Photo of I'Candy and Brattzina

Candy and Zena

OK…as anyone who reads this blog knows, I have horses.

For the past several summers I’ve been feeding my horses at the farm where I live, then driving to my trainer/coaches barn for a lesson or to ride/video my horses there.

One Day Last Summer

I fed my horses here, had my usual rush of morning coffee and oatmeal, loaded a horse in the trailer, and made the trip to my trainer’s barn.

For the next several hours (in real time that’s translatable to ‘most of the day’), I rode a horse, videoed a few lessons, cleaned tack, discussed coming show and training schedules, told jokes, had lunch, and generally just socialized around the barn.

WOW! Was it 6:00 already??

The time really sneaks up on you when the days are so long, warm, and filled with activity. Someone mentioned getting home to feed the kids, I glanced at my phone, and realized I was late getting home to give the other horses their supper. Luckily, at some point during the day I decided to leave the horse I brought with me at the training barn and just pull the empty trailer home.

So…off I went, satisfied with my day.

Now, from my trainer’s barn to my barn is pretty much a straight shot (other than some fairly significant curves in the road). I pass a school, cross a major road at a traffic light, pass another school, pause at a 4-way stop, and take the final long leg back to my barn. The whole trip–from the middle of one nowhere to the middle of another–takes about 25 minutes, even pulling a horse trailer, and it’s mostly through rural horse and cattle country.

Well, there I was on the last leg of the trip and I hear a sharp “CRRAACK” that sounded like a close-up shot from a gun.

OH MY GOD!!!
What was that!?!

I glanced in both side mirrors to make sure my tires were OK, even though I wasn’t getting a feel that anything was wrong with the truck or trailer. All were fine so the next thought was:

OH MY GOD!!
Was someone SHOOTING AT ME?

That was when I ducked down almost below the dash and tromped on the gas. In less time than it takes to type it, I was racing along a country road with a horse trailer leaping and bounding over bumps behind me and not another car ahead or as far back as the eye could see (which was actually pretty far).

I WAS ALONE….ON A COUNTRY ROAD….IN THE MIDDLE OF TWO NOWHERES…WITH SOMEONE SHOOTING AT ME!!!

After about a century (real time 90 seconds) of a neck and neck race between my heart and the truck, I felt I was far enough from the danger zone to slow down some, then i had a secondary panic attack when I realized how fast I was going.

The rest of my trip was spent wondering if someone was hunting beside the road and just didn’t realize there was someone on the road next to them; if they DID realize there was someone there and shot as I passed as a practical joke; if there was some fluke atmospheric noise in the area; if I was imagining things and going crazy….

After what seemed an eternity

I arrived back in the safe haven of my own farm area and stopped the truck. I got out and walked all around truck and trailer searching for gunshot holes, rock dents, anything that would solve the mystery of the Big Bang, and found nothing, nada, not a darn thing.

Finally I gave up

I backed the trailer into it’s parking spot and was just about to get out of the truck to unhitch when something caught my eye. Something that just looked… wrong. It looked SO wrong that I couldn’t really place what it was so I got out of the truck and walked around to the passenger side of the trailer.

There, attached to the side of the trailer was my spare tire, and sitting on top of it was what, at first glance, looked like some kind of exotic bird. But as I approached, and my brain took in the reality of what was there, I realized that those things that looked like parts of a bird were actually parts of the tire….my brand new TIRE had EXPLODED…but WHY??

Since that time…

I’ve related this experience to many other people. Most show utter disbelief, but a few have commented that similar things have happened to them. Apparently, if you over fill your tire with air and it gets really hot it will explode. My only explanation is that I had my trailer serviced a few months before the explosion and the service person put too much air in the spare tire while the weather was cool. As the Florida temperatures soared and the sun heated the tire cover,

!!BOOM!!

photo

My suggestion to trailer owners is that you check the tire pressure in your spare tire regularly and perhaps keep it a little under-inflated. Better to have a tire that’s a bit soft than one that has a hole in it big enough to drive through.

In Conclusion:

I would be curious to hear if others have had similar experiences and what conclusion you came to about the cause of the disintegration of your perfectly good tire.

