ELPHIE’S SIXTH BIRTHDAY

This article published by P.A.D.S. http://pads.ca/meet-Rose-and-elphie

WHY I CHOSE TO APPLY FOR A DOG FROM AN ADI ACCREDITED PROGRAM 

My first dog came to live with me in 1989. My hearing loss occurred in 1981 because of a fifteen-and-a-half-hour surgery to remove a brain tumour. My life changed overnight. When Cleo, the love of my life, was placed with me by Pacific Assistance Dog Society, it felt like I came back. Cleo gave me a sense of safety and confidence, helping me to believe that I could do life again. Twelve years later I held her in my arms when the veterinarian gave her the injection; she looked up at me with trust in her eyes as I cradled her in my arms. Our eyes locked in love. She died because of a brain tumour. We were a match made in heaven.

Seventeen years passed; I couldn’t talk about Cleo, I missed her so much that I couldn’t even look at other dogs. Finally, the time came after I had two bouts of an ear infection I applied to PADS for my second dog.

Elphie was placed with me in 2018. I had moved into an apartment with an owner/manager who didn’t think it was necessary to abide by the law regarding certified and accredited dogs. This led to letters being pushed under my door, stating that I had to enter the building from the underground parking lot. I could not drive onto the property without a note from my doctor. I could not go into any common areas in the building. I attempted to educate and appease them; however, this led nowhere.

The harassment and discrimination escalated until I was yelled at, with finger-pointing and waving, and told, “You go back out that front door and come back in the door you were told to use.” I replied, “These dogs have legal access.” His screaming continued. I refused to go back out the front door. He finally said, “Fine, if you are not going to leave, get in the elevator and get out of here, and I’m going to report you.” I replied, “Fine, because I’m going to report you.” Although calm on the outside, I was shaking inside. I got on the elevator, went straight up to my apartment, threw my coat on the floor, and started to cry. In the midst of my tears, I called PADS.

The Executive Director answered. Laura calmed me, and with her help, we filed a report. The Solicitor General’s office made a visit, a warning was issued. The harassment stopped. The excellent support and high quality of professionalism shown at PADS is due to the accreditation with ADI. I know without a doubt the outcome of my tenancy would have been irreparable if I had not had the high standards of PADS and ADI to rely on.

It pleases me when I’m asked by restaurants or other public places if they can see Elphie’s certificate of accreditation. I always say, “Thank you for asking.” It’s an opportunity to educate them that this is not just an emotional support dog claiming to be certified.

Elpie

Thank you for the opportunity to share the pure gift of my hearing dogs that “Change lives, one dog at a time.”

Cleo and I were a match made in heaven; Elphie and I are a match made by heaven. She is my companion, helper, and love, especially over the past 18 months with COVID isolation and aloneness.

Rose 

PADS Hearing Dog Client

MY MEMIOR – first page

     Her long auburn curls are sweaty after thirty-six hours of hard labor. She raises her head from the stretcher and says, “She is beautiful.” Dr. Wilson laughs, and replies, “Newborn babies aren’t beautiful.” Mother disagrees.  Love, is beautiful.

     Mother’s mother died when she was nine years old. A family of seven children. Martha, the eldest, is twenty-one, and engaged to be married, instead, she stays home to help her father raise his children.

     A middle-of-the-night phone call, “Come to the back alley and pick up your daughter. She bled to death on my table.” An abortion in 1927. The family now, six children, four boys, and two girls. Mother the youngest.

     A family of loss, sadness, and struggle. The depression in 1929 adds yet more difficulty. Her father is a hard worker. He owns a butcher shop in Vancouver. With my quirky sense of humour; I laugh and say, “He worked his fingers to the bone”. He cut his thumb off with a meat cutter. Mother’s words describe their life, “We always had food, but underwear – not always.”

     Father arrives to pick us up at the hospital; he waits at the front door. We’ve been in hospital for ten days, the usual obstetric stay in 1942. The elevator door opens.  He sees his wife, sitting in a wheelchair holding a pink bundle, her long auburn hair is wound into a bun, her hazel eyes dance lighting up her freckled face. A nurse pushes the wheelchair to the car, a black 1937 Ford coupe. 

     Father is handsome, six feet tall with proud broad shoulders, wavy brown hair, a tanned muscular face, with a squished boxer’s nose. He walks around the car to the driver’s seat; his eyes pierce in charming, dominant blue.

