Suddenly Paralyzed But Thankful Part I

Have you had an experience, a health scare perhaps, a close call, or the loss of a loved one that brought you up short and changed your priorities or your focus? I haven’t written a blog since September. Here’s why.

I was camping with family at Coos Bay on the Oregon Coast September 26-30. My daughter from Arizona was visiting and left on October 2. We had a fine time visiting around the campfire and netting our fill of crab. Ah, the good life — a reason we moved to Oregon, to be near the ocean.

Two days later, 12:15 A.M. on October 4, everything changed. I was watching TV, leaning back in my recliner, when I felt a sharp pain in my right calf. Oh shoot! Another cramp. I was prepared to stand to work it out, but the pain immediately went away.

Soon I realized something strange was going on, but my mind wouldn’t accept what my body was feeling. I was paralyzed from the waist down on my right side. Surely my foot had just gone to sleep, I reasoned. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t move it.

I woke my husband, snoring gently in his recliner beside me. In his half-awake state he too couldn’t accept sudden paralysis. This was just some strange temporary malady. So he dragged me down the hall to bed. And I do mean DRAGGED. It felt like my right foot was glued to the floor. Amazingly, every wrench hurt my right knee which has suffered several injuries and is arthritic. And helping me into bed, he grabbed my ankle and I screamed in pain. How could I be paralyzed and at the same time so sensitive?

 

Because I am still weak and shaky, I’m going to continue  later

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Cremation or embalming?

I just returned from Colorado, an eight + hour trip by plane for me, to meet my brother, sister, and aunt from the Phoenix area in Denver, then driving another two hours east into the vast prairie where our ancestors homesteaded, to bury my parents. To bury their ashes, to be exact. Dad died and was cremated in 2004. Mother died last September. A cousin had made a handsome walnut box for their ashes and they were buried in a plot purchased by my grandfather in 1923 where he and my grandmother are buried.

Mother’s instructions were explicit: their ashes were to be mixed together and buried together. After 67 years together it was appropriate. And I do mean together, as farmers, ranchers, and then as minister and wife, it was pretty much 24/7 for 67 years.

We held hands around that small hole in the ground and said our prayers, our goodbyes, and that was it. Of course there had been earlier memorial services with many mourners and memories shared and pot luck dinners to enjoy.

We had not been subjected to choosing expensive coffins with the most comfy satin resting places, guaranteed waterproof, and feeling obligated to “view” the embalmed, plumped, groomed, beautified body, good as new. Nor did friends and relatives feel obligated to spend big $ on flower arrangements to be disposed of somewhere.

But still, carrying out our parent’s wishes cost enough to feed hungry families for weeks in our country or perhaps months in Africa.

Now I understand that some religions frown on “ashes to ashes to ashes, dust to dust” final disposition of the dead. But if they believe the physical body is necessary for resurrection day, what do they think may remain after years or decades in the ground? Even in the most expensive coffins?

My husband Mark and I and my sister have expressed our wishes for our cremated remains to be even more simplified: no tombstone, no specific burial place. Just remember us for who we were.

 

Peaceful respite

Sailing on Lake of the Woods
Sailing on Lake of the Woods

 

My father, a hard-working goal-driven dreamer who managed to attain goals seemingly beyond his reach, often said, “Most people are so busy earning a living  they don’t take time to live.” As a devout Christian, he insisted that Sunday was a day of worship and rest. Neighboring ranchers said he would never succeed if he didn’t work seven days a week, but he proved them wrong.

Writers as well as others absorbed in a daily grind should consider time out from the daily grind, especially away from electronics and absorbed in the beauty of nature, a prescription for mental recharging. We just spent such a week at Lake of the Woods in southern Oregon.

Gone fishin’

We’re headed out to Lake of the Woods to camp and fish and commune with nature for a few days. Though I must say how fortunate we are to live on five acres of tall Douglas Fir, Ponderosa, Incense Cedar, Madrone and other trees and woods plants. We  have a Mediterranian-type climate that supports heath, heather, all manner of herbs, camillas, azaleas and even magnolias, all surrounded by evergreen wooded hills. I’ll try to post some photos from around our house.