Courage at Twilight: Stanley Steamer

The FedEx driver jumped from his parked truck and ran into our front yard. I had checked on Dad twenty minutes earlier as he puttered around the yard with a weeding tool doubling as a cane in one hand, and a folded camp chair serving both as cane and emergency rest station in the other.  I bolted from my home office and found Dad sitting in his chair, in the park strip, calmly watching the busy Pepperwood traffic go by.  “The driver helped me get to my chair,” he commented, telling me how he had again pushed past the limits of his strength and found himself hugging the sweetgum tree, too weak to stand, too weak to make it to his chair fifteen feet away, trembling violently.  “I don’t know my limits until I have passed them!” Dad explained.  The FedEx driver had walked him to his chair, where he now sat comfortable and calm, as if no crisis had occurred.  I was not there when he needed me—and I cannot always be there when he needs me—but someone else was, and that is sufficient.  No matter his state of exhaustion, Dad manages to ride the mower.  “I’m just sitting,” he insists stubbornly, and I do not argue.  With fertilizer applied, the sprinklers fixed and adjusted, and warm spring days, the grass is thick and green and growing fast.  Cooking that evening, wearing my apron, I took a break to sit with Mom and watch the sunset.  An enormous pile of cut grass in the front yard caught my attention.  Dad had found the strength to dump it and mow on, but was too weak to bag it.  I asked Mom when the sprinklers would come on.  “Now,” she said.  That pile of grass would be infinitely messier to pick up soaked with water, so I jumped out of my chair and grabbed a can and tools, running without shoes onto the lawn.  I scooped up the grass with a snow shovel and filled the can, too heavy to lift.  Dad had joined us while I scooped, and called out, “Just drag the can.”  I imagine I was quite a sight, still in my dress shirt and tie, wearing a kitchen apron, sporting brightly striped socks, frantically scooping grass into a can with an orange snow shovel.  Sprinkler heads popped up and sprayed me just as I reached the driveway, dragging the heavy can.  My cooking called me back into the kitchen.  Stanley Steamer had come earlier in the day to shampoo all the carpets, which were still wet, so I wiped my socks clean of grass and dust to not soil the newly-cleaned carpets.  Dad told us after dinner that he could not find one of his hearing aids.  In the dark the next morning, I slid his recliner from the kitchen back into its customary spot on the now-dry carpet, and searched the cracks of his recliners.  I found the lost hearing aid on the kitchen table, and left the pair in a glass cup for him to find when he wandered down for breakfast.  Despite another day’s mishaps and adventures, all was well as I drove off to work.

A pair of Mallard ducks dozing happily on the front lawn, waiting for the sprinklers to come on.

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