Aug 6, 2015

Princesses and Rabbits and Goats. Oh My!

by Kari Diane Pike

Twenty-four hours ago I stepped off Allegiant flight 133 from Provo, Utah, ending three weeks of road tripping, grandchild hugging, goat milking, spider smashing, apartment hunting, fair going and friendship renewing adventures. I am exhausted and could use a vacation from my vacation, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I learned new things, strengthened family relationships and discovered things about myself I had not really considered before.

Overall, the trip is kind of a blur. Most of my time was spent driving between Provo and Paul, Idaho...with a little side trip to Boise to pick up our oldest daughter and fifteen-year-old granddaughter, Melissa and return them to their little farm in Paul. Melissa had gone through hip reconstruction to repair damage caused by juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. At the same time, those three weeks are unforgettable.

If you ask three-year-old Maesie her name, she will tell you, "My name is MaesonAnne Rose Anderson, Princess of Ever." Last Sunday I complimented her on her beautiful dress and told Maesie that she looked like a princess. Maesie gave me the stink eye. "Grandma, I AM a princess." When I asked her how she got so sweet, she explained, "Because I'm made of awesomesauce and sugar and a little bit of spice."

I loved watching Melissa's siblings pitch in and complete not only their own chores, but Melissa's too. Eleven-year-old Ephraim didn't complain even once when I had to enlist his help and show me how to catch the dairy goats and get them milked. During county fair time (the culmination of an entire year's worth of work for 4H participants) all the kids helped push Melissa's wheelchair or carried her crutches (well, okay, they loved playing with those) or lead her animals for her.

The hardest part was seeing Melissa in pain.  Truth be told, Melissa doesn't remember any time in her life when she hasn't been in pain. RA stinks. The worst part of my trip came when it was my turn to add to that pain. Every night before bed, Melissa had to be given a shot of blood thinners - in the flesh around her navel. Her screams the previous three evenings broke my heart.

I helped Melissa get settled in her bed - book, ipad, music and pillows. I asked about her favorite song artists and authors (Thank you, Theresa Sneed for sending Melissa one of your books!). Melissa lifted her shirt to show me where to administer the shot. Small bruises played ring around the rosy with her belly button. I chose a spot with the least amount of bruising and pinched her skin between the thumb and middle finger of my left hand, while I held the syringe in my right. I wanted to be fast and create as little pain as possible. I lifted the syringe, ready to stick her quick. Melissa squinted her big brown eyes shut and covered her face with a pillow. I chickened out and let go of her. "I'm sorry. I don't want to hurt you."

"It's okay Grandma. I'll be okay.  I don't want it either, but I know we have to do it."

She told me about some of the nurses in the hospital and how good it was to be home. I shook off the dread, took a deep breath and tried to tell Melissa a joke. Only I couldn't remember any good punch lines. I pinched her again...and let go again. I pointed across the room and said, "Oh, look!" and pinched Melissa again...and let go again. She laughed. I reached for her belly a fourth time and plunged the syringe in deep and fast. Melissa's laugh turned into a scream. She grabbed her pillow and buried her face in it. When she looked up, tears streamed down her cheeks...and mine. That's when the giggles set in.

"I don't know how I can be laughing and crying at the same time." Melissa hugged the pillow to her sore stomach.

"I'm sorry, Sweetie. I really tried to not hurt you."

"No, Grandma, it's okay. That actually was one of the best ones. I didn't feel the needle at all. It's just the medicine burns like heck."

I learned a great deal from that brave young lady. Even being in a wheel chair didn't stop her from achieving her goals. She was awarded the champion intermediate showman and reserve overall showman for rabbits in Minidoka county. She had a friend lead her sheep and goats for her and even qualified for and participated in the round robin competition.

Melissa could have chosen to stay home and not participate in the county fair. No one would have blamed her if she had. But Melissa showed me what it means to be brave and to have faith. She did what she could. She asked for help when she needed it and she carried on. Her example gave me the strength I needed to carry out the tasks given to me while the rest of the family worked at the fairgrounds. Even when I felt like this:

Goats and sheep. Check.
Pigs. check.
Turkeys, ducks and chickens. Check.
Big farm dogs. check.
County fair. check.
Rotten egg. Check.
Rat in barn. Check.
Big fat spiders. Check.
I have officially entered the Charlotte's Web Twilight Zone.

And I love it.
By the case of a zombie apocalypse...stick with me. I can now catch a goat and milk it all by myself. And I can use the milk to create bread pudding, a wicked caramel sauce and a mean glass of chocolate milk. Life is magnificent.



  1. I am so sorry for Melissa's anguish. Why oh why can't we find a way to cure or help manage this stuff without such pain?! Kudos for you for doing it. I'm not sure I could have handled it as well.

    1. I agree, Terri. Why do the cures so often have to be as painful or more so than the disease? As for handling it, well, the Lord always provides tender mercies to make up for where I lack--in big ways. We do what we have to do, right? Thank you for your comments. hugs~


Thank you for visiting. Feel free to comment on our blogger's posts.*

*We do not allow commercial links, however. If that's not clear, we mean "don't spam us with a link to your totally unrelated-to-writing site." We delete those comments.