Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Stroke rehab via Smoky Mountains

Grandson Luke explores our campsite in the Smokies.

During past Smoky Mountain trips that included a gathering of our grands and their parents, I enjoyed playing with the kids, hauling little ones around . . . lots of physical activity.

I knew that interactions would be different post-stroke, but I had pictured myself at least doing some strolls around the campground with my cane or scooting around in the wheelchair under my own power, on a walk with other family members large and small, enjoying all that nature offers and taking photos.

The terrain, road conditions and the non-stop activity of adults who were keeping little ones safe and all of us well fed meant that I spent a lot of time in either a comfortable camping chair or my wheelchair, excuse me, I meant my chariot. Husband Walter is a firm believer in the power of words, and we try to use “chariot,” a word with more exotic and exciting  associations than “wheelchair.”

The upside was that since I was in slow--or even stopped mode--I had the opportunity to better observe the grands in action. 

Smoky Mountain waters, entertainment for granddaughters Stella and Molly Kate
Our liitle three-year old Stella, youngest granddaughter by about three months, headed to the shallow stream at the back of our campsite as soon as she arrived. She hopped, skipped and flitted through the stream and the campsite like a little Tinkerbell, apparently oblivious to the sharp rocks, even after she had shed her shoes.

Shortly afterwards, three-year-old Molly Kate arrived and joined her cousins in exploring the water. That amazed me and kept bubbles of laughter ready to erupt. Used to the blue of northern Gulf of Mexico waters bordered by white “sugar” sand beaches, she had informed her parents of her disappointment with the “chocolate” water she was seeing in the mountains.

The color didn’t stop her, though. My surprise at her enjoyment of the little stream stemmed partly from an account of an earlier trip to the beach this summer.  She had convinced her mother to delay the morning’s excursion to sand and surf and to stay in the condo awhile.

“Mother, she had announced, “We are inside girls, not outside girls.”

Inside girl Molly Kate enjoys the out of doors
 Well, our little “inside girl,” stayed in the gently flowing stream, hunting “just-right” rocks to throw back into the water or to test her skill at tossing them over a fallen log.

Meanwhile, Luke and Nate worked diligently for many minutes. From my vantage point, I couldn’t figure out what they were doing with such total absorption.

“We were playing The World’s Worst Carwash,” Nate explained later. Evidently one of the critical elements of this activity was to coat a good-sized rock thoroughly with mud from the bottom of that particular section of the stream. Imagination in action!
Our girly-girl fashionista Charlie spent some time in the water, but she was in the throes of several fashion issues regarding footwear, one of which Baboo and her mom Sarah resolved with a generous application of duct tape.

Daughter-in-law Katie posted more on the cousins’ Smoky Mountain water fun here.

My being stationary did create some other extra special moments:

Six-year-old Nate presenting me with a s’more he had made for me, a confection of graham crackers, a marshmallow well charred on one side, with its hot liquid insides melting a slab of Hershey’s milk chocolate just right; yummmmmmm, the best ever!

Stella inviting herself up into my chariot and into my lap for cuddling sessions.

Molly Kate disregarding my chariot to hold my hand and twirl and dance to my rendition of the old song “Buffalo Gals.” Background on this old favorite that my mother used to sing to me is here.

Buffalo gals, won't you come out tonight?
Come out tonight, Come out tonight?
Buffalo gals, won't you come out tonight,
And dance by the light of the moon.

Walker and mom Katie
Youngest grand Walker peeking around chairs and over shoulders to give me one of his chacteristic grins.

Nine-year-old Luke’s enthusiasm for and total enjoyment of Baboo’s breakfast of pancakes, eggs, bacon and sausage.

Charlie and chair
Five-year-old Charlie hauling her pink camping chair next to mine. “I heard you say grandchildren are good medicine,” she said. “I’m going to give you some good medicine!”

And she did! Wonderful rehab therapists all!


  1. Beautiful, beautiful family. I was just thinking, maybe the reason God knocks us down sometimes is so we can sit and watch and appreciate. And you have to good sense to do all three.

  2. Little children are often the best of therapies .... physical, occupational and emotional!!

  3. What a great time you had. Sometimes a changed view can be as good or even a better one.
    I love the idea of "chariot."

  4. Oh, how I would have loved to see the wheelch...I mean chariot dance of Buffalo Girls. Moments like this are what I live for and what life is made for! Your grandchildren are gorgeous!!! You always look for the silver lining, and you sure found it here, maybe even a gold one!

  5. i really enjoyed my visit with your precious grand children. a blessing to have them to watch, love the Molly Kate in the stream shot. i love wading in streams myself

  6. Such sweet memories! I'm glad you had a nice trip. Seeing your photos makes me want to visit the mountains again!

    I loved the pictures of the grandkids, and the stories. Little Charlie stole my heart with her remark :)

    PS I hope you and Walter didn't arrive home to find anymore raccoons!

  7. Five year old Charlie appears to be a kind, sensitive, and giving soul. I love his remark.

    Your photos have captured a time that will become a precious memory for you all.