Dignity, with a dose of joy

Grief is a funny thing.

Or maybe not.

You think you’ve got proper protection then something bites you in the backyard.

Just like a big old mosquito.

I was outside playing with the dogs tonight when I got stung.

There laying on the freshly cut grass before me was my loving corgi Maddie. My girl’s close to 14 now and she was looking lethargic with her head down on the ground.

One of Maddie’s backlegs is lame, and now the second seems to be slowing down as well.

I joined her on my stomach anyway right next to her, and started snapping pictures.

But that usual magical spark was missing in Maddie’s eyes which was bringing me down even lower.

My girl’s expression reminded me of the words my paternal grandmother shared with me in her eighties.  “It’s hell getting old,” Grandma would often say before she passed from Alzheimer’s a few years later.

I stopped and thought for a moment about about those I’ve lost in in my life, particularly in the last 3 or 4 years.

There once was a mother, one husband, and three sweet senior dogs.

Mom, my spouse Richard, and even one of the dogs had dementia. And yet they all managed to keep happy in spite of their illnesses.

Perhaps even happier than my late corgi Mariah and chi-doxie Greta who held on to their cognitive skills till the day each of them passed on.

I began to scratch Maddie’s soft belly for a while to calm her and to calm me.

Suddenly a mourning dove began to croon on the weathered fence post behind us, but it wasn’t a sad song at all.

Then a monarch darted and danced right past Maddie’s black nose demanding her attention before taking off for the barbecue next door.

Soon I saw joy and dignity return to Maddie’s face.

And I felt a growing smile on mine as my camera hooked just the shot I was looking for.

It’s definitely a keeper.

Simple gifts, and some so grand

With the gift of a breeze that’s got my back, I pick up my pace in warm sunshine.

I’m out for early for a walk, a nearby lake my destination.

To the serenade of robins, I feel light on my feet as I jog past bee friendly yards and a bird friendly coffee shop.

I fumble for any loose change in my pockets.

I’m on a budget, but I know one cup of of dark roast won’t burn too big of a hole.

I’ve grown to love exploring my new neighborhood on Sundays after downsizing last fall to a new place.

Today I’m searching for any simple gifts I might find.

Feeling optimistic, I open the first little free library I encounter across from the lake.

Inside, planted next to an old copy of The New Yorker, I see neatly labeled packages of seeds for pole beans.

I grab one for a small raised bed I’ve been preparing and put it in my back pack.

One block further west, I encounter five more free libraries all proudly standing in front of the local hardware store.

I gravitate to one painted lilac and pull out a book on Alzheimer’s.

But I pass.

I know more than I’d like after a decade of caregiving.

I try again.

This time I find a children’s book on art and another on ants inside.

Perfect for my granddaughter and little grandson I think.

I’m embarrassed by my riches as I’ve left nothing in return. Yet I smile as I think back to last fall when I gave away so much as I moved.

But did I really?

After my walk, I return home to my small cottage to place screens in the windows of my tiny porch.

At 895 square feet, some may consider my cottage to be a closet, but I find it a castle.

I soon feel the breeze again, dancing now with the white curtains teasing my shoulders as I sit on the little love seat on my porch to relax.

I’m more than content as I survey the space before me.

I’ve been longing for a sweet little porch, just like my grandmother’s, since I was six years old.

And now that I’m a grandma myself, I finally have one to call my very own.

What a gift it is, though not simple at all.

I’m calling this one mighty grand.