Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

When it Rains it Floods

The Art Tree

Little Treasures of Home

The first thing I reached for when the creek started rising, was a picture of my son at the ocean when he was about five years old.  It’s my favorite photo.   He’s wearing a little pair of blue jeans rolled up above his ankles, walking in the sand and looking down at the waves barely covering his small bare feet.

I placed the photo carefully in the plastic tub I was using to hold my most cherished belongings.

I wasn’t ready for a flood, but I should have been.  Along with my rental lease when I moved six months ago, I signed a statement informing me that the apartment is in a flood zone.

I didn’t read the paper I signed.  I was desperate for a place to live. 

An unexpected bed bug situation in an apartment my son had recently moved into interrupted my search for a rental.  Suddenly, my son was without a home and I had a deadline to find myself a place.  We were tired.  The winter weather was cold and I was in severe physical pain.  Neither of us were able to continue looking, so we each rented an apartment in the flood zone.

The rain started late in the afternoon.  I hadn’t watched the news and was not aware of pending thunderstorms.

My dog, Ruthie, tried telling me the rain storm was unusual.  She barked loudly as soon as it started.  My gut grabbed me for a moment.

I opened the door and looked outside.  I could feel something different.  The rain was loud.

There were two birds here that I’d never seen before.  Cardinals were rushing to the feeders, getting more wet by the second.  As the rain continued, the birds kept feeding.  Water had soaked one cardinal’s wings and the poor bird struggled to stay in flight.

I quickly realized that everything in my home means a lot to me.  I’ve downsized and what is left isn’t replaceable.  Anxiety set in.

Family photos, art and crafts that either my son or mother created, and my pretty wooden clock that my sister gave to our immediate family members one year for Christmas, all went into the plastic tub.

I wrapped my little sculpture of a girl holding a bouquet of orange flowers to her face that my mother gave me for a birthday present about five or six years earlier.

Then of course, there’s the beautiful hand carved wooden spoon that I love.  My son made it from a large piece of Cherry when he was thirteen years old.  Without using power tools, he worked for many weeks chiseling, carving, sanding and shaping the wood.  How in the world can something like that be replaced?

I spent the best of four hours, while the downpour continued, putting things in high places, packing them in the plastic tubs and lastly, unplugging electrical devices.  I packed bags of clothes and necessities. 

Management sent a messenger to tell tenants to evacuate the parking lot.  Everyone moved their cars to higher ground.

Anxiety had me distressed.

Image of Haw River water currents

Currents Meet

Then, my son came over.  He was completely calm. 

At first, I was upset by this.  I mean, how could he be so calm, I wondered, when our homes might be flooded any moment!  I needed his help packing, I thought.

I felt disoriented.  I honestly wished I could have afforded a hotel, but since I couldn’t, then I was planning on driving to my mother’s home.  

After several hours of packing and listening to the downpour, along with seeing the families of other tenants come and go, taking their loved one with them, fatigue was overcoming me.  I would likely have to surrender my pride and perhaps, accept the invitations offered to us by two friends for nearby refuge.

My son had earlier gone to the store for water, drinks and snacks.  While I was running around packing stuff, he lied down on the floor with Ruthie and whispered in her ear.  This obviously relaxed her and since she is such a sensitive dog, I was grateful.

Within a few minutes, Ruthie was lying on her back with her legs in the air.  You know a dog is alright when they do that.  My son gently rubbed her little belly and continued talking softly to her.  

Ruthie and I both needed what he had to offer during the crisis.  I suppose he needed it too.

The worst of the storm came at midnight. 

The fire department and Red Cross had waited for hours on the other side of the bridge.  They had a rescue truck in our parking lot.  The water started to seep into the front door when I called them to say I was ready to leave.

Ruthie wouldn’t go outside.  I would need help carrying her to the rescue truck.  I was beginning to wonder if they would have to carry me as well.

My son had disappeared just before the water starting to come inside.  He’d gone to check on his own place.  I don’t think he realized how bad the situation could have been, until he saw the water rise to the level of my doorstep.  I had begged him not to leave because the water wasn’t only standing in our otherwise grassy lawn, but by that time, there was a current.

I didn’t want to leave without him.  I waited.

