It was mid-April with the usual hints of Spring; streams of meandering snow, lukewarm sun, muted blue sky, and deceitful shimmers of ice that barely skimmed the pavement. My Goldendoodle, Barney, was 4 months old and we were on our way to my office in Presque Isle for his first visit. In my left hand, I held his leash. I had draped his “puppy bag” over my right arm and with some degree of caution, we set off for the garage. Without warning, I found myself flat on my back, the victim of that sneaky, lingering ice that had been lurking in front of the garage doors.
As is customary with sudden falls, I literally did not know what hit me. I lay there for a few moments, wondering if I could even roll over, let alone stand up. Barney decided it was the opportune time to perch himself on my semi-bent knees, his beautiful head resting on my hip. “You’re not helping, Barn,” I whispered as I gently nudged him off. The minute his chubby feet touched the ice below us, he reclaimed his position on my knees; now burrowing his head beneath my jacket. It was clear there was no chance of mutiny. Barney was going down with the ship.
From behind me, I heard a divine voice calling my name. It was my mother-in-law! She is so dear to me and has rescued me multiple times, in one way or another. I looked over my right shoulder and watched her walk carefully across the frozen tundra that is our lawn, an ice pick in her left hand to assure her balance and stability. “Oh, thank God, Mom,” I shouted. Any pride remaining lay crushed beneath me as I flashed her my best horizontal smile. Barney decided it was much safer in her arms, and in no time I was holding on to one of our iron patio chairs, pulled from the belly of the garage. I stood up slowly, thanking Mom over and over again as I watched her make her way back to her own yard, that ice pick at her side.
How I love my mother-in-law! Despite her own storms, she is always eager to listen; sometimes for hours. She makes no judgments, places no blame, and refuses to favor one of her children over another. Her strawberry rhubarb pie is renowned and rather than harbor anger, she will tell me to simply “jump over it!”
I often joke with her about the day of the terrible tumble, reminding her that she saved my life. “Barney and I would still be out there if not for you,” I say. She will laugh at me then, waving her hand in polite dismissal.
I bought her flowers on that day in April; the biggest, most spectacular arrangement I could find at Noyes Flower and Plant Shoppe. With a humble, grateful heart I delivered the bouquet to her door; my steps sure and steady; my feet on solid ground.
Belinda Wilcox Ouellette lives Connor TWP with her husband Dale and their Goldendoodle Barney. They are currently working on building a home in Caribou. You may contact Belinda online at: dbwouellette @maine.rr.com.