COLUMN: Aging hasn’t diminished the elegance

At least I have a sparkly new room in which to store more junk, when it’s not being used to host birthday parties for two-year-olds.

Finally, following six years of procrastination, the basement “room” was debuted to an admiring gathering. The completion, spurred by a demand that we were having a par-TAY the first weekend in March, was, like the new Port Mann Bridge, achieved on time.

But after destroying my knees laying tile, and accelerating I’m sure the advancement of COPD due to inhalation of tile glue and grout dust, I was a somewhat disturbed to discover that the big event would last but two hours. Two hours!?!?! Considering all the work and expense, had I known the soiree was of such short duration I’d have much preferred renting a room at the Ramada.

However, at least I have a sparkly new room in which to store more junk, when it’s not being used to host birthday parties for two-year-olds.

And since small children and large dogs not accustomed to same don’t mix well, mine were relegated to the garage for the afternoon of the party.

My young dog is somewhat adaptable, but the old girl … well, that was a different matter. Checking out how they were surviving after an hour, she was nowhere in sight, then I discovered her jammed into a corner amongst the stuff originally removed from the basement party room, unable to move or extricate herself, patiently waiting for assistance.

Closing on 15 years of age, the equivalent in dog years of a 100-year-old dowager queen, she is elegant but forgetful. I don’t know if dogs get Alzheimer’s, but she certainly seems to be reflecting something similar.

Never once in her first 14 years of life did she ever have a “mistake” in the house. However, now, unless I am vigilant, the mental confusion does have its occasional effect.

So it is that every night around 9 p.m. she either begins to pace, or I wake her, to ensure it is the lawn and not the hardwood that is the recipient of her pre-bedtime discharges.

And while on those nightly walks, rain or moonlight, chill or mild, she never strays far. And every now and then she walks up to touch my leg with her nose, the only sensory organ still retaining its keen function, her cataract-coated eyes providing little more illumination than shadows and movement.

Her hearing is also something of the past, but she can still, on a sunny day, discern mountain bikers riding up the road, and with a hoarse bark makes a valiant effort to run along the fence chasing them.

That the bikers, pedaling up the hill, are probably long gone before she gets there is of little mind. It is one of the luxuries still remaining to put a bounce in her doddering stride. That and the very occasional romp that she seems to enjoy, or perhaps endure, with the young dog.

While she may be literally on her last legs, she is not in pain, and each morning waits at the bottom of the stairs for me to give her a pat on the head and breakfast.

And every day, when I return home to find her curled on her bed, I first stare to ensure her chest still rises and falls.

Until the fateful day when that is no longer the case, or perhaps when the message centre in her aging brain no longer is capable of sending signals to her legs and intervention is required, dear sweet Maggie May will continue to fill a loved place in our hearts.

 

markrushton@abbynews.com