Within about fifteen more minutes the water started to go down.  I had a feeling the worst of the storm had passed, but the rescue team suggested that we leave in case of another downpour.

The water level had gone down enough so that Ruthie would walk on the sidewalk.  Three firefighters were at my door.  My son had told them I needed help.

“Where is my son?” I asked the men.

“He’s at the club house playing pool,” one answered.

Apparently, he wasn’t alone.  Floods are common and expected at this property.  Management opens up the club house for folks to gather, watch TV and play pool.

Ruthie and I walked with the men.  They carried my bags.  They were most enthusiastic about their duty, which fire fighters tend to get.

I had only seen three men, until we rounded the corner of the building.  There were six more waiting for us.  I couldn’t believe my eyes!

Ten strong beautiful men waiting to rescue me!

Thank you for visiting dogkisses!

Note:  I was right about the storm’s end when the creek reached the level of my door and fortunately, we didn’t have damage to the inside of our homes.  I did not refuse the help when one of the men offered to lift me up on the back of their truck.  How could I?

The Dogs I’ve Loved ~ Poochie

Poochie

one cute dog

Poochie was my first four-legged friend.  He was a small dog with sandy blonde hair.  I was three years-old when I knew and loved Poochie.

Memories of my third year are short snippets of time sketched in my mind.  Poochie curled up in a little ball, basking under the sun in our front yard is an image that never faded.  My love for him is a feeling I’ve never forgotten.

I was temporarily in a wheelchair from a childhood bone disease when Poochie was my dog.  I’ve always wondered if I was confined to the little chair when Poochie met his last day on earth.

I’ve always thought it rather odd that I remember anything at all about my third year, but it makes sense now that I’m an adult, considering all that happened and the way things were.

We had plenty of love in my family, but from what I understand, my third year was much like the rest of my childhood.  Our lives were chronically hardened with strife.   On occasion and unpredictably, fear from violent emotional explosions that led to all sorts of trouble visited our family, yet we were familiar with unfortunate circumstances and that each time could have ended much worse than it did.

I had a boyfriend when Poochie was my dog.  He was also three years-old.  We spent a fair amount of time sitting on my front porch steps together.  I remember the way I felt being around him.  I know I loved him.

According to my mother, the little boy and I had deep conversations about life.  “Lord, I couldn’t believe the things the two of you talked about.  I used to stand there at the door listening and just shake my head,” she says.

A child in our neighborhood had thrown a rock that hit my head and knocked me unconscious.  Afterward, even as my mother had made it clear to everyone that nobody would ever hit me with a rock again, my boyfriend and I didn’t play on the days when the child who had thrown the rock was outside.  

Upon reflection, the accident may explain memory problems I had for the best of my childhood and maybe to this day, but I was hit in the head again during fifth grade.  I had decided to play baseball, but the boys didn’t want girls on the team. 

“Easy Out!  Easy Out!,” the boys shouted enthusiastically.  The pitcher tried hitting my head with the ball every time I approached the batter’s box.   Finally, he succeeded, and I quit playing baseball.

The brain is amazing and so is the human spirit.  I later found ways to cope with what I thought was normal, like my less than good memory and, “the bad things,” my grandmother said I had seen.  “You were too young to see what you saw,” she would later tell me.

My third year was in the late sixties.  The place was in the heart of the North Carolina Blue Ridge mountains.  We were not poor by the standards of the day and perhaps we were Middle class.  The stories I’ve heard about medical treatments I endured during those years sound like we came from a time I thought was in history books before I entered this world, which reminds me of the way I met my first boyfriend.

He and I were born minutes apart, in the same hospital room, delivered by the same doctor, separated only by a thin hospital curtain, which the doctor had left open for the laboring hours preceding our births. 

“We talked the whole time we were in labor,” my mother tells me.  “The beds were side-by-side.  Nurses came in to prep us and that’s when the doctor pulled the curtain closed, but we still went on talking.”

The boy’s mother and mine were best friends.   I was due several weeks before her child was, but as it happened, we were born on the same night.  The boy came first.  His mother, lying in her hospital bed, told them to open the curtain again, which they did. 

“What’s wrong over there?”  she asked my mother.  “Why haven’t you had that baby yet?” 

Looking over at my mother, still in labor, the woman noticed that Mother was still wearing her teeth.  “Lord God!,” the woman shouted to the doctor.  “She can’t have that baby ’til she takes out her teeth!”

