The Unexpected Present


Door to Artody


It’s the middle of August. Looking back, I once dubbed this month my emotional upheaval month. That’s because I went through so many life-changing as well as life reaffirming events that took place among the dog days, meteor showers in the night sky, cicada songs, and new adventures whether I planned them or not. Mostly not. It always felt like a moment of truth. A time to just do it.

One of these moments opened the door to Artody, Georgia. Not the US state. Georgia the Republic. Transported on a separate flight from the rest of the production crew for a month-long film shoot about the last surviving members of the protectors of the Georgian Kingdom, the Khevsurian warriors. I had a layover in Vienna for the entire day. Taking advantage of the timeframe, I arrived excited to be there only to find every business closed in the downtown area. Turned out it was August 15, the Assumption, a holy day dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

It was a festive event where the entire community came together in a historic park, a European cultural celebration – food and drink galore – a great sendoff before giving up all tourist comforts as I traveled to the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. Having landed 4:30 a.m. I was immediately embraced into a circle of genuine hospitality by the production crew, their family, and friends and then onward to the mystical Highlands ultimately coming away with incredible footage of the people and places for the documentary Land of the Lost Crusaders.

FYI –Khevsurs are not the descendants of men who became known as Crusaders. They are the Iberian Georgian people and this story is about the warriors who gave their oath to protect the Georgian kingdom. The title may imply a connection to the Crusades, but that’s not what it means. To be a crusader means to be a dedicated fighter, ready for battle; someone’s champion, an advocate. It’s what I learned from their way of life.

It was an amazing adventure. More so that it happened fourteen years ago and remains just as clear in my Mind Palace of memory recall. It was one of the most physically challenging times– packing, carrying, holding (anyone holding a boom mic knows what I’m talking about) a mic boom, lugging camera and computer equipment throughout mountainous terrain in a wild part of the world that so few outsiders have privy to. It made me strong carrying the load along with the rest of the crew. We camped on local farms, washed in icy cold rivers and streams, rode horses rented from the Highlanders who suspiciously held their opinions as I was the person they had to deal with when it came to paying for services. That must be where some of this resolve and determination come from. I’ll have to post the journal I kept from that adventure.

So here we are. Week three. Walking and lessening the load. What we sometimes take for granted freed us both of the preconceived notions of rehabilitation as the balance of living together gets back on track. Yuri’s mobility is impressive. The P/T Rehab is doing wonders for his muscle rebuilding, strength and balance. Doctors we see in follow-up cannot believe what Yuri has gone through to where he is now, outside and inward. The number of medications has lessened as we move ahead taking on responsibilities and dealing with issues that keep coming up like be Whack-a-Mole. All need to be addressed quickly and with the firmness of purpose. Another Doctor’s appointment. Another specialist.

Our resolve is to wean off from specialists the same way Yuri has been weaned off the stay at Rehab institute, the boot camp-like schedule put into place by the Home Care team. I’m seeing Yuri coming back strong –his engine (that had seized back in April) is being overhauled and rebuilt. The plan now is more work on the structure (strong bones, vitamins, minerals) supporting his immune system. Next work on getting his voice back, his strength to play his instruments, guitar, violin, and balance so I can beat him on the tennis court. It’s my only chance.

And I’m so happy. I’m so in-the-moment happy. It’s the end of midweek, almost mid-month, mid-year-ish, under the mid moon cycles. Nellie caught another mouse. Yuri is in the middle of making lunch, working on the dinner menu. A midsummer delight using his culinary imagination. I give him free rein. I’m happy to do so.

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