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The Sassy Sandpiper: When the New Year Isn’t Happy

Sassy Sandpiper | M.R. Wilson | Columns

The Sassy Sandpiper struggles with a rocky start to 2018.

By M.R. Wilson, Columnist, TB Reporter

Suppose you’re all set to begin festivities. It’s an afternoon party with the elders to celebrate their homecoming from a Caribbean cruise, rejoice in adventures and safe passage, and give Ol’ 2017 a grand send-off.

You find your hostess shaking and weak, scarcely able to stand or speak. The guests who gave the cruise to her as a Christmas present explain it away: “Guess we wore her out!”

A few days later she’s in the ICU struggling with pneumonia. Three weeks later, she’s in a rehab facility, grateful to tears to be alive.

Her name is Jean. She’s like family. Once independent and vibrant at 84, she must learn to walk again. Getting to the bathroom on her own is a major goal.

So what were your goals or resolutions for 2018?

Events like this shake down life to lowest terms. We are forced to simplify. To prioritize. It can get a little blurry around the edges.

This cold-flu-pneumonia season is deadly. Medical science saved Jean’s life, but what kind of life awaits her? She has fighting spirit, for sure, but will she ever drive across town to bowl again? Will she ever drive at all, or prepare a meal, or go on a shopping trip for groceries and cat food? Will she have to give up her home and car and move into assisted care?

What kind of life is that?

Then, suddenly, Jean is dramatically improved. She’s spoken up for herself, been moved to a brighter room near the nurses’ station, is getting physical therapy and tooling around the place in a wheel chair. She’s smiling and engaged with others again; her cognitive function is crystalizing. She is determined to “get well again” and get home to her cat and bowling and, oh my —

Maybe it was sudden relief and a flood of hope that distracted me so that I left the stove on when leaving for this morning’s visit. The black beans burned to a crisp and filled the house with smoke. I threw my ruined, favorite little cook pot in the trash can. Had I been away for who-knows-how-much longer, the house might have caught fire.

It didn’t. The cats were okay.

That burn-stench I hope you’ve never smelled is diminishing. The two young boy-cats are wrestling, teeth and claws bared in play-fight, while the mature and sophisticated felines doze peacefully.

I have consumed a prodigious amount of chocolate ice cream, brownies, and further dulled my senses with Irish liqueur. Not nearly as smart as a cat, but hey – it’s been a rough year.

Photo by M.R. Wilson, Columnist, TB Reporter

M.R. Wilson | Sassy Sandpiper | New Year | Unhappy New Year | Tampabay News

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