She got out of the car and walked up the steps into Dick and Dee’s house.  It was a bit of a walk, but rather than stopping to get the transfer chair from the van, we just walked into the living area to sit down.  I brought the transfer chair into the house, but from then on, it was never used.

We talked for a while.  Dick is also a retired pastor, and Dee has been very involved in church activities.  Not only that, but they both, especially Dee, are avid birders.  They love the wildlife and the outdoors.  They have built a heavenly respite with a wall of windows with deck and bird feeders framing the view of a very large pond surrounded by trees.  Between family and church, birds and other wildlife, we had lots to talk about.  You should hear Dick’s raccoon stories.

We visited with our Nephew, Tom, who shares the love for birds, the flora and fauna.  Our Niece, Jill and her three boys came by.  It was a very pleasant and satisfying mini-family reunion.

Then came dinner.  Much to my dismay, the lavish meal of mostly homegrown, nourishing and tasty foods dramatized the paltry fare to which Mary Ann is subjected on a regular basis.  We both ate voraciously, realizing we would be back at our usual table soon.

Later we went next door to see Jill’s newly built home.  Mary Ann walked outside to get in a golf cart that delivered her to the garage of Jill’s home.  That is when the walking began in earnest.  The house is huge, well-designed, woodwork done by Amish artisans.  We walked from one end to the other, enjoying what would put to shame most of the Home Network’s best.

After touring the house Mary Ann walked back to the golf cart, rode to Dick and Dee’s place, walked into the house, and we talked some more.  Then she walked out to the van so that we could head back to the motel.

Those of you who followed the events of a number of weeks ago will appreciate the significance of that walking.  After going through a time when Mary Ann could walk only a few steps, sometimes not even that before fainting, this was a pretty dramatic display.  I conditioned myself to jump up and either help her walk, or ask her to sit back down so that I could move her from one place to another in the transfer chair — seeking to avoid a fall that could do damage to her.  As this roller coaster we are on moves up for a time, it seems that I need to re-condition myself to just let her walk.

The harsh reality is that tomorrow may bring another dip in the ride — but maybe not.  It is a challenge to re-train my auto pilot to respond differently when she gets up.  It is encouraging to see her walking so well.  My hope is that the more she walks the better she will do at it.  She has gone down but not very often.  For the most part, I still stay very close, often with my hand lightly on the gait belt or holding her more tightly.  If she seems to be walking well and she is on carpet, I back off.

A few weeks ago I was wondering if we were beginning the endgame.  That thought has retreated for now.  The fall weather is energizing, and Mary Ann seems have perked up also.  When we were walking into the house, having just returned from our week long trip, after 11 hours on the road in pouring rain, she said “that went pretty well.”  Last summer I thought our traveling days might be over.  At least for now, it seems not be so.  In two weeks we head for our very favorite Bed and Breakfast in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Lookout Point – Lakeside Inn. [http://www.lookoutpointinn.com/]  There is no knowing what will be so when the time comes to load up and head out for that trip.  For now, we will just enjoy the moment.

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