My 3 and half year (and counting!) game of tag


My game of tag is with the older gentleman who I first met when he was exercising at Empress Walk.   You can go on Instagram and see me running around Empress Walk chasing him down in a race to see who could say “Happy Wednesday” or “Happy Thursday” first.  We have continued this game of tag for years now and we have also shown up for each other when we needed each other the most.

One particular instance that always stands out happened about 2 years ago.  I was overwhelmed with life.  I was making mistakes at Toronto Dance Salsa and life was just hard.  So I’m standing in line at Second Cup, feeling overwhelmed, focussed on my feet and there are people in front of me and behind me in line.   All of a sudden I hear a garbled voice – like one of those subway announcements you hear in a foreign country and you don’t really catch what is being said.

But I’m in such a headspace and spiraling downward that I’m not really paying attention.  The line has opened up, but I step out of line and ask the people behind to go ahead.  I can’t even decide on my order.  I’m in a bad place.  The garbled voice continues and I’m still not paying attention.  By the fourth or fifth time, the voice becomes clearer and I finally hear “Happy Wednesday!” This jolts me out of my spiral and I look behind me and see the old man.  He’s laughing and leaning on his walker and rocking back and forth in joy.

Immediately I too am smiling and laughing.  I  run up to him and give him a huge hug and say “You don’t even know how much that means!”

Fast forward to yesterday.  The old man gets wheeled into Empress Walk now.  His health is getting worse and worse.  He can’t speak clearly anymore – his voice is always that garbled subway announcement.  He can no longer exercise and he stays in most days.  In fact, I hadn’t seen him in three or four weeks.

But yesterday, he was being wheeled by his niece and he came up to the second floor to check and see if I was there.  Shelley was with me and I saw her become emotional, joyful, and celebratory and then I look back and see the old man.

My expression soon mirrored Shelley’s and we ran out to talk to him.  We are joking and laughing.  “You got me, man!  You’re the best!”

I look at him and say “You got me again but I know we both win”

He’s the one who taught me that.

If we are lifting each other up we will both always win.  

I look at him and say:

“You know it’s been years man and I’m so grateful and I love you!”

I see the old man well up and cry tears of joy and happiness. He can’t even speak anymore but I can see the emotion and how important these small interactions have been to him and to me.

It’s rough but it is also beautiful, in that frail moment to see so much light and emotion behind that mask.

It doesn’t take a lot…it doesn’t…to make an impact in someone’s life.

Those little moments matter, not the big ones, but the little bursts of sunshine that break through the noise, and hardship of life.

So here is my challenge to you:

This week be the Happy Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday…person

1 week, every day, every person, because all need a bit more Happy ____ in our life and if not you…then who?