Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Horizontal Ruminations

    Now and then I hear a blue Jay announcing himself at the feeders or at the waters. The sound takes me back to the places I’ve been when I could walk and fly too. At the time of course, like him, I took my great life and good health for granted, always wanting more, not content with plenty enough. But now, if I walk again, a prospect I work on with water exercises in my deep water therapy tub, there will be a more grateful attitude. No longer the blue Jay, I'll be a meadowlark serenading the sunlight and all passersby from atop the fence posts. And if I drive again I'll go shopping for the folks who can't do for themselves, and I'll go visiting and assisting in the many unpaid ways I've wished others would do for me.
   But for now I watch the sunlight on the tops of the one big Cottonwood tree visible above my curtains across the street as it gains and loses its leaves, as the sunlight makes its move around the house and then slants inside, as the moon progresses across this upper portion of each window too.
    My travels these days, and only when it’s warm out, involve “strolling” in my motorized wheelchair down the back alleys and side streets of my home town with camera in hand. My caregiver walks alongside to watch for traffic and has started taking pictures too, which makes pausing easier. We did take one major journey out of town this summer for a doctor’s appointment (nothing new to report) but learned that having to use the multi-lift to get into and out of the car kind of takes the spontaneity out of things. One does not just decide, for example, to go shopping or out for lunch when someone has to get the wheelchair out of the trunk, hitch the multi-lift to the door hinge, get me into the sling and the chair -- a process which takes half a hour at best -- and then put the lift away before shopping can begin. Even if the store is worth all that the entire operation has to be repeated in reverse to get me back in the car. So we meet friends in the park for takeout instead and I stay seated in the car, door open to the party.
    At home I’ve had grab bars installed around my bed so I can pull myself along and I use reachers for stabilization, but it remains a challenge even here to figure out how to get into or out of the recliner chair – once a great favorite – on my own. Practice and assistance bars make things easier but for now I take no chances. Being brave to the point of foolhardiness is at least part of how I got into this predicament -- the other part being bad genetic luck combined with the lack of vitamin D or whatever else it is that lets multiple sclerosis get a foothold.

   The interesting new development is that even though I want more I also want less, at least in terms of lightening my load. A recent Church auction inspired me to donate a couple of truckloads of new or nearly new possessions, including kitchen appliances, chairs beyond the range of my multi-lift, fancy red purses I no longer carry and a fully outfitted picnic camper backpack, never used. The Church is grateful and I am thrilled to be lighter and emptier.
Next will be the shredding of papers, documents and manuscripts. Storage boxes fill up at least two walls in garage and storage shed because I had the idea hard copy was essential to memory. Now I know that hard drives are a lot less dusty and more manageable. I can retrieve old work (if I even want to) entirely on my own with the laptop, but getting it down from the shelves requires a crew and a week of good weather. Accordingly, and against the advice of many (now deceased) former writing teachers, I am letting it go. They didn't know about the cloud. They also didn't know that I would one day become a Carmelite nun, that I would want to clean up that old first draft history so as to not embarrass my Sisters in Carmel!
But now I'll be ready. The day will come and I won't have to say wait, I wasn't done editing.

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