(Although, come to think of it, it probably wasn’t ‘perfectly good’ or it wouldn’t have blown up in the first place.)

My wish for you, my friend, and all others who take the road less traveled (or, in fact, any other road) and decide to pull a trailer:

May Your Trip Be Boring.

OldTrailerYou, Gentle Reader, may not know this, but there was a time when I didn’t own my own horse trailer. Now, that was long ago but I still remember the anxiety of scrambling around with countless other horse owners, trying to find suitable trailering for my horses in the weeks before a show.

So…I decided to buy my own trailer.

Surprisingly, this turned out to be easier said than done. For months I followed every lead in my search for a “good used horse trailer in reasonable condition”. I saw more teensie weensie trailers (obviously built for large dogs) and sagging frames (probably used to transport elephants) than I would have ever believed existed.

Finally…

With the show season breathing down my neck, I decided to buy new. Expecting to find my dream trailer waiting (probably somewhere over the rainbow) I instantly became the terror of the local trailer dealers. Until finally (in desperation I suspect) some poor salesman who had seen me once too often suggested that I custom order a trailer directly from the factory.

One of the big advantages in ordering new is that you can get EXACTLY what you want. Now I entered a whole new dimension of pickiness.

Well, dozens of long distance calls later (this was before free long distance and cell phones) (and YES, I was around before cell phones!) I decided to order from a factory in Barrie, Ontario. They explained that, no matter how much I wanted it, a trailer with a dressing room was too big for my Ranger to pull, but an extra wide two horse trailer was just fine–and they happily matched the color to my truck!

I paid a little more for an extra front door and a step-up rather than a ramp, but it was well worth the cost. Now my horse can’t pirouette off the edge of the ramp and I won’t have to fight a hay bale to get out of her way.

The disadvantages in buying new from the manufacturer are that you don’t get to see it until it’s too late to change your mind, and you have to go to the factory to pick it up.

The night before I picked up the trailer I had nightmares.

First I dreamed that my order was lost and the trailer was never built. Then I dreamed the trailer was built but it was only 18″ wide: “We thought you said Doberman, not Dapple Gray,” was the response from the girl behind the desk when I complained about the size. Needless to say, it was a bad night for me.

Monday morning arrived sunny and bright and I was at the factory at 8:30 AM to hitch up. Of course, my order was there just as I had given it. Unfortunately, they were expecting us to leave Ottawa on Monday morning, not to arrive at their doorstep at practically the crack of dawn.

Well, I almost had a heart attack when i saw my trailer for the first time – no doors, no windows, no vent, no floor–even worse than my worst nightmares! But the company owner sent me off to have breakfast nearby, but extra workers on it, and by the time my truck was wired for the brakes it was ready. Everyone at the factory was just wonderful, and they even used my truck to pull my you-can’t-get-any-newer-than-that trailer out of the factory. The color was a perfect match to my truck and there was even matching detailing on the side! Wow!

Back at the barn…

When I got back to the barn even my hard to please mare loved her new chariot. She loaded and unloaded just fine after I dropped the chest bar so I could wake through instead of ducking under. (She seems to have a phobia about people suddenly ducking right in front of her.)

In Retrospect…

I guess I’ve learned a few things from this experience.

  • first, the phrase ‘in good condition’ does not mean the same thing to a seller as it does to a buyer;
  • second, let the factory know if you plan to arrive at the crack of dawn.

My next adventure

Now the question comes up….should I take my horse in the Just Barely Has Enough Sense To Stay On Her Feet For The Whole Day’ class next week? Or do I book her into the I Don’t Have A Clue What I’m Doing Here But I Sure Can Jump Fast’ class?

What do you think?

Who Am I?

January 5, 2014

IMG_0500Long months have come and gone since the last time I posted on this blog.

I apologize to those who have chosen to follow me, I feel I have let you down. But there are times in everyone’s life when they have to stop, work through internal issues, and decide on a direction. Sometimes the choice is to stay on the same path, and sometimes the choice is to move in a new direction.

