Saturday, September 23, 2006

Journal of a Living Lady #282

Nancy White Kelly

It is 3:30 in the morning. I put on my bedroom slippers and head to kitchen for a cup of java and then on to the computer hoping for some inspiration. Very seldom do I know what I am going to write in this column before I actually place my fingers on the keyboard.

Since Oppie, our aging Chihuahua, passed away last month, the house has been unusually quiet. I miss Oppie’s tiny little toes scampering over the kitchen linoleum. She was never shy in letting her desire to eat be known. She always had her own kibble and fresh water by the kitchen window. Unless the squirrels were robbing the bird feeders, she didn’t visit that area often. I don’t ever think she admitted to being a dog. Even the dry bones given by the drive-through bank teller were snubbed by Oppie. She wanted people food and her two top choices were pound cake and pimento cheese.

Unfortunately Oppie’s fondness for pimento cheese caused her to fall out of favor with my mother when visiting her in Memphis. As coincidence would have it, pimento cheese was my mother’s favorite food also.

One night, for her bedtime snack, Mama nt nless the squirrels aremeticulously prepared a sandwich overflowing with mayonnaise, cheese, and red specks. She placed it on her nightstand, along with a cup of coffee, as she made a last nocturnal trip to the bathroom. When she returned, the sandwich was gone, napkin and all.

Everyone in the house was accused of eating the sandwich. In my heart, I knew better. Sure enough, a few crumbly remains under my mother’s bed confirmed my fear.

While no longer appreciated by my mother, it didn’t matter much in the scheme of things. There were plenty of others who loved Oppie. She was a bonafide member of the family.

When it became increasingly clear that Oppie’s death was approaching, Buddy and I carefully watched what we considered her death rituals. Though deaf and nearly blind, she fared well during daylight hours. At night she would become confused with her surroundings. Always an inside dog, she began dragging her little blankets through the doggie door to the outside carport where she slept through the night. Sometimes, at sunset, she would move continually in slow, methodical circles, occasionally stopping to rearrange her blankets. This ritual continued for over an hour before she would settle down and cover herself from head to toe.

A nurse told me that Oppie was exhibiting the canine form of Alzheimer’s which she called Sundowner’s Syndrome. Such unusual behavior must be the outward expression of some inner sense of demise. is an inate sense within us that prepares her for that time in life is us us unnubebt..

When I was knocking on heaven’s doors in mid-summer, following complete kidney failure, I sensed the rustling of angel wings. Others did too. One of my dearest friends told me later that she had already picked out the clothes she was going to wear to my funeral.

Obviously the escorting angels returned to their estate. My friend’s clothes are back in the closet. I feel more alive today than I have in many, many months.

Top that!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Journal of a Living Lady #281

Nancy White Kelly

We had just finished a Wednesday night meal at church when Buddy informed me that some friends had invited us for supper tomorrow. I was elated because they also planned to take us for a boat ride which is one of my favorite activities.

This would be the first time for us to be guests in the couple’s home. Actually, it was their second abode. They recently acquired a large RV and resided there part-time to be on the lake.

Today, Thursday, was the tomorrow Buddy mentioned. I had a vague idea of the general area where the RV was parked. To be sure we wouldn’t be driving aimlessly in Neverland, I asked Buddy if he knew the way. He nodded affirmatively.

Later, as we made our way to our host’s home, I questioned whether Buddy had traveled too far from the expected turn. He quickly acknowledged that he was lost in deep thought and had over-shot the runway. Driving on auto-pilot has happened to me many times. No problem. We still had plenty of time.

Buddy turned around and headed west. That didn’t seem right to me either and I said so. Shaking his head in frustration, Buddy turned around again. However, at the main highway, he incorrectly turned left instead of right. I frowned. What was wrong with this husband of mine?

Often our strengths, taken to extreme, become our faults. I have always been a punctual person and have little esteem for others who aren’t. Especially so if I am preparing food. Whether the guests have arrived or not, I put the bread in the oven at the appointed meal time.

Buddy and I were already more than ten minutes late. My concern was that the hostess would be miffed at our tardiness. I was clearly unhappy with Buddy. He said he knew the way.

My blood pressure rose steadily as Buddy made one wrong turn after another. He was lost. Reluctantly, Buddy stopped the car in a driveway where a man was tending his yard. He asked the stranger if he knew our friends. Surprisingly he did. The affable fellow volunteered to lead us there in his car. I was truly grateful. Otherwise, we might still be driving endlessly in Evermore.

Even though we were thirty minutes late, I put on my best, hypocritical, happy face. I was mumbling to Buddy that we deserved burned bread when the front door jolted open.

The husband stepped out on the porch, noticeably missing his shirt and shoes. That seemed a bit odd, but these are down-home folks as are we. No big deal. As gently as the man could, he explained that the supper invitation was for the next day, Friday. In fact, his wife was in Atlanta.

Buddy profusely apologized for our misunderstanding. I didn’t correct him, but he was using the wrong pronoun.

Our friend unceremoniously put on a shirt which was drying on the porch rail. After some brief, but awkward small talk, I gently poked Buddy to signal that we needed to leave.

Fully aware of his social blunder, Buddy quietly backed out of the drive without so much as a look my way. He steered the wheel sharply and grazed a big tree. I rolled my eyes, shook my head in disbelief, and then locked my tongue between my teeth.

Buddy said nothing either. Taking a deep breath, he slowly opened the car door to access the damage which turned out to be minimal. He opened the passenger door and addressed me in mockingly pleasant voice.

“Honey, sweetheart, would you like to drive us home?”

Nice attempt, but I wasn’t humored. We rode home in total silence. That is the way we have argued for 41 years. Thankfully, we don’t argue often.

Who can stay mad at Buddy? He is the most considerate husband I have ever had. Come to think of it, he is the only husband I have ever had… or want. We have never considered divorce, but at times either of us could make a case for justifiable homicide.

True, Buddy is getting older. But aren’t we all? Forgetful? Yes he is, but I couldn’t tell you what I had for breakfast. Fuzzy with directions? Yes, again, on count three, but I am the queen of the directionally challenged.

Tomorrow Buddy and I will be on time for that dinner with our friends. Tonight we make up and snuggle closely as we drift off to sleep. Life is too short for silly marital warfare. Ask any grieving widow.