As I walked back from my evening’s visit with Pattie, I stumbled and hit the ground. Don’t tell Pattie — she’ll be horrified. I landed as I’ve been taught to land, carefully not using bended wrists to catch myself. I broke bones that way in 2013, splintering my finger so badly that I had to endure surgery to restore functionality. I’ve not made that mistake again.
On my knees, trying to push myself upright, I began to bargain. Not with God; no, God and I don’t play those kinds of games. My promises and threats extended only to myself. You will get up off this g– d— ground, right now, I muttered. If anyone had been near an open window, they would have heard a few expletives that one might not expect from a five-foot, 110-pound lady in her sixties.
I lack the strength in my legs to just simply stand from the floor. This prompts me to do adaptive yoga rather than the regular kind. Adaptive yoga divides the upper halves of traditional poses from their lower halves, which I skip. I can’t coordinate the two portions of my body nor rise from a prone position. Because of this inability, my friends Ellen Cox and Sharon Alberts, a mother-and-daughter duo, have helped me devise a sun salute that doesn’t include the floor routine.
So there I found myself, for the first time, lying on a stretch of gravel in Park Delta Bay. For reasons I cannot recall, I had not taken my phone with me. I never carry a cane or walking stick, not that either would be useful for propelling myself straight upward. Dusk gathered around me and would soon overtake the towering oaks that run behind the tiny houses, trailers, and RVs of G-Row on which both Pattie and I live. Standing became imperative, as did maintaining control of my keys and my temper.
When I got hit by a car during law school, a social worker did not want to release me to my apartment. I had been in the hospital for three and a half months, and could not tolerate another minute. My parents had come to visit. My mother had brought clean clothes for me to wear home. They would spend a night or two with me, then take themselves back to St. Louis. The social worker insisted that I should go to a rehab unit; just as forcefully, I rejected her proposal.
The worker said to my mother, “She lives on the fourth floor with no elevator. What will she do if there’s a fire?” My mother had laughed then, and shook her head. “You don’t know my daughter, ma’am. She’d not only get out, but she’d take you with her.”
As dark descended on the Delta, I glanced around the empty lot on which I had fallen. I realized that I would have to navigate the ground to a tree or one of the picnic tables. So I did. I scooted on my bottom, fifteen or twenty feet, holding onto my keys so I wouldn’t lose them with the fading light. When I got to the old oak with its wide base, I found a stake someone had left — a tent stake perhaps, about fifteen inches tall and made of iron. I grabbed that thing, stuck it into the ground, and used it to propel myself against the trunk of my new favorite tree at Park Delta Bay. I gripped its rough surface with my other hand, and hauled my sorry ass to a wavering but upright stance.
On shaky legs, I walked the rest of the way to Angel’s Haven. I have never been so glad to see my front porch, just barely visible, strong and sturdy. I climbed the four steps and let myself into the house, thinking, as I did, that Pattie Whitaker is going to be absolutely furious when she finds out that I disobeyed her constant admonishment not to dare fall.
It’s the seventh day of the fifty-third month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.