My problem was that I lost track of myself. Not an easy thing to do, considering that I’m pretty tightly stuck to me, but Me wasn’t communicating for a while so I was blindly staggering along the path without direction.

When I finally woke from my sleep walking journey it took a while for me to figure out where I was and, more important, how I could get from where I was to where I want to be. I sat on a rock for a long time, musing and watching the time go by.

Then a thought came to me …. how can I choose a new track when I don’t even know who I am? When I fell asleep I was a woman in a daze, but now I find myself awake and wondering what happened to get me from where i was to where I am while I was asleep …. and how do I repair all the damage done by time, weather, and vandals while I was sleeping?

So, I decided to start my journey of the discovery of self by figuring out what I am.

What Am I?

  • Writer: teller of stories, creator of tales, weaver of alternate realities;
  • Videographer: capturer of happenings, recorder of events, chronographer;
  • Photographer: freezer of timely moments, stopper of time, moment saver;
  • Friend: sharer, carer, secret holder;
  • Pet Owner: petter, caretaker, midwife, nurse, vet, petter, walker, claw clipper;
  • Businesswoman: accountant, organizer, record keeper, strategist, worrier;
  • Girlfriend: partner, lover, sharer, bedfellow, stroker, sexy, exciting, bitch;
  • Lover: giver, taker, participator, caresser, stroker, stoker, compliant, demanding;
  • Owner: breeder, feeder, trainer, mommy, disciplinarian, teacher, rewarder;
  • Student: researcher, learner, reader, practicer, test taker, striver, thinker;
  • Woman: moody, exciting, loving, needy, fat, bitchy, short, cute, thin, beautiful, succulent, slim, untouchable, free, nest builder, easy, longing, empty satiated, unhappy, ecstatic, joyful, unhappy, energetic, satisfied, tired, energetic, happy, lazy, disconnected, sensitive, lazy, telepathic, anxious, lonely, content, therapist.

Perhaps there is no answer.

Rally DogShe always looked as if she had just put fresh eyeliner on her golden eyes.A special Rally DogNothing bothered her and she loved wandering around the yard.Vickie's Camera 044She was always a very happy dog with a most beautiful coat.

Vickie's Camera 013In her prime she would stand guard at the top of the stairs.

MamaCatShe was happy to share her rug with a pregnant Little Mama cat.

IMG_0053And equally happy to share her carpet with Pookie, an older lady cat.

photo 100Monkey cat loved her,

photo 102And loved to rub on her

photo 103As they strolled around the farm

photo 104I think he felt he needed to keep an eye on her

photo 105to be sure she didn’t get into a paddock by mistake.

RallySince her coat was so thick and long I had to clip it for the summer.

Vickie's Camera 013 (2)But it came in handy when we lived in Canada.

Time Sneaks Up On Us All

Over the past several weeks (months really) I have watched my beloved friend deteriorate to the point where she tripped over doorsills, could not stand without trembling and shaking, and paced in pain and discomfort through the night. Finally, through my dense brain and the belief that I could ‘fix’ whatever was wrong with her, came the realization that she was not going to get better.

So….how do you say good-bye to a devoted friend that trusts you implicitly, never complains, would follow you to the ends of the earth as long as she was able to stand and breathe? How do you decide to end a life? How do you know when it’s time? Is it better to end the life while dignity remains…before incapacitation reaches a point that is embarrassing for the animal?

I hope I have made the right decision.

I hope my Rally Dog is in a good place, enjoying playtime before agility class, riding in a car with her head out the window, eating her own special cup of vanilla ice cream from a cardboard cup, chasing the end of a lead shank, bounding after a flock of turkeys that have had the dumb luck to infringe on her yard, coursing through the woods and looking forward to cookies at the split in the trail, sleeping curled up with Pookie, eating chicken and bouncing along through the tall grass with her ears flopping, dragging her favorite fuzzy toy around and making it squeak, running across a yard covered in 6″ of fresh snow and dipping her head for a mouthful every few steps just because she can, sitting on the porch fulfilling her duty by keeping an eye on the front yard–protecting us from invading squirrels.