     We head for the country, seven miles East, a sharp left turn at the bottom of the hill, a steep incline for about a half a mile up, then a sharp right; he parks in front of the narrow brown, plank siding, dirt floor, doorless, garage. It has two glass windows on each side.

     Holding me in her arms, Mother opens the car door; she cautiously steps onto the running board. Father takes both her arms, steadies her as she plants her feet on the ground. She wears a just above the ankle-length green and white cotton dress.  She stands five feet two, shoulders up, and back, head up, soft hazel eyes; she looks straight ahead.  She is one-hundred-and-fifty pounds, small, buxom, and beautiful.

     They walk around the car, and along the sidewalk that extends close to the two-inch whitewashed, clapboard siding of their home. It’s a hot July afternoon.

     Father steps up onto the four-by-four slab of cement and opens the door. Mother follows. A baby bassinette sits on a rough homemade wooden stand beside two rocking chairs. Father sits on the large rocking chair and rocks his baby. Mother sits in her rocking chair. She looks over at his exuding affection as he gazes down upon at his baby.

      It’s too hot to light the wood and coal cookstove to make tea. They drink cold water piped into the house from the creek across the dirt road.

A METIS CEMETARY TOUR

Creator of all,

Black, White, Brown.

Soul connects to soul,

Colour becomes colourless,

Transparent, clear, pure,

Creator of creation,

White roses, purple camas, hyacinth,

Fragrant scent.

Flowers, people, one.

© R.F.C. July 22, 2021

P.S. Alberta is the only province in Canada with a recognized Metis Nation.  There are eight Metis settlements – population 5,000 people, 1.25 million acres.

Buffalo Lake, East Prairie, Elizabeth, Fishing Lake, Gift Lake, Kikno, Paddle Prairie, Peavine.

EYE SURGERY

     It’s Thursday morning, I’m in the shower. My service dog, Elphie, a fifty-pound ginger lab pokes her head around the pulled shower curtain. She alerts me the phone is ringing. I run, but they’ve hung up. I climb back into the shower, again Elphie pokes her head around the corner, dripping wet, I answer the phone.

     “Is that Rose? This is Dr. Mac, I just got the report from Dr. Tass, and he suggests we do glaucoma surgery on Monday along with the cataract surgery. There is added risk, but the benefit outweighs the risk. The only thing is, are you willing to have no movement for seven days after surgery?   Aghast, I look over at Elphie who is lying beside me, and I say, “As you know, I have a service dog.  Does that mean I cannot walk her?”  He repeats, “Correct, no movement, no walking for a week.”

     I move to sit in my rocking chair. I stare numbly out the living room window.  I’m in a daze. I’ve been stalling cataract surgery for six years because of my severe dry eye. Now, a phone call saying it’s not only cataract surgery, as well, it’s going to be glaucoma surgery. I rock back and forth, and recall my brain surgery forty years ago; the residual effect leaving my left eye tearless and painful. The glaucoma drop is drying my already dry eye. Dr. Mac’s words repeat themselves in my head, the benefit outweighs the risk.    O.K, then, let’s do it.  I take a deep breath and call my friend. 

     I ask if she will look after Elphie for a week?  She asks, “Who’s going to look after you?” I fall dead silent thinking what a silly question, and think, well of course, I’m going look after myself, but I say nothing.  She says, “I will come and stay with you, and I’ll look after you both.”

     Monday, four days later, 7:55 a.m., I arrive at Clinic 6. A pleasant woman with a hair net covering her hair, and a face mask sits behind a plexiglass barrier.  She asks, and records my address, emergency contact, and birthday.

     A soft spoken, rotund, senior appearing nurse leads me to a locker where I place my purse and scarf. She comments, “Beautiful scarf”, and clicks the lock closed.  She leads me to a room where six other people sit in push-back, feet-up, head-rest, comfy chairs. I tell her I’m deaf in my left ear.  She points to her ear, and says, “I had a small tumor and lost the hearing in one ear.” I ask her how she lost her hearing? She responds, “I had an acoustic neuroma.” I tell her, “Me too, I had a fifteen-and-a-half-hour surgery to remove a three-and-a-half-centimeter tumor. How long was your surgery?” She says she didn’t have surgery, just radiation. I ask, “So you had Gamma Knife?”  She doesn’t know. I ask when she had the procedure done, she can’t remember.  I ask her name? She responds, “I’m sorry, I thought I told you, my name is Sue”.

