Good golly. Mother Nature must be furious about something! Her bellowing wind has created a bit of havoc around the region, moving along at howling, fright-train-speed all night long. Wind chimes on both the front and back patios were busy the whole night through. Their sounds are usually melodic and soothing but with these brutal winds its been more like an annoying racket, one that kept me wide awake well past two a.m. It’s nearly mid-day now and though the sun is struggling to win over the clouds that race overhead it’s still a dramatic day on the weather front.
Add to this a blue mood on my part. Nothing serious mind you. Just a wee bit of a grouchiness, the pain-induced variety, due to exceedingly cranky knees. I’m OKAY with that —not the pain of course—but I’m fine with feeling “off.” While some folks can be perennially chipper through thick and thin, there are plenty of us folks who …well…aren’t. That’s fine for a short spell. It’s called being human. Most days a walk in sunshine makes my spirits soar or a randomly selected Spotify playlist has me singing at the top of my lungs and busting moves as I go about mundane household chores. But this morning, after only a short walk with The Poodle, pushing through that brick wall of wind, I’m barely able to make it up a few steps back, into the house, without gritting my teeth in pain. It’s easy to get my knickers in a twist over the silliest little thing when my knees are very cranky. Fortunately Rocket-man gets it and forgives the expletive that comes out when I least expect it.
I’ve been holding on to these knees for nearly ten years since my last knee surgery. My California sports orthopedist advised that total replacement would be the next logical step. Since then, with the exception of one visit to a orthopedist here in middle-earth land, I have abandoned injections (painful and offering only temporary relief). I even gave up using joint stability devices and continued to eschew the routine use of pain medication. Stubborn as a mule, I’ve powered through these past five post-running years with cycling, yoga, swimming, weight lifting and various high-intensity training classes at my favorite workout place. But pain is starting to wear me down. Hanging on to my knees is becoming more difficult with each step. I am not happy about shelving bicycle adventure plans or putting Camino Di Santiago on the back burner for another year. So, yeah… my mood for the past few days has been less than bubbly.
Total knee replacement is a serious procedure.
Though I’m considered a good candidate for it I’m not ready for the risks of bi-lateral total knee replacement. With any surgery there is the risk of infection, but having both knees done simultaneously poses additional risks: slightly higher risk of experiencing a cardiac event, pulmonary embolism, and blood clots. And in particular…I am definitely not ready for disfiguring 10-inch scars on both legs. I’ve no shame in admitting that I’ve got a little vanity going on here. Considering them to be among one of my best features, I’ve always been proud of my legs. They are shapely, beautifully strong and, well… they’ve earned me a complimentary whistle or two over the years. My heart still skips a beat when I think of the early years of my courtship with Rocket-man. Then–and years after–he never missed an opportunity to say “nice legs” whenever I got in or out of the car.
Can you hear it? That sound. My wistful sigh…..
Most of all I am not ready for the real pain. Rehab pain. I’ve read enough in the past few years on the subject to know that it is not going to be pretty. The rehab process will not be easy, even for a seasoned workout gal like myself. The thought of a wheelchair and a walker—even for a few weeks—makes me physically ill. Life will be upside-down for a while. My yoga practice—erratic as it may be at times— can’t possibly be the same after total knee replacements. And, when the dust settles from it all, I’ll still very likely continue to experience pain…just a different kind of pain.
As I look out at the chaos of downed branches in our back yard due to the high winds that continue to rattle my house, and my nerves, I take a long deep breath and then I break into a smile which instantly lifts my sleep-deprived body.
It’s gonna be just fine.
My baby girl is getting married in exactly four weeks!
For now I’ve simply got to grit my teeth just a little while longer. I can do this. Without a doubt, these cranky knees are going to dance at her wedding and they–along with the rest of me– are going to be happy! Period!
I may need to re-think the idea of wearing heels with my pretty mother-of-the-bride dress.