I will always remember these things about her. And I’ll remember how she was always happy and ran around with her tongue hanging out of one side of her mouth. I can close my eyes and picture her bouncing around in excitement when I buckled the treat bag on and she knew we were going to agility class. I can feel her nose poking me right in the back of my knee at the most perfectly unexpected time.

She was the most considerate dog.

She shared her food with kittens and cats, let the older cat move into her warm spot in winter, and never got into the cookie bag even when it sat on the porch beside her food bowl.

In spite of blindness and deafness that encroached upon her senses until she traveled in a dark and silent world, she never once threatened to bite any person who surprised her with a touch either when she was awake or sound asleep, whether they were total strangers or well-known friends.

She was always gentle with children, kittens and puppies, and she often settled more aggressive dogs at agility class.

Those are memories I will hold close in my heart of a soul that was always there for me through the worst devastation of my life and through some of the happiest times of my life. A steady light that kept me going when I wanted to stop, comforted me when I felt more alone than I could handle, and looked after me without judgement or expectation and with eyes filled with trust and faith that I would always do the right thing.

Goodbye Rally Dog.

Originally posted on Two on a Rant:

Not exactly the same, but a close design to the apartment in this story.

Not exactly the same, but it looked a lot like this.

I recently had the extreme pleasure of reading A Camping We Will Go on mentalmom02′s blog  My one complaint is that it woke memories that I would rather have left quietly gathering dust and spiderwebs in a hidden nook of my mind. Unfortunately, now that the memory is in the front and center it looks like I will have to blog about it and subject you, Gentle Reader, to the horror of it all.

Before you get too freaked out, just keep in mind that it was a long time ago so roaches may not be that big any more, but I’m pretty sure they still fly.

OK….my late husband and I had been living together for about a year and had decided to get married. I’m still not sure how the marriage decision was made. I do know…

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Saturday Humor

July 28, 2013

kayuk:

Awesome post. I feel your pain. Especially the tongue in the mouth …..euuwwww!

Originally posted on Two on a Rant:

Image

The first thing I see in the morning. Just before he licks me.

6:30am SQUEALLLLLLLLLLL!!!! Yip, Yip, WhIsTlE, wHiStLe! The sun’s out! Time to get up. Why is my human covering her head with a pillow? Isn’t sunlight fun? Why is she so upset that I got her up at midnight, 3 and 5? I sleep all day. I was bored. I made my signature high pitched noise to honor her with it and…and she covered her ears? Doesn’t she know anything about dingoes? I’m so insulted.

7:00am My human still refuses to get up. I’ve tried EVERYTHING! I jumped on her stomach. She screamed and turned on her side. I stuck my nose in her butt. She turned to the other side. I know! I’ll lick her toes! She yelled at me? Again? Why is she being so mean?

9:30am My human is cooking 10 pounds of chicken. Fat…

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kayuk:

I am so sorry to relate this news. Shane was always there for me with encouragement and meaningful comments. He was a man who wrote from the heart and was always quick with a kind word. He touched many lives and hearts with his exubance for life and generosity of spirit.
Fly free Shane, my friend.

Originally posted on petitemagique:

facebook_-1487527684

Broken tears roll down my face

My spirit is devastated
Of my strength there is no trace
My faith got annihilated

To lose another brother
Who I love so much
May be more than I can handle
No more words, never touch

I just found you
So many miles from me
Why did I had to lose you?
But at least you will be free

My heart got ripped out
You took it with you
Just want to scream and shout

My lost brother, I will always love you! 

My dear friends, 

I am really sorry to tell you this, but my sweet brother of heart William Shane Ellis is no longer with us.

He passed away on July 7th.

Shane was an old soul. He had been through more in his 23 years of living than many of us in a lifetime. Although he had a rough life, he…

View original 476 more words

Time Passes When You’re Having Fun!

It has been several weeks since I was told by the doctor to start physiotherapy and I have to say that I have been through many emotions since it started. I’ve been like an oddly aligned pendulum, swinging back and forth, up and down between excitement that I can walk again, frustration that I can’t walk yet, annoyance that I can’t go riding, fear that I’m going to re-damage the knee, and occasional pain both just walking around and at the hands of the physiotherapists.