     “Ouch, ohhh, ouch, ohhh, ouch, that is really hurting.” Nurse Sue takes the needle out, and tries another vein. “Ouch, ohhh, ouch, ohhh, ouch, that is still hurting.” She says, “I can’t keep hurting you. I’m going to ask someone else to do it.”  A young nurse, with a pep in her step and in her voice says, “O.K. let’s try again to get the I.V. set up for the anesthetic”. She feels for another vein in my right arm, zip it’s in, no pain, just a tiny prick. All done! She then explains, Dr. Mac will not be putting a needle in my eye, the O.R. is booked for twenty minutes, you will not feel any pain, only water spraying in your eye. She tells me, if I breath deep, and relax my head and shoulders, the surgery will go better.

Nurse Sue is sitting on a stool beside the counter.  She comes over and asks if I would like an Ativan. “Yes please, I’ve never had one, but I’ll have ten” We laugh.  She says, “Don’t worry God is good, it will be O.K., and I will hold your hand.”  I respond, “Oh, you’re a believer, me too, we’re a team. An acoustic neuroma and we believe God is good”.

   It is 9:10 a.m. Dr. Mac stands before me in his face mask, large black rimmed glasses, and green cap. His baggy ‘greens’ make him look even younger than he is, and thinner. He says, “Are you willing to do this?” I nod and say, “Yes.”  He looks over at nurse Sue sitting on her stool.  She doesn’t move.  Then he looks at me and says, “O.K. follow me”.

     Dr. Mac, usually a man of few words, surprises me by telling me absolutely everything. I feel Sue’s warm hand holding mine. I remember what the young nurse said.  I breath deep, and relax my neck and head.  Dr. Mac says, “I’m going to start with the glaucoma surgery. I’m taping a mask on your face, look straight at the bright lights, you are going to feel cold water.  Good, you are doing really good, great, perfect.  We’re finished.  Now, I’m going to do the cataract surgery, I want you to look to your right.  Great, nicely done, you’re doing a good job.”  I could feel massive amounts of cold water running down my cheeks and dripping into my left ear.  My worry about the water damaging my hearing aid is a good distraction that he is slicing into my eye.

     Dr. Mac says, “All done, you did great, I’m going to remove your mask now.”  I say, “I think it was you who did a great job.”  Sue is still holding my hand until I reach for my hearing aid and say, “I’m worried about my hearing aide.”  Dr. Mac in utter surprise says, “You have hearing aids in, they should be removed before the surgery”.  Oooops, nurse Sue is mortified and grabs some gauze and tells me to wrap my hearing aide in the gauze to dry it out.  She says, “Take my arm”, and leads me back to the outer room.  She dries me off with many blue wash clothes.  Another nurse walks by laughing and says, “You had a spa.”

     Nurse Sue gives me a print out with directions of when to apply the surgery eye drops. It says discontinue the Monoprost in my left eye, and to use it only in my right eye. Yahoo! Monoprost is the drops that dries my already dry left eye. I’m given three bottles of drops, with my other drops for dry eye, I count the amount of drop applications – fourteen a day.  I’m wearing a see-through clear eye shield that I can remove when I get home from the hospital, but I must wear it at night. As Sue removes the anesthetic I.V. needle, she looks at me and says, “I didn’t run the anesthetic, you were doing so well, I didn’t need to.” What? I didn’t even have any anesthetic; I only had freezing in my eye?  Wow, how good is that! Another nurse comes, and says my ride is here.

     Nurse Sue insists I take her arm as we walk to the hallway where Karey waits to drive me home.  Nurse Sue emphases, “Make sure she takes your arm.”

     I’m home by noon. Karey insists on walking me up to my apartment. My friend Lorry and Elphie are waiting. I leave Lorry and Karey chatting at the door; I go and sit in my rocking chair and pet Elphie. Karey leaves, Lorry comes in, and sits on the couch, she says, “Karey said you were running down the hall and to the car.  You’re hyper”.  I don’t think I’m hyper, but maybe, I just feel so happy and so relieved.  The long-awaited fearful surgery is over and behind me.

