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Raising Cane at 78

Bob Morrissey

My cane. For the past five years we’ve had a semi long-distance relationship, but suddenly my back problems have turned us into bosom buddies.

It’s so personal, I now refer to my cane as she, and although I don’t love her, at 78, I need her. In fact, I’ve needed her for the last two years, but I only told her so a few days ago.

I was in bed when my phone rang. I wanted to get up, but the pain said no.

I needed my cane, but I couldn’t reach her, even though she was less than 10 feet away in my walk-in closet ... in the very back of that closet, resting on a shelf out of sight.

I couldn’t see her, but she could see me ... arranging my golf clothes, sweat pants, and my sneakers. She knew the clock was ticking, but I didn’t — until recently. She knew some day soon we’d become dependent on each other.

Before, I only went to her when absolutely necessary. I even let her sit beside me on the couch. When I’d get up, I’d walk her back to her closet, to her shelf, and wonder when I’d see her again.

That little trek would invariably bring back memories of my former boss, Montreal Gazette managing editor Alan Randall, who also used a cane. He’d stride, proudly, through the editorial department like he owned it.

I used to tell myself, “If I ever need a cane, I hope I look like Alan Randall.”

But that’ll never happen.

Still, every so often my cane and I work in perfect harmony. I can flush the toilet with it; I can pick up my little Katie’s potty pad without bending; I save a few steps when I reach out and turn off the lights with it and, best of all, I can use it to pick up little pieces of fluff and other bits of debris off the rugs and floor.

If I fail the first time, I put a little spit on the tip and it works like a charm. My only regret is I don’t have unruly teens living next door. I’d love to shush them away with a few angry waves of my cane, just like in old movies.

Try doing that with a walker.

(Note to the editor: As for the length of my little piece, I figure it’s about right. I’m assuming most readers are also elderly and have short attention spans. It’s also a fact that reading too much, too quickly, can affect breathing patterns, causing hyperventilation. And don’t even get me started on naps. No, if you want it longer, might I suggest — as I did a thousand times during my days at the Gazette — “more subheads!”)

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