I have a memory from years ago that gives me a pang of guilt every time I think about it. In her later years, my mother developed an eye disease called Macular Degeneration. It meant that she lost her direct sight, and was left only with peripheral vision. Quite understandably, it affected how she got around. It made her much less sure of herself.
One snowy late afternoon here in Colorado, she was making her way down the front steps of my house. She was going very slowly and hanging on to the railing with each step. I had this flash of anger, though I kept it to myself. But I felt it, and I expect she did too.
In hindsight, which is always so clear, I realized that my anger was really a potent cocktail of denial and fear.
I didn’t want to see my mother having problems.
I didn’t want to think about her growing old.
I wanted my familiar mother, the woman I knew and loved.
In my uninitiated youth, I saw aging as an enemy-something to fight, to rail against, or at the very least, to deny.
Last week I revisited that flash of anger that was yet again a disguise for my fear.
It was time for Bud to have his orthopedic shoes refitted. We’d noticed that he was walking more gingerly than usual.
His feet were hurting.
We made the appointment with the farrier and on the appointed day, went out early, fed our two old sweeties and brought them in. Fitting Bud’s shoes is now a much more involved process than the simple trimming we’ve usually done.
When Bud had to put weight on his sore front feet, he ran into problems.
He couldn’t do it.
His back legs started to buckle, and honestly, it broke my heart.
Rick and I got behind him and pushed with everything we had. We literally held him up while our farrier worked at a record pace to finish. He would take breaks to give Bud a chance to relieve the pain for a few minutes, and then get right back to it, with Rick and me lending a hand at the back of our much-loved Appaloosa.
The new shoes have helped and he is walking better again.
Big sigh of relief all round.
But the time is coming when we won’t be able to fix things for him.
We won’t be able to relieve his pain or hold him up enough to make his life the quality experience we want for him.
I think he’ll let us know when that time comes. I only hope we’ll be able to hear him.