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Ruth and Knobby

 

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Shhhhh. Yes, you out there. It's me, Ruth. I've been waiting for a chance to talk with you. Sondra's off in some la-la land daydream, and if we are tip-toe quiet, she might stay there long enough to let me speak. I became part of her life in the hospital in Bangalore, India, where I replaced her bungled up right knee. I am state of the art, you know. Without me she wouldn't have a leg to stand on. How quickly she forgets the day we met. We had been partnered up, so to speak, four days before she finally thought to ask me my name. I forgave her though. She was under some heavy medication. "My name is Ruth," I told her. The connection with the age-old story of Ruth and Naomi, roaming the land together, pleased her no end. I could feel the muscles in her leg relax. We were off to a great beginning. Just a short year and a half ago, she used to talk with me a lot. She rubbed me and petted me. I liked that. We worked out together in rehab. That was fun. Well, it was fun for me. She said I was a pain. Time smoothed our differences. She began to appreciate me for all my sterling qualities. Lately, she ignores me. She doesn't talk to me any more. She's forgotten that I want to go places, meet people, explore the world. She promised. This winter we had plans to visit friends — short trips to northern Saskatchewan, Kalispell, Vancouver Island, Lincoln and even Malta, Havre and Shaunavon. But she moped around the house. She cancelled every trip. I want to re-kindle the flame, the joy we had in the beginning. I want to renew communications. Put zest and zing back into our lives. I am not sure how. I'm considering therapy, the "shrink" kind. "Pssst. Hey, Ruth. Over here. To your left. It's me, Knobby. Left knee. Maybe I can help. Sondra and I have been together since birth. I'm a lot older than you are, and I know some things about her you don't know. For instance, Sondra is really stubborn. She's going through a rough patch. She'll come around. But if we are going to help her, you and I have to team up. You, too, are a bit hard-headed, so to speak." "Oh. I didn't know you could talk. You are right. I never even thought of consulting you. Do I feel chagrined." "Yeah, well, I'm generally the strong, silent type. And I was a bit jealous, Ruth, when you first came along. You two were ga-ga eyed over each other. You completely ignored me while I was doing most of the work. Oh, I understood, but sheesh. Your early love affair was intense. But now you have transitioned into the adjustment phase." "Oh, Knobby, you are right again. I can see that we have to be partners if we are going to walk together. I do have a lot to learn. I'll bet there are other things about her I've ignored." "She's ignored them too. Don't worry. I'll introduce you to them. Oh, and thank you for showing up to help when you did. We were scared we'd end up in a wheelchair before your arrival. I know this past winter has been particularly difficult for all of us — you, me and her — cooped up in the house all these months. But you gotta remember, we are more vulnerable to the cold and ice than you are." "Right again, Knobby. Sometimes I forget I'm titanium. Cold doesn't affect me much. But I'm also from tropical India. I work better in heat." "Hey, Ruth, remember last fall when she took us to Mexico." "Ah, daily walks on the beach. Feet buried in sand. Warm breezes. Vendors hawking silver jewelry of dubious value. The wafting smells of rotting garbage. It all reminded me of my old home in Bangalore. I'd love to go back to Mexico." "So would Sondra. But she also loves Montana, and that includes the seasonal hardships — freezing winters, broiling summers, and swarming mosquitoes. But sometimes she doesn't know her own mind. Our job is to take her where she wants to go, whether she wants to go or not. You and I hafta function as a unit. As she continues to heal from the surgery and strengthens her muscles, life will be easier. So we should support her and sneak some flexibility back into her life. Lord knows she needs it. Is it a deal, partner?" "You bet, Knobby. I can feel the spark returning. Spring is here. We'll get her moving. We'll take her dancing. Sailing up in the clouds in a hot-air balloon. Rafting on the Missouri. Let's rub knees, partner." (Sondra Ashton graduated from Harlem High in 1963 and left for good. She finds, after recently returning, things now look a bit different. Join her in a discussion of her column at http://montanatumbleweed.blogspot. com.)

 
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