The doctor ordered my mother to take her teeth out.  “You were born just as soon as I took them out,” she tells me. 

“Why did you have your teeth in?” I asked my mother, many years later as she told me the story.

“Well, I can’t remember, but I guess I didn’t want that doctor seeing me without my teeth,” she said.  “He was a good-looking doctor.”

I realized I was born in pure vanity, but I come from a long line of women who expect good-looking doctors when they get to a certain age in life.  I recently noticed that my doctor is pretty cute.  I’ve seen him for years and have never once thought about his physical appearance.  I wonder if this means I’m getting to that certain age.  Alas.   I’ve truly regressed, if that’s possible in this piece of writing.

My sweet boyfriend wasn’t there the day when I was sitting on the porch steps and saw our neighbor back her car out of the driveway, running over Poochie in the process.  I wanted to help Poochie, but I couldn’t.  I don’t know if it was because I couldn’t walk or if the accident simply happened too fast. 

Later, my mother said the woman wanted to apologize and that she had made me cookies.  I wanted nothing to do with her cookies and doubt if I understood what an apology meant.  My dog was gone.  In my three year-old mind, I fully believed it was the woman’s fault for backing out of her driveway at a speed that I was sure had been too fast.  By the time she heard me screaming, it was too late to save Poochie.

Mother said my boyfriend and I sat on the steps and talked about what happened for days afterward.  “The two of y’all came up with the idea that you would go to her house and poke her eyeballs out like she had done to Poochie’s.”  Mother says I pointed two fingers to show her what I had in mind.

My family and I did go to the woman’s house.  Apparently, I behaved well, but I didn’t like her house any more than I liked her car.  From my point of view, both were way too big for one person.

I did not eat her cookies.  I was sad for a long time. 

For years, it hurt to remember what I had seen and I did remember.  I also missed Poochie in a terrible way.  I’m glad the images of the accident finally faded and that today, my memories only include him basking in the sunshine, and how it felt to love a dog.

The next dog that came into my life was a long funny looking Wiener dog.  I’ll tell you about him, and my life when he lived with us, in an upcoming post about, “The Dogs I’ve Loved.”

 

12/30/12 Post updated to allow ‘Likes’ 🙂

 

A wise chew…

I was not in the nieghbor's garbage Mom!I knew I didn’t have much time left when I spotted it on her sparkling clean desk.  A pen was lying on top of it.  I’d seen her use it many times crossing off things she thought she needed to do.

As soon as she left, I’d inspected the place.  I had to search more than usual after all those hours she spent cleaning, but there were still a few things I could chew. 

There were some shoes, one of which smelled pretty good and a tennis ball that I had hidden under the sofa months earlier.

It had to be something different this time.  Something that would definitely make her stop and think. 

She had worked and worked and worked.  I had waited and waited and waited!

I put my front legs on the chair and swept the list off the table with my muzzle.  Perfect!

I thought for a second, maybe two, was it going to be a good chew?  How would I know if I didn’t try?

More importantly than a good chew, I had to save my human mistress from a time warp of never-ending indoor chores!

I would have to choose my chew wisely.  I can get away with just about anything.   She loves me a whole bunch! 

As far as things to chew, it was rather tasteless and boring, but that didn’t stop me.

I chewed the paper into as many pieces as possible.  I spit out the remains, which created a tidy, but easily visible thick pile on the floor.

I didn’t have time to jump up in my chair when I heard the car pulling into the driveway.  I lied down, pretending to be asleep.

She opened the door carrying as many groceries as she could.  She was always doing more than she should.  She put the bags on the counter and shut the door.

“Hi Free! I’m finally home,” she said.

I didn’t move. I waited.

“What are you doing lying there like that?” she asked.  She put away the groceries.  Normally, I would have greeted her at the door.

She walked over to check on me.  She looked around to see if I had damaged anything.  I’ve had to in the past to get her attention, but not in a long time and only as a last resort.

Finally, she spotted my work.  She picked up a few pieces of the paper.  What had been words were now little blotches of ink.

She looked perplexed.  She glanced at her tidy little desk and then back to the floor.  Leaning over, she inspected the small pieces of paper again.

She’s a little slow, but she soon realized that it was true.

