Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Day at the Beach

"She has cataracts, you know." This from my vet after peering into my fourteen-year-old dog's eyes. I knew her eyes had become cloudy recently, but no one had diagnosed cataracts. She's also deaf, arthritic, and has numerous cancerous lumps that I keep having removed and that keep growing back.

Last week Maggie and I made our semi-annual pilgrimage to Ogunquit, Maine to walk the wide beach there. We've been doing this for fourteen years. There was a time when Maggie could go with me the entire length of the beach and back, some 1.5 hrs with stops and detours down to the water's edge and up to the cottages lining the beach, and then walk with me along the Marginal Way to Perkins Cove and back, another hour, with stops.

Not so any more. I wasn't sure she could walk, really, any distance on the beach, but thought she deserved to get back to see and smell it one more time. I'd already decided not to attempt the Marginal Way. Maggie rose to the occasion, seeming to sense my fear that this trip might be our last. She frolicked a bit, chased a seagull, waded into the surf, lounged in a tidal pool, sniffed at clam shells and seaweed, and then we shared a nice picnic on the rocks.

I hate this "getting old" thing. The immediate response to that is always, "It's better than the alternative." I'm not so sure. My mother-in-law had Alzheimer's and we watched her slowly disappear before our eyes, each day becoming a little less the person she once was. No one should die well before their time, but must we die in such a protracted way either?

My wish for Maggie is both that she live forever and that she live not one minute longer than she is comfortable and happy. I hope that she will find a way to tell me when that time arrives, or that the need for me to take action will be taken out of my hands. Today, she ate with enthusiasm and enjoyed a short walk: happy, although perhaps not comfortable. Who knows, we might just be heading back to Ogunquit next March for another day at the beach.Her Sister's Shadow
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1 comment:

  1. Oh man, I feel your pain.

    We have a 14 year old mini schnauzer who is the sweetest girl ever. We've decided she's going deaf as if you approach her from the rear she jumps if you touch her, she doesn't move if you speak to her and she certainly surprised to see you when you walk to her front.

    Then we have an almost 14 year old maltese/shihtzu with cloudy eyes who runs into furniture if we don't put it back exactly were it was ...

    I wish for them the same as you wish for your love.

    Our nine year-old has been so sweet to the two of them it breaks my heart.