Wednesday, October 2, 2013

"Old Grudges"


When my two dear aunts were alive, they lived, as widows, close to one another.  So close in fact that they shared something of a silly living arrangement.  Aunt Mandy lived on the left side of a duplex, while my Aunt Icie lived on the right side.  However, my Aunt Mandy spent most of her day and evening with my Aunt Icie in her duplex, thus making the need to pay rent on two duplexes absolutely silly.  I guess, in looking back, each of them was trying to maintain something of their independence, by holding a space where the mementos of half a century of life, and marriage could be housed and held and fondly remembered.

But the two sweet ladies were simply two peas in a pod.  When my family and I would come to visit the two old ladies were inevitably watching soap operas.  They lived for Edge of Night and As The World Turns, and General Hospital and so many others.  At their advanced age, and possessing rather old fashioned morals, I would guess the racy adultery portrayed on that 20 inch TV screen was their generation's equivalent of pornography.  

When we arrived at their front door, and inevitably interrupted their soaps, I always felt like we were intruding.  But the two lovelies always greeted us with smiles of love and warmth and kisses and offerings of my Aunt Icie's wonderful pies.  We would sit there eating pie and conversing, mostly during the soap commercials until a programming gap afforded us full eye contact and serious conversation.  It was always at that point when one or another of the aunts would begin telling a story, only to have the other one interrupt to correct some inconsistency.  This was always the beginning of a mutual see-sawing where one would talk over the other, issue sighs of mild disgust, or a rolling of the eyes to demonstrate just how wrong the other one was.  The lobbying back and forth was never hate-filled; it was simply a public airing of those little things that surely bugged each other, airings and differences that were most likely never discussed in the privacy of their two hearts-two heads little world.  

Now I am approaching their ages but I live alone.  But not entirely alone.  I have two chi's, one of whom has now reached the golden dog age of 100.  Ginger, particularly in the last year, has proven to be somewhat of a pain in the butt for me.  I am constantly torn by the urge to swat her ass with a fly swatter or hug her to me in appreciation that she's still here.

Ginger has gone through two cancer surgeries, the loss of her husband, now suffers a bit from old age dimming of her faculties, diminished hearing and eyesight and sometime suffers from tremors.  A fawn reindeer Chihuahua, she has always had remarkable leaping ability.  Sadly, her leaping ability has severely diminished so that when she leaps into a chair, she makes it half way, only to fall back to the floor, at which time she looks over at me sheepishly, much embarrassed.  She is other wise well and gets around quite nicely.  There is the occasional scary moment when she tries to rise from her bed and falls to the floor, all four legs splayed out like limp noodles.  It would be funny to any casual observer who holds no love for her; for me it is a reminder that she'll not be with me much longer.  

Ginger also scares me with her coma like sleep sessions.  Sometimes, upon arriving home, and pulling into the garage, I will hear a hail of barking from my younger Chi...the traditional greeting and admonition for having left home at all.  However, upon entering the home I will find Ginger splayed out on the tile floor in deep sleep, the commotion not waking her at all.  These days I will hurry to her and pet her and give her a peremptory nudge to wake her and assure me that she's still with us.

However, as much as I love her, the last year has seen a torrent of irritants issuing from my old girl.  She is always ravenous and I have to continually monitoring her diet.  She gets half a cup of low carb/high fiber dog food in the morning and another half a cup in the evening.  She gobbles her food and it is gone in half a minute, at which time she tries to steal the other dog's rations.  Sometimes Ginger chooses to fill her day doing the opposite of everything I expect her to do, whether it is vacating a room so that I can clean it...or going to bed when I tell her too.  

I first threatened her with fly swatter but she held no fear of it.  Then I started applying mild thumps to her haunches; it is at that time that she will begin screaming like a banshee and then rolling into a ball and pretending that I'm beating her to death.  She will then look at me with a look so pitiful that I feel like the worst of ogres.  She will then pout for hours, ignoring my affections and turning her back to me when we are in the same room.  

So, like my two dear Aunts, Ginger and I nurse old, sometimes deeply buried grudges.  We both have our own distinct views of the world and sometimes these views clash at just the wrong moment.  But there are times, when she's laying in my lap in early evening, and I'm stroking her head and rubbing her ears, that we both fondly remember the long morning walks, the chase of rabbits and birds, and the unending ball toss sessions many years ago when she saved me from a debilitating depression.

So, I guess we'll continue to co-habitate and cooperate as much as our ego's will allow.  The mutual love and respect we have built for nearly sixteen years has been a good salve to heal old grudges.

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