Of all the things to chew, it was her list if things to do!

I saw a glitter in her eyes.  She gave me a great hug and started laughing.

Right away she grabbed my collar and even though I’m Free, she put me on a leash.

She says this protects me from the Momma bear who recently became our neighbor.  I’m not afraid of bears like she is, but I admit my powerlessness over my highly sensitive olfaction, as well as my penchant for stealing neighbor-dog toys.

“You’re a funny dog Free,” she said as we set out for our walk to the grassy meadow where I graze and she relaxes on the wide flat rock with a view of the sunset.  “I sure do love you,” she tells me in a way that makes me know I did the right thing.

I am Free.  I’m teaching my human mistress to be a little more like me.

In Memory of Free. “A happy dog” she was always called.

She Lived and Loved from 1993—2006, Forever in my heart and memories.

Taken from my journal, Lessons from Free, May 8, 2006.

Thanks for visiting Dogkisses’s blog!

Homeless with Dog

People and Pets

Her name was Free.

“A day-tripper,” I had jokingly called myself before that day, which was the day I became homeless.  It was also 9/11/01.

My headlights on my otherwise wonderful little Subaru didn’t work.

“You can go to Walmart parking lot to sleep,” a teenage friend of my son’s suggested.

My son said I could sleep on his sofa, but I gratefully declined.

I had just moved out of a house where the well water was seriously contaminated.  Eventually, sewage backed up into the bathtub.  My landlord was twiddling her thumbs across the street, where the water was good.  I’d had no choice but to leave.

My furniture was in storage and I’d made a good plan, but like all plans, you need a backup.  I failed to make one.

I had obtained a house sitting position from a friend who was leaving for one month.

She was flying to Connecticut on September, 12th, 2001.  Her house was in town and convenient for me to go look at rental places.   She said my dog was welcome.  Like I said, it was a good plan.

I moved out of the sewage filled house a few days before my friend’s scheduled flight.   After bringing in drinking and cooking water for an entire year, living beside people who put rebel flags in their yard and a few times called me in the middle of the night to tell me that I was, “going to hell in a hand-basket,” things were looking up for me.

I used the first few days of my transition freely.  My dog and I went to my favorite camping spot on Mt. Pisgah.  I would meet my friend and get her house key the night before her flight.

That morning I packed my things.  It was foggy and quiet on top of the mountain.  I was the only camper, which is how I liked it up there.  I had my coffee and took a slow walk around the campground with Free.

That afternoon I drove down the mountain into town and decided to visit my son and use his phone to call my friend.  I walked inside his apartment and as usual the television was on.  I sensed something was wrong.  My son and several friends were sitting there with stunned looks on their faces.

“Do you know what happened Mom?” my son asked.

“No.”

“We’ve been attacked by terrorists,” he said.  I thought for a second that it was another conspiracy idea one of his friend’s had.

I didn’t have my glasses on and couldn’t see the details of the television footage.  “What is that?” I asked.

“Dude!” one of the visitors said.   “It’s the Twin Towers burning.”

I watched the billowing smoke on the small television screen for a few moments.  I was confused.  I didn’t know what to think or feel or do.

Terrorists I thought.  What the hell does that mean exactly?  I wasn’t used to hearing we’ve been attacked.

I walked outside and called my friend about meeting her for the house key.  Being a day-tripper meant I needed to work my plan before dark.  Shelter was on my mind and time was getting away from me.

The basic necessities in life call you to action no matter what else is happening.

“Everything is cancelled until further notice.  I don’t think I’ll be flying anywhere for a while,” my friend said.  “I’m sorry,” she added.  “I know you were depending on staying here while you looked for a place, but I’ll be working since I can’t leave.”

My friend worked at home as an acupuncturist.  The environment was not right for my dog and I to stay there with people coming for quiet healing sessions.

I didn’t know where to go or what to do.

The thought of sleeping in my son’s apartment was intolerable to me for several reasons, one of which was the condition of his girlfriend’s cat’s litter box and another was the hippies who drifted in and out from all parts of the world.

My son moved out when he was sixteen to travel across the country with his girlfriend.  They returned after a couple of months, got jobs and rented an apartment together.

I never imagined that my son would leave home that early, nor had I imagined I would ever be on his or anyone’s doorstep wondering where to sleep.

