Friday, July 17, 2009
This Heat Could Kill You!
You've got to get out early here in summer if you want to tip around in the garden. Otherwise they'll never find the body, just a mysterious melted puddle of something over by the azaleas.
"Well, at least she died trying!" they'll say at the funeral, where there is no casket and nothing to view. Instead they'll have a picture of neatly trimmed azaleas and a grimacing eight by ten of the face that was yours. Your soul hovers over the mourners, tut-tutting "You'd think they could've found a better picture than that?" No glory, not even in death!
Who are these people anyway?
Neighbours hardly known. Everyone here has their own little acre, like islands in a stream, and no boats about. They've seen you puttering in the garden, peering at you from behind their hibiscus. They've seen you heading off to run your errands, seen you come back. They know who comes and who goes from your house, what time they arrive, how late they stay, but they keep to themselves. After all, they left the life and the people who matter to them up north. They're only here for the sunshine and the absence of snow. They honk and wave if you're out with your secateurs as they drive by on errands of their own. Using your shirt to mop the salty sweat that's dripping into your eyes and stinging, you straighten your aching back and wave at you know not whom.....And now it dawns on them---"You know, we saw her outside that day, over by the azaleas...."
Here's a little cluster of young adults, little people swirling about their ankles. Two lovely young ladies, so different, so opposite; three handsome young men, two bearded, one getting there, grave expression, glint in the eye, and Little Guy, now tallest of them all, looking on, thinking---"It took this to get them home?"
Could it be, is it possible, they were my babies once, in the land of Long Ago? They needed me. When I think about it, no one had ever needed me that much before, or since. I learned more from them than from anything else in life..... It must be so boring for the little ones, this somber talk, these gloomy faces. No wonder they are fidgety and swirling. Why doesn't someone play the ABC song to liven things up? This music they're playing in the background could kill you. If you weren't already dead.
You think if you can just manage to keep them alive until they're toilet trained, until they finish primary school, until they find new friends at the new place, until they finish junior high, until they find a summer job, until they finish high school, until they apply to college, until they get accepted---by a college, by their peers, by the world---you'll breathe easier......
And then they learn to drive. Oh my! You're so excited for them. They're really growing up! But as they vanish down the road you start to feel queasy. And later, around midnight, you begin to wonder what they slipped into your tea....Excited? Have you lost your mind? Excited? For them to be out in the dark, behind the wheel of a lethal weapon?? You thought you were sleep deprived when they were in the cradle.....and now they have drivers licenses and they're out in the Ford or the Honda and you're getting less sleep than ever.......They may be out of diapers but we're not out of the woods yet.
But maybe they'll meet a nice girl, or boy, and settle down, and at last you'll be able to relax. But what if the nice girl decides, one day, to toss aside your darling son of the grave expression, like last season's tattered jeans, and you don't know how to console him and he doesn't call and you fret and worry and lose more sleep? And what if your dear, stubborn daughter is so far away, you cannot vet her suitors and you worry she'll be too trusting, and make bad choices.....More sleep up in smoke. Shouldn't you be trusting them at this stage to run their own lives? They only look like grownups, but really they're just children, your precious children. And the world is too cruel a place ....where dreams can get splintered on the harsh rocks of reality.....
The littlest one, the "big" sister moves imperceptibly closer, protectively, to her siblings. From my perch, up near the chandelier, I see why. A tall, feeble, but still upright old man is shuffling their way. They brace themselves for the onslaught. He always thought I was too big for my britches. And now, and now, I've had the temerity to die before him! I never did know my place!
My soul flutters above them, agitated that he's there! He often told me that he didn't want to come to our wedding, because I'd insisted on being married over there. Little upstart that I was. So why is he at my funeral? Probably wants to make sure I'm gone!
I'm looking, I'm looking. Where is he? Ah there he is....over there, see? Looking at the eight by ten and the nicely trimmed azaleas. Dark hair thinning, with just a hint of gray, brooding, lost in thought. I'd sell my soul to the devil to read those thoughts, but I'm already booked into heaven......
It's been hot here! The OC has been out of town. We've had lots of rain, between bouts of scorching sunshine. Everything is growing and needs trimming, not least the weeds. The sweat is drip,drip,dripping, the bones ache,the mind wanders.....lost in Lala Land. The moral of the story---Go call your mother! She's probably out there under the trees, la la la-ing, dehydrating, getting spider webs in her hair and mumbling to herself. Be quick about it....... unless you want them to find a mysterious puddle over by the azaleas.
I need to get out more, obviously. And not just to trim the azaleas.