Betty June laughs at me when we set off for a walk along a dirt path not a mile long. I’m busy stuffing a collapsible walking stick, pain pills, Band Aids, and a water bottle in my knapsack. She laughs like a female contralto with a voice so dark it sounds like a man warming up for his part in Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges. She stops the second I glance sideways with disapproval.
“I can’t hep it darlin’. What you need all that old age gear for? We’re jus’ goin’ to smell the flowers.” She raises her head and sniffs a couple of times before grinning at me.
“You got to be prepared, Betty June. Besides everything hurts today.” She hugs me, and we head off in the direction of the first quarry, a lovely body of water so still a nightingale could glide to the other side with the help of a light tail wind.
I woke up at four in the morning begging my legs to leave me alone, allowing me to sleep. They’ve always been a nuisance, but my doctor says I got the neuropathy real bad and taking pain pills is my only relief. He further aggravates my nerves by telling me the pain is only going to get worse from here on. Just then I trip on a rock and am lying face down in the grass. Betty June’s tugging at my body trying to pull it off the ground. She appears worried while rooting through my knapsack looking for something useful, pulling out the cane. I try hard to stand but feel wobbly in my boots. Then she says, “We’re gonna have to look fer a man whether you like it or not.”
“I’ll crawl first.”
“Don’t be silly. We’re past our own independence.”
Seconds later, I’m upright and shuffling my feet while leaning on my cane, chagrinned at being nearly seventy needing a bag of ‘old age gear’ to go the distance.