I’ve learned in my life that anything can happen.  Things we imagine could never happen to us, can and do.

I knew many people.  I had many friends.  I’d be fine, I thought.

I assured my son I was safe for the night, but when I told him I was going to the nearby Blueridge Parkway to sleep in my car at one of the look out points, he became worried.  “I wish you would stay here, but Walmart would be safer than the parkway Mom,” he said.

I wasn’t going to Walmart to sleep.  I knew that much.

Free was with me and I felt that she would keep me safe.  I figured the parkway would be quiet at night.  I soon discovered that my son knew more about that than I had.

I left my son’s apartment and went to a place where I could think, The Waffle House.   Free slept in the car.

It was late Autumn and the weather was nice, but that would soon be over.  Winter was on the way, which I suddenly became acutely aware of.

“James!” I said.  “What a surprise seeing you here.”

He pointed to his table.  A woman smiled and waved.  I assumed he was on a date.

James was an eccentric, but level-headed man in his late fifties.  I knew him from downtown Asheville.  We often found ourselves in the same groups; gathering around coffee, artists and good conversation.

I told James of my unexpected plight.  I tried to keep myself together, but James was an odd character.  Being around him made people want to tell the truth.  His eyes filled with compassion and understanding.

“Here, take this,” and he put a fifty dollar bill on my table. “Go across the street and get you and your dog a room tonight.  I know the owner.  I’ll call him and tell him your dog won’t hurt anything and he’ll let you stay.  The price is forty-five even.  That’s all I have now or I’d give you more.”

James always did show up at the strangest times.  People often talked about him downtown.  The hippies thought maybe he was an informant.  They were a little paranoid.  Others thought he was with the CIA and some spoke of him being an angel.  They said he would show up right when somebody needed saving from a situation.  I’d seen it happen a few times myself.

“Thank you James.  I really appreciate this.”  I remember him holding my hand for a minute before returning to his table.

I don’t remember anymore the order in which the events occurred over the following weeks after 9/11.

I remember feeling numb about being homeless.  I listened to the radio stations reporting on the tragedy every day.  I felt like I didn’t have the right to feel bad over my situation.  My family and I were alive and this became the most important thing in my mind and heart.

My family lived four hours away.  I wanted to stay in the mountains to be near my son.  He may have moved out, but he still needed a parent.  I just had to go about it in a different way than most parents of teenagers do.

The friends I had either couldn’t or in a few cases, simply wouldn’t let me stay with them because I had a dog.

The way people treated me when I didn’t have a place to live surprised me.  Perhaps the tragedy of 9/11 had an effect on their perception of my situation as it did mine.  I’m not sure, but the people whom I had considered close friends sure changed when they feared I might ask something of them.  I don’t know what they thought I would ask for, other than a place to sleep for a few nights and a phone during the day, which I quickly learned was too much to ask.

I think people are scared that if they help someone a little, then the person will take advantage of them and never stop needing the help.

Other people quickly assume that no matter what the situation, like a bathtub full of sewage and contaminated drinking water, that if you’re homeless, then you got yourself there.

Three nights of sleeping in my car on the Blueridge Parkway was enough.  My son was right.  Walmart parking lot would have been safer.

My next plan was to rest for a couple of days at my mother’s home, which was about four hours away.  I needed to recover from shingles.  I needed a bed.  I needed to know that somebody cared if I lived or died.

My only and older brother called while I was there.

“Hello,” I answered.

“Michelle!” my brother said surprised.  “What are you doing home?”

My brother and I had always had a knack for using humor to talk about hard times or difficult emotions.

“Well,” I responded. “I’m homeless.”  It was the first time I had used the word and I used it casually hoping, I guess, that we would laugh about the situation.

“You’re what!” he screamed.

“Homeless,” I said, truly clueless about what was coming next.

Fortunately, the time I was homeless lasted less than three months.

Telling how it all came to be, what it was like being homeless and all that happened as a result is a lot of telling.

The family ordeal over the harsh words my brother said to me over the phone that day had a strong and long-lasting impact on me and my heart.  My relationship with my brother has never been the same.

I could tell about the amazing cell phone my mother helped me buy.  Amazing not in features, but in power.  I haven’t charged it in years and it still works! 

