November 24, 2013

Daily Write: It Could Turn on You Someday

Once or twice a month, she’d bang her shoulder on a door jam. That third or fourth glass of wine brought out the old two-step waltzes, registering that she should probably continue the evening in a chair or on the lounger. The two-step or side-lurch or whatever arm gestures came into play when she lost balance were pretty obvious fails. If she knew anything, she knew herself and mostly stayed home so as not to elicit attention.

A door jam was rather innocuous. But the stone patio and grand steps leading out to the back yard, those were enjoyed. She and her husband spent hours with the landscape architect plotting out features just so. In July at the height of summer, she’d stroll out from the French doors off the kitchen (and wet bar) with her chilled pinot grigio, relaxed and satisfied.

Most evenings, before settling into her favorite lounger by the hydrangea bushes, she’d poke an index finger into the planters to check soil moisture. Not too often but sometimes, the yard service got lax and the huge stone planter by the stairs would dry out. That night, those flowers needed a refresher, too. Swinging her wine to the ledge, she enthusiastically reached for the hose nozzle. A bit too enthusiastic it turned out. Her altered bearings left no dance floor space for a two-step and she fell hard down the stairs.

At first, she was bemused to find herself laid out. Tiny white stars swooshed back and forth in front of her eyes like fire pit embers. But, a stabbing pain in her ribs and jaw ended any attempts to get up. Someone was moaning while she called out to her husband. After a bit, she realized that she was the one making such noises. He could not hear her.

And, poor hubby, sitting in the den with his gin and tonic watching the news, hadn’t the slightest inkling that things were way off. Best guess was that it took at least thirty minutes to drag herself to the French door screen and finally get his attention. He couldn’t know that she spent all the time in the world reexamining the height of each step, the interesting stone placements, and the large planter that now served as a fortress wall between her and help. He couldn’t know because, in spite of an originally positive prognosis and her energetic eye blinks while he sat bedside, she declined and died two weeks later.

Never a fan of the planters, he left them barren, forfeiting the soil to squirrel nuts and bird droppings.