Leaving the Snow Behind, Even If I Have to Go to Texas

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It snowed. Again. And again. And yet again. I’m still trapped in the house. I give: I’m going to Texas. Killeen, to be precise. You may not have heard of the town, but I’ll bet you’ve heard of something that’s located there: Fort Hood.

My BFF Nancy, who I’m going to visit, is married to Colonel Bill who is – you guessed it – in the US Army. This is his last tour: He retires this summer. Maybe then he can enjoy his house. He was transferred from Germany to Fort Hood, they had a house built, then he got sent to Afghanistan. He got to spend one week in his house. When he came back, his job at Fort Hood was gone, so he went to San Antonio. My friend stayed in the house. She still has a job at Fort Hood.

It will be great to see her. Except for one dinner when they were near here for a meeting, it’s been something like five years since we’ve seen each other. Since then, the children have gone off to college, the super-sized cat who liked to lie on my diaphragm so I couldn’t breathe has died, and they’ve acquired an Alaskan husky who thinks he’s a lap dog. (I can’t wait to meet Thor! she says, tongue in cheek.)

This will be only the second time I’ve visited people in their home. The other was a woman I’ve been friends with for 55 years.

I’m not averse to visiting people in their homes; it’s just difficult. I acquired a bone infection following surgery to reattach an Achilles tendon. The infection kept spreading and, eventually, I had to have a below-the-knee amputation. Because I tend to get an itchy rash when I wear my prosthesis, I choose not to. Instead, I get around on a mobility scooter.

My house has been modified in some places – a ramp in the back to get me to ground level and one that takes me from the house to the front porch (and back). Grab bars, a fold-up transfer bench in the tub, an electrical outlet I can reach by the vanity, raised toilets – stuff like that – in the bathroom.

Nancy’s house doesn’t have any of that. It is on one level and there’s an entrance to the house from the garage with a two-inch rise into the house. Bill should be about to cobble together a ramp for that door. There are no raised toilets, much less grab bars, and Nancy says none of the bathrooms are large enough to turn around in. (Actually, not a problem: Mine aren’t, either. I drive in facing forward and back up to get out.) As for no grab bars, I can use my scooter for that if I’m parked perpendicular to the toilet. She does have a drive-in shower: I just need a shower bench.)

Can you tell we had an extensive talk about these things when discussing my visit? It isn’t an easy matter any more. It never will be again. But I’m not a crabby type and she’s very creative.

I still remember when I visited her in South Korea 18 years ago. I’d just started taking insulin, which at that time was Regular and NPH. I had to eat certain amounts of carbohydrate at certain times. If you’ve never done it, try to imagine how jetlagged you are when you fly from one side of the globe to the other, across the international date line and all that.

Nancy came to my bedroom with ice cream for my scheduled snack. I waved her away. She left, only to come back with a little bit of ice cream mixed in with some chocolate chips – and proceeded to feed me. She’d studied what I needed and she made sure I got it.

So I know things will work themselves out. For instance, if we can’t find a place that rents shower benches, I can take “bird baths.”

The important thing is, long-time friends get to spend some time together. Nothing else much matters. I have my tickets and I’m flying out of here next Wednesday.

Did I tell you it’s supposed to snow Monday?

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