The phone was my connection to my son and Mother.  I’d never before felt such a strong need to be in contact with the both of them every day, as I did during the weeks following 9/11.  I wanted to know where they were and that they were both safe.  I wanted them to know I loved them.  I was scared.

I could tell about the beautiful camping area Free and I stayed for a few weeks and what happened there, but that story stands alone.

I could tell about the mysterious way I met the housing inspector who knew about the bad water where I had lived and who offered me a garage apartment without charge, which is where I stayed for one month.

The photo above is my beloved Free lying beside the bed in that apartment.  It was a brand new bed with the plastic still on it.  The place had hot water and power.  I was very blessed.

Mostly, I remember the radio.  All day, every day and at night, I would lie there on that bed beside Free with a camp light on and listen.  

I remember having to take medication for anxiety.  It was a very hard time. 

I called hundred of landlords, but nobody would allow a dog.

Finally, I received a call from a woman whom I had never heard of.  “I’m calling you about the rondette,” she said.  I had never heard of those either.

“I’m not sure you have the right person,” I said to her.  I assumed the place she was describing would be way out of my price range.

“Oh yes,” she said in her self-assured way I would learn to like.  I wrote your name and number down to call you back about it.”

“Okay,” I said.  “How much is the rent?”  A rondette on the side of a mountain sounded pretty cool.

I gasped when she told me it was only $350.00 per month.  “Do you allow dogs?”  I asked her right away.

“I’m actually leery of people who don’t have dogs,” she said laughing.  “Tell me about your baby.”

I was there shaking hands with her within an hour.

It was a magical beautiful place.  There were old time flowers growing in the garden by the bedroom window.  They smelled like my grandmother’s face and hand creams.  Windows surrounded the little space.  From the small, but very green and cozy backyard was a view of the city below.

“I don’t know if this place is big enough for you and your dog,” she said.

I liked her.  We had on nearly the same outfit and literally, the same brand of shirt, same color and same size.  A purple soft cotton LL Bean button down.  

She turned out to be the best landlord I’ve ever had.  She was trusting, helpful, kept her properties in great condition and rented below the fair market price.

“If you don’t rent the place to me now,” I told her, “tonight we’ll have to sleep there,” I added, pointing at my little Subaru.

Her eyes widened, but I had told the truth.  The garage apartment had been rented to a family and I had to move out.

“Call it home then you two!”  She smiled, handed me a key and went on her unusually merry way to a funeral.

It was home and it was sweet.

Free learned to walk backwards in the small rondette

Free in her chair in our little rondette.

Free bit his nose to remind him it was her home and he was a guest.

Tiny visits and curls up in my new bedroom.

From this room I could literally watch the old time flower garden grow. 

Peace in Nature

A poem by Wendell Berry:

The Peace Of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life
and my childrens lives may be

I go and lie down where the wood drake rests
in his beauty on the water
and the great heron feed

I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief
I come into the presence of still water
and I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light

for a time I rest in the grace of the world
and am free.

The music in the video is called Hawk Circle, played by George Winston.

Thank You for visiting Dogkisses’s blog!

 

Freedom on wheels

magic is in the movement

The story I wrote about my having been confined to a wheelchair at age three was mostly true.  In this post, I’m going to tell you the whole truth and a little bit more.

I was supposed to tell 4 bold-face lies as part of this writing project, but I told more truth than lies.

Below is a copy of my story.   I underlined the parts that are NOT true.   The whole truth is in blue.

I was confined to a wheelchair, as a result of a childhood bone disease when I was a toddler.  The doctors told my mother I might never walk again.  I hated that chair! My brother, who is ten years older than me, used to take me and my little chair on wheels to the top of our steep road, which was deep in the mountains.  My two older sisters would stand at the top of the road, holding my chair, with me in it of course, until my brother made it to the bottom.  He would count to some number, which was their clue to let me go.  I would fly down that mountain in my little chair!  It was great fun!  The best I can remember, my brother always caught me.  My mother didn’t mind this game. I wasn’t happy the day I put my foot on the floor and was able to walk again because I had to give up my little flying chair.

The truth:

“A little doll’s chair,” is what my mother says the wheelchair looked like.  “It was just so small.   It didn’t look like it was for a person.”

