Archive for the ‘aging parents’ category

2/21/21 – Or Aging Not So Gracefully

February 21, 2021

3 twos and 2 ones- patterns everywhere.

Into the Woods

February’s pattern is snow and more snow with a few warmish (in the upper 20s low 30s) days between. Footing on the trails is decent. We know where water pools into ice beneath it and are careful- maybe too careful.

Last weekend Jigs and I even managed some extended loping behind my friend and her wonderful mustang. Loping is rare for me on these trails. Without the snow they are rocky and uneven with tree roots.

At 3 plus 60, I have become a cautious rider, almost fearful. I do not canter unless sure of the footing. I no longer ride on the road when alone.

Today Jigs was full of exuberance. He wanted to run when I wanted to jog. My hesitation was a buzz kill. It nearly came to a rare argument.

I feel bad.

Feel bad that I did not give him a chance to stretch out.

Feel bad that I slowed my friend down.

Feel bad not to be that little girl who could fly without consequence.

There is no cure for aging. We shrink. Our bodies lose flexibility. Our bones get brittle. We no longer bounce, even with snow on the ground.

2020

February 15, 2020

My January 1st ritual every year is to remove Jigs’ ribbons above his stall. It is how I refocus on new goals, new challenges.   It is mid-February and they are still up. 2019 was a tough year. I lost my mother. The ribbons are a reminder there were positive moments.  I really need to take them down.

Last Sunday was The Bay State Trail Riders Association’s annual meeting and banquet. I’d almost forgotten Jigs and I had won the Judged Pleasure Ride and qualified for a year end award.  To my delight, the award was a beautiful riding skirt that matches my saddle! 

I was so excited; I drove from the banquet right to the barn to try it out!

Rding Skirt

Riding Skirt

It is perfect.

I don’t know what 2020 will bring, maybe a few more ribbons, maybe myriad meandering trail rides. And when the weather is wet and cold, I will be wearing a lovely turquoise riding skirt! 

My Mother’s Birthday

July 3, 2019

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Jigs on a trail ride

I’ve always been that bizarre little girl who obsesses about horses. I am convinced it is genetic.

It’s weird because the horse stories in my family are not positive. My mother used to tell me about my grandmother, Concepcion Morales Martin. She grew up in the Cuban mountains near the city of Cienfuegos. When she was a young girl, her father would bring produce to the local city. One time, the colt of the horse that pulled the cart kicked her. She was in a coma for days. When my great grandfather returned from his trip, he made a pledge to the virgin in the local church- his daughter’s life for a gold hat.

My grandmother woke from her coma. The hat was presented to the Virgin.

My grandmother once told me she was upset because while she was “sleeping,” her sisters got first pick of the parasols that her father brought back from the city. She said she was left with the “ugly one.”

My mother heard the story and was terrified of horses.

And then there was me.

It was an obsession. I remember riding the spring horse aggressively in the spare bedroom. I just knew, even at the age of 3, I belonged on a horse.

I grew up pretending I was one. Summers were spent at my grandmother’s. I would run in the woods- a wild horse. When I found The Black Stallion books, I was hooked. Margarite Henry was another favorite. My first ride was on a pony owned by a friend of my parents. I stayed on as we crossed the lawn. Past the driveway, I fell off. I wanted to get back on but was told “no”.

My mother was afraid. My father was afraid. Eventually I got to play with a neighbor’s pony. I fell off Princess more than I stayed on; I hid my falls from my parents. I got a lesson at a local stable, but when the barn sour horse ran home with me, my father said no more.

One Summer the plan was to send me to horse camp. My parents decided to install an inground pool instead. They said they could not afford both. I never recovered from the disappointment.

After a detour down the wrong path, my parent finally allowed me to get my own horse at 15- a yearling. I know, green rider, green horse, bad idea, but for Freedom and me, it worked.

I never should have agree to sell him to attend college. Selling Freedom is my one regret in life.

In my 60’s, I am still that obsessed child. This time I have Jigs. He is all I could have wanted. He keeps me sane.

For years. I blamed my mother for not sending me to horse camp. I never learned proper riding techniques. Shortly before her death, she admitted to me that the pool was a ruse. My father was afraid I would be hurt at horse camp. She wanted me to go.