Hmm. So you know what that means?
Shoe shopping with my sis!
So sis…if you’re reading this, get ready! I’m on my way next week so get your shopping shoes on!
Yesterday on the yoga mat tears flowed. They came from out of the blue. This has happened once before, during savasana at one of my favorite Yoga Works class when I lived in Southern California. I was mortified then, but likely no one saw me wiping tears because, well…it’s savasana.
I haven’t been on the mat for at least a week now. So when I found myself on the mat yesterday I was not expecting that a piece from my Spotify playlist would tug at my heart-strings just so.
I may as well have been in that hospital room. The images of tubes, monitors, tears (gut-wrenching tears), my distraught sister, and the unbelievably kind critical care nurse were strikingly vivid.
In that room, I had placed my iPhone on mom’s pillow as she lay dying after being taken off life support. I selected the first playlist that was a recent play for her to listen to; it was an album of Albinoni’s Adagios. He was among her many, many classical music favorites.
Pressed back into child’s pose the Adagio for Strings stirred a Colorado memory from over four decades ago. Mom, fresh on the heels of divorce after twenty years of a tumultuous marriage, was driving in a posh Denver neighborhood to begin giving piano lessons to a new student. The car radio was tuned, as always, to the classical music station. The beautiful tree-lined avenue with opulent and stately mansions on both sides of the street was in sharp contrast to our modest home in a neighborhood that was on the verge of becoming known as “mont-ghetto.” Why I was tagging along, I don’t recall. But the stress of that time still creates a knot in the pit of my stomach–one that makes me nauseous–whenever those memories bubble to the surface. But, as much as life with mom was difficult because she was an intense, high-strung, dominating force of nature, I realize too that she was simply fighting to survive, with minimal tools at best, any way she could during a time of great upheaval and uncertainty. Mom stubbornly marched to her own drummer, refusing even to punch a time clock as in a regular 9 to 5 job. She did have an amazing gift however and that was teaching piano. Her students, ages 4 to 64 could attest to that.
Tears spilled onto the mat as the dramas of my life came rushing into my present moment. I had to quell this flood or the day would certainly be a wash, not to mention my fragile yoga practice. I sat up taking a seat on my little red pillow, the one that I am trying to get more use out of for meditation or prayer. I closed my eyes and focused on slow and rhythmic breathing. With each exhalation I let my mantra be: Let it go.
Let it go. Let it go. LET IT GO.
The tears stopped. The mantra worked…this time anyway.
So, It’s been a year ago today since sis and I said good-bye to our mama.
Her fall happened sometime between 10 p.m. last night and early morning today. She fell in the hallway of her “home” hitting her head. She never woke up.
Since that evening a year ago when we witnessed her last breath there hasn’t been a day that I’ve not thought about my mother. The episode yesterday on the mat is one of many. Some days something stirs a memory which results in emotions that I am not always proud of: anger, resentment….bitterness for things said and unsaid…things done and not done.
I may as well be a child again.
But there are other days that a smell (like nutmeg) or words (like, good grief!) triggers a smile that warms my heart.
In all sincerity, though my struggle is real, I am striving to not let negative emotions be the focus of my memories of mama. Time is helping. I am managing to pull happier memories to the surface more often, which honestly, is surprising to me. I didn’t think that would be possible.
Like a shopping moment together at Target in 2014. I was taking care of mom in the aftermath of her husband’s death. Frail and weak from years of self-imposed hibernation in bed as well as some health issues, she agreed to accompanying me to Target. I was practically doing cartwheels of joy over this.
“I need a new bathing suit,” she said.
I was thrilled that mom had gotten out of the house and was participating in the shopping process. During those last few years of her life, there were not many moments of normalcy and lightheartedness between us.
Mom was perched on the seat of her walker as I lost myself in the racks looking for a bathing suit for her. I kept her within an easy arm’s reach because I was afraid she would fall. But, while my back was turned for a moment mom decided to take matters into her own hands.
