Anyone following Katie-girl knows that this was a huge accomplishment. After all, she’s atop a very long flight of stairs.
Retirement. What a gift! Here Katie girl and I are wandering without time constraints or obligations.
We’re visiting family…
Taking lots of pictures of nothing much in particular.
Exploring places we’ve been many times, and other places we never knew existed.
We’re watching the weather up north, trying to figure out when we might go home again. There doesn’t seem to be an urgency.
Especially when we watch the weather patterns slide across the country full of snow and rain.
Might have to snuggle down here in the South for a bit longer.
Tonight as I sit out on the deck of the lake house, watching the moon rise, I wish everyone had such a warm, beautiful and safe place to relax.
I know that many of my friends ‘up north’ are facing their third night of no electricity following a major wind event. I know the temperatures are heading down toward 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-17.77 C) tonight.
I wish that spring could come early for them. That I could somehow share the warmth and color and contentment surrounding me here.
I wish they could all just come down here and soak up the sun. Or sit with me under the moon listening to the waves gently lap against the shore
I wish, not upon a star, but upon the bright moon, that the warmth from here in the South could find it’s way up to the dark and frozen North.
I’ve alluded to stressful times around here recently. We’ve had lots of unexpected and unplanned things to deal with lately. I guess I shouldn’t have expected that retirement would be all golden beaches, blue skies and fruity drinks.
This morning I left early, heading over to my physical therapy appointment a couple of towns to the west. The sky was pretty, big clouds with purple bottoms piling up. I wished I was out with the camera instead of going to PT.
Once that appointment was over, my shoulder iced (which is the best part of my day) I head over to my gym, a couple of towns to the east, intent on getting some cardio in. The sky is filled with more beautiful clouds. I consider heading home for my camera, skipping the gym and the visit to the nursing home.
I debate doing something I want to do v.s. doing the thing I should do.
At the gym I walk three minutes, run one minute, repeat about 11 times on one of the treadmills. It’s an attempt to get back to running after many years of slothful living. But one minute is about all I can run without my heart rate soaring above it’s max rate. Still, I’m pleased I stuck to the plan.
Sweaty I headed to the locker room and dress in layers to head back outside into the 10 degree day. The blast of cold air actually feels good pulling at my sweat soaked hair. It’s afternoon now and I’m hungry. I could stop by MacDonalds….but I only spent 340 calories in my three mile walk/run, and I could waste that in an instant if I’m not careful.
I buy a cup of chicken noodle soup (130 calories) there, and sip it in the parking lot of the nursing home. I burn my tongue, as I always do when I’m trying to hurry.
Inside I visit with Aunt Vi who at 101 is not happy to have given up her own home. She says she’s doing worse today than yesterday, but to me she seems pretty good, though confused about tests she’s having done. More family members arrive, and we spend a bit of time talking, even laughing, but receive no explanation to the pain she’s experiencing.
Glancing at my watch I realize time has flown and I must fly too in order to get dinner into the oven at home. As I prepare the meal I update the husband on the aunt’s status. It’s so hard to know what to do. Everyone wants the best for her, but it’s hard to find that within the health care system.
And then I notice the headlines rolling across the television across the room. The sound is down and I’ve been talking about our daily stresses, not paying attention.
Five dead in the Fort Lauderdale airport. Another shooting. More terror, more grief, more confusion, more debate. I note that the radio playing during my drive home hadn’t mentioned it. The stock market didn’t blink and Wall Street analysts don’t mention the tragedy. They’re talking about the agony of the Dow being within .37 of 20,000.
We have become immune.
My day, filled with stress, seems pretty straight forward now, and in fact quite good. My shoulder didn’t hurt. I got my workout in. Aunt Vi spent some time laughing.
And I recognize I should be grateful.
PS: The latest test shows she might have a gall bladder problem. We and she are headed to the hospital now. Still, we’re grateful for an answer.
It’s 4:30 a.m. and Katie the dog wants to go out. Just like every morning, her timing is meticulously accurate. I shake the sleep from my eyes as she shakes the tags on her collar and together we stumble to the front door where she prances impatiently as I don shoes and coat and gloves.
And then we step out into the blackness that is early morning.
Deep silence surrounds us. No cars out on the freeway, no stirring in the neighborhood. Only the far away wail of a train intrudes on the thick blanket of quiet. I whisper to her, unwilling to pierce the silence myself, to find a good spot as we wander the yard.
Almost directly overhead is the big dipper, sitting upside down, spilling good wishes down upon us. Orion’s belt has long since gone to bed. “Hi Dad,” I whisper. “Here’s to a New Year. Another one starting without you and mom.”
