groundhog afternoon

So, now we’ve added another varmint to the cast of characters who come for the fallen birdseed and move on to munch to the quick my various plantings.


It looks like a big hamster; I suppose it’s a young woodchuck. I watch as it calmly meanders around the overgrown back “yard” (such as it is), nibbling clover and pawing at what’s growing in some of my pots. I think it comes at night and scoops out the stones that I use to anchor the post on which the bird feeders hang. I used to think it was the raccoons, but I’ll bet it’s the brazen ground hog digging for seeds. Every morning, the post is tipped at a precarious angle. I know, the solution is to use cement to hold the post in place. It’s on the list of things to do. Heh!
We thought that my mother might enjoy sitting in the screened breezeway watching the parade of chipmunks and squirrels and birds of all feathers. But the present doesn’t interest her, no matter how cute and colorful. She is locked in a past full of losses, and she is terrified of what the future promises.
“I’m afraid. I’m afraid,” she chants. But when I ask her what she’s afraid of, she can’t seem to say. And so I stroke her hair and put my arms around her and tell her she’s safe and she doesn’t have to be afraid. That usually doesn’t help. I suppose she’s afraid of dying. Yet, this afternoon I heard her muttering, “Jesus, take me. Jesus, take me.”
She’s begun napping several times during the day. I suppose it’s the meds. She’s now taking Namenda, a relatively new Alzheimer’s medication. I should have had her start on it years ago. But she’s always given me a hard time about taking her pills. These days she’s even worse. I often have to wait until she lapses into a state where she’s lost in her own inner world so that I can slip the pill into her mouth and coax her to drink the water.
When my kids were young, we had a cat named Saffron, because he was a “mellow yellow” color. And I liked that Donovan song. His name is really irrelevant. What’s relevant is that, at age 13, he developed painful tumors just under his skin. He spent most of his time in the darkness under the bed. Petting and cuddling him was out of the question. I took him to the vets and sat there and cried while he was put to sleep. I couldn’t bear to see him live in pain and isolation. He had a good life. He was loved. There was no point in allowing his suffering to continue. He would never get better or younger.
We can’t deal with human beings with the same compassion. It’s against the law. Look what happened to Dr. Kevorkian. As I do my best to ease my mother’s mental and physical suffering, I wonder what my last years will be like. I’m not afraid of dying at the end of my life; I’m afraid of continuing to exist deprived of the capacity to “live.”
I’m sure that groundhogs don’t think ahead to their day of dying. They’re too busy just being groundhogs.

1 thought on “groundhog afternoon

  1. Elaine,

    I will be watching with you for next months. Keep yourself well. The solace of a groundhog or the morning sunshine will help. You do what you must and grow stronger each day.

    Barbara, Hillsboro, Oregon

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