Standing on the corner, watching all the squirrels float by
This is what is probably important to understand: I’m afraid of many things. Every plane I am on . . . going to crash. Every snotty-nosed store clerk with a cough . . . obviously there to give me the flu, which will, ultimately, kill me as well.
It’s possible that I could blame this on my mother, because she was also a bit paranoid. Except, I’m pretty sure it was me who caused her to be that way.
Standing in my bedroom at eight-years-old, packing my little pink and white suitcase for a (car) trip to Arizona on spring break, I burst into tears and sunk to my bed with a dramatic sob.
Mom (rushing in, dish towel in hand): “What in the WORLD is going on?”
Me: “I don’t understand why we have to LEAVE our home and drive across the entire COUNTRY to see Uncle Fred and Aunt Nina! We’re all probably going to die in a car accident and then who will feed the horses and the dog and the barn cats?”
Mom: “Oh, for goodness sakes. You’re such a silly goose. Honestly!”
But, I could see her look of concern when she left my room.
Mom always told me it is never the things we worry about that do us in. Ergo, I’ve made it my life’s mission to worry about everything.
It’s a lesson the squirrels could have used to their advantage.
You can probably read about this on-line, if you’re inclined. Just search something like: “Butt loads of squirrels found floating down the Grand River.”
It happened ten years ago or so. My husband, Jim, and I were walking along the Grand Haven boardwalk which runs along a lovely channel which leads to Lake Michigan, admiring the gorgeous night, when three or four squirrels floated by.
“What the hell?” Jim asked.
“There’s more,” I said, pointing.
And there were. Lots more. The boardwalk is two miles long and for it’s entire length, squirrels floated and swirled by us in a macabre water dance. It was, disturbingly, fascinating.
I’m not sure anyone ever figured out exactly what happened to the squirrels. Theories were bandied around about pesticides and electrical currents, but the thing that stuck with me was that those squirrels probably woke up that morning, scratched their furry squirrel crotches and thought something like: “What a beautiful day. I just can’t WAIT to eat a nice acorn and maybe take a walk by the river.”
There has been a full moon this week, a full “super” harvest moon actually, and because it was so lovely and big and impressive and orange I gave it a lot of compliments on my Facebook page, which it apparently didn’t like because it has paid me back with a whole bucket filled with crud.
And not just me, pretty much everyone I know has had a tough week; some with small problems, others with huge, heartbreaking, life changing issues.
Which is what always brings me back to reality: the problems of others.
Possibly the strongest person I’ve ever known died a year ago today. Her courage in the face of tremendous physical discomfort and pain was a thing to behold. She greeted each day with a grin and marveled at the tiniest moments of beauty. There was never a time when I asked her how she was feeling when she did not say: “Other people have it much, much worse.”
It’s a philosophy I’m going to try to adopt in her honor. Because, really, until the day I’m in the same position as those squirrels, I’ve got it awfully good.
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