Life on The Outside

…I never imagined everyday ventures to the grocery store or discount store would be so exhilarating. Or anywhere for that matter! I love seeing people, especially those I am familiar with, just going about their daily life.

Yvonne Stegner
Guest Contributor

Of course I relish exploring new sites to me, like the area’s Pioneer Trails Regional Museum. But I anticipate stops at Bowman Drug to peruse the gorgeous giftware while I wait for my pills to be refilled, and my mouth waters at Eats ‘n Treats while a sweet butterscotch sundae or juicy cheeseburger is being prepared for me.

I have to wonder, as I watch people walking or driving nearby, if they even realize what a gift mobility is? I used to love driving, and I always took walking for granted. Not so anymore, as I have to ask people to drive me places, although I consider myself blessed to have access to my daughter’s handicapped-accessible van. And I love to take “walks” in my power wheelchair, although I have to be aware of the distance because most walkers don’t want to log the 18 miles that my chair’s batteries are capable of! I do continue to work on building strength in my right arm and leg in anticipation of walking, even just a little bit, someday. I am inspired by my aunt-in-law Kay, who has battled health issues all her life and now, after her own stroke, can walk with a cane.

I spend a large portion of my day reading and writing, now that the air outside is turning brisk, and I let my plants freeze several weeks prior. Writing and mailing letters via the USPS is becoming a lost art, as most of the missives I receive are from 80 or 90-year-olds (who, I might add, write awesome messages)! I am eager to read that correspondence when I recognize the return address! Beats that political mail by a long shot…

I consider myself privileged to have been a member of a small Bible Study group at the nursing home I lived at in Dickinson. I learned many things from our leader (who will be 90 on her next birthday), one of which is “read the Bible before reading the daily newspaper, the mail, etc”. I learned to follow this suggestion or hers and was amazed at how much more smoothly my plans for the day fell into place.

My power wheelchair is keeping me “on my toes”, as these days it is powering-up when it wants to. Is it telling me it needs a rest? The timing is getting to be hilarious! One evening the wheelchair left me hanging upside down like a bat, while one morning it wouldn’t return to a normal seating position after my generously-sized backside inadvertently nudged the joystick, causing the chair to recline the back ALL the way back. An exercise my stomach muscles didn’t desire at the time! The interesting thing about the situation is that the chair never powers down while I am driving, and if I try to remember to thank God every time it powers up, it never lets me down. Coincidence?

One warm sunshiny day when the wind wasn’t howling, one of my helpers accompanied me to shop at the local secondhand store, which is a veritable gold mine of treasures to scrutinize. I am a child at heart, and delight in driving through shallow water puddles after a rain, or, as in this case, crispy crunchy leaves where they have accumulated. We were on foot, and the route I chose gave me a number of opportunities to pulverize leaves that were unfortunate enough to drift down in my path!

I found myself homesick for barn chores, which have been part of my life for 41 of my 53 years. A significant part of the charm of barn tasks, for me anyway, is the walk out to the barn inhaling the fresh outdoor air. I came to the realization that I could appreciate invigorating outdoorsy air while rehydrating my perennials that haven’t succumbed to the freezing morning temperatures yet, and while removing bird droppings from the handrails of my ramp leading to the house. Certainly not very glamorous, but a task that needs to be done irregardless. And after I encountered some bird droppings that hadn’t had time to dehydrate yet, I learned to carry a paper towel with me! …