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A Break From the Battleground, Walking the Dog

As a baby boomer, Denise and millions of others are becoming senior citizens. She explores what it means to be over 60 today.

Little Jipso

Little Jipso

Walking With Jipso

She leads the way, confident of where we are going and I let her drag me along. So much has happened in the last year. While the puppy grew so did the unseen monster.

It looked like we were finally in a position financially to take on new responsibilities so I said, sure. Let’s get a dog. He had wanted a dog for years, needling me and nagging every chance he got. I relented and he picked out this little puppy; a Chihuahua-terrier mix.

I’m not a dog person. I love cats. They are so independent, self-confident and generally quiet. This dog is yappy. She whines a lot and can be so annoying. She’s incredibly needy and wants to be petted and played with all the time. We should have gotten an old dog that would like just sitting quietly in laps.

Jipso at the vets.

Jipso at the vets.

Jipso Collage

The Unseen Monster

We got little Jipso at 7 weeks old in November 2016. It was in April last year that we got the first clue about the unseen monster. One test after another proved that it wasn’t just an error. Then they told him it had already spread to his bones. The doctor was sympathetic and apologetic. This shouldn’t have happened to one so young. No one asks for this unseen monster. They started my husband on some medicinal therapy. He was feeling fine until they started treating him. He feels tired and even nauseous after each treatment once a month. He feels incredibly hot, then cold. But it doesn’t last more than a few days and we deal with the discomfort.

We never cried. We really haven’t spoken of it. It’s too fresh even now, 8 months into the battle. The monster was under control for a short time, but like all monsters, it has started to grow again.

This man who made me laugh, who had nothing but kind words for everyone, is now battling an unseen monster. It’s like two of the seven dwarfs now live at my house; cranky and grumpy. This little puppy, who should have been a joy, is now annoying the kind man who wanted a dog for so many years. He snaps at her, especially when she does loud doggy things, like barking at the neighbors. She doesn’t deserve the unseen monster either.

Just a few weeks old.

Just a few weeks old.

Limiting The Monster's Growth

It’s good to get out of the house and walk for a little while. I’m sure little Jipso is getting as much out of the fresh crisp air as I am. She goes slowly so she can sniff every random leaf we come across. As we get to the parking lot she stops. There is a stranger in the lot. It’s the maintenance man loading his truck. Jipso is terrified of strangers and turns around to go home, but I have an errand to run and we aren’t going back yet. I can’t return to the battleground just yet. Jipso reluctantly decides to obey me and give the offending stranger a wide berth.

Now they want us to go to another doctor. The ominous word is dropped: chemo. I know what that means. I know it is no cure. I know it is what they keep trying in hopes of prolonging the time. It is only to delay the monster from its final goal. The insidious monster is going to eventually win. They made that clear. They gave us a couple of years… maybe.

What about this timid dog? What about me? I can’t even ask these questions because it’s so selfish. Not in the middle of a battle do you start asking about the what-ifs. Not now. For now, we check the mail and turn around to go home.

His little Jipso

His little Jipso

Saint George

I remember when a brain tumor took my father from my mother. She was so strong and phlegmatic. She held it all in and told us not to come around if we were not going to be upbeat and cheerful. He doesn’t need to see us blubbering around him, she told us. If you have to cry, do that at home before you come. She was serious. So we came around and made him laugh, then went home to dissolved into tears. On the night that he passed, we were all there. We prayed, sang hymns, talked to him, held his hand and said goodbye. Sometime after 2 a.m., he was gone. That’s when my mother threw herself on his body and cried like a baby. She had held it in so long that when it finally came out, it came out in a torrential downpour. Her mom had to pull her off him. It is a scene that is burned in my memory. Will I be like that?

Jipso takes another wide path to circumnavigate the maintenance man’s sphere. If only we could do that with the monster. Just go around it like a pothole, a dip in the road to be avoided. If only the monster wasn’t so invisible. Where is Saint George when you need him? Someone needs to slay this monster. Someone needs to do something soon.

My honey is so private that he hasn’t even told his family yet, except for his mother. His children are going to be mad when they find out that he has kept this monster to himself all this time. I don’t blame them. I’m surprised he let me know. It is such a private thing to him. Even to his mother, he made it sound like it’s nothing and the doctors are treating it. I don’t think she has a clue how serious this monster is.

