Sunday, 16 August 2009

Weekend Update

Una´s recovering nicely from her leg-cutting-off surgery. The incision is almost completely closed-up, the stitches are removed, and the nasty Elizabethan hood comes off tomorrow. Not a moment too soon for her. She´s dying to spend a good few hours licking at the place where her leg once was.

And the long and short of it is, she´s probably dying. The biopsy came back on Friday, and she has osteosarcoma -- bone cancer. Every vet we´ve consulted on this (all SIX of them!) says yeah, that´s fatal. Taking off the leg greatly cuts down on her suffering, and probably prolongs her life. We can do chemotherapy, too, and add on a few more weeks, while emptying our pockets and maybe making her more miserable. So we will wait and see from here. We´ve done almost all we can do.

The only hope now is that the cancer did not move on to her lungs before they took off her leg. Not much hope of that. So, after many tears and conversations, we decided to get the incision cleared up, and proceed to spoil Una rotten for whatever amount of time she has left. Four to six months is average.

But she started limping almost a year ago, and has got this far. She is tough as nails.
And we have the Secret Camino Weapon of Hope. We have San Roque.

I think I told you already that I made a very Spanish Deal With God, via San Roque: Save my dog, and I´ll walk the Camino in thanksgiving in the Holy Year 2010.

Our parish church has a lovely, primitive 17th-century statue of San Roque (or San Rocco for my Italian friends). He supposedly saved Moratinos from a plague of Scarlet Fever in the 1860´s, and the men of the town formed a Confraternity ever after to thank him for favors granted. The prayer group died out with its members, but resurrected in the 1930´s, when Franco "recommended" everyone go very religous. All those Confraternity men have also gone on to their eternal rewards, but they left behind a powerful tradition.

I live here now, even though I´m a foreigner. San Roque is still there on his special altar in the church, with his little mascot dog at at his knee, offering up a crust of bread to the plague-stricken pilgrim saint. (A couple of years ago Paddy put a dog biscuit in his paws. It´s still there.)

So I guess I am the new Confraternity of San Roque in Moratinos. For the sake of a scruffy mutt dog from Jeannette, Pennsylvania. I am sure Roque has bigger fish to fry up there where he is, but I have nothing to lose in asking. So I did. Yeah, it´s superstitious nonsense. But if you were me you´d do it too. If you loved anybody the way I love Una Dog. Me and Una and Roque are all immigrants, y´know.

Enough of my silliness. There are other things happening around here that you must know!

The two-star hostel on the edge of town is supposed to start building in September or October now. All the permits are in order, according to Daniel the owner, whom we met on the trail a week or so ago. The holdup is the bank. Banks aren´t lending money to anybody these days. So we shall see. The Word on (all two) Streets of Moratinos is: "Cuando veo, yo creo." "I´ll believe it when I see it." Which is kinda too bad, because even if none of us has much use for a hotel, we´d like to have a bar in town.

Since Paddy and I installed a simple stone labyrinth along the Camino in Villa Oreja last November, it´s reportedly appeared in an Italian Camino journal and on several pilgrim blogs and websites. Passing pilgrims have done their best to "improve" it, adding another circle of stones ´round the outside, re-locating the entrance, and decorating the centerpoint with flowers, coins, buttons, and in one instance a foil-wrapped ham and cheese sandwich.

One labyrinth specialist of our acquaintance warned us that ad-hoc additions and re-designs "interfere with the energy balance" of our classic Cretan design. I listen, so far as keeping open the entry and exit paths. (for some reason, pilgs like to close-off those, presumably for the sake of symmetry.) But the extra outside ring, and the bits of poppy and lavender at the center don´t seem to hurt anything. They probably add to the mix. So I leave them. The Camino doesn´t mind.

...sorry, interrupted. Emilio the long-anticipated Italian arrived, he is scouting new albergue locations for the Confradia de Perugia in Italy. This group has an almost-legendary place right on the Burgos-Palencia border that only accommodates 12 pilgrims, in an abandoned church, without electricity. Very Catholic, these guys, but good people. They wash the pilgrims´ feet, even. (Amazing how much Italian I can understand (and speak) after half a bottle of Sunday Ruedo!)

And so I should go. We could be looking at the future here. Or at least a couple of pilgs to feed. Emilio is walking with Jacobo, his 10-year-old boy.

Every boy should walk the Camino with his dad. Or his mum.
So saith Me.

More news later on. Work to do now.


Gary White said...

So sorry to hear about Una. The downside of love is loss, but the pain is worth it, I'd say. Glad you have pilgs to keep you occupied.

Laura said...

"Why love if losing hurts so much? I have no answers any more. Only the life I have lived.....The pain now is part of the happiness then. That's the deal."

C. S. Lewis (according to the film "Shadowlands.")

I am so sorry you have this sorrow right now.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering about San Rocky, the Milkbone, and Una. Now I know.

Please ask the Itaniano if they have room for a taller. I could use a miracle this week !

Good luck Una. May you find your successor.


Andrew said...

Big fun is exactly what the doctor ordered and I'm hoping to make it happen in the sring. My son, Andrew, aged 20 and me, (Over a glass of wine maybe) are coming to Spain in spring..setting out from SJPP around April 14. Soooo looking forward to this. We'll have to talk vets....I'm up to my tush in vet bills with Robbie Burns, the 12 year old schitzu and he too has a I was reading your account with much interest. Very tough call when they're old...I do hope we'll meet...will check out your site from time to time between now and spring. Until then take care..of yourself and Una

Sharon and Andrew
PS Your comment about mother and son travelling the Camino was not lost on me

claire bangasser said...

Good luck with Una and San Roque, Rebekah. St Roch helped me early on on the Camino in France. Miracles are there for the believers :-)
Blessings on all of you.

PL said...

"Every boy should walk the Camino with his dad. Or his mum.
So saith Me."

Yes, I believe you're right. My son graduates from high school next spring. I've told him a little blood, sweat and tears (maybe a lot; I am a father and do like to torture him a bit) is good for the soul.

We shall see.