     I eat a bowl of soup for lunch, then I cozy up in my bed with the stacked pillows at forty-five-degree angle.  Ooops – I find Sue’s forgotten blue wash cloth in my blouse. I wake at 2:30 p.m., my left eye is hurting. I take a Tylenol; the pain is gone within fifteen minutes. Supper time, my energy is depleted, I feel like a wet rag, food is unappealing.  I pick at the stew that I took it out of the freezer in the morning.  I push it aside. I go back to bed.  To my surprise, I sleep well sitting up at the forty-five-degree angle. 

     I wake at 5:00 a.m. Karey is at my door at 7:30 a.m., my appointment with Dr. Mass is at 8:10 a.m. A technician tests my eyesight and says, “It is the same today as it was before with your glasses on.” My pressure, is eleven. Three weeks ago, it was sixteen.  It’s lower than ever. Dr. Mac comes in and examines my eye and says, “It looks really, really, good.” I say, “What does that mean?” He tells me he will talk to me later. When he finishes the exam, he stands up, washes his hands and leaves.  As he walks out the door, he turns and says, “No movement, and I will see you in a week.” A man of few words.

    Today is day six post-surgery. I’m finally eating again, taking my vitamins, and drinking six glasses of water a day.  All week, friends have walked Elphie. Yesterday I felt like myself again, not as tired, and started writing again and answering emails. 

    Day eight, it feels so good to be behind the wheel.  I’m excited, and looking forward to getting the green light from Dr. Mac, giving me the good news that the pressure is good, and my eye is looking really great. Elphie is in the back seat, it like freedom for us to be out and about again. I give myself lots of time, but a municipal workman appears holding up a sign that says, “stop, road construction”.  Oh, no, I’m going to be late. I could kick and scream, but what good would that do?  I wait.

     I walk into Dr. Mac’s office at 8:00 a.m. on the dot. Elphie sits under my chair. The tech checks my vision and my pressure.  I ask her what the pressure is? She says, “It’s a bit high, but Dr. Mac will talk to you about it.”

     Dr. Mac examines my eye, then says he is going to write some notes. A man of few words. He turns to his computer and, with a clickity-click, he types away. Then he turns to me and says, “The pressure is nineteen, a bit high, and your eye is very dry.  The ongoing problem!  The after-surgery drops can dry your eye, so we’ll taper them. I want to see you in two weeks”. I ask if he will know if the surgery worked in two weeks.  He says, “No, we won’t know for six weeks.”

     I’m back in my car, it’s 8:30 a.m., I could kick and scream, but what good would that do? I wait.

      I put the car in reverse and head for the country where strawberries are ripe and ready, a summer treat.                                       

© R.f.c. June 23, 2021

THE CREEK

I’m writing my memoir:

     She said take a deep breath and remember a person, an incident, a thing; let your mind free float.

 I saw my life as drips of an icicle as it thawed. 

    I saw the creek across from our house.  I saw myself sitting on a rock with my knees tucked up under my chin.  Minnows swimming around, darting here and there.

      My best friend Sammy, six years old at the time, is catching little trout only a few inches long; I insist he put his catch in a bucket of water.   Sammy, continues to fish.   I listen to the water trickle and babble as it rolls over the rocks. It runs confidently and quickly downstream.  To the sides of the stream, pockets of still water pool where more minnows gather and play.

     My mother appears carrying old milk bottles filled with tea.  She bends down to the water and picks up rocks placing them in a circle to make a little corral so the bottles won’t wash down stream.  The cool water, on a hot summer afternoon, does the work of a modern-day refrigerator.  She stands up, straightens her dress around her legs.  The blue cotton garment gives accent to her beautiful auburn hair.  Before she leaves, she slips off her shoes, and just for a moment, she walks ankle deep into the cool refreshing water.

     Autumn arrives and the reservoir my father made to damn up the water so it could run through lengths of pipe to our house gets plugged with leaves and debris.  He hoists himself up onto the edge of the reservoir’s cement wall.  He reaches way down.  The water is up to his shoulders as he blindly searches with his hands for the plug.  He pulls out the plug, removes the debris, replaces the plug.   Once again, the water from the creek runs through the pipes to our house; we can make tea!

