I Have a Story (3)

(Another real life story from my sister’s life)

“On Goodbyes”

When I lived in the cold country of Colorado, I used to watch a squirrel family of five gather nuts in my front yard every morning.  One time, when I was leaving for work, I looked up and saw them crossing over to the other side of the street single file, using the branches of the trees that grew on both sides of the street with the branches intertwined over the street.

Another day, when I walked out of my duplex to get in my car, I saw a girl out in the street looking down at something lying there.  She looked up at me and said it was an injured animal.  I had an old gray sweatshirt in the car, so I gave it to her and she scooped up the animal and brought it back over to me.  Next thing I knew, she placed the bundle in my arms, and I looked down into the trusting brown, shiny eyes of a squirrel. It had been hit by a car, she said, then the girl left abruptly.

I took the injured animal into my living room and set it carefully on the floor.  I couldn’t see any blood, maybe he was just in shock.  He laid quietly on my sweatshirt, while I lightly petted him, and stared at me.  I made a quick call to the animal shelter to see what I could feed the squirrel.  As I hung up the phone, I went back over to him.  He looked at me with the most loving gaze, let out a tiny little sneeze, then died.  Blood trickled from its mouth.  It had been bleeding internally.  I very sadly placed him in a bag, set him gently in the trash bin outside, and went on to work.

I returned home from work late that night.  I shined my flash light so I could see to unlock the door.  To my surprise, I saw in the fresh snow several sets of tiny paw prints below my window and on the window sill.  My window was really low to the ground.  The squirrels must have seen me take the injured squirrel inside and they had been peering into my window trying to get a glimpse of their family member!

I never realized squirrels were that smart or family oriented.  There was no way I could tell them know their little buddy had died.  They would just have to always wonder what happened.

After that, I watched only four squirrels foraging and playing in my front yard.  I’ll never forget that I held and petted a wild squirrel as we gazed into each other’s eyes, saying silent goodbyes.

The end

I Have a Story

(I don’t have much to say lately, but my little sister has been telling some of the interesting things that happened in her life.  Here’s the first one she gave me, about our parents before they died.  I lived through this via video chat from across the states.)

The year finally came.  I began sharing my home with my aged parents and a close elderly family friend, whom I called “grandma”, so I could look out for their well-being on a daily basis.

One November, my father proclaimed his idea for the four of us to draw names out of a hat and buy that person a Christmas present.  That way, we’d all receive something nice for Christmas and still stay within our budget.  Grandma and I liked the idea, but my mother made it very clear to us that she wasn’t going to do anything for Christmas, and we shouldn’t, either.  My mother had Alzheimer’s.  In spite of her unreasonable bullying, Dad, Grandma, and I decided the three of us would do it and Mom just wouldn’t participate.

Christmas morning, the three of us gathered around the Christmas tree to open our gifts.  Mom stayed in the other room watching television.  Grandma opened her gift first.  Being in her 90’s, she was slow and my father had to explain what her gift was.  While they were engrossed in this, talking loudly because they were both hard of hearing, my mother suddenly entered the room, walked directly over to the tree, grabbed the present meant for me, and went back to her room.

Dad and Grandma completed their discussion, and Dad announced he wanted me to open my gift next. I told him that Mom had come and taken my gift and I handed him his gift to open.  After my father had opened his gift, he told me to open mine, having forgotten what I’d said.  Again, I told him that Mom had taken my present for herself.

“Well what did you let her go and do that for?” He exclaimed indignantly. “Go get it back!”

I went to my mother’s room, and she had just unwrapped my present and was admiring it, like a happy child.  It was something my father had picked out with my approval to be sure I would enjoy my present.

I said, “Mom, that’s my present. You chose not to participate, remember?”

She said, “Well everyone should get a gift at Christmas time, and this is my gift!”

I returned to Dad empty-handed and angry. At that time, I didn’t understand Alzheimer’s or dementia and just felt that my 88-year old mother was a bully and a mean-spirited prankster.

“Well? Where is your gift?” Dad demanded.

“Mom won’t give me the present. She is determined to keep it,” I replied angrily.

At that moment my mother appeared again in the room and she and my dad began arguing over my present.  By that time, Grandma was alarmed and loudly talked across them, asking me what was happening.  I had to raise my voice so she could hear me over Dad and Mom.  It appeared that all four of us were in a shouting match on Christmas morning in front of the Christmas tree.  This was not what Christmas should be like!  And none of us were giving in.

Finally, Dad took the present away from Mom’s hands and shoved it angrily at me.  I was angry, because my mother stole a Christmas gift that was meant for me.  Dad was angry because I had let her take it in the first place.  Mom was angry because she didn’t get to keep my present.  Grandma was angry because she was hard of hearing and nobody could explain what was going on loud enough.