“I want this one,” she said. I turned to find her holding up a white fringed bikini. She made the fringes dance as she waved the itsy-bitsy garment with a dramatic flourish.
Mom was smiling from ear to ear as she saw my surprise. I couldn’t help but dissolve in laughter….and so did mom.
Naturally we did not buy the bikini but we did manage to find a couple of one-piece suits.
“So mama, now you have two new suits. No excuses; you must get yourself back in your lovely swimming pool before your move. Then in a month or so you will be in a new place which has both an indoor pool and an outdoor pool. There will be people around assisting you. You won’t be alone anymore. Promise me you’ll go to the pool mama?
“Oh sure,” she said with a dismissive wave of her hand.
She only went once during the year and a half that she was in that stunningly beautiful continuing care community and that was only when sis and I flew out for an Easter visit.
It breaks my heart to this day that mom had decided life was over long before she ever left her beautiful Villa Paradiso home. Still, just as in that one shopping moment, there were slivers of hope–and motherly love– that she intentionally offered to sis and me despite her years of depression. Not many mind you, but enough to know that she was trying in her own way to make her daughters happy and worry less.
Oh mama, I pray your soul has found peace and joy in your forever home. I’m thinking you must be enjoying spirited conversations with some of your notable favorites: Krishnamurti, Mozart, Chopin and Orianna Fallaci…to name a few that come to mind. And even though our relationship was strained since before I left your womb, I miss you. I really do.
I look out the window and see that the sun is just beginning to peek over the hills in the distance. It’s time to get on with this day. It’s mighty cold out but when it warms up there will be a walk with The Poodle, a piece of cherry pie and who knows what else the day will bring!
I’m in Cleveland for the weekend attending my daughter’s bridal shower. When I left middle-earth land it was 70 degrees out. Trees are already bursting from their winter slumber, with buds popping to and fro. Here in Cleveland however It’s mighty nippy out; was 19 degrees when I arrived yesterday but now we’re up to a “balmy” 23. The flight in wasn’t without hiccups but fortunately it wasn’t like my last flight experience where the pilot announced mid-flight that he’d be turning the plane around to make an “emergency landing” due to an oil-pressure gauge problem. “And, folks…don’t be concerned about the fire trucks and ambulances you’ll see when we land; it’s just standard protocol,” the pilot said in a smooth-as-silk voice.
Yep….I’ll confess to being scared out of my mind during that one. Rocket-man however, three rows back, apparently wasn’t the least bit concerned. He continued on with his crossword puzzle as if the pilot had simply said, “sit back and enjoy the ride.”
So on this flight, during the initial leg we first taxied at an excessively slow snail’s pace, then stopped on the tarmac for close to thirty minutes. The pilot said planes were backed up at our connecting destination, hence the need to give things a chance to clear a bit . That would of course, considerably narrow my window of making the connecting flight into Cleveland.
You’ve got to be in decent shape to hoof-it from E concourse to C….just saying. I arrived hot and sweaty with three minutes to spare before boarding. Whew.
As I boarded the plane for the second leg–which was a full flight–there was a young woman in front of me with a huge thoroughly stuffed backpack. As she turned this way and that, she knocked me with it twice during the boarding process. She seemed oblivious to the fact. Then, once on the aircraft, as we has just passed the first class seats, she stops abruptly and turns to face me, knocking the person in front of her with her pack. “So, can I just sit anywhere I want to on this plane?….You know, like a bus,” she asks me.
Seriously, I thought she was joking. But she asked twice. Clearly this had to be her first time flying!
“Um, no,” I replied. “You have an assigned seat number. Just look on your boarding pass.”
“My boarding pass? Okay…so exactly where on my boarding pass? ”
Fortunately, a flight attendant was nearby and stepped in to provide assistance.
