Losing Strength & Telling Stories

If you missed the photos of my mom’s first haircut since starting chemo, you can click here to see them.

September 27th, 2021 – Post #17

My mom started her second cycle of chemo on Thursday, and has been feeling pretty worn out this weekend. Last night she had a bit of an episode, feeling like her legs would give way. She experienced this the night she came home from the hospital, after breaking her arm last January. My dad was able to get her on the floor, and she used her scooting skills to get to an easier place to get up.

Lately, we’ve been talking about old family stories, and if I should share them here, or not.

Last night’s incident reminded me of another time her legs gave out. Some of you have already heard this, and it’s rather long, but if anyone wants to gain insight into some behind-the-scene Beth moments, here’s a place to start:

The Great Adventures of Dave & Beth-E

Dave and Beth-E started their vacation to the “Sun City” with high hopes of replenishing their Vitamin D reserves through sunny relaxation and adventure. An overcast sky was what greeted them – and an hour or so later – their doting daughters greeted them as well. Stuck in traffic, attempting to make a second-hand “Welcome” sign (with a pen whose ink had just run dry), Erica and Jody made quite a second-rate welcome committee. At least they were there. “Those Purcell Girls” had nearly been taken into custody by a park ranger for unwittingly trespassing in a State Park; but had avoided incarceration. Good Thing.

Then, when going to meet their parents, Jody nearly locked her bumper into, or rather underneath the back of a semi-truck. The locked bumpers may have ended them up in Toledo, or some other obscure place, rather than in the lobby of the hotel that they were not going to stay in anyway.

Upon being reunited, a stupor of indecision fell upon the four of them, and they were unable to decide on anything.

Where to stay?

Where to eat?

Where to go?

Erica finally came to a decision: it would be helpful if one person each day made the decisions for the day’s adventures. The rest wondered whether this would be a good idea. They pondered, considered, and mused, and then without completely giving a definitive answer on the matter, they stopped talking about it, so it was assumed a decision had been made – although they couldn’t decide whose day it would be to decide.

Sharing a Hotel Room with Family

They all settled in for a good night’s sleep, in the two double beds of their hotel room, anticipating the adventures of the next few days. At some point in the night, Dave must have had a dream that he was a dog whose tail had been stepped on – perhaps because, in an effort to squelch his snoring, Jody kept saying, “Dad, roll over!” Out of nowhere – or actually, between snores, he yelped out a canine-like cry that sound like “Ra-Ra Row.” Jody tried to practice self-control (which, admittedly, she had little of), and not wake everyone up with her laughing.

This was challenging, but became worse, when she thought back to the evening’s drive home when the large, rented automobile careened across the concrete median (rather than around it), as the driver (who will remain unnamed) prematurely anticipated his U- turn.

What a sight that giant car must have been as it jumped the curb, soared into the air and landed safely on the other side of the road with Beth apologizing for her language, and Jody and Erica giggling and cackling from the backseat.

This image made it harder for Jody to go back to sleep and not wake the others. Indeed, she unwittingly awoke her slumbering sister, but Erica, the younger of the two, wisely chose not to participate in such antics.

The next day, without really knowing whose day it would be to make decisions, they attempted the impossible – to eat a meal in which everyone was content with the contents.

After a good fifteen minutes and multiple discussions and lots of “Is that okay with you?” queries, Dave and Jody set off for her house to begin to prepare breakfast, while Beth and Erica and Erica’s Smart phone set off to find a grocery store to purchase the bare necessities.

Dave was soon lamenting his decision to accompany Jody as she quickly put him to work. While Beth and Erica were spending his money, he was playing the role of an ox, grinding grain with Jody’s hand mill for the day’s meals. What a way to spend a vacation.

He took it well, though – hardly complaining more than four or five times.

Pleasing Picky Eaters

Jody set about to prepare breakfast and lunch. Dave wanted pancakes or granola. “Oh good”, she thought, “those things are easy to make.” Then she began to reflect on the mental list of her guests’ “I don’t eat” items, which she had tucked away into her brain over the previous twelve hours.