We all separated silently to our individual rooms and shut the doors behind us.  My mother had made sure that if she didn’t want Christmas, then we weren’t going to have Christmas, either.

All the joy and happiness that should accompany this holiday was successfully snuffed out.  Over the years, Mom continued to fight me over putting Christmas decorations up, but I still did.  We never exchanged gifts again for Christmas as long as Mom lived. Mom and Grandma passed away a few weeks apart a few short years later.

Looking back on it, it was funny.  But at the time, Mom, in her dementia, believed I was an enemy and she had the need to control everyone, even in illogical ways.  It was very sad.

Brenda & Tam’s Great Adventure

(This happened on September 5, 2018)

This morning I went to visit Brenda

Brenda and her husband Fred and I chatted over the after-breakfast table (I snagged a couple of bacon slices…sigh)

Fred left to work around the farm, while Brenda and I went for a wild ride in her 4-wheel farm utility vehicle, her two dogs ran around us, baying at the fun

Brenda confidently took the vehicle off the road, onto field edges, through woods on vague paths with tree branches whipping, trying to pull us out

She showed me what oak trees look like, ash trees, maple trees, and her personal big-rock-patches (piles of rocks), and she found an old hickory nut for me

She stopped so I could run a fox-tail weed head through my hands, so soft

We saw butterflies, white, yellow, and then a monarch… and

Brenda took off to hunt for milkweed, the plant that monarchs lay their eggs on

She drove back over the field edges, but no milkweeds, drove slowly down to her mail box, looking intently at all the weeds at the side of the road.

I learned what Stinging Nettle looks like ( I have the dried leaves in tea bags!), still no milkweeds.

She turned around and drove back past the chicken coop, then abruptly stopped

Milkweed on my side!

She got out while I hung out the side of the vehicle to investigate the milkweed (now I know what it looks like)

Found one with a gorgeous monarch caterpillar, about 1 1/2 inches long, stocky, with a variety of colored bands wrapped around its body

We wondered, if we stretched out the caterpillar, if those bands would look more like monarch colors, but we only wondered

We soaked up the beautiful creature into our memories (didn’t have the camera)

Then Brenda drove further looking for possible chrysalises of the teenagers incubating into butterflies but

I was very hungry, lunch time, feeling like the caterpillar–gotta eat

Brenda drove back around to her house, the dogs looking exhausted but satisfied, and we said goodbye as I got into my car, with a smile on my face

I saw a monarch caterpillar.  Me.

Falling Stars

(August 13, 2018)

The alien called Skid-loader noisily arrived in the dark, its bright lights blinding us

beckoning us to put our folding chairs in its yawing mouth and sit on its upper lip

Lifting us up a few inches, it backed up and slowly, bumpily

took us behind our friend’s farm in northeastern Ohio

its lights bounce-playing on the rows of tall corn as we passed

I screamed when the alien tilted and tipped on uneven ground

The Husband kept manfully-quiet but hung on tightly

Skid-Loader stopped close to the folding-chair-reclined figure of our friend’s wife

near an open field

highlighted in the alien lights

staring up at the dark, starlit sky

We stepped off Skid-loader’s mouth, thankful to be safe, and unfolded our chairs as

it moved around beyond us and shut down to rest

Our friend appeared from behind and reclined on his own folding lounge chair

We all stared up into the gorgeous starry sky

Glossy clouds tried to cover our monitor into space but stayed away just

enough for us to see past them

Many airplane lights flashed, heading in different directions, then

what we came for happened!

Here… over there… down there…

“Oh!  Did you see that!!”

“Huge flaring arc!”

“Yeah!  A long one!”

All this to see meteor showers or as we enjoyed calling them

Falling Stars

But Not Here

A conglomerate of wild flowers desperately guards the normally exciting, noisy stream

Large and small flowers, bushy, grassy, single stemmed, all drown the senses with amazing colors, all lean over the stream, embracing it for themselves, choking, slowing down the lively gush

Streams must pass and that is life

Desperately hoarding the lively, babbling water or a life’s running course only creates dammed up, silent, stagnate pools fit only for unwanted things

Streams must pass and that is life

The selfish plant life must be trimmed back, allowing the happy creek to bubble and babble on its way to God knows where…but not here

The selfish refusal to let go must be trimmed back to allow an aged father, who used to be a lively, bubbly human life, to flow on to God knows where…

but not here

From a beautiful but sad morning walk August 31st, 2017… I can’t stop my loved ones from flowing around the next bend and the next, any more than they can stop me.  That’s what makes streams and creeks so beautiful to us.  Enjoy the music of life while you’re in the presence of the magnificent rush…