I was talking about life in the old days, living with a 105 pound Labrador and it was brought home to me that I used to be strong when I explained how, in the last month of her life, I had to carry Cheyenne up and down the 17 stairs at our stilt house as she could no longer manage. Greater love hath no man than this, to carry his dog everywhere as she prepares to die. Nowadays I watch young Rusty, all 55 pounds of him, leaping up the steps like a mountain goat as I glide up slowly and safely on my electric chair.
My wife wanted me to move a lightweight aluminum ladder but I couldn't figure out how to safely maneuver it through the obstacle course that is an occupied home. It's too easy for me to lose my footing and carrying a ladder, even a lightweight one is too likely to tip me over if one of my feet catches. It's frustrating.
I face these minor problems with a certain wry amusement once I get past the fact that I can't be as helpful as I'd like for my hardworking wife. It was perhaps three months ago she had to learn to fold and lift my heavy wheelchair in and out of the turn of the car every time she drove me anywhere. I couldn't drive and I could barely walk. That's changed.
A few days ago I walked with Rusty across a couple of open fields and decided not to take my cane. I wanted to see if I could manage and I did without tripping or falling over. One more step on the path to recovery and I have to keep looking over my shoulder to remind myself how far I have come.
I have also managed to sink to the ground and then raise myself back up off the ground by myself. It isn't a move that comes naturally but it's a technique I can keep practicing. And it is also a reminder I am a long way from being able to lift and carry upstairs or down, a 105 pound dog.
Key West is such an odd pace to get around in when you notice the crappy sidewalks and odd curb cuts and tree roots and badly parked cars and abandoned garbage cans. I greatly enjoy not having to use wheelchair or walker anymore. I take my walker to gym class as it makes for a useful place to sit securely for seated exercises. The other day I had to drop of a check at Bank of America the least customer friendly bank in town. And suddenly I found another use for my walker as the line of zombie customers praying for service wound through the bank lobby and I lined up at the back of the centipede with my walker and sat down.
The man in front of me turned around and eyed my portable seat.. "I want one of those," he said. I told him I was keeping it after I get to walking properly again. It has it's uses and waiting in line is one of those uses. I read my kindle and shuffled forward as we crawled toward the tellers.
I notice people walking a lot more than I ever used to, and I suppose that is natural. I find myself amazed at how easily our articulated bodies work, all those bones and joints somehow miraculously keeping us upright while at the same time letting us move. I'll get back to it before too long.