…it is to be expected on a trip to the coast. When it is possibly the last trip your mother, who loves the coast will get to take, and she cannot walk down to the beach because her leg will not let her move that far, there is something to be said for the small moments. Finding a mostly whole limpet shell. Taking a video of the moss covered cliff dripping freshwater runoff. Letting Basil Belle off leash for the first time. Actually taking Basil Belle on a trip for the first time. Helping the adopted niece and nephew fly kites so they could show “Tia” (my mom) their skills the next day.
I don’t think I have told you much about Basil Belle. She is a five year old yellow lab. Actually, she is six now. (Which means I am older than I remember too. Drat.) We rescued her when she was two. At the time, she was confined most of the time and had a shock collar on as well. Which, if you could meet her now is shocking to consider. However, when we got her, she was a known thief of all things cloth. Towels, pillows, blankets…none were safe. She could not have a dog bed. It took me a whole summer to convince her it was ok to be in the house and chill. She was so used to getting into trouble or getting shocked, that she preferred to be outside. In the process of learning that inside did not mean bad things, we had to convince her that towels were no fun, and that things like Wubbas and other delightful dog toys were the best things in the world with which to play.
It was a long road, but after about eight months, I took the leap and got her the first big girl bed. I was even more delighted when she did NOT eat the big girl bed, but…after some coaxing…actually slept on it! Basil Belle (the name she came with), is the most gentle and sweet sort of dog. However, with life on the farm, we have not had many outings of the overnight sort on which to take her. This time, however, she not only got to come camping, but also got to run around on the beach off leash and revel in the low tide water pools. As a water dog, it took no time at all before she was soaked, sandy, and seriously silly.
Of course, mom was stuck up on the cliffs at the campsite. Her leg gave out totally last week, and without her walker she could not go at all. With her walker, she was happy to make it down the hall. Down a steep path to a beach was not an option. This was one sadness for her. And it’s really hard not to say, “What did you expect, Mom?” when her desire to still do everything and be everywhere she cannot be wells up past her decision to have a good attitude and make death something that isn’t fearful. She hardly ever whines. Occasionally she cries when she cannot see Basil Belle off leash cavorting. Or the grandkids constructing channels through which to float the small shovel. Or when she is driven two hours to her favorite place in the world and cannot make it anywhere close to a place where she can put her toes in the sand and read a book.
She gathers herself back into manageable pieces though. After the waves of pain subside. It is harder in the camper to manager her pain. She refuses to take any pain killers, she wants them to work when she really needs them. When she can no longer think the pain into small spaces in the back of her head and then forget it most of the time. These days she spends so much time trying to force the pain back into those small spaces that she forgets words. She cannot track things the way she used to. In the camper, with everyone so close, she cannot spend the morning hours gathering packets of pain to store in places where they only burst out occasionally and make her scream.
The itches are the worst things though.
She says they are like torture. I take out the word like and say they are torture. Small fingers of itching gliding over every inch of her skin. Digging in now and again. Places that have never had the crazy itches before are giving in to the medicine’s side effects. Her face. Her right shoulder has scabs from where she has itched too hard. We now stock giant sized tubes of anti-itch cream. At least one tube in most rooms of the house. Just in case the cream helps a little.
When her auntie had the fall and mom drove over to help, her leg came back swollen and infected. Her doctor sent her to the infection specialist who basically told her to sit down and die. She cried about that one. Certain that the leg was infected because of a scratch. Certain that it could go back to where it was just a few days before. When she could drive and help out her auntie who is alone and ready to be done with the world. Certain that, even though she knows it won’t happen, she will be able to go back to saying, “I feel great for a dying person.” Over a month of sitting, and she can hardly walk now.
And what do I have to feel grumpy about? I suppose I should be saying, “I feel great for a living person…” I still have work to do.