No one remembers exactly when Carolyn Kokulis, Pat Boler and Lois Williams began walking together. The three women had been friends for decades when they found yet another way to intertwine their lives.Two miles a day, five days a week, in all but the worst weather, they make their loop around the neighbourhood.
It started as a fitness regimen but has become so much more. They’ve walked through Kokulis’ knee replacement. And Williams’ respiratory problems. And Boler’s nearby move when she and her husband decided they needed a house without stairs.
Fun and motivating
“It’s just fun, the sharing one another’s lives,” says Kokulis, now 73. “And the motivation to get out there and (walk) whether you want to or not. And the fellowship.”The streets they are walking this day did not exist when Kokulis moved into the neighbourhood in 1961. Neither did the houses. There were just fields and woods, playgrounds for the 14 children they raised in three homes whose back yards are just a few steps from one another.
The talk is of kids, church, events, their triumphs and troubles, the transformation of woodland to hundreds of homes. The only subject off-limits is politics. It’s “never been mentioned,” Kokulis says. The walks began after the kids had gone on to lives of their own. Kokulis began walking alone. Boler soon joined. A few years later, Williams, now 77, quit walking in the nearby village and joined them.
The families they knew were replaced by the next generation, younger couples with children of their own.Newer people joinSoon the walking group had new blood. Sharon McGuire joined the group, as did Gayle Goff and Peggy Dillenburg. The older women are “vicariously reliving” their child-rearing years, Williams says. “We get to tell them how it was in our day, and they’re good about listening.”“I think in a sense we became mentors,” Kokulis says. “We’re not telling them how to raise their kids. Just a little empathy.”