. One stormy night Fernando was driving home with two of his friends from a sporting event. A drunk driver ran a rel light and rammed into the car that Fernando was driving. The result was catastrophic. The car was demolished. His two friends were badly hurt and would take months of medical treatment to return to a somewhat normal life. However, Fernando received the brunt of the collision and was at first assumed dead by the first responders. Upon arrival at the hospital they found him to have minimal vital signs and put him on life support. When his mother arrived the doctors recommended that they disconnect the life support because he had injuries to his brain and all over his body. His mother refused to allow them to do that.
There are many other miraculous things that I shall share in later articles, but suffice it to say, through many hardships and seemingly impossible situations, Fernando progressed from never becoming conscious again to only being a vegetable to never speaking again to never walking again: I think you get the idea. The man is a walking miracle.
How I came to be part of Fernando’s life
Not long after Fernando’s accident, his mother lost her husband who died of complications with a stroke. At that time Fernando was in one of the best brain rehab clinics in the world in Miami, Florida. When her husband died, Fernando’s mother decided to relocate to the mainland to be near the best treatment facilities for Fernando. She sold her business and her home in Puerto Rico and relocated to Orlando, Florida.
While living in Orlando, his mother, whose name is Enid, was tricked into signing up on one of the match making sites for singles called Christian Mingle. It so happened that just prior to that time my wife had passed away. Having been married for thirty-five years I did not savor the idea of living alone or living the life of a bachelor. So it happened, that Enid and I got to know each other and through an odd journey we married in 2005. She made it clear from the beginning that Fernando was part of the package, though. He is considered disabled so he cannot hold a job because of the brain injury. But other than that he takes care of himself and feeds himself and dresses himself like any normal person. He has a great personality and gets along with everybody. Fernando never meets a stranger.
My wife is not only a great wife, she is a great mother, too.
The morning walk
Back to the subject at hand. Not long ago we took Fernando for his annual physical checkup. Everything in general was OK. But the doctor noted that Fernando had gained twenty pounds over the previous year. So he recommended that we begin some exercise program to burn some more calories and to monitor his caloric intake. Fernando was already riding a stationary bike for twenty minutes a day. So we decided to up it to forty minutes a day. In addition, we decided that Fernando and I would walk for twenty minutes each morning. Since we live outside the city on a street that is not a through fare, it works just fine for that. So we have begun our morning walks.
When we first began our walks I was surprised to find that Fernando was not as in shape as I thought. After only about five minutes he was breathing very hard. But as we continued, day by day, I began to see improvement. He began to take more consistently deeper breaths without it seeming a hardship. When we first started he would finish the walk and be somewhat tired. Now he is still energetic at the end of the walk and continues to exercise by riding his bike for forty minutes.
But that is not the only benefit. Before we started our walks, Fernando spent almost all of his time inside. Now we begin our mornings with a joyful communication with God’s creation. We hear birds singing. We hear our neighbor’s chickens clucking and the rooster crowing. We hear our neighbors’ dogs barking. And many days we hear the breezes rustling through the leaves of the trees.
We see the brilliant blue of the sky or the fluffy white voluminous clouds floating along. We see the many colors of different trees and bushes and grasses. Because we live next to a bayou we see the ripples of the water caused by the breezes and we occasionally see the fish as they jump for joy.
One thing that we get to do which many people today seldom get to do is that we walk on real ground. With so much concrete and pavements these days many people never walk on the real earth. We get to breathe fresh air. Being out of the city there are many trees and plants which do a great job of cleaning the air.
Yes, there are many benefits early morning walking can bring you. These that I have stated above are a few. But let me not forget one of the most important benefits. For Fernando and me we have the added benefit of fellowship as we walk. We talk and share thoughts. We laugh and joke and have fun. We marvel at the things that God has created. Though I am thirty-three years older than Fernando we are the best of friends.
One of the benefits that I get in my morning walks with Fernando is that I get to see the world through his eyes. You see, Fernando has shorten-memory deficiency. So, every day to Fernando is new and exciting.
Sometimes I wonder if maybe Fernando is not the one with the brain injury.
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