My hero

My hero

Never Enough Time

I pick up the puppy and hold her a few minutes. I’m not sure what I’m feeling at all. Am I lonely? Am I scared? Am I angry? Am I just cold? Yes. All those and much more. My insides hurt from holding it all in for so long. All I can do is love him and overlook the grumpy days. I know he wants to throw things. I sure do. I know he doesn’t want to face this. I don’t either. He is the sweetest, kindest, most empathetic man I know. He has this uncanny ability to draw people in and make them feel safe, to the point that perfect strangers want to share their life story with him. He’s clever and creative. What if the monster takes him from me? What will I ever do without him?

No, I can’t think about that now. Like Scarlet, I’ll think about that tomorrow. Today, I need to put the dog down and get back home to the battleground where my honey is making a stand, alone. He needs me, so I’m there. I’d do anything for him. His is my life. There just aren’t enough words. There is never enough time. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring but I know I will spend it with him.

Comments

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 31, 2019:

It is now almost three years of fighting this thing. It comes back in the strangest ways. Now his thyroid is off and making him exhausted everyday and he has lost 20 more lbs. It makes me sad.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on January 15, 2018:

Thank you, Heidi. I really appreciate that. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on January 15, 2018:

Demas W Jasper,

Thank you. I am a believer too. I pray often. I also wonder about life and the future. I know I should be focusing on today but when my dearest intrepid partner wakes up in some discomfort, I start thinking again. Thanks for the encouragement. I believe I need it.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on January 15, 2018:

Thank you, Bede. You are a faithful friend. I appreciate the kind words.

Blessings,

Denise

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on January 15, 2018:

So sorry to hear about your husband's health! I do hope the puppy can bring you and him some joy during these trying times. You'll be in our thoughts!

Bede from Minnesota on January 15, 2018:

Denise, I’m so very sorry that you are enduring these painful moments with your husband. It’s good that you explained. Please be assured of our prayers.

Demas W Jasper from Today's America and The World Beyond on January 14, 2018:

As a Christian who is not faced with your challenges of the moment, I recall my Lord saying that (and I paraphrase) if a man or a woman comes to him, he will never forsake them. I believe that. I have faith in him. I know that things happen for a purpose, and as hard as it is to comprehend that, I have faith that that is true. You have described a wonderful human being you recognize you and others are privileged to know. Don't look ahead to a potential loss. Look at today and all the yesterdays of incredible gain, love, and positives. To want even more is our human nature. To be thankful for what we still have and what we can give in return is a measure of our thankfulness., devotion, and love.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on January 14, 2018:

Thank you, Bill. I hope you don't mind my using your great motivational idea of walking the dog, but I was walking her after reading yours when I thought all those things. And it seemed such a good way to weave all my confusing thoughts together. Still, I don't have your eloquence or style. I just did the best I could. Thanks for the inspiration and the kind words.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on January 14, 2018:

Mary Norton,

Thank you very much. I know it will take superhuman courage and sometimes I wonder if I'm up to it, but I wouldn't let him down, so I must be up to it. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 14, 2018:

This is one of those times when words are inadequate and sound so trite. I'm so sorry for the struggles in your home...blessings to you always, Denise!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on January 14, 2018:

We do keep illnesses to ourselves as well but we help each other go through it. It is hard and I can feel for you. Have courage.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on January 13, 2018:

Shyron E Shenko,

Thank you so much for your understanding. I didn't know if I should share all that but sometimes I think you just have to let it out a little. I appreciate the encouragement. I'm praying too. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on January 13, 2018:

Denise, never give up, until there is nothing else you can do. My Honey bunny is a private person also and does not like it if I should talk to someone about his condition and just like your honey he wanted a dog, not just a dog a special one he was looking for one like his dog Butch and so... we got Chipper, and he is smart and loving, and now he is sorry and wanted to let someone adopt him, but now Chipper is mine. I should have named him fearless, He fears nothing or no one and he wants to interact with everyone and everything.

I will include your Honey in my Prayers.

Blessings my dear friend