Ann Chiappetta

Making Meaningful Connections

Clunk Clunk Clunk

| Filed under Guide dogs writing



I was chugging along, trying to cope with a serious ankle sprain. I was, admittedly, feeling very much sorry for myself and having one of those pity parties – you know the kind where you just want to have your back rubbed and folks to murmur nonsensical things in complete commiseration.


Then, Mom died. I felt like I ran out of gas. Clunk, clunk, clunk. Then, I ended up emotionally stranded on the side of the road.

How the heck was I going to deal with this? Now, when I can hardly walk, let alone travel out to California with a bum ankle and a new guide dog? To say I was overwhelmed is a vast understatement. I felt so alone at first, but after the initial shock, was grateful my sisters were there to help and the mutual moral support helped us all.


I actually don’t know how I managed, I just pulled up my big girl panties and forged ahead. I got help from my family, and, without help from my sisters, Cheryll, Terri, and Lauri, and so many others, I couldn’t have done it alone. My husband was the best, he went along with everything, paid for the $3000 trip and told me not to worry about it.


There were some stressful moments and I did have one major panic attack. I managed to hold it together in public and, along with my family and many of our Mom’s friends honored her life with the best I could give in the eulogy. Sister Lauri was wonderful and sister Cheryll and Terri held down the fort, organizing the sorting out of a life. Taking care of the cats, finding all the paperwork, and making sense of the detritus of living 81 years. The family got through it all.


So, we are home now, back into the routine, my ankle is still a mess and I have to begin again, the doctor, the rehab, the physical therapy.


My new guide dog was a good boy, only peeing in CVS once from the climate change and having to drink a lot more water.


The panic attack came when my dog and my niece’s dog got into a scuffle over the other dog’s food. There was snarling, yelling, and mayhem. The smaller dog was bruised, shaken up but okay. My dog didn’t even seem affected. My sister got a large bruise on her arm, too. But my mind was past being able to cope and I began hyperventilating and it took me a few moments to get control and realize that the other dog didn’t need the emergency vet and would recover. Oy.


I miss Mom every day. I remember her last words; we told one another to hang in there, even though I knew my worries were nothing in comparison to her own.

Saying the Lord’s Prayer and the Hail Mary over her remains seemed the right thing to do for her; with my new guide dog beside me, trying to understand why I was crying, I gave her one last farewell. I said those prayers because they are the words that I know, that have been said so many times to say goodbye to loved ones. I hope they assisted in spiriting her energy to wherever it goes. I think prayers and intentions, when offered, really do make a difference.


I think that I am ready to begin the letting go. Her two cats have been fostered out to a wonderful organization, my sisters and I are trying to get back into some kind of routine to help us cope and our kids are also doing their best to grieve the loss as well.


Mary gave us her best, gave our children and their children a legacy of love, acceptance, and respect I will cherish until it’s my time to walk the path into the clearing at the twilight of my own life. I have much to live up to, for sure. Mom set the bar very high. She was an accomplished writer (who knew), was artistic, her ability to achieve excellence in whatever she set her mind to was remarkable. She was a loyal friend, clearly cared for the people and animals that surrounded her life and was a wonderful grandmother, giving each child special memories and individual time with her whenever she could.

I love you, Mom and will miss you terribly.


11/17/33 – 7/1/2015





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