This ain't no place for sissies...

Ain't No Place For Sissies
By Kathe Campbell

I'm all grown up now . . . and how, a few months shy of eighty I'm still running the ranch and lovin' it. I may look a little worse for wear with only one arm, a new hip, and rheumatoid arthritis that has me lopsided and shrunken. Entering into this new season of life unprepared for all the aches and pains and loss of strength in a draggy old bod, ambition still reigns. It would take six men and a boy to drag me away from my log home and wilderness drama that feeds my soul daily.

I am still wondering where the years went. Just yesterday I was a girl, and today I find myself shuddering as Jack Frost and his blizzardy winds breathe down my neck on this 7,000 ft. crest. Dotage ain't no place for sissies, for now I'm one of those old folks I never thought I'd be, about to begin my journey as an octogenarian. I think of my husband who wanted so badly to reach his four-score in decent health. The good Lord had better plans for him, for it's Pops who sends angels to lend me strength and grit when I'm in a jam.

I really didn't see it coming, and I'm not sure where autumn ended and winter began, but it arrived as abruptly as a blustery snow. One morning I awoke and everything was white, including my hair. Maybe I'm blessed to see my white hair and youthful smiles forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair turned silver. Wrinkled was not one of the things I wanted to be when I grew up, nor honestly earned crows feet, so I've quit agonizing over them - sorta.

Except for a couple mammoth donkeys, my faithful dog, a few kitties, and a wild mallard drake occupying Duck Soup Waterfowl Refuge, I'm on my own. On this last week in December, while up in the loft at my computer editing a story at 2:38 a.m., my desk lamp flickers . . . then blackness. What am I doing up at all hours when a cozy bed awaits my rest? Well, I seem to require little sleep in my dotage, so rather than fight with a pillow, I grab cappuccinos and cave in.

Coddling the new hip, I carefully wend my way down ten invisible, pitch-black stairs. The minus zeros grab thoughts of former benumbing blackouts and I'm grateful it's a warm night, around 35F. When the moon plays hide-and-seek behind dark snow clouds I think of the man in the moon challenging me during these multi-hour, daunting disruptions. A couple of glowing mulled cider-scented candles improves my fettle.

I'm left with no bathroom, kitchen, or automatic spurts of water that keep the pond open in the dead of winter. The kitchen and pond I can handle, and you'll never find me out doing my duty in a snowbank.

And the animals? The dog and kitties miss the yard light when fir boughs loose great snow loads plunging with a heavy thud atop live wires somewhere on this mountain, so they disappear, the cowards.

The silence is deafening, but it's impossible to nap all curled up in a cowboy blanket in my recliner, my inner ear hearing the roar. Is that blood zinging through my veins, or ghosts of winters past haunting me? No, I prefer to think it's God's whispers, the whole phenomenon so mysterious.

Abruptly, everything lights up like Times Square at midnight. The sound of water coursing through pipes sounds heavenly until finally only a gurgle, then nothing. Oh, that blessed nothing. All the faucets spit and sputter while I celebrate with hot chocolate and schnapps. Even the toilets balk and choke on their first vengeful flushes.

Mr. Mallard unfurls his head from beneath cozy wings, happy to see riffles opening his home. The kitties show up from somewhere, and my big brave dog bounds through the doggy door, wiggling and whining as though his little soul has been reincarnated back to the real world.

Without supportive family over on another mountain urging me to stay planted, I might be relegated to some old folks home. The very thought terrifies me, so I go back to loving and hanging tough on this magnificent place, for God gave me the courage to live life true to myself, not the life others might expect of me, outages and all.

Kathe Campbell lives her dream on a Montana mountain with her mammoth donkeys, a Keeshond, and a few kitties. Three children, eleven grands and three greats round out her herd. She is a prolific writer on Alzheimer's, and her stories are found on many ezines. Kathe is a contributing author to the Chicken Soup For The Soul and Cup of Comfort series, numerous anthologies, RX for Writers, magazines and medical journals. Email her here: and let her know how much you appreciated her story.

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