I’ve been thinking a little about death lately. Morbid? no, not really. Just tonguing my own mortality. A bunch of little things have crept up around me and shifted my thoughts toward that undiscovered county. On my other blog I illustrated a poem I wrote after a sixteen year old acquaintance was killed in a car accident. Re-exploring that territory reminded me of other kids around my age that didn’t make it to college. There were two who accidentally shot themselves in the head (one with a gift they had received as a graduation present at his graduation party.) A couple were killed doing stupid things in their cars. One friend fell off a cliff while hiking in Dinosaur National Monument. We all did really dumb stuff growing up. Sometimes it’s a wonder I’m here.
A teenage boy was killed a couple of days ago in L.A. dancing on his seat on top of a double-decker tour bus. He didn’t see the freeway sign. That seems like a harsh punishment for cutting a little loose. He was with a group of students seeing the sites. The chaperons were downstairs.
Last Thursday Maddie cornered a squirrel in the backyard. It has chewed its way into the container where I used to keep the bird seed. Maddie pounced on the bin from the back steps and the squirrel ran. First into the kitchen where it tried to hide behind the fridge. Then back out the door and into the flowerbed near the back of the house with Maddie right on its heels. Maddie caught it and shook it pretty good before I could get there. I grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and she let it go. The poor thing crawled limply into a corner by the house and panted miserably. I took my ferocious puppy inside and crated her. Her blood was up and she really really wanted to get back to that squirrel. Robin was completely mortified by the whole experience, so it took me a little while to calm him down. Maddie’s hysterical whining and barking didn’t help.
I checked on the squirrel a couple of times with the hope that maybe it would recover, but it was not to be. The poor thing stopped breathing and closed its eyes. When Alice Louise got home, I packed it up and put it in the dumpster. It was both stressful and sad.
I know it’s odd to feel regret over the death of a squirrel. We have several of the critters living round our house in the trees. They get into the birdseed and into the walls. They’ve trashed the insulation in the shed (why the previous owners put insulation into a shed that is open at the rafters is beyond me). I guess my regret is really for the way that its life ended. It didn’t end up as coyote chow, or heroically leap in front of a car to save a baby squirrel. Their was no great meaning in its end, just an angry dog getting in touch with her terrier roots. But I suppose that’s actually the way of the world. Which is probably where the regret lays down its roots. The question comes: Will my life and its end have meaning?
My dad died ten years ago this year. It seems impossible that its been that long. A lot of things have happened in that time that he didn’t get to experience. We were just entering the point in our lives where our relationship was transitioning from father and son to something more like friendship. Sadly I’ll never get to have my dad as a friend. I’ve been lucky in my life to have a number of surrogate dads. Michael Ramsaur, Ross Williams, Paul Strayer, Jim Severson and my Uncle Peter all contributed greatly to the person I became. It does take a village. And Robin will have a similar set of people to call on in my own friends (his Uncles) if I’m equally unlucky.
All of this of course colors my thoughts about my relationship with Robin. I’m an older dad. We didn’t mean to wait so long to have kids, we just weren’t in the right place in our lives yet. But it means I’ll be 55 when Robin graduates from high school. My dad passed at 58. I want to see more of his life than my dad saw of mine. I want to make it to his wedding. I guess I’ll just have to make sure to duck those freeway signs.
Well, maybe that did get a little morose. I promise to write something cheery next time.
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