And then I pause, a bit of happiness floating from me up to him. “Well, not really without you…I feel you right here. See you tomorrow morning…say hi to Mom”
Katie and I head silently back to the house. At the front porch she stands on her back legs asking to be picked up. I do, picking up her awkwardly lopsided bobble-headed cone encased self and give her a tight hug and a kiss.
“Happy New Year baby-girl, Happy New Year.”
I wasn’t going to write about this. That today is another anniversary of the semitruck crash that took our remaining parent.
But today I seem to be blocked and unable to write about anything else.
And so I will mark the day so that I can move forward. Not move on, because that implies that I leave him behind, but forward.
Today I am moving forward with him, and mom, always with me.
What you say? You just heard from me? You wonder if mama is even doing anything interesting? Well, according to me, the princess, she is not.
Besides! It’s my tenth birthday!
That’s double digits people! It’s a big deal and I’ve been looking forward to it for months! (OK, for moments, but in dog years that’s the same as months.)
There should be cake! And treats and balloons and guests and party hats! And gifts. Lots and lots of gifts.
But instead mama got me this.
I hate it. I can’t see through it, it flops over my eyes, and it’s not my color. Everybody knows that my color is pink. This thing is not pink. And even the bandage on my leg is blue instead of pink.
Obviously a grievous error.
Mama put me back in the clear cone that the vet gave me. I like it better cause I can see stuff coming at me. Like a treat. Not that I’ve seen any birthday treats. But just in case I’m ready.
Also it makes an awesome snow scoop.
Mama says I’m really tired and since I’m on pain meds we should probably celebrate my birthday once this whole cone thing is done. What’s a couple weeks anyway she says? Just about a trillion dog years…but whatever mama.
I need a nap but mama says I have to stay awake long enough to tell you that the thing on my leg that the vet took off was just a wart and nothing to worry about.
So now I have to wear this lovely cone of shame for two whole weeks! Sigh. I’m not very good at being a patient. I ask to go outside and then make mama or daddy walk around and around my path without actually doing anything. I mean what do they think? I can’t sniff for a good spot wearing this ridiculous headgear. But then they took it off so I could sniff and I still won’t do anything. I like to make them nuts. Especially when it’s so cold outside and the wind is blowing so hard.
And last night I made mama sleep on the floor next to me. Mostly I didn’t need her but it was nice to push up against her when I woke up scared in the middle of the night. I’m glad she was there. And just cause she did that I let her sleep all the way until 6 a.m. this morning.
Maybe I’ll let her sleep till 6:15 a.m. tomorrow. We’ll see how I’m feeling. Could go either way.
Meanwhile, I expect a big celebration of my birthday after this stupid cone is gone. I’m starting to gather my list of demands now. A princess has to be ready, don’t you know.
Katie here, signing out – thank you all for all your good thoughts and prayers when I went under the knife. I know they made a big difference, and they certainly made mama feel better.
Sending you all sheltie hugs and kisses. And if you need a cone, I have a spare.
“There is a plan and a purpose, a value to every life, no matter what its location, age, gender, or disability. — Sharron Angle
I’ve been nominated by Carol at Wanderings of an Illusive Mind. (For a smile and a look at something beautiful, go check out her blog header…she paints with alcohol inks and the horse you’ll find there is stunning!)
Life here is pretty busy at the moment, though I suppose it’s busy everywhere now that the holidays are upon us. Here in the US the combination of politics and holidays don’t seem to go together very well, especially this year.
But I don’t want to talk about that.
I’d rather talk about the value of a life, regardless of the age or location of a person. Especially because of the age and location of a person.
Our elderly family member is settling into a new home, one she wishes she didn’t have to accept. She lived in her own apartment until she was 101 ; that’s longer than most of us will ever live alone. But her legs and her heart just aren’t strong enough for her to live alone any longer.
She knew that someday she’d have to move into a nursing home. Still, now that the time has come, it’s hard.
It’s hard on those of us watching her struggle with emotions as we struggle with ours. It’s hard telling her over and over that she can’t go home again. It’s hard to listen to her voicing her objections to her new location. And it’s hard to leave her there after each visit.
It’s hard to tell her the sky is a brilliant blue and the air is warm and see her sad eyes at the realization she can’t see out the window on the other side of her shared room. It’s hard to listen to her talk about the noises made by other residents at night without having an acceptable resolution. To think about her never having her favorite cinnamon raisin toast again because there’s nowhere to toast it for her. To realize that her space is too small to give her fresh flowers, that she never gets fresh fruits with a meal, that she can no longer enjoy the company of her bird. That she enjoys no privacy at all.
Mostly it’s hard for her.
I believe her life still has value, regardless of the age she has attained and regardless of where she now finds her physical self. And I believe that somehow we need to find a way to make her feel valuable again. Because right now she’s not feeling like she matters to much of anyone at all.
And that’s not right.
Change is hard.