OK…let me start at the end of Part 9 when I received the script to start physiotherapy. It was the happiest and most exciting day since finding out I needed surgery. As Doug, my boyfriend, was driving me back to my apartment I called and booked an appointment with the physiotherapist. It was Wednesday and I was told that I couldn’t start for 10 days…TEN DAYS!!  OH, the Frustration!!

Emotional Turmoil

Emotional Turmoil

For the next ten days I practiced walking without my crutches. I went to the flea market and walked for probably a mile, I went to antique malls and walked up and down stairs, I drove my car around and went grocery shopping. I couldn’t straighten my leg all the way up, and I couldn’t bend it more than 90 degrees, and my buttocks–especially the left one–were so sore I couldn’t sleep for the first two days, BUT I was getting out of the apartment. I no longer had to wait for someone else to bring ice, I could just hop in the car and go get it myself. I had my freedom back!

Who Needs Physio?

Then I went to my first physio appointment and went through four pages of questions about my condition and what could I do and what surgery did I have and did I have other physical issues or illnesses. ARGH! It took longer to complete the form that to have the therapy!

Once the forms were complete (and my credit card information was on file) I met the physiotherapist. What a nice guy! He was super professional, knowledgeable, just a really nice guy. I’ve had friends who went through physio sessions and barely lived to tell the tale, but I had every confidence after meeting him that my physiotherapist would never hurt me. Oh how naive I was!

The first session was very gentle. He tested my flexibility over my entire body to see how much the knee was affecting me and where. He watched me walk, bend, stretch and balance and made notes about everything. Then he massaged my injured leg and loosened all the muscles that I didn’t even realize were sore until that time. OUCH! but it was a good hurt. In short order I was back in my car and wondering what I needed physio for. Except for massaging the back of my thigh and calf, I could do all those exercises myself. But I decided to keep the next appointment and see if more would be done when I wasn’t spending the first half of the appointment filling out paperwork.

The day after my first physio appointment my knee swelled so much I thought my toes were going to explode. It took two days of ice and propping my leg up to get the swelling back down. Of course, spending an entire day sitting in a restaurant with old friends, walking through department and grocery stores, and driving for two hours probably caused most of the swelling, but I really didn’t want to believe that just plain normal activities could make my leg look like I had connected an air hose to it. In fact, if you saw the Harry Potter episode when he blew up his horrible Aunt and she floated off, then you know just how my leg looked.

Decorative Knee Tape

Decorative Knee Tape

My second session started off with gentle stretching exercises, then the massage and taping my knee to help work the skin over the fascia and control the swelling. This was important because my knee wouldn’t bend if the joint was filled with fluid. At the first and second appointment my left knee was about 1.5″ bigger than my right knee. Also, this time when the measurements were taken to determine how much flexion I had my knee was forced to flex as far as it would go without pulling the ACL. OMG!!!!!! To give you an idea of how that felt, Mr. Nice Guy Physiotherapist told me to breathe like I was in Lamaze while he tried his best to pop my new ACL loose! I’ve never had a baby or been through Lamaze, but I’ve seen the movies. This was NOT a fun moment in my life. Especially when I was told that even with ‘help’ bending my knee I only had 63% flexibility.

Well, so far I’ve had about 5 weeks of physio and I’ve learned to ‘bridge’, ‘crab walk’, ‘reverse stride’, and both flex and straighten my left leg. I’m now within 1 degree of straightness and within a few degrees of matching the flexibility of my right leg. It still hurts to walk or to push the wheelbarrow, but Mr. Physio has told me that the pain will fade as my leg gains strength. When pressed for some kind of timeline, he protects his reputation by just saying that each person advances at the speed they are capable of handling and he won’t say if I’m coming along well or not. Although his assistants did tell me that few people have to be watched because they overflex the bridges or overstep the crab walk, so I guess I started out in better condition than most who have ACL replacements.

