Wednesday, August 27, 2014

UPS AND DOWNS

Summer has finally decided to act like summer here along the river, serving up southwestern-Ohio's usual seasonal fare of 90˚F heat and 90% humidity. Hot, sticky, and decidedly unpleasant. Coincidentally, work on the cottage's rooms redo has slowed considerably—though heat and personal lethargy are only partly to blame. Unexpected events have played their part.

"Life has its ups and downs," my Aunt Grace liked  to say. And so it does.

DOWN: About three weeks ago, during or just after a meal at a local restaurant, my cell phone disappeared. Lost? Stolen? I'm not sure. What I do know is that nowadays cell phones are more than mere convenient and unobtrusively portable electronic devices for making and receiving calls. They've become a key part of our daily routines—a depended-upon tool for doing everything from checking and sending e-mail and text messages, to keeping up on news, weather, and daily schedules. Plus much, much more!

Losing your phone is like losing a highly informed and dependably helpful assistant. You immediately feel violated, isolated, and handicapped, not to mention alarmed by those security issues which must be implemented ASAP, and thoroughly hacked off at the time, frustration, and dollars any fix is bound to entail. There's also the nagging suspicion your current situation is due, in very large part, to stupidity, senility, or negligence…possibly all three.

UP: I've replaced my iPhone 5 with the iPhone 5s, and dressed it out with a new protective case—both of which are even better than the versions they replaced.

DOWN: Just over two weeks ago, Moon-the-Dog suffered some sort of problem during the night, likely either a stroke or heart incident. I've watched and worried for some time as my beloved companion's health and energy gradually failed—and understood that inevitably, our time together was drawing to its mortal close. She is 16 years old. Time catches all of us in the end.

But such head knowledge does nothing to ease the pain and burden of your breaking heart. And awaking to see her in bad shape—hurting, dazed, frightened—was almost more than I could bear.

Love always comes with responsibility. Always. In making decisions for those we love, we want to do the right thing. To be compassionate, courageous, honorable. To avoid acting from a stance of selfishness and cowardice. But how to know which is which? My father used to tell me that whenever I was faced with multiple choices, I should always look closely at the most difficult one of the lot. "The hardest choice is usually the right one, Sonny," he'd say—advice I've found to be true time and time again. Making the right choice is sometimes so very, very hard it tears us apart. But our pain does not negate that moral obligation, love's responsibility.

Myladylove and I talked. And later that morning, I made the arrangements. Set an appointment that afternoon at a veterinarian's office just down the road. Called a friend to come over and help me make my precious old dog's final ride as easy and comfortable as possible.

But as we went out the door to his van, I had a change of heart. I simply couldn't do it, couldn't go through with what, by all signs, was the responsible thing to do.

Was I being selfish? Cowardly? Maybe. I honestly don't know. But it just didn't feel right. Not the right time. So ten minutes from that final irreversible act, I called the vet and told them I was canceling my appointment. At least for that day. Then I called Myladylove and said I'd decided to give Moon the night.

"Are you sure?" she asked.

"Yes," I said, "I am," because my sense of relief was far greater than any feelings of guilt. 

UP: We fed Moon by hand. She had real problems trying to get up. Walking was slow, shaky, obviously painful. She panted and gasped with every breath. But we've regularly coaxed, praised, and encouraged her out regularly to do her business. And though it's been slow, she's gradually improved. Almost miraculously so! She's now back to her old self, eating well, possibly walking and acting better than she has in a month. And I thank God I listened to that still, soft voice inside whispering to wait, to not give up, that time and season had not yet reached their end point.

At her age and given whatever occurred, I know this will only be a temporary reprieve. Time will eventually win. Today, tomorrow, next week, next month. But I'll take whatever extension we're granted…and I believe Moon will, too. Our reality is here and now. And words simply can't convey my heartfelt gratitude for such a blessing.
     

18 comments:

Penny said...

Give Moon a gentle pat from me, glad she is okay for the moment.

Gail said...

