Mowing the Lawn…
Mowing the Lawn…
I mow my own lawn and that of my parent’s on a weekly basis.
I used to hate it; I mean, actually curse the universe as I wrestled the mower, which seemed to weigh a billion tons, in an out and around gardens, plants, trees, and lawn ornaments. Every week it was the nightmare I dreaded most. How I resented all the time it took and made me wistful for all the other activities it was keeping me from.
But something’s changed.
This year, I don’t seem to mind it all. In fact, I look forward to it and am actually a bit disappointed when it’s all over.
You see, it’s become my pondering time; a little slice of time when all the other voices get drowned out by the rumble of the mower and I have the opportunity to listen to my own, singular voice. In that way, it feels like a quiet time, a time when, instead of wrestling with the mower, I get to wrestle with my thoughts regarding my past, the present, and my future.
The subject matter always varies greatly. Last week it was all about revisiting the many pitfalls of a rather bloated production of Pam Gem’s ‘Piaf’ that I produced and directed. The woman who played the title character was brilliant, but I surrounded her with a pathetic, disastrous circus.
This week? I thought about the power of belief and how important it is to allow others to believe what they want, even when reality doesn’t support that belief.
Atula, the 14 year old, deaf, Boston Terrier that came to live with me two years ago has been diagnosed with an inoperable cancerous tumor. He’s not in any pain, still loves going outside, still has a voracious appetite. He’s facing a host of other health issues as well: his immune system is shot, he has a long-term staph infection, his legs sometimes fail him, and he is going blind. Everyone tells me that my ex and I should have him put down. And at the first sign of discomfort, I will be joining that chorus.
But my ex doesn’t want to hear it. And there are a number of reasons for that.
It could be that he identifies on some level with the frailty of the aging dog. He’s now near retirement age and dealing with a number of health issues that occur when dealing with an aging body.
It could be that it marks one less thing that will bind the two of us together.
But most likely, he simply can’t bear to lose another dog. And there, we are in agreement.
Atula has been special. He has a goony pug face with big bulging eyes, a bloated body, and skinny, long legs. Because he’s deaf, he doesn’t bark, he screams. He’s hungry all the time and screams for treats constantly. My ex gives into him more than I.
When we first got him two years ago, Atula was not used to being touched at all. He spent twelve years of his life being crated for eight to twelve hours at a time. With a lot of careful nurturing, we are now able to rub his belly and he tolerates our affection.
The first time we let him run around in the back yard he was terrified and wasn’t sure what to do. Now he loves it. Last night my ex was supposed to join my family for dinner, but he declined, because Atula had wandered outside and fallen asleep in the shade on the newly mown lawn. He didn’t have the heart to wake him.
My ex has seen to it that Atula has gotten the very best veterinarian care available. But even he knows that there are limits. So, I’ve instructed my family to not pressure him to put the dog down. When they do, he gets very upset, and, at this time, I don’t see any reason for that. My ex wants to believe that Atula will, somehow, be all right - which is really not that different than my Mom’s belief that my Dad will, somehow, be all right, too.
My Mom is finally accepting the fact that my Dad will be bedridden for the remainder of his time on this earth, though she still fights with herself, believing that if she keeps him awake and moves his limbs and makes him try to stand on his own, that she can stem the ravages of Alzheimer’s. When she seeks my opinion on this matter, I only caution her that moving him on her own, or attempting to make him stand puts both of them at great risk of physical injury – injuries that could be game changers.
I understand that she needs to believe that she has a hand in delaying the inevitable. And I let her. She needs to cling to that belief, just as she relies upon her belief in God; it gives her life purpose and focus.
In both matters; my Mom in relation to my Dad, and my ex regarding our dog, my true feelings matter very little. At this time, I need to support their beliefs. And as long as neither Atula nor my Dad is in pain or at risk of pain or injury, then I need to keep my opinions to myself - at least until such time when they are ready to deal with the reality of the situations.
I keep reminding myself that reality will make itself apparent, and that, like all things, this, too, will end. So, I keep my own consul. I keep retreating into my head. And other than momentary lapses – the other day, when my Mom was out of the room, I took the opportunity to grab my sister’s hand and tearfully confess that I was “tired” – that is where these thoughts remain.
In the meantime, I take comfort that…
…the grass will grow.
And the lawns will need mowing once more.