Our schedule included an appointment to check a twenty-one year old Arab gelding for weight loss. As soon as the name of the owner came up, a smile came to my face. In this business there are special clients with whom we have a special history and therefore special fondness. This client was one of those. We had been involved with her thru good times and hard times. She and I had shared that unenviable bond of caring for a beloved spouse as they struggled through the torture of cancer treatment. During those times she would lift me up with her positive attitude, her all things are possible attitude. So as we treated her animals for what might be a serious problem she would be treating me by her example. It seemed like a perfect synergism to me.
As I got the news she wouldn’t be present and learned the reason for her absence my heart dropped. She was now in her eighties and was not able to care for her place or for her animals. She had moved to an assisted living facility out of town close to her son. I immediately wondered why she had not called me, we could have helped with anything . Didn’t she know she had been there when I needed help? No, she probably didn’t. Then I recalled how we used to verbally spar. She would kiddingly tell me how she was on a fixed income and couldn’t afford a large vet bill. Then I would tell her I hadn’t planned to charge her at all, and she would get all worried I really wasn’t going to charge her. She wouldn’t have asked for help because she was too proud.
As we pulled up to her house, we were met by a neighbor who must have convinced our old friend it was all right for her to help in exchange for keeping several animals there. The old gelding had lost a great deal of weight even though I could find no obvious cause. Hopefully he would respond with just the addition of a special diet.
As we drove out the narrow trail back onto the asphalt roads that announced our return to the rush of our modern society, I felt a hole in my life. This lady was my life guide through the adversity of medical challenges and the adversity of aging. She had been such a dedicated volunteer, a great asset to our community through her seventies. At my age I needed an example to show me life would not end at eighty. A light came on in my mind. This great woman had given me an invaluable life-lesson. She had shown me how to raise people up in hard times. She taught me this lesson while I thought I was helping her. She taught by example. Now it is my turn to carry on for her. I hope the Lord has given me the heart and intellect to carry on for her. I couldn’t bear the thought of letting her down.