Hi Grizz - I love that Moon is still with you and doing ok. I felt every moment of your decision and anguished and reveled in your choice to not give up just yet, you are such an amazing man Grizz - your heart is bigger than life, yor intuitiveness and wisdom and knowing amaze me.
I am just on the other side of an intense MS episode which rendered me barely able to rise up - but in aday I did, in fact, rise up!! Skipp was amaZIng and togethrer I stood and navigated my world. I am a ways from bring healed due to a cellulitis and 'watering edema' all MS related - but I am on my way - I have a PT and OT now and come hell or hifh water I will attend my son's book release event on Thursday in Brooklyn. A proud and exciting time that I will not let MS take from me.. I refuse. Have you ordered your copy of Dolan';s book "That's When The Knives Come Down"? Available on Amazon now.
Take good care
Love Gail
peace.....

Bonnie said...

How wonderful that you heard and listened to that inner voice, Grizz.

A similar dilemma with our dear Golden had me experiencing so many of the same feelings you describe in this post. We chose an operation in a desperate attempt to save her life but I fear we only prolonged her suffering, as she died shortly after. In retrospect, I know we were clutching at straws so as not to lose her and losing sight of what was the right thing for her. We console ourselves with the knowledge that she had a life showered with love, full of play and the devoted companionship of every member of the family.

Enjoy these days with your precious Moondog. I've no doubt that she has lived this long and rallied to prolong the exchange of love between you.

Love the advice from your Father about decision-making.

Enjoy the rest of the summer!

KGMom said...

Scribe--two momentous events. I confess that I have not (yet) ever lost a cell phone...or had one taken. I know I am fortunate.
On the subject of the pact we make with our loving dogs--oh, yes--that is a path we have traveled. In fact, when we got the dog who preceded the one we have now--there was a touching occurrence. We found her as we walked down the street of a small New York near the St. Lawrence River. We were with friends and headed to a local restaurant, and a passing stranger offered us the dog when I admired it. Turns out the woman really was looking for a new home for the dog. Anyway, we went to the restaurant, now with a dog in tow. My husband volunteered to sit outside with the dog while the rest of us ate. I glanced out the window of the restaurant, to see my husband wiping away tears. Afterwards, I asked him what was happening. He said--he was telling the dog that we would take care of her until she was old, and then we would ease her passing to whatever comes next for dogs. WOW! And, we kept our promise. She died too young of autoimmune hemolytic anemia.
Best wishes for you, Ladylove and Moon. Yes, you WILL know when the time is right.

George said...

Sorry to hear about Moon the Dog, Grizz, and I totally understand how difficult this is for you. I've been through it before and will go through it again. Good luck to all of you in the days ahead. We're with you all the way . . .

Grizz………… said...

Penny…

I will do just that, plus a treat, to boot!

Thank you.

Grizz………… said...

Gail…

Moon is family, pure and simple. She's been my daily companion and company for 16 years. I love this old dog, and I anguished and worried and fretted about every angle when that moment of decision came. It's so easy to be selfish or cowardly, to cause undue suffering to those you love because you won't "man up" and do the right thing.

But it's equally easy to act too soon because you're unwilling to face the situation head on, to go the extra mile and do absolutely everything you can to hold the line.

We've hand fed and watered her, helped her outside. And I've slept in the recliner beside her every night because I know she's more comfortable on her bed out here in the great room than on her bed in our bedroom.

So long as it didn't seem I was causing additional suffering, I was willing to buy her whatever time I could. I did not think she'd come back like she has. That is no small miracle. And even if she doesn't make it another day or another week, I'm so very glad I did what I did, for she's had a few more good days…and she's family. You hold your family close as long as you can, right?

Please take care of yourself. And thank you.

Grizz………… said...

Bonnie…

I'm so glad, too…I just suddenly felt in those final moments, in some inexplicable way, that I was making the wrong decision—that the time wasn't right. Not then. And I'm so thankful I called and cancelled. No matter how brief the reprieve. I've bought us a bit more time, given us an extension. A wonderful gift, for all involved.

A few years ago, when she faced emergency gall bladder surgery, the vet gave her less than a fifty-fifty chance…not just of surviving the operation, but of making it during the healing process and beyond. Given the cost, which was all we had saved and then some, it would have been logical to let her go. But I'll take love over logic any day, and neither Myladylove nor I have ever regretted that we based our decision on family, not finances.

A dog isn't just a thing, it's a commitment, a responsibility—you're taking on another member of the family with all rights and considerations thereof. I believe that. I understand exactly why you did what you did. I would almost certainly have done the same. I'm so sorry it didn't work out better, but it was an attempt made in love, and that is never a failure.