“I don’t eat eggs.”

“I don’t eat sugar.”

“I don’t eat dairy products.”

“I don’t eat meat.”

She finally came up with a way to make granola and bread without these taboo items, all the while smirking at the times she had heard throughout her life from these very same people, “Oh, that Jody, she is such a picky eater!”

By the time Erica and Beth arrived from “picking up a gallon of milk” – or rather, stimulating the economy – with their heavily laden bags, the socially acceptable and politically correct granola was in the oven and Dave had made much progress toward grinding the grain for the bread.

Upon entering the house, Beth and Erica both said, “Oh what smells so good?” and Jody was relieved to say that it was the granola. Dave was relieved to trade the tiring mill for his newspaper as Erica said that it would be “such fun to grind grain”.

When Jody pulled the granola out of the oven, Beth exclaimed, “It looks so good!”, but then confided, “But I don’t eat raisins.”

“Oops”, Jody thought, but knew in her heart this was actually a decision that Beth had made not because she did not enjoy eating raisins, but that it made it difficult for the rest of the party to enjoy her when she ate raisins. They all agreed that she should just pick around them. This may have been the first actual group decision of the vacation.

When the bread was in the oven, and Dave had pushed back his emptied bowl and Jody had just taken her first bite of food, Dave said, “How much longer?” Jody looked at the timer and said, “I think about a half hour.”

“I want some coffee.”

He decided to go to purchase some coffee and possibly some corduroys while the bread baked, and Jody chewed.

Bad Directions and Worse Decision Making Skills

When they were finally reunited, Dave was ready for a nap, but it was agreed that he would forego this, and they set off for a great adventure to the State Park.

Upon leaving Jody’s neighborhood, Jody forgot that she was the one that should be giving directions, as she was the only one who knew where they were going. She awoke to this fact a little late and said, “Oh turn left! I mean make a U-turn.”

Dave slowed and said, “Left or a U-turn?”

Jody said, “Yeah – a U-turn.”

Beth must have been negating “No, don’t make a U-turn!” just as Jody said “U-turn” (probably because she was still somewhat traumatized from the U-turn they had lived through the night before). Subsequently, all Dave heard was, “Yeah.”

He proceeded left into a neighborhood and eventually Jody glanced out the window and asked, “Hey, where are we going?”

“I asked you if I should turn left, and you said ‘Yeah’.”

A conversational investigation followed, and when it was somewhat sorted out, the thirty-seven-foot-long car was turned around in a driveway and they started afresh toward the State Park.

Upon arrival, another decision had to be made about whether it was worth it to pay sixteen dollars for a hike and what to do since there were no envelopes to put the fee in. Jody wondered if once again they would be accused of trespassing in a Public Park and had visions of the exact same rangers from the previous day just happening to be on duty at this park.

After stuffing some lose cash in the box, and several challenging U-turns in the parking lot, and Jody pointing from the back seat, “I think we want to go over there”, and Dave straining to see from the eyes in the back of his head where in the world she was talking about, and then following her instructions only to hear her say, “Oh, this is a dead end, I guess we should have gone that way instead”, they finally arrived at a parking spot.

After they got out of the car, Dave began his adventure while Jody called out questions such as, “Should we find a park ranger somehow and tell him we paid?” Dave got smaller and smaller as he headed up the mountain all the while Beth, Erica, and Jody wondered at what they should do.

Finally, it was decided that they should write a note to the ranger and they firmly decided to get a pen out of the car – which was locked. When they finally figured out which one of them was in possession of the keys, and in which pocket said keys were kept, the car was unlocked.

They could not find a pen in the glove box; but somehow thought it logical that there would be a pen in the trunk. The passenger side was open, and Erica stood helplessly by the driver’s door waiting for Jody to open it, so she could pop the trunk and then get a pen.

