I wake from a stressful dream, then gradually realize I am safe at home in my own bed. I straighten my legs under the covers, knowing it will hurt my knees. There is an urgent need to empty my bladder, even though I was up five times in the night for that purpose. I roll onto my right side, as previously instructed by a physical therapist, and placing the palm of my left hand on the bed, push myself to a seated position, dropping my feet to the floor. I sit there, rubbing my knees to alert them they are expected to do some work now. My left wrist hurts from pushing myself up. Arthritis seems to have reached every corner in my body. 

I check that my quad-cane is within easy reach. “Now!” I say to my knees, and up we go! I look for something to hold onto in addition to my quad-cane. The wall will do, as I inch my way around the corner into my bathroom which is equipped with a high-rise toilet seat with arms for pushing myself up from it.

On leaving the bathroom, I decide to do a ten-minute walk to limber up my joints. I can feel the dull ache of sciatica in my left hip and the beginnings of a cramp in the arch of my right foot. In my non-skid socks I creep toward my walker which is parked nearby in the den. I open my iPad and get the Spotify music playlist going on shuffle mode. I set the iPad timer for ten minutes and, using the walker, begin my circles through the house. Kris Kristofferson is singing “Don’t Look So Sad. I Know it’s Over.”

I move slowly through the living room, then alongside the oval, solid cherry dining table. I first spied, liked, and bought this dining set in 1954 in the Philadelphia Strawbridge and Clothier’s department store when I was pregnant with my firstborn. I bought the table and two chairs, partly because two chairs was what I could afford, and partly because two chairs was what we had room for in the tiny gardener’s cottage we were renting. That firstborn baby, now sixty-three years old and sporting a snow-white beard, appears behind me and bends down to kiss me on top my head. “Dragged it out of bed again, huh, Mom?” I mutter an answer and keep walking. Lady Gaga is singing “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye.”

On the second or third round, I notice the cramp in my foot is gone and I’ve stopped limping. Eric Clapton, Taj Mahal, and Wynton Marsalis are rocking and singing “Corrine, Corinna, Where You Been So Long?”

I walk past the antique platform rocker which belonged to my mother-in-law’s father when they owned the Fairbank’s Folly house in Fernandina Beach. His cold feet due to poor circulation caused him, William Thomas Haile, to pull the chair so close to the fireplace in the study of that house, his family feared the wooden chair would catch on fire. I wish I could have known Tom Haile. He must have been small in stature, as the chair is tiny. But, he had big ideas as he once bought the old Civil War fort, Ft. Clinch, planning to disassemble it and sell the bricks. Too late, he learned that the bricks could not be taken apart without destroying them. You can read about it at the visitor’s center at Ft. Clinch State Park.

When entering my kitchen from the dining room, I face the wall which displays the full frontal nude painted by my husband while we lived in Spain in the early 1960’s. He copied the painting from a Spanish art book, but convinced all our American air force friends that our nubile, fifteen-year-old, live-in-maid posed for it. He was a truth-twisting wannabe outlaw, and a funny one. I’ll give him that, even though I was the butt of many of his jokes.

Each time I pass by my iPad in the den, I notice how many minutes are left on the timer. Halfway through, at the five minute mark, I reverse direction. Bob Dylan is singing “I’m 900 Miles from My Home.” I would speed up my pace, but am already going as fast as I can, which is about one-half mile per hour.

Having reversed direction, the side-yard bird feeder is in my line of sight as I enter the kitchen from the den. A gold finch and a downy woodpecker are competing for the suet. Both are spoiled by my generosity in spending so much money on them at Wild Birds, Unlimited.

As I round the corner by the front door on the last lap and arrive back to the den, Yo Yo Ma, is coaxing beautiful sounds from his cello, playing “Going Home” from Dvorak’s New World Symphony. The timer goes off and my ten minute walking session is over. I park the Rollator walker and walk unassisted to the kitchen.

I choose a mug, fill it with tap water, and press 2,2,2 on the old low-power microwave for two minutes and twenty-two seconds on high. I cut a wedge of lemon from a friend’s Duck Pond lemon tree, wash the knife, and wait for the water to finish heating. I notice the worsening tremor in my hand and handle the knife carefully. I drop the lemon wedge into the hot water, and while carrying it, stagger unsteadily toward my familiar nest on the den sofa, trying not to spill hot water on myself.

With a grateful sigh, I sink into my favorite position, sitting with legs outstretched on the sofa. With mug of lemon water at arm’s length on the table, I pick up my iPad and start solving the daily on-line crossword puzzle.

Louis Armstrong is singing:

“I see trees of green, Red roses, too.

I see them bloom, For me and you,

And I think to myself,

What a Wonderful World!”

Only thirty minutes ago I woke up from a nightmare. In the dream, I was responsible for putting a meal on the table for several important guests. I was frantic and in a panic because I was in my long-dead Mother’s kitchen and couldn’t find any clean dishes or usable groceries.

Now I am relaxed and ready to begin another productive day of mindfulness. My life is good. At least, good enough to walk more circles, enjoy more good music, and possibly spin more memorable stories of my life.



  1. Such a sweet, pleasant story, despite the downsides. I, too, punch 222 on my microwave to heat a cup of water. The little details like that, plus the songs, make the story a pleasure to read.


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