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Around the Bluhmin’ Town

5/17/16

Judy Bluhm

First steps. Nothing quite like watching a baby stand up, balance with arms outstretched, then wobble with a few courageous steps before plopping down for a soft landing. The miracle of “getting up and trying again” is played out in a million little baby steps. I got the pleasure of watching my grandbaby stand, wobble, walk, sit, laugh and push back up to start the cycle all over again. Quitting is just not what a baby does.

It seems that kids have a lot to learn and plenty to teach. Just when we get frustrated or confused with our lives or the world’s happenings, we can find solace in watching a baby taking those first steps to freedom. The whole world is out there to explore! One baby step at a time. There are stairs to navigate, uneven terrain to conquer, and high places (some dangerous) to climb. Yes, once the pitter patter of little feet start, it never seems to stop.

My colleague has a three-legged dog that was run over by a car and left for dead. Once out of surgery, he didn’t do much. Had depression set in? With a little coaxing, healing, stumbling and falling, Duke realized that having three legs wasn’t so bad after all. He can now walk, skip, jump, and run. He sometimes seems unsteady because he weaves a bit when he walks, but he knows what most babies figure out. Walking is better than crawling.

My grandson was skipping one day at home when he was nine years old and fell, breaking his femur. That is a massive fracture for such a tiny fall. It was discovered that he had a bone cyst. After a couple of surgeries, a long leg cast, and a spell in a wheelchair, he was ready to walk again. Well, so the physical therapist advised. Brandon would not stand without crutches and said he was “done” walking. Funny how a bad fall can cause paralyzing fear. (He is fully recovered).

My twenty-eight year old horse, Baxter, is not walking so well lately. He has arthritis in his knee joints and his legs swell as he hobbles around. He is in obvious pain as he slowly moves around the pasture. Sometimes he lies down for an hour under the shade of a big tree. He has discovered what many folks in old age have figured out…going down is easy. Getting up? Not so fast. It takes a whole lot of effort to get back on your feet. Especially when you are eleven hundred pounds!

Sugar makes the medicine go down! Unless you are a horse named Baxter. No amount of applesauce, sweet feed, or other treats help when it comes to medicating Baxter. He does not approve of his Bute (anti-inflammatory) that we have to give him and he knows how to clench his jaws tight like a vice and then shake his huge head around in protest. Hey, I am trying to help here! He can even run away (sort of) when he sees me coming with the halter and rope. I have become a “horse whisperer” when dealing with Baxter. Sadly, the things I whisper cannot be printed in this fine family newspaper.

Old age is not for the weak of heart. My mother is 93 years old and her legs are “giving out.” She cannot walk without her walker, sometimes needs a wheelchair, and says she is pretty “disgusted” with the “whole getting old routine.” Yes, when our body starts failing us it feels like one mean betrayal.

Walking takes us down pathways in our lives. This month, there will plenty of graduates making a memorable walk up on a stage to receive accolades and a diploma. Brides will “walk down” the aisle. Some of us are planning summer vacations, which include hikes and walking tours. The greatest gift of life might be our ability to achieve locomotion. Walking is what we do and how we have become self-reliant.

My daughter, Kelly, has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair. She gets around and does not dwell on the fact that she cannot walk. She uses the word “walk” often, as in a common phrase of mobility. She will say things like let’s “go for a walk” or “let’s walk around the mall” and never refers to her limitations. So maybe independence is not about the walking…but the freedom to get around?

First steps are wobbly. So are last steps. Maybe we go through an entire life of walking and running until we eventually go back to those uncertain, carefully placed footsteps of long ago. It is the circle of life. We are carried forward every day by our ability to move around. Sometimes bones break, legs get weak, arthritis sets in, we stumble and fall. But the joy is in how we pick ourselves up and keep going. One baby step at a time.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor. Have a story or a comment? Please email Judy at judy@judybluhm.com.