Thank you for your kind words. Always.

Grizz………… said...

KGMom…

I'm not prone to losing things. The things I've lost from the time I was a kid I could count on the fingers of one hand. And I'm not sure I actually "lost" my iPhone. But it went missing…and the aftermath frustration was just the same. I did have most stuff backed up.

I remember reading your post when you lost your dog. And I love the story of how you found her.

I don't know whether I've ever said this on my posts, but Moon is also a "found" dog—literally found in the woods as a 5 or 6 week old puppy.

Myladylove and were down in the Vinton County hill-country on an October pawpaw hunt. We kept hearing an animal keening, crying and I thought it might be either a coyote or fox, possibly sick or hurting, as it didn't sound like anything I'd ever heard, and certainly not a dog. So we began looking, following the sound—but whatever it was kept moving, concealed by the dense underbrush. After an hour we finally gave up and walked back to where we'd parked. Just as we approached the car, the cries came again from within a nearby thicket. So we stood, waiting and looking. And suddenly this little white and brown puppy appeared, scarcely the size of my fist, starved looking, not in very good shape, it looked at us a moment, then came directly our way and did the most extraordinary thing…plopped down and curled up on the toe of Myladylove's hiking boot, closed its eyes, and went to sleep—obviously exhausted and apparently throwing its fate on our mercy.

At the time, neither of us lived in a place where we could have a dog. But leaving her was out of the question. So we scooped her up, drove to a little backroad grocery and bought some kibbles, fed our adoptee, found a country vet who wormed her, gave her a shot, and told us she likely wouldn't survive…and then headed home. I held her in my lap. I think she threw up on my chest and jeans four or five times before we made the hundred-mile journey. We named her Moon, after the B&O railroad's deserted and said to be haunted Moonville Tunnel, which was only a few yards from where we found her, and the old ghost town of the same name, which once stood along that stretch of right-of-way—now just a few foundation stones and some bits of rusty iron and rotting wood scatted amongst the weeds, plus a small cemetery on the top of the ridge.

She's been our dog through thick and thin—a full family member—ever since.

Grizz………… said...

George…

I really appreciate your words. I know I've only bought a bit of time, here…and I understand, and dread, what lies ahead. But I'm so very glad to have my dear old dog here with me tonight, and for every extra night beyond that I can.

Tomorrow is not here yet….

giggles said...

I hope you and Moon have some good time left together. My thoughts will be with you both.

Grizz………… said...

Giggles…

Thank you…and I hope so, too. Moon is still doing pretty good—about like she was before these problems. I'm so grateful for the extra time.

Again, thank you—good to hear from you—and please forgive for not replying quicker, between painting, running to the store several times, cooking, and creeping senility, I somehow missed logging onto Rivedaze yesterday.

giggles said...

No worries..... Give moon a good scratch behind her ears for me! ;-)

Grizz………… said...

Giggles…

I have (belatedly, again!) and we're both better for it!

KGMom said...

Scribe--thanks for sharing the story of how Moon came into your lives. Tell us, when you can, how she is. And as you know, she will ALWAYS be in your lives, and your hearts.

Grizz………… said...

KGMom

I will do that—post Moon updates. And I really appreciate your taking the time to ask. Thank you.

For now, Moon is back—more or less—to her old, pre-incident self…alert, eating well, taking brief strolls outside on her own, etc. And for that, and the extra time, I'm very grateful.

AfromTO said...

Maybe Moon will be happiest just one day going to sleep in your home or along the riverbank instead of some clinic.It's where she feels the safest.It's wonderful there will still be time to care for her and show how much you love and appreciate all she has given you.Enjoy these days.We are all getting on in age.

Grizz………… said...

AfromTO…

I truly hope that's indeed the scenario—much as I'd hate to find her. But it would be so much better on the both of us. I can't tell you the number of nights when I've awakened—either in bed or sitting out in the great room, Moon always close—listened for the sound of her breathing…and not hearing, slipped across the room to place a hand on her chest. "Just checkin', old girl," I say if she awakens. I did it last night, in fact.

But, for whatever reason, and for however long, she's much better—eating well, walking and moving well, alert, even willing to have a little bit of a play should the mood strike. And for that, for the extra time and its quality, I'm so ever grateful.