Dare You — Walk Half A Mile In An Older Person’s Shoes?

A cheery smile can change your day — and theirs.

Linda Acaster
3 min readJan 14


Two seniors walking gazing at the pavement in a cityscape
Photo by bennett tobias on Unsplash

Yesterday morning, across a busy street, I saw a lady I recognised. I’ve no idea of her name, or where she lives; somewhere in my neighbourhood because our paths cross occasionally. In the past we’ve exchanged smiles, sometimes a Good morning, sometimes a quick chat about the weather. I’ve never seen her with anyone, she’s always on her own, often carrying a light bag of shopping.

Yesterday, there was no shopping bag. She was stooped, her eyes on the pavement, her back so bent it could have been carrying the world. She looked much older than I remembered, and my recall refused to say how many days had passed since I’d last seen her.

It was a busy road and I couldn’t call because of the traffic; I was running late and didn’t wait to cross. I wish I had. I’ve done little since but think about her, and today our paths didn’t intersect.

Seven years ago I walked with two canes. I had to walk to help slow the atrophying of muscles, but life had closed in, priorities had changed. My gaze was fixed on the ground in front of me, judging the camber, watching for trip hazards. Gentle gradients became my K2, my Everest. The only time I looked up was to check how distant was a wall, a gatepost, something, if needed, I could lean against to allow me to catch my breath against the pain.

I dare not try to sit on public seats in case I couldn’t get up, or worse jarred myself trying. No one spoke to me. Chatting couples coming my way on our narrow pavements expected me and my sticks to dance out of their path. I feared being jostled, even by accident.

A friend lent me her walking poles, which helped enormously to keep my spine in a vertical line. I felt more in control, even if it was illusory.

One day I spied a lady coming my way. Much older than me, she was bent over her cane, eyes down. I stopped as she approached, lifted my poles and clacked them together. She looked up, shocked, anxious. I grinned at her.

My sticks are bigger than your stick.

She blinked in surprise. I inclined my head and grinned some more, and watched the years fall away as a smile lit her…



Linda Acaster

British multi-genre fiction author who haunts historical sites - check out her publication 'Escape Into History'. For novel links: www.lindaacaster.com

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