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“Do you want to do a camel ride,” my daughter asked on a recent visit to her city’s zoo.

“No,” I said. “I have no need to ride a camel.”

“Oh, come on, isn’t that on your bucket list?”

“Nope. Never has been and never will be,” I said, knowing a safari was never an interest.

A few minutes later, I found myself astride a camel, my five-year-old granddaughter ahead of me announcing to the world, “I have always wanted to do this, but I don’t have a camel at home.”

Well, good, I thought. I’m glad someone wants to ride. And I’m glad my daughter does not have a camel in her backyard.

The ride lasted at most ten minutes. The tower-tall camel smelled of dirty, hairy camel, as did the blanket we sat on. The camel’s uneven stride lurched us forward and back. With my right hand, I gripped the semi-stable iron pole. And, with my left hand, I clutched my granddaughter’s leg and the loose, floppy cord that was supposed to serve as a safety belt, picturing her dangerously slipping between camel and cord to the ground.

As we rounded the corner of a small circle, I finally breathed, thinking we were on our way back to the platform. But no, the leader began to guide the beast around for a second time. My strawberry breakfast flakes bubbled in my throat. This is supposed to be fun?
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But my nightmare was not over. Imagine my chagrin, when reaching the end of the ride, after my granddaughter slid easily to her left on the platform and ran happily to her mom, I could not budge myself off the yard-wide mangy beast. With nothing to hang on to on my left side, I could not swing my right leg over the camel’s hump to join my left on the platform that, by the way, was moving inches away as the camel swayed.

I caught the disinterested glance of the camel guide. Am I doomed to sit here forever?

Luckily, I’ve trained my daughter well to care for her children and her elders. She bounded up the steps to the platform and offered me her arm under my left armpit. With the adroitness of a nurse helping a patient transfer from bed to chair, she gave me the support I needed to get my lazy left hip aloft and my stiff right leg over the hump.

Laughing, she said, “See, Mom, now you can cross that off your bucket list.”

When I told a fellow grandma about my embarrassment, she said, “I couldn’t have gotten off either. But think of the memories you made for your granddaughter.”

Of course. Making memories with my long-distance grandchildren is on my bucket list, even if riding a camel isn’t.

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