“Can I play on your phone, Daddy?” asked my four-year-old son a moment ago.
“Nope,” replied Daddy.
“We’re going to play Let’s Talk to Our Family,” I chipped in.
“The game where you talk to your family and see how everyone’s doing.”
“I don’t want to play that game.”
“Well, it’s either that or the Quietly Enjoy the Ride one. I guess there’s also the Mope Sullenly game,” I offered.
“How’s that go?”
“You’re too young for that one!” chimed Daddy.
“Yeah, let’s give that one another fifteen years or so.”
People throw away computers, TVs, stereos, music, movies, instruments, art, furniture, unworn clothing and all manner of valuable things. My mom, understanding their value, collected them and sold them at frequent garage sales. Her finds paid our bills.
It became more difficult for her to get around as her mental illness progressed. She could only move and sell items small enough to carry on her bike. Gone were the big-ticket items that used to draw customers.
One of the last times I saw her before she died of cancer, I climbed out of a rental car and saw her new sale sign pinned to a tree in her front yard:
I immediately hated the word “jumbo.” In the context of her meager sale, it accentuated the stark divide between all the possibility present in the once-was and the grimness of my mom’s new reality. Powerless to ease my mom’s suffering, Read more…
“It’s just a dog.”
“It’s just a cat.”
“It’s not like it’s a person.”
I’ve heard these statements about the passing of a pet many times in my life, and they’ve always upset me. I’ve never known quite what to say, but have instead thought, “It seems only right you’ll never know the unconditional love of a pet. You don’t deserve it.”
Words like that seldom improve anything. But words like those written by my best friend in “The Memory of Joy in Present Grief“? They show so beautifully, so achingly, why there’s no “just” about it.
I only met Trudeau the once, when my son and I visited Mackenzie in Colorado. I was initially too entranced by the images of my best friend and son together to pay the dog much mind, but my son was captivated.
And now, I’m glad he was, because I carry a little Trudeau with me now that his own paws can no longer carry him here.
“Just follow the curve!” I exclaimed to my young son, Li’l D. “See, your foot curves this way. You need to put on the shoe that has the same curve.”
“Uh-huh,” he told me cheerfully before putting his shoes on the wrong foot.
After a few weeks of repeating this exchange, I started to say the same old thing when I realized he needed something different. Something appropriate for a four-year-old.
“See how when you put the shoes like this, it’s like they’re trying to smooch?” My son giggled as I pressed the shoes up against each other and made smoochy-face noises.
“That’s the right way. But see how they are definitely not trying to kiss right now?” Read more…
I’m going to let you in on a little secret:
Becoming a parent does not rob folks of brain cells. Parenthood doesn’t clobber a person over the head and run away with their competence.
No, most parents remain at least as smart and competent after having children as they were before. (Heck, in many ways, I’ve discovered newfound competence that only successfully navigating new challenges could have sown.)
So what the heck is going on, then? Why did new parent Sue forget about brunch? Why was proud new father Rob miles away when your golf game–scheduled last January–was supposed to begin?
Today I call on my underutilized power of crappy illustration to demonstrate.
Behold: Deb, life juggler.
Caring for myself in usual circumstances isn’t so hard. There’s a routine and rhythm to things. And if I miss a meal, so what? I’ll make it up next meal.
But then I get a dog. Check it out, the mangy fella actually needs me to do things for him. Read more…
Yapping and growling, a tiny white dog raced across the street toward me and my 50-pound canine, Sai.
The tiny dog’s owner shouted at it from her front yard. Her words were indiscernible to me, lost to the quiet hubbub of my own thoughts: wordless prayers that the approaching dog would stop its approach, or that its owner would quickly realize shouting at an attacking dog is as useless as asking the rain to stop falling and move.
The snowball of fury reached my dog and began biting his paws. I shouted words I can’t recall as I struggled to keep Sai’s mouth away from the other dog. I was momentarily successful, but in a flash, Sai had lifted the dog in his own much larger mouth.
38 weeks pregnant, I struggled alone to separate two dogs without harming myself or my imminent second child. It felt like an eternity before the shouting woman reached us and another eternity before the smaller dog was dislodged from Sai’s jaws. Read more…