Jody crawled across the fifteen-foot seat and unlocked Erica’s door for her to open. They conversed some more and then Erica, utilizing her blonde hair, locked and closed the driver’s side door and Jody, utilizing her brown hair, said, “Wait – did you pop the trunk?” Erica smiled charmingly and Jody sighed and headed back across the great automobile.

Beth’s true genius peaked out from behind the clouds when she pushed the button to the automatic lock on the passenger door, saving Jody from her long-distance crawl across the seats.

They all peered hopefully into the cavern of the vacant trunk, and with no pen in sight, Erica came up with the idea of sticking a blank piece of paper on the dashboard and hoping the park ranger would see it and interpret the matter by saying to himself, “Oh, they must have tried to write a note of explanation; but lacked the resource of a pen to do it. They tried their best, so I won’t write them a ticket and have their car towed away after all.

With this vague attempt at communication accomplished, the final three fourths of the hiking party started off on the expedition. Within five minutes, Erica superseded the pace of the others and turned back to say, “Are you going to be alright, mom?” Beth assured her that she had been walking Andy (the family dog) and was up for the challenge. Within ten minutes, Dave and Erica were out of sight and Jody was asking her mother again, “Are you going to be alright?”

I Just Love Rocks

My mom, Beth Purcell, loved to pick up rocks - at the beginning of hikes - and then she'd ask us to carry them.  El Paso, Texas might not have been the best place to take her - what with all those stones!
Out in the West Texas Town of El Paso… – Marty Robbins

Beth tried to assure her by saying she would get her second wind any moment, and Jody wondered how many winds it would take to get her to the top of the mountain as she observed her mother pause to put a second rock in her pocket, saying, “Oh this is a pretty one. I just love rocks.”

They conversed here and there, and Beth told her of her recent recovery from bronchitis and confided that she had only actually walked Andy three times (maybe a mile or so) in the month preceding this trip, and that perhaps that didn’t really prepare her for their trek that day.

Jody wondered if this was such a good idea, but as this was her fourth attempt to summit this mountain, she cautiously encouraged her mother, who was almost seventy, to keep going if she could. As the hours passed by, she sang a little song: “Little by little, inch by inch; by the yard it’s hard, by the inch, what a sinch – Never stare up the stairs, just step up the steps; Little by little, inch by inch – It’s a cinch!”

The author was unknown to her, and she had never quite reflected on the fact that the anonymous composer had not included a verse that talked of staring down the stairs. Perhaps she should have gone beyond the assumption, “What goes up must come down”.

When the mountains tower rugged and high,
Rise to the challenge, look to the sky.
Trust in the Lord, and start out to climb,
Reach for the goal, one step at a time.

Little by little, inch by inch;
By the yard it’s hard,
by the inch, what a sinch;
Never stare up the stairs,
Just step up the steps;
Little by little, inch by inch.

It’s a cinch!

– Ron Hamilton

As Erica got smaller and smaller, a portion of family history may be reflected upon with irony. As a child, upon hearing the proposal, “We’re going for a hike!” Erica would burst into tears and wail, “Don’t say hike! Say we’re going on a walk! Not a hike!”

There is photographic evidence of Beth pulling her youngest child up St. Mary’s Glacier as she knelt on the trail sobbing which will forever live on in infamy as the hike in which Beth hiked, while the tearful Erica was ferried on her hip. Incidents of this nature can come back to bite a person.

Perhaps someone should have warned Beth that instilling a love for hiking in her children could have implications for the future that might not bode well for her.

By this particular point in Beth’s timeline, the word “walk”, or perhaps even “wander”, had become much more pleasant than “hike”.

Living Tired

As they followed the path, Beth reflected upon her life and stated, “I’ve just always lived tired you know.”

Hmm, perhaps this trek would be the allegory that summed up her existence in a nutshell. As Beth teetered and tottered on all those boulders, Jody tried to lend a helping hand.

Beth wondered aloud, “You will take care of me when I get old, won’t you?”