I had Kohler disease, which is a rare childhood bone disease.  It attacked my ankle bone when I was three years old.  The doctors did tell my mother I may never walk again, but they also told her that it could go away as mysteriously as it had appeared.

I didn’t hate the wheelchair.  I’m pretty sure I loved it.  My mother says that I had crawled around for several weeks before she, “put her foot down,” and demanded that I be taken to the nearest hospital for x-rays.

Putting weight on my foot was intolerable.  The little chair gave me freedom to go outside and play.  At three years old, I guess you live in the moment.  I was too young to understand what never being able to walk again meant.   I was also too young to know the danger of flying down that road, but then sometimes, our memories play tricks on us.

About ten years ago, my mother and I visited the place we lived when I was in that wheelchair.  There was a housing complex with relatively small one story dwellings that was turned into offices for the Juvenile boys home.  My dad worked there and we had lived in the complex, which was for the employees and their families.

Mother and I were both a bit shocked.  The metal fence surrounding the property surprised her.  It was one of those tall fences with thick rolls of barbed-wire on top.  The place hadn’t been fenced in when we lived there.

I remembered the houses being massive with tall and wide dark windows.

“There’s our house,” Mother said.  There weren’t any big houses and the windows were those small rectangular ones you see in beach houses.

I remembered front porch being high up off the ground.  I sat on the steps every day, weather permitting, with my three year-old boyfriend, talking and waiting for the school bus to drop off my older siblings.  I remember being happy when he was there.  We were the best of friends and had terrific conversations about life.

There were only two steps, very close to the ground.  I couldn’t believe how much bigger things were in my memory than they were in reality.

I looked for the steep road where I took the wheelchair flights.  Mother pointed out our road.

“That’s it!”  I was completely astonished.  It was indeed a hill, but didn’t measure up by any means to the one I recalled.

I told her about flying down the mountain road.  She says she didn’t know anything about that.  I sure remember it.  My sisters say they remember too, but oddly, my brother doesn’t and he’s the oldest.  I think he forgot many things he did to his younger sisters.  Like the time he put me in a garbage can and rolled me into the road, but that was later and it was a country road.

I remember clearly the day I put my foot on the floor, which I did every morning, and it didn’t hurt anymore.  The pain was gone!  The bone disease went away just like the doctors said it might.

I didn’t mind giving up the little chair, but I did think I should get to keep it for a souvenir.  I remember wanting it.  Mother says she didn’t think I needed it and donated it to another family.

My ensuing enthusiasm for using my legs was grand.  At age five, I led a large marching band in the Christmas parade because the band leader said I was, “the best little marcher they ever had!”  I took jazz and modern dance classes, but then we moved to the country.  Dancing the way I had learned would have been considered a sin.  This disappointed me, but I soon discovered bluegrass and clogging, the latter of which was a required class in the elementary school I attended.

I didn’t have a bicycle though.  I’d had one when I was five, but then my brother got involved.  He let go of my bike before I learned to ride and I had a bad accident.  I was hurt pretty badly.  I heard my dad ask my mother if I would still be able to have babies.  I was confused.  She told him to shut up and get the car.

Because of that accident, my dad wouldn’t let me get near a bicycle for years, even though my brother always had one.  My two sisters never wanted one, which I always thought was weird and it didn’t help me when I pleaded for my own.  Finally, my dad gave in on my thirteenth birthday.

We went to the local bicycle shop, which was also an auto-parts and lawn-mower shop.  Everyone there knew my dad.  I’d been there with him plenty of times and they all knew I’d been begging for a bicycle for a long time.  I was often invited inside the owner’s house next door and his wife would give me milk and homemade cookies.  I loved her cookies and she made them the day I got my new bicycle.  It was a great day.  My dad let me ride it home, which was less than half a mile away.  You could throw a rock from there to our back door.

I loved that bicycle.  I could ride it fifty miles without thinking a thing about it and I did, often.  There’s a long story about what happened to that bike, but it is one sad story, so I won’t tell it here.

I grew up, had a son and bought us both bicycles when he was three years old.

His was a tricycle, but he begged me to take those two extra wheels off.  “Your bike doesn’t have them Mommy,” he said.