Recently I’ve been emailing a friend who had knee replacement surgery a few weeks after my ACL was replaced. Although the surgeries were both done on the knees, there is almost no other comparison between them. Her surgery was far more extensive than mine, and her scarring as well as the length of her hospital stay is proof of that. However, while I was not allowed to touch toe to the ground for almost 3 weeks, she was walking on her crutches in less time and outside working on things. Maybe I’m just a wimp, but I know for sure that I would never have been able to do that in such short time.

I would love to hear from others who have had knee surgery. What was your recovery time? How long is it REALLY before you walk without even thinking about it? Was it ACL replacement or full knee replacement, or some other knee surgery?

Am I a wimp, or am I doing OK? Enquiring minds want to know.

Re-Balancing My Life

June 18, 2013

I tried to post this a few days ago and couldn’t get it to format properly. I hope this works better. If you’ve seen this already, please forgive me. 

Several Years Ago

Photoof mare and foalI was living Canada and breeding sport horses. I adored having the foals around frolicking in the fields. It’s like living the Hollywood dream, you know the one… house in the country, ten acres, a big, bright barn, a couple of barn cats and a devoted dog, a front porch with a view of deer grazing in the field across the road, nearest neighbor almost visible through the trees and barely close enough to shout to.

Life Was Beautiful and Perfect

My husband and I both had our own successful small businesses. He was a radio engineer, working under contract to maintain the student radio station, CKCU, at Carleton University, and taking in contracts from CBC TV and other local radio and Yoyotelevisions stations. I was an office maintenance specialist working for several real estate companies and small businesses setting up and maintaining internal systems as well as training new staff and designing custom forms and flow charts.

In the evening I fed horses and played with foals, training them to lead, pick feet up, stand quietly for bathing, load into a trailer, and all the other things foals need to know. On weekends I would load a few of them into my horse trailer and travel off to a show, always bringing home a box full of ribbons.

Then Disaster Struck

Ted in HospitalOut of the blue, at our anniversary dinner, my husband of 30 years started having trouble swallowing. Within 6 months the once strong and vital man of my life had been through chemo, radiation, and 11.5 hours of surgery to remove his esophagus and redesign is stomach to compensate. Everything he ate caused intense pain and various stomach problems, he passed out if he stood up too fast, and my life changed from ‘happy-go-lucky’ to full time nurse and caretaker.

We expected this to be a temporary situation. We expected him to recover, adjust, regain his strength, and for our lives to gradually revert to our earlier status–with, of course, some necessary adjustments in dietary habits. It would just be a matter of time.

In the meantime, the cancer clinic and all the doctors were following the recovery process and there were many follow-up appointments. Each one showed improvements and our emotional roller-coaster ride seemed to be levelling off.

Then Came A Spot

About a year after the initial surgery, at one of the routine check-ups, the x-ray came back showing a little spot almost off the edge of the screen, so a second x-ray was scheduled. The regular x-rays had been taken of the area where the cancer was originally concentrated. The new spot was much higher but, because it had been missed on all the other scans, had grown to significant size.

We checked all avenues.

Photo of TedHis body was maxed out on chemo and, once chemo was used and didn’t kill everything, the cancer typically developed an immunity to it. In his weakened state chemo was not an option. Radiation used in the area was already at maximum. More radiation would dissolve all tissue and kill him. Surgeons had already removed everything they possibly could from the area. Surgery was not an option.

Our Only Option

There was no way out. Esophageal cancer is very aggressive and spreads throughout the body quickly. It was already in his lymphatic system, which means it was taking the fast track, the body’s express lane. It was now about 22 months since the original sign and diagnosis.

What could we do? I had already dropped my most demanding client, and before the surgery he had found a competent engineer to subcontract his business to. I started bringing all my work home rather than doing it in the offices. I tried to stay out of the way and let him do as much as he was comfortable with, while at the same time being there if he needed me.

Gradually it became more and more difficult for him to breathe until one afternoon he asked me to take him to the cancer clinic. At the clinic they discovered that his lungs were filling with fluid and they took him to a room. An hour later he was connected to feeding tubes and tubes to remove the fluid from his lungs…more incisions. They also put him on monitored pain meds and gave him an ‘on demand’ pain button, which he rarely used.