Jody assured her that she was planning to, little knowing how quickly her mother would soon go downhill in a figurative sense, and how slowly she would go downhill in a literal sense.

They finally reached the point that Dave, Beth, and Jody had reached on their last attempt at this hike. Their goal to reach the summit had to be relinquished due to hurricane strength winds threatening to hurtle them down the side of the mountain. At the time Beth and Jody had sought protection from a cactus – more willing that the wind push them into the cactus’ two-inch needles than down the two-hundred-foot precipice.

This day’s weather was calm though, and they hoped they could make it beyond the place they had to give up the last time.

Winding their way back and forth across the switchbacks, Beth paused often to announce, “Oh, I can’t do this.”

Perhaps, Jody should not have kept encouraging, “Well, can you get to that rock?”, or “Can you get to that cactus?”

Little by little that white-haired little engine said that she thought she could, and they moved on into higher elevation.

The routine vacation wonderings that Jody had been familiar with since childhood of “Where is Erica?” and “I wonder where Dave is?” were repeated in the usual comforting cadence.

There was a brief reassurance now and again of Erica’s voice echoing through the air, “Hel-lo, El Pa-so!” or her signature Mexican “Ar-r-r-r-iba!” Jody wasn’t sure of the translation, but she thought it meant “upward”, which Erica was accomplishing, at least when compared to her mother.

At one point, a small black speck was seen far up on the mountain. Though Beth squinted through her spectacles, she could not make out that it was Erica. Jody assured her that it must be and the two forged ahead.

Beth huffed and she puffed, and she stopped here and there, and in a matter of hours she was at the top of a part of the mountain, but not at the top of the mountain.

That Was So Sweet of Him

She said she couldn’t go any farther, but just then she saw Dave’s walking stick upon the path. “Oh, Dave must have known I would need that walking stick and left it for me. That was so sweet of him”, she exclaimed. Gradually lowering her hand to the ground, she picked it up, and had a new spring in her shuffle for a few moments.

She told Jody, “Grandma asked Erica how she could stand to live in Colorado with all those rocks”, and the two agreed that El Paso was far more rock laden than Colorado.

When they got to the top, she and Jody took a picture to prove it, but Beth wondered if the soldier with the seventy-five-pound pack that had passed them would be willing to take a better picture of them.

Since her memory card was full – as usual – she had to erase the proof so that there would be room for him to take the picture. They posed and he asked, “Does that little sound mean I took it?” Jody said yes, although she hadn’t heard “that little sound”.

Later, Beth said, “See Dave, this is us at the top”, showing him a picture of Jody and herself with mountains looming overhead in the background.

“That’s not the top – look at the mountains behind you.”

“Oh”, they realized then that there was not photographic evidence of Beth conquering the mountain, but there was a self-portrait taken one third of the way to the top. At least she still had proof of her trip to Williamsburg from four years prior – and multiple pictures of the cat, who she wasn’t all that fond of.

Just before they started back down the mountain, Beth had asked the soldier, “Do you think we can make it back down before the gates get locked at five o’clock?”

“I hope so”, he mumbled in a doubtful tone.

Beth and Jody started their descent and wondered if Erica and Dave, who had passed them an hour previously would have gone back to the car and headed out for soup and coffee during their wait. They were surprised to see the two sitting somewhat patiently on a log bench. Dave chivalrously shouted, “Get down here this minute – I’m hungry!”

“Warning – Unexploded Ammunition – Do Not Enter”
(Thus said the sign my dad walked beyond)

He had wisely deducted that if one of them (ahem, Beth) were to get hurt, it would take all the strength the other three could muster to get the wounded hiker off the mountain before dark. So, with safety in mind, he decided that he and Erica should wait there at the bench, next to the sign that said, “Warning – Unexploded Ammunition – Do not Enter”.

To pass the time, he wandered into the live explosives area to explore and spent a little time closely observing a tarantula.

