Andie and I spent our first Thanksgiving together. As you can see, above Turkey made it in one piece, although Andie thought he was a toy and ran down the hall with him and attempted to jump on the bed with her prize. —–Didn’t work! Instead, I found him in her day bed, along with squeak bug, yellow dog, a few acorns, and a cue tip. So, Mr. T spent the day on the trunk of the Cadi saying, “Gobble” to the neighbors.
I got invited to spend Thanksgiving in the mountains overlooking Lake Sonoma with a family Trace and I have known for nearly twenty years. We saw the youngest daughters grow from teenagers into mature women, one with two young boys and the others mature adults with busy lives and responsibilities. Over the long years we have shared joys, disappointments, triumphs, disasters, weddings, births, deaths and just about every human condition possible. I am considered an Uncle and that has become a precious gift in these late years of mine. As someone once said of deep grief, “I am barely here,” but in recent days I can honestly say, “I am mostly here now.” The ghost life of deep mourning has its own timing and seasons. Perhaps the thaw has come early….thank you emotional climate change! Thanksgiving!
It is this connection and the life of Andie that has brought me into the world again and the summation of its essence is one word: ‘Gratitude.’ Gratitude is a bit like ‘Grace’ it comes from some deep place in the heart, eases suffering, confirms the best in us and like grace, is a practical joy-like feeling that confirms the purpose of life, which for many of us is a thick jam of forgiveness, love, kindness, and care-giving in all its complexities of affect. It is at this particular emotional juncture that I forget all my character flaws and crimes of the heart. The holy pointy heads among us who sell CD’s, books and miracle menus, including X’ing any foods white in color, insist we must forgive ourselves. That’s cool, so—–Thanksgiving!
I know that for Andie, life is less fraught with the contingencies of aging, illness, and survival. Andie survives like a dog angel for the time being and certainly for some long stretch ahead.
The Kibble Treat Rock
Andie didn’t get any leftovers, but I did and will be eating Turkey soup for weeks now. Andie, on the other hand, has decided to continue her Vegan ways. It must have started with those Summer fallen plums and Autumn apples she hunted with the passion of a bird dog. Hmmm, come to think of it she is a bird dog! Watching Andie stand frozen with one leg back and tense with rapt attention as hummingbirds zoom by, crows quibble on high, or the Morning Doves peck about the ground is a joy to behold. She is so beautiful.
In addition to plums, crab apples, apples and the occasional tangerine segment she is now eating green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots (if steamed). This is a good news addition to her kibble food. Now that Safeway has become the Whole Foods of low income seniors we can claim a genteel survival.
HOWEVER, Andie’s pond excursions require some new thinking. For some reason she has focused on pond hyacinths and obtains them through some stealth that only a dedicated Ninja might exercise. Lately, almost every day in fact this is what I find strewn along the hall. She like to nibble the bulb part of the plant—–‘substitute apples’, I wonder.
Hopefully in time she’ll give up on it, because I have to leave them in the pond to protect the fish from coons and cats. Worse, she might fall in and smell like OhMyGawd…yuck. This is where ‘grateful’ come into play. There is something about experiencing the absolute of death that brings in its wake the understanding of relative time. For seniors it speeds up and the wise among us see and accept the event horizon, thus every simple thing, every humble daily task, and the unfolding of a generous day makes us grateful for the moment.
In terms of the human poignancy I experience on a daily basis, Andie’s world is already about the moment: The moment about the kibble rock at all hours, apples, walks, sniffing, gopher hunts, food trash at the church yard, the neighbor’s mulch pile full of tossed garden tomatoes, humming birds, window staring, play and falling asleep on my feet while I type at the desk. We are grateful we two for our allotted time of joy and the life we live. Thanksgiving!