     “Leave the water running a little in the kitchen sink when you go to bed”.  Words of my parents.  In the cold of winter if we let the water trickle, it would prevent the water pipes from freezing.  Against all precaution, sometimes the water still froze and my mother and father would walk, in the bitter cold, one quarter of a mile up the hill to the reservoir where they would dig down through the frozen ground.  They’d use a blow torch to thaw the pipes.

      I was nine years old, and very sick with rheumatic fever.  In the middle of the night, a big boulder came crashing through our back door. Water rushed in the back door, through my bedroom, through the kitchen and with another loud crash out through the wall at the other end of the house.

     Father and his friends worked through the night to stop the raging flood waters.  The morning after, there was a hush, all was quiet and calm.

  Father lifted me from my bed, and carried me outside to where a bulldozer waited.

     It wangled, swerved, and turned, down the hill to where a car was waiting to take me to the hospital.  The road was completely washed away, there were huge crevasses in the ground.  Our home was destroyed.  A new house was built and a new road was made.  The creek ran a new course.

     I’m a grandmother now and decades have passed.  There has been sickness, separation, and loss.  There has been birth, blessings and growth.       The movement of the creek with its lifegiving water, the calm after the ravage of flood, gives reassurance and resilience.  All is well.   Where there is life there is hope.

A DAY IN TIME

I’m writing my memoir and begin with:

          When I arrived at my bus stop a woman about my age, well dressed wearing a red blazer, smiled at me as I walked by.  The smile, said – are you friendly and approachable?  I smiled back.  She walked over to where I sat on the bench and she sat down beside me and said, “What a beautiful ring you’re wearing”.  I cheerfully engaged the conversation by saying, “There is a story that goes with the ring, the green stones on either side represent my mother and my father; both born in May and the red stone in the middle is me, I was born in July.”  “Every morning when I put my ring on, I say, “Good Morning Mummy and Daddy”.  She then asked me the year in which they were born and told me when her parents were born.   She then told me her birth date and asked me mine.  She kindly said I didn’t look my age and said something about how we’re only as old as we feel.  I laughed and told her I’d celebrated my sixty-fifth birthday when back packing for three months in Nova Scotia and how I’d packed a heavy pack sack on my back and lugged a large suitcase.  I added with a chuckled, “Yes, we’re only as old as we feel, but I would not have the energy to do it now”.  She then told me she’d been married for forty years. I congratulated her and said my marriage ended after twenty-two years.    We then saw the bus coming.  She handed me her business card and said, “The more challenge we’re presented with, the more colorful the tapestry.”  When I got off the bus, I leaned over to her and said, “Goodbye Lorraine”.  Her business card said she was a counsellor.  Did I look as though I was in need of counselling?  Whatever the reason I was given the impetus to write my life story.

MY MOTHER

Twenty-two years ago, today, my Mother passed away on Saint Patrick’s Day.  Her favorite color was green.   She loved St. Patty, a patron saint of Ireland and shamrocks, although she never drank whiskey.  She loved to do an Irish jig, look for four leaf clover and yes, she was superstitious.

She was the youngest child in a family of nine.  A train they took from Saskatchewan to Vancouver, they forgot their youngest child.  One of the kids said, “Ninky, Ninky is running behind trying to catch up.”

Auburn hair, hazel eyes, five-foot-two and always a smile.  When I went downtown with her, I had to add an hour to my time.  She stopped and talked to everyone.

That day in 1999 the Anglican church in Chilliwack was packed.  Friends, acquaintances, neighbors, all came to say good bye.  Good-bye Maggie, Margaret, Auntie Ninky, Mum, friend and neighbor.

You’re not forgotten Mum.  Your happy dance and spirit lives on.  Your courage and resilience give hope and trust to those of us who still remain.

Twenty-two years ago, we planted an Elizabeth Magnolia in our front yard on Emerson in memory of you. Its tall straight trunk, like yours reaches toward the sky.  Every Spring the large ivory cup shaped blooms bring beauty to the neighborhood.  The straight and sturdy tree trunk resembles you.  Way up high in the sky, heaven received an angel in you.

© r.f.c. March 17, 2021

My Sojourn – My Gift

I’m writing “My Life Story” and today I came across this poem. I wrote it in 2007 when I did my sojourn in the Maritime Provinces:

My Gift

To the top of the hill, I walk each day,

A relationship they say

Is needed for a Blessing to stay.