As they tried to recollect whether the hairy spider was poisonous, Erica’s mind conjured up all sorts of rescue scenarios. By this point, there was little doubt in her mind that someone would have to be carried off the mountain, but the thought of only having one person make the list of injured seemed overly optimistic.

When the four were reunited, Dave said, “Oh, there’s my stick.”

Beth said, “I thought you left it for me.”

In reality, he had left it there for later, as he didn’t think it would be useful for the summit; but wanted it for the way down. He did go ahead and bequeath it to his beloved wife; and was soon on the lookout for a new stick, which is a precious commodity in the treeless desert of El Paso.

Dave found a century pole about twelve feet in length; and for a brief time looked a bit like a tightrope walker, balancing the long rod across the trail, until he found a suitable place to go to work breaking it into a reasonable size.

Just before this point in time, Beth’s concern for her thighs began to be repeated with more frequency. Husband and wife stopped upon an already precarious hillside and Dave said, “Let me help you stretch your legs out.”

Jody was standing beneath them, and before she knew it, her mother was standing on one leg with her eyes crossed and her mouth contorted into a face that would have made a great audition for a stunt double on the Carol Burnett Show.

Let Me Help You Stretch Your Legs Out

As Beth exclaimed, “Ooh, ooh, it doesn’t bend!”, Jody waited for Jack and Jill to come tumbling down the hill. She breathed a sigh of relief when her mother was on two feet again, but the other leg had to be stretched as well, which wasn’t so bad, because that one actually possessed the capability of bending. At last, everyone was walking again.

At some point, Jody remembered yet again that the gates would be locked at five p.m., and their elongated vehicle would be shut in for the night. Erica foresaw the four of them having to sleep in the car all together and shuddered.

Not that the rental was any smaller than their hotel room, but that they would have no food, or water, or warmth. Jody thought about the fact that they wouldn’t have any chap stick either, and that thought was the impetus behind her resolve that somehow, she or Erica should make it to the bottom and move the car outside the gate – which was an extra mile away – a very long mile, considering the state of Beth’s quadriceps.

The parents were still optimistic though, and insistent they stick together – which they did – somewhat.

How would it all end? Shall I tell you?

The clock ticked away, and Erica and Jody spoke back and forth about various back up plans.

I Hate Rocks

Beth complained, “There are rocks everywhere! I hate rocks!”

Though her pockets were probably still full of the ones she’d collected that had been so pretty at a lower elevation.

All those stones!

Finally, at four thirty, it was agreed that someone needed to get to the car. The parents told Jody and Erica to run ahead and at least wait at the vehicle, so that the park ranger wouldn’t lock them in.

The girls started off, but within a hundred feet Jody was growing more and more uncomfortable with leaving the two more mature hikers to fend for themselves on the rocky decent. Finally, it was decided that Erica would stay behind with them, to lend an elbow for support, if need be, while Jody went to communicate with the park ranger.

She jogged ahead and grew a little concerned when she looked back at the mountainside to see how little ground the trio had covered. As she neared the area of the trail that had been cluttered in a landslide of stones during a recent flood, she pictured her mother and rebuked herself saying, “This was really stupid.”

All the while, she was thinking through potential things to say to the park ranger, if he accused them of trespassing in the park, since they had no envelope to contain the wad of cash they had dropped in the box – or if it was the same ranger from the previous day.

Upon reaching the bottom, Jody was relieved to see a friendlier faced ranger, but found that he had indeed written them a warning. When she explained that they had paid, he said he would take it off their vehicle.

She inquired when the gate would be locked, and he said that he locked it at five o’clock. She asked what time it was, and he said 4:50.

Thus began the explanation that her parents were almost seventy and were having a more challenging time than anticipated getting down off the mountain. Jody concluded that she could park outside the gate, and they could walk the rest of the way to the car, but the park ranger said he would stay – he probably had to – Poor Felipe.

They made small talk for a moment, and then she asked if she could go lend them a hand getting over the rocks.

