Artist's Lane

What can you do but laugh?


My daughter said, “If you don’t get up from your computer, you’re going to lose your freedom.”

Those words put a fire under me. I’ve got to do whatever it takes to keep healthy. Go figure.

Eighty-three years old, and I’m just now deciding to take care of my health.

I’ve painted with oil paints laced with lead for 45 years. I loved the smell of turpentine. It didn’t bother me. I breathed that stuff. All those little habits and things in life we do will eventually catch up with us. Seems like today is the day to get serious.

It’s like they say, “A person don’t want it until they need it.” 

Well, I’ve come to want some health advice because I need it. I need to be more in tune with my body.

After questioning what is good and learning healthy eating habits, I have become a little more cautious with my intake.

My friend gave me some tips. 

“Take baby steps,” she said. “The sun is healing. The sun gives us vitamin D. Start drinking sun water.”

“What’s that?”

“Put a glass jar of water in the sun for 15 minutes. Don’t use plastic. All the minerals and vitamins in the sun will go into the water. You will become healthier. Drink plenty of water.”

Our feet have the receptors for all the nerves in our bodies. I now have my Sweet Al rub essential oil on my feet every night. I should soak my feet in Epsom salt at least once a week. Another baby step.

Breathe. I thought I was breathing. Breathe deeper. I forget to breathe. Rub eucalyptus on your hands. Take long breaths into your hands and through your nose. Hold for seven seconds and slowly let it out. Do this three times a day. It will give you energy.

The last and most important thing to do is move. Walk, and walk some more. It has become a comedy act as my Sweet Al walks with me and helps me balance on the uneven ground. We are a sight to behold. Al has no balance, I have no strength; between us we make it down to the river twice a day.

He holds my arm and pushes me. I say, “Stop. I’m going to fall.” Then he gets in front of me, takes my hand and pulls me. I say, “You’re going too fast, I can’t keep up with you. Let me hold your hand.” That works for a few steps, then he veers off the path.

With my cane in one hand, I latch onto his belt and tell him, “Just walk.”

He says, “You’re pulling down my pants.” 

I tell him I’m going to do more than that if he doesn’t stop. He doesn’t stop.

I yell, “Heel.” 

He understood and stopped.

I might have to use drastic measures and learn some dog-training tricks. I dug out Al’s dog training manual. I don’t know if I can teach an old dog a new trick, but I’m going to try.

The older we get the more we depend on each other. So, I’ve got to stay sweet. I need my Sweet Al by my side more than ever.

A dog trainer uses certain words to train his dog to walk next to him. I’ll tell Al I’m practicing in case we get another dog. He’ll be excited and hang in there with me. 

I read with great enthusiasm. Teach your dog that walking next to you with a loose lead means they get to move forward — pulling means they don’t. The second the lead starts to tighten, stop walking. Stand still, keep quiet and don’t move forward again until the lead is slack.

I know what I can do. I’ll get one of Whiskey’s dog leashes and loop it around Al’s belt. I’ll loosen the lead or pull it tight. It’ll be baby steps at first, but I think we can master this.

The manual says the last thing to do is reward your dog when they are by your side. You need to teach your dog that being near you pays off.

Final brushstroke: What can you do but laugh? I am on a mission to get healthy and stay healthy.

I’ve taken on a long, healthy life as a job. To finish strong takes work. To keep my Sweet Al walking with me, wanting to be near me, he needs a payoff. I must remember to carry a snack in my pocket for my Sweet Al.

Views expressed do not necessarily represent those of The SUN.