I have been feeling itchy ever since we saw the little kid on t.v. who had 2 spiders flushed out of his ear. This is probably a great statement of how media achieves an influence over the minds of the people. I don't care...I'm just really glad we have a lot of q-tips.
Another thing nagging at the back of my mind is something that happens every single time I do yard work. I like to mow the lawn. I like to dig, to clip, to rake, all of it. I like the sensation of being really hot and sweaty and asking the kids to bring me a cup of ice water before I pass-out - not that our yard is a garden showpiece or anything; it's not. The only thing I can't handle is the weed-whacker. It's too heavy and I feel like I'm going to slice a leg off.
Anyway, whilst I am enjoying my little ritual of hard, manly labor in the great outdoors, I think of my dad every single time. This bothers me, because I am still pretty angry with my dead father.
The second oldest of 4 and the only girl, I was NOT the little princess. I had to compete with 3 brothers and a neighborhood crawling with boys. I had no use for dolls or fancy dresses. It was the late 60's. It was more than a perk to be really good throwing a baseball or a dirt clod, or wielding an air bazooka - it was a necessity. It was also sweet justice to be the only girl who wasn't afraid to hold a ribbon snake (our babysitter dropped it when it's tongue flicked out and it died the next day); the boys thought that was mighty boss of me. But very few things about me seemed to impress my dad.
My older brother was expected to help with the yard work on Saturdays. And he did, for a while. But he would exit the scene way before we were finished, and I counted on Danny going a-wol because then I would have dad all to myself. I admired his Herculean strength and the way the sweat dripped off the edge of his nose. He said it did that because he was a "Portugee". It was a truly delicious effort, working furiously to keep pace with a big guy like that and hoping he would notice. He was more cheerful out in the yard than in any other setting.
So now, 40 years later (and almost 4 years that he's been gone), why should I automatically think of following him around our acre lot on Jellico Avenue - the panting, puppy-like invisible slave of Saturday chores? It's pathetic. It's not some kind of weird, spiritual communication, is it? I don't ever remember him saying, "Good job!" or "Thanks for helping me!"
But today, as I mowed the front lawn and trimmed the oleanders, I couldn't shake the image of his younger self bustling full gear around that extensive yard with it's 30+ trees, the rose garden, and hedges, the riding mower circling the lawn cranked all the way to "4" on the speed option. The sensation of me as a little girl following in his powerful shadow was sharp and insistent.
I think he was thinking I did do a good job, but had missed trimming the driveway.
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