Felipe heartily agreed to this. He was probably motivated to be done for the day – and welcomed any idea to speed up the process.

Jody started up the mountain again.

My Legs Don’t Work!

Meanwhile, back on the hill, Beth had collapsed into a puddle and was exclaiming such positive things as, “I can’t go on!”, or “My legs don’t work!”, or “I can’t do this!”

Erica had looked back to find her mother writhing in inability upon the sharp stones, while her hooded father, cold and tired himself – with staff in hand – looked on, exhausted, and at a loss as to how to help.

As darkness cast its cruel cloak upon the innumerable stones, Erica shot a furtive glance about them, knowing the predatory instincts of the nocturnal beasts around. With a furrowed brow and sincere concern, she went to the aid of her impaired mother. Not sure of how to assist her, Erica went to work stretching the quivering quadriceps.

Beth submitted to these stretches upon the jagged trail; but was difficult to console. After a brief respite, the mother of the party thought she could and should continue down the mountain, as darkness was fast approaching.

During this time, Jody kept looking up at the trails overhead for any signs of progress. As she rounded a bend, the meandering path came to a halt and transformed into the dreaded ascent that Beth referred to as “a boulder field”, though the rest of the English-speaking world would refer to it as “a very rocky path”.

The hiking party Jody came upon had deteriorated since her previous interaction with them.

The Old Gray Mare Ain’t What She Used to Be

Jody tried to utilize humor to ease the situation, and began to sing, “The old gray mare ain’t what she used to be”, but the concern of the others permeated her senses and suppressed her singing.

Erica explained the situation, “Mom just collapsed. She dropped down and was rolling around on the rocks.”

“I’m fine”, Beth declared, “My legs just don’t work.”

Oh, just the legs – those weren’t really all that necessary for hiking.

Jody looked back down the mountain – Poor Felipe. Friday night, and he was stuck at work.

Dusk was elbowing its way into the skyline.

Finally, Beth allowed herself to be pulled from her rocky seat and they set off, Dave supported by his trusty stick, and Beth, with Erica and Jody on each side. Over the rocks, boulders, pebbles, and stones they went.

Somehow, Beth’s legs were outpacing the rest of her body, and she walked leaning back at a sixty-five-degree angle; but insisting that she should hold on underneath the girls’ elbows, rather than the girls supporting her. As their shoulders began to burn, they were only relieved at intervals when Beth would suddenly declare out of nowhere, “Oh, I’ve got to sit down!”

In a stupor, they would wonder where.

“Over there – Move over there!” She would then catapult her body toward a large rock on the side of the trail and crumple down upon it.

This was repeated at several intervals.

Somehow the scenes of the next twenty minutes are difficult to put into words. There they were – darkness surrounding them. Rocks abounding. Dave, and his stick, and his wife, with the legs that didn’t work anymore.

Suddenly, the foursome thought they saw a vehicle below and had high hopes for a rescue from Felipe, but the truck disappeared, dashing their prospects.

After another interruption for the sake of Beth’s technical difficulties, Dave, and Jody each took her by an arm and continued down. They switched sides to give Jody’s right arm a break, and as Dave took Beth’s left arm, the three stood in a precarious row.

Just as they were about to take their first step, Dave lost the grip on his staff, and as if in slow motion, it tottered upright momentarily, then slowly fell through the air, and lay there on the ground at Dave’s feet.

Dave and Jody looked helplessly down at the stick. Beth, in an oblivious stupor between them, looked down the hill, thinking only of her thighs. As Jody saw Dave slowly begin to lower his weary frame toward the ground, she waited for the hills to come alive with the sound of precarious music.

She shot Erica, who was standing below, a look of helpless terror, anticipating the three of them toppling like dominoes down the hillside.

Erica, with the calm authority of someone who has stopped a mother bear in its tracks, commanded the patriarch of the family, “Leave. The. Stick.”

I’ve Got to Sit Down!

Dave yielded, and a sigh of relief escaped Jody’s lungs, as the stick was abandoned, and they took a few more steps toward their goal.