We took the wheels off, but I had a person at each end and several in the middle to catch him if he fell.  He did fall, but he didn’t have far to go and it was in the soft grass.  He didn’t get hurt.  He got up as fast as he could, before any of us could get to him and jumped back on the bicycle.  It was very funny.  I remember him looking back at us as he rushed to pick that little bicycle off the ground.  He never used those extra wheels and we had years worth of fun riding together.  We still enjoy riding together.  I like that.

I can’t go cycling like I could before being struck with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or fibromyalgia.

However, I do have a fun bicycle.  I call it my magic little bike.  It brings out the best in me when I ride it.   I absolutely love moving and feeling the wind on my face.  That’s part of the magic.  Being able to move without pain.  (The trick to that is being on a flat road.)

My little bike also has pink and white streamers and an awesome bell!

Occasionally, I’ll still take my hands off the handle bars and hold them in the air.  I like that too.

Thanks for visiting Dogkisses’s blog!


Memetastic True Story Revealed

I wrote five stories about myself in an earlier post, MEMETASTIC BLOG AWARD. Only one of the stories is completely truthful.

I confess –this does feel like a confession and one which I hadn’t expected — Story number THREE is the whole truth.

I have an authentic Mile High Club button.  I earned it in college.flying free a mile high, image of mile high pin, nightlights on a plane

I couldn’t believe I found the button, or pin rather, when I looked for it yesterday.  It’s a shiny little pin that one would wear on a shirt, but I don’t think I’ve ever worn it.

It’s as shiny as it was when it was given to me by the professor, who eventually became my long time friend and mentor.  We went on several flights together, but that was the only time we did anything like we did the day we earned our pins.

The only bold-face lie out of the five stories I wrote is number four“I love Comic Sans, Oprah, and Dr. Phil.”

I didn’t know what Comic Sans was until several days ago when I received the Memetasic award from Deb, at DorkyDeb.com.

I’ve never watched a daytime television talk show, unless it’s a PBS special or something of that nature.  I read an article in Oprah’s magazine a couple of years ago, which I enjoyed, but I never watched her show.

I didn’t know who Dr. Phil was until I saw his face on a magazine, while standing in line at the grocery store, which was around about 2004.  I asked my friend who was with me to tell me a little about him.  She was altogether shocked.

The other stories are mostly true.  I’ll likely write about the truth in those in a follow-up post.

About my little wheel-chair in story # 1.  I actually loved the chair because it was the only way I could get around.  And the day I could walk again, which I remember vividly, I was a very very happy little girl!

I have a history with pilots and airplanes.  I don’t know why.  As a result, I’ve flown in old planes, small planes, huge planes and a few in the middle.  A few times, I’ve flown the planes myself, but have never attempted to land one.

My dad took me on my first plane ride when I was about eight years old.  He and his buddy, Carly, who had a plane, but I’m not sure about a license, were quite the pair together.  We lived in the country and Carly had a landing strip on his land.  One time they took one of my sisters and me on what my dad’s friend called the, “roller-coaster in the air.”  We did, “donuts.”

I had great fun, but my older sister has since told me that she was scared.  I was surprised.  She says she didn’t want me to know when we were flying. She was always doing what she could to make me feel safe.

The best times I ever had in airplanes was with a man, Rick, whom I once loved very much.  Flying was a hobby for him.  Sadly, he died in a motorcycle accident not that long ago.  As you may have realized if you’ve read parts of my blog, there is usually an element of something hard in my stories.

The funnest flight I ever took with Rick was when he rented a Cherokee plane for my son’s eighth birthday.  My son is part Cherokee, so this was very special.

Shortly after we were in the air, we looked back to see my son sleeping in the backseat of the plane.  At first, I was afraid that Rick would be offended, but then, he was never offended.  He was the most peaceful human being I’ve ever known.  He laughed.  He knew my son fell asleep whenever he felt safe and relaxed.

“I guess he’s really enjoying himself,” my friend said chuckling.  We had a peaceful quiet trip.  We landed at a great little place where we walked across the road to a country southern home-style restaurant.  My son got to fly the plane for a bit on the way back home.  My friend laughed about my son sleeping on his birthday flight from then on.  He said it was the greatest compliment a pilot could ever receive.

I guess, looking back, I’ve had lots of fun in the air!

Thanks for reading my stories.  As always, thanks for visiting Dogkisses’s blog!