And…with all the travel I’ve done through the last four decades I’ve never sat next to a screaming child, not even my own ( I was blessed with babies who were pretty good little travelers …on a plane that is!). But I got to experience it yesterday. Oh yes indeed. My ears are still ringing despite noise cancelling earbuds. It’s a good thing the flight was short… only an hour and ten minutes…though it felt like ten hours to my head. I thought of ordering a libation–not coffee, but the alcohol kind–to dull the senses but at 8 a.m. it was just a wee bit early for that. I breathed through it all and kept my nose down and buried in my book. It was not easy to concentrate on “Silence” by Shusaku Endo with all the wailing and wiggling going on…not to mention a couple of snack pretzels thrown in my direction….one landing smack dab in my coffee. I KID NOT.
I just had to keep remembering something my hubby said before dropping me off at the airport: “Enjoy or Ignore. That’s all you need to do for this trip.”
He’s so smart. That’s what we should all do every day.
“Easier said than done,” I replied. “But really, I will give it a go.”
So far, there is a great deal more of the former than the latter. For one, there was manicure moment to enjoy with my daughter and her fiancé’s family. It’s a rare thing for me to get a manicure. I got the gel business while the other gals opted for the traditional. After that there was a family dinner out with the future in-laws…lots of laughter…two great bottles of wine….more laughter…then hugs all around before I hit the hotel hay.
Now, if I can remember to set my clock forward and not miss my flight home tomorrow all will be wonderful indeed.
It’s been going on for nearly a year now and it’s getting a wee bit maddening.
Today was no different.
So….It’s a crisp, cold morning but the sun is shining and the cloudless sky, now that the sun has fully awakened to the day, is a beautiful blue. I’m out with The Poodle on our morning walk. It’s far better than yesterday’s dramatic weather that had The Poodle and his sidekick (that would be moi) quaking in our boots, so to speak, as it seemed the roof of the house was about to be blown off. When the hail and high winds hit…followed by a pounding rain, mid-day became pitch-black night and though The Poodle was shivering with fear I was grateful to have him in my lap as I watched the trees sway violently outside my study window.
What a difference a day makes.
As I walked down the long hill I had to stop every so often to dig tissues out of my pocket and blow my nose. As if I needed more to contend with, I’m still having coughing fits, enough to make my sides ache. It’s been like this for a good eight days now and I’m mighty tired of it. I’m certain The Poodle is just as tired of hearing this hacking cough….
And–wait– here goes another one…..
Once it’s over I resume walking. My soul desperately needs a nature fix on this beautiful March morning. Determined to get in a good five-mile walk, I pick up the pace. Let’s move. I’ve got things to do….no lollygagging Mr. Poodle!
When I get all the way to the bottom of the hill I stop near a small pond to allow The Poodle a moment to “admire” the ducks. I’m momentarily lost in thought as I watch a pair of ducks frolic in the water.
It’s then that a guy on a motorcycle honks and waves at me as he whizzes by.
He has done this nearly every day for about a year.
Nope (and aw shucks!). Motorcycle-guy is not movie-star quality. Near as I can tell, given that he is wearing a helmet, he’s middle-aged and it’s clear that he doesn’t have six-pack abs (no judgement folks). He’s usually wearing the same thing; long khaki pants, long sleeves, and a neon-yellow vest.
What could be annoying about motorcycle-guy you’re asking?
I haven’t the foggiest clue who he is! Not a one. So, either this fellow knows me (and I feel bad that I haven’t a clue to who he is) or he’s a poodle-lover and his honk is solely to admire my boy.
I’ve no silly notions that this fellow is admiring me. Still, I’d like for him to stop–just for a moment– one morning, and remove his helmet.
How lovely it would be to put a name to this friendly morning honk and wave.
Surrounded by rocks, jagged and harsh and not a patch of grass to be seen.
It’s a wonder.
Someone cared to plant them there….
In such an lonely spot.
I stop for a moment to admire their happy dance as they sway in the mornings’ gentle breeze.