The death of my mother this April has been hard. I am a loner, but for Jigs. He grounds me. He keeps me connected to my barn friends. He is my life saver.

Funny thing is, not once did my mother touch him.

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Joe and Helen Paul 25th Wedding Anniversary

Photo Shoot

April 14, 2019

I have never been comfortable with having my photo taken but when a friend, who is a talented photographer and fellow barn rat, offered to take some photos of Jigs, I thought, it might be fun, so why not?

The pictures are stunning. Bethani captured quiet moments between Jigs and me.

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And as you can see, Jig’s is a bit of a ham!

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I highly recommend Pictorial Tales By Bethani.

Helen Marina Paul July 4, 1933 – April 3, 2019

April 13, 2019

helen paul at cape seal tour

The past two weeks have been incredibly difficult. My mother passed away on April 3. The death certificate lists the time at 1:34 AM, but it was earlier because it took the nurse 45 minutes to come.  It’s funny how details like that stick in your mind.

My mother’s congestive heart failure had worsened; she refused treatment. At 85, she was tired. Her world had shrunken. She missed my father and all who passed before.  She wanted to stay home and was terrified she would end up in a nursing home. I could not allow that.

Hospice was invoked on Monday; she was gone barely into Wednesday. She was not alone. We were all there.

Since then I have been consumed by the things that have to happen when someone dies- Wake, funeral, finances, taxes. There is still more to do.

My girls and Jigs have kept me sane. Everyone has been so kind.

My eldest did the remembrance at the funeral. I just couldn’t do it. It was beautiful and she captured our best memories.

The house feels empty.  I have been staying here almost 15 years- since my father got sick.

Taking care of my mother was the core focus the past few years. I’m not sure what will happen next. It is all changed now. I guess my life will settle into a new pattern. I will adjust, but I will always miss her.

2019 Prospective

December 30, 2018

End of December is the time for retrospectives of the year. A lot of the bloggers I follow have posted theirs already. One stated that blogs are old school and announced she is moving to other venues, pod casts, on line classrooms, for a fee. The free blog will remain, but I wonder for how long. Everyone must make a living. I get that.

Rather than looking back, I am looking toward 2019. Disclaimer-despite my fondness for Tarot, I am not clairvoyant. Expectations may or may not be realized. There will be hardships. There will be moments of joy. My hope is joy will out weight hardships.

And what are my expectations?

I expect to laugh and cry with those I love. I expect to continue preparing for retirement. I expect to ride Jigs down new trails. I expect to attend horse events, lessons, cow sorting, versatility, maybe a show if I get brave. I expect to win a few ribbons. Maybe.

Missing are my wished-for things: economic stability, a truck, Jigs at home with me, a finished book of poetry, 40 years in the making.

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On January first, I will take down the ribbons Jigs won in 2018 and put away the memories of our successes, near successes, and yes, failures.

The space above his stall will be empty- a proverbial blank slate- a space for realized possibilities that will become 2019.

Happy New Year’s!

 

Loosestrife

July 22, 2018

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“Invasive,”

the word conjures

metal armored legions

and goose-stepping Fascists,

not the purple-palled spires

that rise from marsh ponds

and riverbanks.

Every Summer, the purple army

spreads across New England.

“A plague,” say some.

 

Some years it is

gypsy moth caterpillars.

Their obnoxious pellets

cover everything

from cars to picnics.

Nothing is sacred.

One year they stripped the leaves

from the trees so that August

resembled April and Spring

came twice that year.

At night, we even heard

their munching in our sleep-

noxious soldiers

devouring forests.

 

Experts warned

the trees would die

if the caterpillars

were not stopped.

Three years of deleafing

is more than even

an oak can stand.

So that Spring

we wound foil

and Vaseline

around tree trunks,

sprayed insecticide

at the base,

and held our breath

as we waited

for the barrage to descend

from silken tents.

 

Nothing happened.

No caterpillars

wicked as Nazis,

organized as Romans

arrived. “A virus,”

experts shrugged.

 

 

The Amazon basin

is being strip mined,

the Borneo rainforest

razed by loggers.

We consume, inhabit

every place march out

even into space.

Look at those purple spires,

feathers reaching

toward the sun.

