Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Walk in my Shoes

Liza ambled along the lane listening to the sound of her dog’s paws hitting the pavement. Faith was a six month old chocolate lab and had quickly become princess of their all girl household. Her beautiful brown coat shone in the autumn sun as she zig zagged from one side of the lane to the other taking a dip in each and every puddle.

As she walked, Liza watched the breeze rain down withered yellow leaves like confetti. The lane on which she and her daughter lived was lined with massive wild pecan trees that formed a canopy over the road. Often the weakened limbs dropped during a storm or just for no reason at all. Now, they were draped with hanging cords of scarlet Virginia Creeper as autumn became full blown.

This trek down and then back up the lane had always been her private time…..time to think and to pray and to just BE with nature. She had missed the walks in the month since her hamstring injury had slowed her down to a crawl. “Woof”. Faith had spotted something that caught her attention. It turned out to be nothing more than a caravan of farm equipment awaiting the cotton harvest and winter wheat planting. Squirrels scampered up and down the trees along the road reminding her that winter on the farm would be here before she knew it.

The day that she and Lacey had pushed and pulled their way up to the Carter family cemetery, they were full of adventure. “Mom…..LOOK!” Lacey cried. Liza stared at the aged grave markers imagining who was buried under that name and date from the 1890’s. “I used to love to explore this place as a child” Liza remarked. “When life with two little brothers got to be too much, this place was my escape.” Further down the road at the dead end lay the Forked Deere river where she had fallen into the muck on another childhood adventure. Growing up in the country was a gift that she treasured and was grateful to pass on to her own daughter. “Let’s go see MeMaw” Lacey said. It was “their” day…mom and daughter. Liza and Lacey had done lunch at their favorite Mexican restaurant and were enjoying the afternoon.

As they stood at the top of the incline that led to the cemetery they quickly realized that going down would be much trickier than getting up! It was straight up and scattered with sweet gum balls. Lacey scooted down on her butt and Liza crouched to do the same. “OH my God…..OH MY GOD…..OH MY GOD!!!” Before she knew it, Liza’s middle aged self was doing the splits in mid-air and landed with a thud in the ditch below. Lacey ran toward her mother with fear in her eyes. “Mom…are you okay? Can you move?” “Oh my God.” That’s all Liza could say for several minutes. She was fairly strong when it came to handling pain, but this HURT. Her right leg was numb from the hip down and she couldn’t move. “I’ll move the car back to you and help you in” Lacey said, trying to be brave. She was scared to death that the mother whom she saw as the strongest woman on earth had messed up herself up royally.

Liza tentatively shifted her body and felt the stabs of pain that told her that something was hurt….badly. She managed, with Lacey’s help, to get up and into the car but the pain was unbearable when she sat. By the time they arrived home minutes later, the numbness was gone and she felt every muscle cry out in pain as she climbed the steps to the house. Obviously, nothing was broken. Otherwise, she couldn’t have walked, she told herself. She was okay…..just a torn hamstring.

It wasn’t until two days later as she was visiting her Mother that Liza noticed the bruising begin. Eventually her entire right thigh from hip to below the knee was black and purple. It was painful to stand and even more painful to sit. Liza rarely missed work, but in this case she had no choice. Her co-workers at the hospital lab would do just fine without her. She couldn’t move!

In the month that followed, Liza learned patience. Recovery from a torn hamstring is slow and tedious and painful. “Baby steps” she told herself every day. “No rush” was her mantra. It’s odd how perspective shifts when the body is weak. The mountains of unpaid bills and lack of a love life that plagued Liza took a back seat to healing so that she could resume normal activity. Her co-workers were astonished when they saw the bruising. “Oh no!” the Little General cried. “Bless your heart”. Every female in that laboratory was treated to a peep show of the giant purple battle scar.

Now as she walked up the hill to the house, she felt her leg muscles tightening in fatigue. “Use it or lose it” is a universal truth, and a month without exercise had left her feeling depressed and tired. This leisurely walk had given her the luxury of reflection, and her mind had wandered back to a miracle that took place on this same road two years ago.

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