They are telling my spirit to hold on….
Change is on the horizon. It is always so.
It’s a sign to begin anew!
Lift yourself up!
And in the wake of that very moment,
My exhale is audible….
Spring is on it’s way.
Half of me was lost in a Mozart playlist on Spotify. The other half lost in worried thoughts over my son and a boatload of things over which I’ve got mostly zero control over. Yes, I know. Let go.
Easier said than done.
The Poodle slowly plodded along at my left side, stopping once or twice to smell something particularly delightful to his senses along the red-clay, rain-soaked ground. We’re on our morning constitutional; it’s nearly eight a.m. which is late for us as usually we’re out just as the sun barely is visible over the hills in the distance. With luck we will get in our four or so miles before more rain sets in.
Usually my head is held high as I walk, taking in the scenery even though it isn’t riveting by any stretch. As I walk, I try to be mindful of my posture; back straight, tummy pulled in and shoulders back. I’m usually looking around for cardinals or the occasional blue bird …or I’m watching clouds as they float overhead …or, as of late, on high alert for that “button” dog, the German Shepherd that makes my four-legged love go bonkers.
But today, lost in thought, my eyes were cast down at the road under my feet. I’m not sure what made me look up but it’s a darned good thing I did.
Not 50 feet away was a skunk strolling in ever so a relaxed manner, straight up the middle of the road…in my direction.
What’s a skunk doing out in daylight? Aren’t they nocturnal? This cannot be good! Thoughts of rabies make my heart race.
Naturally I’m wide awake now and wondering in a flash as to why the heck The Poodle didn’t notice the not-so-fictional Pepé LePew’s advance? Apparently The Poodle was as zoned-out as I was! I suppose that’s no surprise given that he has walked this route every day for nearly five years and it must be painfully boring to him by now.
I beat feet to the far right side of the road literally dragging The Poodle as now, with his tail happily wagging and whining with excitement, he’s decided he’s got a new friend to meet.
I thought the sight of a human with a dog (one that is larger than Pepé) would be enough to scare the skunk off. But…um…no!
You’ve got to be kidding me! A skunks spray can reach fifteen feet or more! Pepé is much too close for comfort. I break into a jog now and oh by the way, Pepé had picked up the pace too…continuing his advance directly towards us.
I stopped and picked up a rock just off the sidewalk and was preparing to throw it when all of a sudden Pepé makes an abrupt turn, scurrying off the road, down the side of the steep hill, disappearing into a rocky crevice.
Thoroughly relieved I dropped the rock. “Whew. Well that was close!” I say to The Poodle who seemed confused as to why I didn’t do a meet and greet with the little “dog” sporting a black coat with a large white stripe.
I pat my boy on his fluffy head. “Sorry my love. That’s not a “dog” you want to play with.”
“Come, let’s go.”
A lovely Mozart piano concerto (no. 16 in C major to be precise) is now playing making my heart happy but the rest of me was now focused on my surroundings as we resumed our walk down the hill towards the main road. No sooner than I had rounded the corner there was….
AS GOD IS MY WITNESS….
another skunk…in the middle of the road.
Seriously? This is just too weird.
What’s more, It was readily apparent that this was not Pepé but rather perhaps his wife, significant other, or even a distant cousin. I say this because this was a Striped Skunk of a different color with a coat the exact opposite of Pepe’s. Her (or his?) fur was entirely white with a black stripe down the center of its tail.
Now The Poodle barks but it was not enough to get “Snowflake” running. Instead she (?) continued up the middle of the road too as if out for her leisurely morning stroll. I backtrack a few steps then turn onto another road as I drag my barking Poodle behind me.
Forget birds…This place is going to the skunks.
That does it. Homeward Poodle!
I’m thoroughly not feeling a long walk now as images of being sprayed by not one, but two skunks, knocks my Mozart bliss to the curb.
Let’s revisit our walk later today.