Thursday, June 8, 2023

The Caretaker and the Adventurer

This is my mom at 91.  This is where I go to sit almost every day.  It's a routine that has become difficult to halt.  It began at the start of Covid, and when she fell and broke her shoulder, I stayed with her and took her to therapy every day.  Once she could care for herself, therapy still went on for months, and I took her each time.  I'm a good caretaker, and I know my daily visits are important.  None of my mother's friends who live alone have children who come to see them every day.  Some, maybe once a week.  Some, a few times a year.  

I had a German Shepard/Huskie mix.  She was a stray who followed me home one night when I was on a run.  After nine years, she became diabetic, got cataracts, and could barely see.  She needed insulin shots twice a day precisely twelve hours apart.  Not most days.  Not approximately twelve hours.  After her shot, I had to wait twenty minutes and then feed her.  Not approximately twenty minutes.  Before she was diabetic, I ran her twice a day, once before work and once after.  She got in about seven miles a day.  After she became diabetic, she still got walked twice a day.  Every day.  

She lived on as a diabetic dog for another eight years.  Seventeen years is a long, long life for a seventy pound dog, let alone a diabetic one.  

Once a very feral kitty

I've had two cats, both feral.  One lived seventeen years.  She moved into the house after being attacked by another cat.  A bite on her head became very infected and she lay on my deck dying.  I called my friend the vet and she came to the house and filled the cat with fluids and antibiotics.  She said I would have to keep the cat indoors until she regained her strength.  I had to give her antibiotic pills twice a day.  I thought the cat would bite and claw me, but she seemed to recognize the state of things.  She fell in love with me and became a sweet and loving thing.  I don't know how long the new one will live as she is truly wild and without any of the safety features of a domestic cat including flea and tick medicine, vaccines, etc.  But she comes to me to be fed and looks to me for some company, too.  

I'm a pretty good caretaker, a pretty good guy.  I think I have some evidence if not proof.  

All of this is by way of saying I've been routinized.  They are ceremonies, sure, sacred pacts that transcend pure mundanity, but they have been and are time constrainers.  

I might as well have had kids.  

Nah.  Just kidding there.  Kids are way easier.  You can take them on vacations.  You can get people to sit with them while you are gone.  By and large, I think the payoff is about the same or maybe a little worse.  I am with my gay friends about this.  When we see a couple with children, we laugh and roll our eyes.  

"Jesus. . . "

I got so sick of hearing one preening boy talk about how smart his two children were, I broke down.  "They are all fucking geniuses at that age.  They are amazing.  Every parent will let you know.  Then, around twelve, something begins to happen and they get stupid.  Most of them.  You never know, though.  It's too early to tell."

He didn't take that so well.  He got that pissy look of a wannabe gay man who got trapped in marriage.  His wife leads them a perfectly horrid life, but all our friends, almost all childfree, dote on the kids because they are being raised woke.  The little geniuses are gender-free.  

Things will be fine.  

Maybe I misspoke on the children being easier thing, but they are often out of the house in eighteen years.  My animals lived almost that long.  

Somehow I need to break my routine.  Last night, I got jazzed thinking about doing some of the old things again.  I would go fishing somewhere.  Lots of places.  I would rent a sailboat for a half day.  I would start riding my bike downtown and to the gym.  I would get an eBike so that I would get out of the house without a car (I still can't bring myself to chance a Vespa again).  I would fly fish in the streams of N.C. and Virginia and see my friends there.  I would sail in the Chesapeake Bay.  I would buy some skin diving equipment and get a room close to the reef I used to snorkel with my father.  I'd scuba in the Bahamas.  Just anything outdoors.  And I'd always have my camera.  Oh. . . I could hardly get to sleep.  I had to get up after an hour of rolling around and take some Sleep-Eeez.  

I'm a little groggy this morning.  Going fishing doesn't excite me.  I'm going to the gym after I finish writing.  Later today, I will go to see my mother.  

I have a childfree girlfriend whose parents died a couple years apart recently.  She is a free spirit and loves to just get in her car and find out where she is going.  She is insatiably curious about everything.  She sends me pictures from roadside stands, strange rural tourist traps, and of all the trails she likes to walk.  She goes to beer festivals, whiskey tastings, macrame workshops. . . just whatever is going on.  She went by herself to a sushi restaurant that is being touted as one of the best in the U.S. and had a $400 meal.  Just to see.  She recently decided that her job is too constraining, and so she quit.  Just walked away from a career and a pension.  She is selling her house and moving into the two hundred year old family home she has inherited in the midwest.  

"What are you going to do?" I ask. 

"I don't know. . . sell cupcakes or something."

She's the same person who I had lunch with after my doctor told me I was going to have a stroke.  She's the one who said, "Well. . . you've had a good run."  

I would like to have some more. . . at least a good limp.  I would like to just get in my car in the afternoons and see where I end up like I used to.  I'd like to spend the late afternoon and early evening making things.  

But today, I will do what I did yesterday and the day before that.  Maybe later, I'll pull out my old fly rod and see if I can still work it.  

I can hear Q--"I thought you did that every day?"

Pretty much.  

Maybe I'll go to the rough little bar on the bayou and take an airboat ride across the big river of grass.  

But I'm pretty sure I will take a nap first.  All that excitement last night thinking things wore me out.  


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