“Squat!”

Mama hurt herself Sunday afternoon, trying to secure the covers of the foundation vents on the house. We’d covered them in October before it turned cold. The openings are not standard size, so you can’t buy anything to cover them with. Dad had manufactured his own workable solution, but they got worn and unattachable, thus ineffective, during the two years of his illness. Since his death, we’ve just had to make do. This year, as a last resort, we had to use duct tape. But the duct tape didn’t stick, and the covers kept falling off. Mama has re-applied the tape several times. Because she didn’t want mice getting in and running around under the house, she moved two heavy concrete blocks from the back yard all the way around the house and up against the vents in the front and on the side to hold the covers in place. When she leaned over to place the second block, something popped and cracked in her back and she saw blue stars. Now, she can barely move.

Mama is 86. She mows her own yard, rakes her own leaves, weeds her own flowerbeds. Carrying concrete blocks is off her list now.

She went to the chiropractor first thing Monday morning. He fussed at her for carrying heavy concrete blocks. He also sent her to her regular doctor, who fussed at her. I called her at noon to find out the prognosis. Kicking off my shoes and pulling my feet up under me on the couch, I settled in for a long talk. The dog jumped up beside me, and I rubbed her soft hair as I heard about Mama’s X-rays, possible compression, and ultrasound. “He said it was really bad,” she told me.

On that, the dog put her head down and went to sleep, knowing I’d be tied up a while. She loves a chance to cuddle close to me and nap, especially when I’m in the kitchen/living area, close to all the food. We’re like two peas in a pod. I can read all her facial expressions and know exactly what she’s thinking. She understands my words and always knows exactly what I’m going to do next. “She rules the house,” my son says. I remember a time a few years ago when he lived at home and thought he ruled. “She walks all over you,” he continues. “How does it feel to be at the bottom of the food chain?” I tell him I chose that kind of life and adore it.

Mama was in a lot of pain. Dr. Patterson told her to keep mobile, to walk, but not to lift anything and not to bend over. “He said if I needed to pick something up off the floor, I should grab onto something and bend at the knees to lower myself.”

“Yeah,” I said. “You should squat.”

“What?” Mama said. Sometimes she doesn’t hear well on the phone.

“SQUAT!”

Upon hearing that word, the dog’s head snapped up, and her eyes glared straight into mine, and the expression on her face said, “What the hell are you talking about? Me? Squat? Here? Now? Have you lost your everlovin’ mind?”

She knows the word “squat,” and it means only one thing. When she’s outside on a leash, I tell her, “Squat! Tee tee.” And she does. She does it on command.

“No, Little Bit, not you. Not here. Not now.” I chuckled and tried to describe to Mama how the dog thought I was telling her to squat, while at the same time, Mama continued talking about her treatments and diagnosis.

For now, the only squatting to be done indoors is up to Mama, until she gets her back injury resolved.

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