The Big Decision

Our home was in the country about an hour from the center of Ottawa. Ted was in the hospital for three weeks on the opposite side of the city.

By this time it was past the middle of winter and just over two years after his initial diagnosis. I was keeping up as best I could with the small contracts I still had, but was spending as much time as possible in the hospital.

Photo of living room fireplaceWe talked about many things during that time, and one of those things was his desire to go home. He didn’t want to die in the hospital with strangers, he wanted to be home, propped up in front of the fireplace and watching the snow fall through huge windows behind a bank of house plants.

The hospital staff, and especially his surgeon, let us know that moving him home was impossible unless I could get help and, miraculously, my parents arrived within hours on a surprise flight from Florida. I met them at the airport and we went straight to the hospital to get the process started for moving him home.

A Death Sentence?

For over a month Ted had been unable to eat. He was being fed through a special IV that was provided every day. The content was determined by blood tests taken each evening. He was also receiving transfusions every two days because he was losing blood internally. We were told that both of these support systems would end if he went home. This meant that he would live less than 10 days after leaving the hospital. However, even if he stayed in the hospital his life expectancy was no more than two weeks. For him the decision was easy.

The next two days saw deliveries of special equipment to the house that was designed to make his last days as comfortable as possible. A hospital-style bed arrived with a special mattress to prevent bedsores. Soon there was an oxygen machine, numerous attachments to the hospital bed, boxes of pain medications, and all the paraphernalia that accompanies them from needles and syringes to special hazardous material disposal boxes, cotton, bandages, soaps, saline solution, ….. Our living room began to look like a hospital room, but more friendly.

The bed was set up in front of the fireplace so all we had to do was tilt the header and he had a view of both the fireplace and out the front window. The armchair stayed and more chairs and small tables were moved in, but the dining room table was moved to the porch. I think the day he arrived home from the hospital in the ambulance was one of the happiest days of his life.

The Last Days

Ted's last dayFor the next 10 days I slept on the love seat in the corner of the room so I could hear him if he needed anything. There was a small clock that chimed softly when it was time for his pain meds, and the IV unit chimed when it got low. I learned to give him all his meds and to change the IV and during that time rarely slept more than an hour or so at a time.

Gradually, the little strength he had when he arrived at home decreased and his color went from pink (they gave him blood just before he left the hospital) to pale white. Sometimes my parents and I would be sitting near the bed talking and he would be laying in bed with his eyes closed. Out of the blue he would surprise us by interjecting a comment into the conversation. Instead of sleeping, he was laying quietly and listening while conserving his energy.

Then, one afternoon, he took a deep breath and didn’t breathe again for what seemed minutes. This went on for several minutes, not like he was in distress, but like he just no longer needed that much oxygen. I held his hand until I realized that it had been almost half an hour since his last breath, and his hand was getting cold.

And Now?

That was the tail of winter five years ago. Many people have rudely and unthinkingly told me that I should ‘get on with my life’. At first I was shocked by these statements. For a tine I went through a stage when I was guilty that I couldn’t move on. Then I realized that those who say such things have never lost anyone really close to them. One day they will suffer a loss and they will never make such a statement again. For the last year or so I’ve been saying ‘yes, I know’, and letting the comments slide off my shoulders.

ThePastSo…what AM I doing now? Now, finally, I’m washing the walls in my mind and clearing the past. The memories are being carefully wrapped in tissue paper and stored in special boxes in my head where I can take them out and smile nostalgically as I look them over and reminisce. It was a very special time and I never want to forget, but I don’t want to live there for the rest of my life.

The physical items from the past that I surrounded myself with for their comfort value are beginning to look old and out of place. I think the time has come to turn my head away from the past and look forward into a bright new future. A future where the people are alive and new memories can be made. A future filled with possibilities. A future without the strings of the past holding me back and slowing my steps.

Oddly enough, now that I’ve made this decision I feel very calm and relieved.

I’m taking a giant step of faith in the future. Have you made a decision lately or in the past about your future? Have you knowingly stepped onto a new path rather than following the road of least resistance? Tell me about it in the comments below, I would love to hear your story!

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