They reflect back

in the black pond water,

nodding occasionally

to the wind,

or a ripple

from a passing trout.

Birthday Post

January 12, 2018

I will be 60 tomorrow.

A milestone.

Tomorrow is my birthday

I don’t feel 60.

I still feel like that horse crazy girl the other kids made fun of- the girl who galloped through the playground pretending to be a wild horse.

I still feel like the horse crazy girl whose parents wouldn’t, couldn’t understand.

I still feel like the horse crazy girl who cried for weeks because her parents chose a swimming pool over horse camp.

I still feel like the horse crazy girl who fell off the borrowed, nasty pony mare every day, without loosing faith. The mare who taught persistence and how to ride bareback because there was no saddle.

I still feel like the horse crazy girl who loved an appaloosa yearling- love a first sight in the bowels of a horse trader’s barn. The little horse who saved my life.

I still feel like the horse crazy girl who had to accept college over heart’s desire.

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I still feel like the horse crazy middle-aged girl who loved Pepperoni. Who bought Pepperoni even though he had uveitis . Pepper who taught me everything- Pepper who taught me that love means letting go.

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Pepper

I still feel like the middle-aged grieving girl who walked around a corner that fateful February and found the red pony- the red pony with the “here I am, what took you so long” look.

I still feel like the middle-aged woman who was stunned to win a saddle because her red pony really was the best horse that day- we were just having fun.

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I still feel like the middle-aged woman who stresses about how work and family keep her from the red pony.  The woman who dropped 26 pounds for her pony’s sake.

I am the one day from 60-year-old woman whose red pony threw half a flake of hay on her, as if to share his dinner- birthday eve gift.

I will always be that horse crazy girl….

Bikes and Horses

July 5, 2016

My non-horse friends think I am a pony obsessed lunatic. They could be right. I am rather fond of my pony. He is wonderful. I could not ask for a better partner- equine or human.

Today we loaded up my grandson’s bike into my Jeep, Jigs in the trailer and headed over to Upton State Forest to ride/bike. Upton State has a mix of trails but I figured if we stayed on the gravel roads, my grandson would be able to ride comfortably.

Before we left, I told Jigs, “your job is to keep the boy in front of you.”  He took that literally. It was fine downhill when we had to trot to keep up.  It wasn’t so bad on the flats, well, except for when my grandson did serpentines. Jigs followed right behind him, doing his own serpentines. This horse hates serpentines.

boy and bike

The issue was uphill. What goes down must go up and for bikes, not so easy.  Jigs really wanted to stay behind him.

I did not.

I wanted to lope up the trail.

It took a lot of leg. When Jigs got beside the bike, he broke into a trot again and tried to swing behind the bike. More leg to push him straight. More leg to lope.

We stopped at the top to wait for the boy. The whole time Jigs was watching for him. When the bike came around the bend, Jigs sighed deeply.

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Long Winter’s Night

December 24, 2015

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The days are getting longer. It will be a month before we really notice, but I have faith this is true. It has been too dark these past weeks. The sun has gone missing.

I rarely get to the barn these days. Even the weekends have been consumed with commitments outside of my control. And when I do get there, riding is been limited as my foot continues to heal. Or maybe I’m avoiding something.

I worry about Jigs and what this funk I’m in means for our relationship. If I’m honest with myself, it is like a temporary separation. I feel guilty I’ve been so preoccupied with non-horse issues.

When I do visit, he seems glad to see me, but truly, it is the treats in the back of my car he desires.  A gelding of few words, he’s never been overly affectionate.  He’s impatient with grooming, not naughty, but I get the feeling he just tolerates it. In the 7 years we’ve been together, I’ve never found his “sweet spot.”

Most horses have one- even Pepper. His lips would quiver in ecstasy when I scratched the side of his withers. This from the horse that hated all things human. It was the only time I felt he liked me.

But Jigs tries to be above all this. Unless food is involved, it is all the same to him. Or maybe not. The other day we were in the ring playing at ground work and unbeknownst to me, my glove fell out of my pocket. The gelding of few words didn’t miss it. He picked it up and gave it to me. I was stunned.

He really is a good boy. I just need to press through this dark and be patient for the sun to return.