After last night's heavy deluge of rain, the morning was setting out to be dark and dreary. I stepped into the kitchen, opened the blinds, and the morning confirmed my expectations: the sun was concealed behind the grey clouds. Seeing as it was autumn and we live in Coquitlam, British Columbia, the rain and overcast days are an unavoidable fact of our fall weather. I went about my usual routine, making breakfasts, packing lunches and bags, brewing coffee, and setting keys out on the countertop, ready for my husband to head off to school, to teach his students the beauty of literature.
I finished sweeping the floor and placed the broom and dustpan back on the hooks in the garage. My lower back was very sore, so I decided to go into the living room and check emails. I turned on the television and the laptop computer. While reading and deleting, my face began to feel warm on one cheek. I looked towards the window, a bright light appeared through the blinds. Rays of sunshine were breaking through the darkness outside, forcing the grey clouds out of its way. The sun was making its presence known and the dreariness was dissipating. Usually, after the house is clean, I head off to the gym for a workout. However, this morning my back was too sore for an intense gym workout; I needed rest to recover the injured area. Today, a long walk at LaFarge lake would suffice for cardio, especially since the day was looking and feeling more like a beautiful spring day rather than a cold, wet fall day.
I set the timer on my cell-phone and began making calculations in my head; how many laps around the lake to complete twelve miles and how long should it take? Sixteen laps would be sufficient, and it could be done in around two hours, as long as I kept a fast pace. Many people had the same idea of enjoying a nature walk on this unusual autumn day. The trail at the lake was crowded with people, each one probably had their own walking goals in mind. However, most seemed to leave after a couple of laps. After walking six or seven laps I began seeing a few of the same faces. Passing one another, smiles were exchanged to show we had indeed seen one another, and acknowledging we had been there longer than most. On rare occasions, I will smile at the same face more than ten or twelve times. On this sunny day, there was an elderly man who captured my attention, he outwalked most people. After my fourteenth lap, I glanced over and noticed him leaving. We smiled at each other, in a manner expressing goodbye without words. Being impressed with his ability to walk for so long, I decided to congratulate him,
I learned his name -rather fittingly- was Ray. I told him I was impressed with his walking speed and duration. I also knew from my own personal experience, living with severe Crohn's disease for many years, he was walking with purpose, not just for the mere enjoyment of nature. He joined me for the final two laps and shared his story. This "Ray of sunshine" smiled with joy as he declared that walking is part of his therapy. He recounted, how at the age of sixty-six his doctors diagnosed him with severe pancreatic cancer, along with skin cancer. He was scheduled for surgery but, would need a lot of rehabilitation and medication afterward. Unfortunately, the doctor didn't give him much hope either; his stage of cancer was dire. He beamed with pride as he described his refusal to quit on his life. Despite not being a great fan of reading, he began doing his own research. One of the first books he got, mistakenly thinking it was a religious book, because of its title, was How Not To Die. To Ray's surprise, it was a book on nutrition. He read it and immediately incorporated its nutrition principles into his life. He was also given an article by a friend about the positive effects of cayenne pepper for both good health and fighting cancer. He added cayenne into his routine as well. After some time, he went back to his doctor to have his prostate levels checked again. The doctor gasped at the results. Ray's levels had dropped extremely low, which meant he was doing better and winning his fight. Out of curiosity, the doctor asked him what he had changed. Ray explained that it was a bit of faith, changes in nutrition, and more exercise. According to the results, this new lifestyle was leading him on a healthier path.
As we came to the staircase near the car parking lot, I pulled out my keys. Before we parted ways, I asked, "how long has it been?" Ray beamed. "I'm seventy-six! I've lived ten more years than the doctor said and I'm still going strong with many more sunny days ahead in my forecast." A dreary day was turned into Rays of sunshine!