June 1, 2014

No room at the Inn.
 For all the years we lived in California, the annual safari back to our home state of Colorado had become a tradition.  Visiting Grandma and Grandpa was  a total delight and a grand adventure for all the children in the family.   Grandma's house was high in the mountains in the little mining town of Alma.  Out on the back of the property was "Jack's Shack',  an old log structure made weather proof, and furnished with several beds and cots.  The shack held the overflow guests and separated the kids from the grown-ups.   There were shelves of books and games and lots of pillows and heavy quilts to pile on when the North wind blew and the temperatures dropped.
This was where the family gathered for reunions and Thanksgivings, and the years piled up, thick with memories.
But Grandparents become frail, and the time came when it was necessary to move them down to a lower altitude.  The family found them a little cottage in Salida where the snows were not so deep, the ground more level and the sun shone down warm on winter days. The family still found Grandma and Grandpa's house a perfect gathering place.
         Our children grew and left the nest  but Claude and I still made the trip each summer.   Roles were reversed now, however, as Grandma had boycotted the kitchen and advised the family that they were welcome but should not expect to be waited on.  She took up residence in her rocking chair.  Grandpa was failing and would spend his last days in a nursing home.  It was not the same.  Claude and I spent our vacation time doing jobs around the place that needed doing.   
We were glad to be able to help and I spent some quality time with my aging parents.
        Then they were gone.   Salida had become the family hub,  and without Grandma's house  we had no place to tie the horse.
   Our traditional summer safaris  suddenly had no purpose.
         We both had family in Colorado, many relatives we wanted to see, but without Grandma's house as a hub, we felt strangely adrift.
We always traveled with our little dog Scrappy.  She felt safe and secure in the back seat of our car, or on her corner of the couch in the camper, but she, too, was growing old. 
   SCRAPPY was 14 years old on that fateful summer, and had recently  undergone dental surgery.  Her health was fragile, but she loved traveling with us.
   Everyone we had planned to see was either out of town or had other obligations.  Donna, Claude's sister and husband Art had had to draw the line on overnight visitors--they lived 13 stories up in the old Park Lane Hotel and had limited space.   We rented guest quarters in the Park Lane Motel facility while visiting there.
      It was a really hot summer and the heat was getting to our frail little Scrappy. We could see she was suffering and we had to find a vet.  We were informed  that her kidneys were failing.   We had to make that sad, awful choice--away from home, in a strange place, all alone.
          That strange, lonely summer left me with a feeling of total abandonment.  I felt I had lost my anchor.. and worse..... that nobody cared.
 I have never been able to think of those days without that lost empty feeling washing over me.  I missed Mother and Dad.  I missed the place in Salida.   I missed my scattered family.  I really missed my little dog.
Betty L. Owen ( Remembering at 2 am)     (Notes 2014)
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