When half way up,

I turn around and look back down,

ON HOLY GROUND!

“Queen Anne Lace”,

A needle prick of blood inside,

Reminds me of mortality.

The yellow flowers

Look like stars, they nod sometimes

And seem to smile.

Today as I walked to the top of the hill,

An idea popped into my head!

I’ll pick some flowers and take them back

To the sisters and their sacrament.

I went about with happy joy,

Plucking and pulling and arranging them,

Until I met a stubborn one,

I pulled, I tugged,

He wouldn’t budge.

Not noticing and moving on,

I pulled and twisted till out she came

Lacking in passion I am not

Sometimes though compassion lost.

Beautiful flowers at my feet,

THANKYOU for a lesson taught.

© R.f.c. Aug. 13, 2007

It was most definitely a gift to stay at the beautiful St. Joseph Renewal Centre in Mabou, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.  The sisters were more than kind.  I stayed there for three weeks and was treated like family.  The day I left the nine sisters of Notre Dame got up early and waved me good-bye. I will never forget them or their gift of hospitality and welcome. After returning home after my three-month sojourn on the Maritimes the first Christmas card I sent was always to those dear sisters.

St. Joseph’s Renewal Centre closed Oct. 3, 2018 when the dwindling number of sisters were down to three from the nine when I was there in 2007.  An article in the Cape Breton Post – “It’s a major loss to the community.  They’ve done so many wonderful things – they’ve taught in our schools, and been a major part of our community…after 131 years (1887-2018)

See the hill behind the retreat centre, the sisters called it a mountain. I had great fun telling them it was a hill. I enjoyed walking up it everyday.

PEACE MY FRIENDS – ‘THE AWE OF EACH NEW DAY’ I await the next unfolding as of Jan. 20, 2021

WAKE AND WATCH the universe shrugs itself into wakefulness, as night surrenders slowly to day and shadow relinquished itself to light.  I watch this display and realize that the moon lives in the lining of my skin, the sun rises with my consciousness, and the earth thrums in the bottoms of my feet.  Everywhere I go, I take that sense of wonder and mystery with me.

I’VE BEEN REFERRED to as odd before.  Nowadays, I prefer to refer to myself as “awed.”  I want awe to be the greatest ongoing relationship in my life.  I want to move through my days floored by the magnificence and generosity of my Creator.  The breaking of a day, the silence between words, the light emanating from a real conversation, and kindness, truth, love and the apparently random hand of grace:  I want to remain gobsmacked by all of it. Rendered speechless by wonder, I wait the next unfolding.  Peace, friends.  Be awed today.

The above two paragraphs were quoted from p. 90 “EMBERS”-  One Ojibway’s Meditations by Richard Wagamese

My awe and reflection. Jan 9, 2018 I wrote:  The words that struck the deepest cord with me are; I await the next unfolding.  Peace, friends.  Be awed today. I await the next unfolding. 

Patience I am told is a virtue, and I am short on patience.  As I view the  president of the United States and the leader of North Korea my patience if any, escape me.  I viewed them as dip-sticks. Oh my, I am judging, condemning and anything but compassionate.  Mother of God please lead me to be open and loving so peace on earth will be.  When I view with awe the beauty of glistening white new fallen snow, the magic of a mountain in purple glow, the scent of pink wild roses, the innocence of a newborn child, it is then I believe.  All is created in God’s image and likeness.  Take me back to my innocence.  I pray for patience to view with awe the prosperity we enjoy, the connectedness we bless and with which we are blessed.  Beauty, love and kindness surround us.  Goodness is God, and goodness will override power and dishonesty.  Let go of my disbelief and trust in myself and the universe.  The fault is in my disbelief.  Believe in the awe of each new day as it dawns from darkness to twilight to light.

HAPPY NEW YEAR

I chose a card from The Virtues Project and it is apropos for the first day of 2021:

Acceptance is embracing life on its own terms.  We are open to what is, rather than wishing for something different.  We face the truth in all circumstances with honesty and courage.  Acceptance helps us to bend without breaking in the winds of tests, to gather the lessons and step forward with new wisdom and awareness.  We affirm others and ourselves for the qualities we do have and avoid judgment and criticism for what we don’t have.  Accepting myself allows me to give what I have to the world.

The virtues project