Perhaps it was a good ten to twenty steps before Beth again exclaimed, “I’ve got to sit down – NOW!”

The two supports stood staring at her, not sure of what she meant – right there on the rocks? They waited for her to lower herself, but she insisted again, “I’ve got to sit down!”


“On that rock over there!”

Things Not to Say to Your Wife:

“You know, a lot of this is probably mental.”

– Dave (who didn’t know any better, even after forty years of marriage)

“You know, a lot of this is probably mental,” Dave observed calmly, as she pushed past him in a panic and aimed herself at what to the rest of them was a very precarious looking rock.

Jody’s ill-timed laugh became uncontrollable.

Just then, the rock which Beth landed on began to slide down the hill, with Beth flailed out on top of it, arms and legs a-scattered. At this, Jody’s colon almost became uncontrollable as well. Somehow, she managed to pull herself together. Beth on the other hand could not. She simply could not walk.

Erica and Jody kept offering to carry her, if she would put her arms over their shoulders, which seemed like a better option than being eaten by coyotes in the dark, but Beth swatted their hands away saying, “I’m fine!,” and thinking aloud that they would all end up in the hospital for sure, if she allowed them to carry her over “all those stones”.

Felipe to the Rescue

What would happen next? As Beth sat upon yet another rock, a sound was heard from below, and they thought for sure that Felipe was on his way – this time in an ATV. Indeed, it was Felipe. Within moments, Beth was safely in his vehicle, chattering away at this perfect stranger about the status of her thighs.

At this point in the tale, one may pause to reflect upon the old lesson of the tortoise and the hare: if you don’t count the fact that Jody had already made it to the parking lot and back once, Beth-E, the little tortoise of the troop, in fact did come in first – via the Park Ranger’s all-terrain Gator, with Dave bouncing along cross-legged in the back, and Jody trotting behind for her second time to the finish line. Erica, the fastest little hare of all, brought up the rear, as she walked at a hesitant distance to avoid the fumes from the ATV.

When they reached the car, Beth collapsed against it, and Dave insisted that Felipe take a wad of cash for saving the day. The honorable Felipe insisted on donating his reward money to the State Park.

When Erica finally got to the car, she exclaimed, “This always happens! Why does every family hike need to be to the death?”, and Jody took mental note about the fact that on the next family vacation, the big hike should be on the last day, so their mother could just go home and sit in her bathrobe, instead of hobbling around the entire vacation.

“Well,” they reflected, “Mom made it to the top, but she just didn’t quite make it to the bottom.”

When they got back to Jody’s house, she blushed to reflect on the fact that earlier in the day her mother had asked a neighbor, “Do you know of any place that has country line dancing around here?”

The woman, who barely spoke English, had looked at Beth like she was loco, when she replied in a broken accent, “No, not here.”

Now here it was, barely six o’clock, and Beth needed to be escorted up the driveway looking very much like a stumbling drunk. Jody surveyed the cul-de-sac to make sure no one was watching.

As they entered the front door, Dave said, “Well isn’t anyone going to ask about me? I had a hard day, too.”

Jody got out, “Oh, sorry, are you o-“, she was about to say okay, when she heard her mother collapse onto a nearby table and nearly crumple to the floor.

“There she goes again” they all said in their hearts, “She just can’t share the spotlight for a moment.”

Thus, concluded Day One of another relaxing Purcell Partial-Family Vacation; and mind you, if it weren’t for Felipe, they might still be up there on that mountain.

The End.

Did you know my mom once “stole the show” during the talent portion of a local dog show? Click here to find out why I was so mortified…

*To read more on my mom’s cancer journey from the beginning, or share it, please click below:


I'm not sure what to say here: I once got second place in a dog-look-alike-contest? I know how to fold a fitted sheet? I'm pretty much a poster child for social backwardness - at least as far as social media is concerned; but I have some stories I think I'm supposed to share and am attempting to do that here, in this space.

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