Sunday, December 2, 2012

Going forward...

This past year has been eventful in many ways--some good, some challenging. The important thing is that I've made it through the obstacles and am beginning to see much more than just the light at the end of the tunnel. Health problems, even if temporary, are frustrating, but they became increasingly more so due to living alone. As always, if one perserveres, everything works out. Sometimes it can feel as if things move in slow motion. The best part of where I am now is that I'm on minimal seizure medication and have no restrictions on my activities. True, the meds slow me down a bit, but things are continuing as they should. Some of this I've written about before, but this process has been confusing and erratic, and writing about it has helped me sort through where I've been and what is ahead.

One of the most unsettling things of my being ill was the change in Caleb. He seemed to have transformed himself into a filter deciding what was best for me. Even long-known neighborhood dogs were not welcome for a few months. Trust me, when he would curl his lip and stand erect when a dog went by, those dogs quickly decided to use someone else's yard to meet their needs. Now that I'm back on my feet and alert, Caleb seems to have slipped back into his previous role. We go for walks and he saunters as if nothing had ever changed. I took him with me to Home Depot the other day, and all of the regular employees were glad to see him, and Caleb was just as happy to see them. I don't expect everyone to understand my connection with my pups, but I do hope that those close to me realize that the dogs bring me support and comfort in helpful ways. Now that Caleb has returned to his usual ways and I'm back on my feet, he will be re-certified for his therapy work, and that will benefit both of us. There is no way to describe how we feel after a visit to one of the facilities--both of us are always tired, quiet and know we've made a difference.

I was officially retired as of February 1, 2012, but, as I've written before, I left the university December 23, 2011 due to illness. Leaving the university was confusing. While I had many things to joyfully anticipate--time with my grandsons and my daughters, gardening, quilting, dog therapy work--the department had become my home away from home providing many friends. There were major life changes in my personal life over the years I worked at the department, and my colleagues/friends walked right beside me through those events. Of course, the most life-changing was Mark's passing in 2004. I honestly believe that those people know how much their love and support carried me through that time. The hardest part about retiring was knowing I wouldn't see many of those people on a regular basis. There is a small group that stays in touch, and I suspect we always will. My point for writing about this is that I've come to understand that we are given many people in our lives. Even though we may have extremely close, family-like relationships, we aren't necessarily meant to remain that way forever. Sometimes we are gifted with special connections for specific purposes. I've learned to trust God and understand that we have to move forward, and that can often mean letting go. Trust me, I savor the friends and the closeness we shared. Sometimes, that simply has to be enough.

We had a family Thanksgiving here at my house. It warmed my heart to watch Logan play with the little ones. He went to the garden shed to gather his own gardening tools to share with his little cousin, Jonah and little brother Spencer. It was also nice to watch him teach the boys how to feed the goldfish that live in the livestock tanks in the back yard. Most important to me was the realization that Logan felt at home and knew his way around. I absolutely love spending time with the boys, and it makes me smile to think of how many things Logan and I have done together. Also, he always waters the plants when he is here. When I asked him about it, he said, "Lulu, it's just what I do." And then he gave me a smile.

My Border Collie pup, Micah, is a sweetheart. As typical with BCs, he's incredibly bright, but this little guy has a sensitivity that is most welcome, and he is always at my side. BCs are known for being driven and focused. That turned out to be a major challenge for me when it came down to convincing Micah that the squirrels don't live in the back yard for his entertainment! He caught two of them, used them for playmates, and the end results were not good for the squirrels. In addition, he was also stripping the bark off of the huge pecan tree in hopes of scaling it to nab the little furballs.  So, I sought the advice of his breeder--after all, this wonderful, loving woman lives and breathes BCs. Following her advice, I purchased a vibrator collar with remote control. After a couple of days of being buzzed (thankfully, I didn't have to advance to shocking him), he decided that squirrels were fine to look at but that it was best not to chase them. There is no special place in my heart for squirrels, but they are living creatures, and I just couldn't watch them being tortured even if it was unintentional. I  must admit, however, that I smiled watching him play with them with such free and absolute joy--he was just doing what dogs do, and I'm glad he had the experience of having so much fun.

Step by step, I suspect I'll find my way. Thank you for taking time to check in.
Be well.
Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.
--Dr. Seuss