I had bought the three hardbound books three decades ago, and they sit still unread on my bookshelf. But Dad, bored with his own library, picked up volume one and thoroughly enjoyed following Herriott on his rounds in rural Yorkshire. As much as Herriott writes about animals, his true subjects are the animal owners, with their eccentricities and superstitions and their pure humanity. Dad read All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Wise and Wonderful, and All Things Bright and Beautiful, then reread All Creatures, reading for hours at a time, chuckling quietly to himself, telling Mom and me stories of fearsome pigs and troublesome calf deliveries, and I remembered how much our family enjoyed watching the original BBC production. In the spirit of the misty moors, I purchased the complete seven years of All Creatures on DVD for Mom and Dad to enjoy—an alternative to grisly crime shows—90 episodes over 12 years. And then the old VHS/DVD player broke, swallowing a disk whole, so I brought home a new Phillips DVD/BR player from Wal-Mart. The closed captions worked only on the first episode, and now Mom and Dad cannot follow the stories for Siegfried’s incomprehensible mumbling and shouting. But Dad knows all the stories from his reading. As she watches, Mom alternatively works her latest needlepoint or hunts for words in the puzzle book Jeanette gave her for Christmas. I found the puzzle book in the recycle bin, all 108 puzzles completed, all the words found. Who knew she would enjoy them so much? Jeanette sent new a new book with even more word search puzzles. On the afternoon Mom went to the dentist, she did neither needlepoint nor word searches, relaxing into her recliner, waiting for her face to come back to life after having a cavity filled and an old broken crown drilled out. Her poor upper lip just would not work at all for three hours, and for a hundredth of a second flashed in my mind the specter of the dentist pulling all her upper teeth. He had not of course. Dad opened the back door and pulled his wheelchair close, watching me finish the last of the arctic willow pruning. The bushes now look relatively round, and proportionate to their surroundings, with all the dead wood cut out, and another garbage can filled to the lid. “I wish I could help you,” Dad called. I stopped my work and approached with the consolation that as soon as the weather warmed a bit, and the grass dried out some, he could venture outside in his power wheelchair and do just about whatever yard job he wanted, including weeding with a hoe, trimming the bushes, edging the lawn, and general inspection. He could even ride his chair into the garage to transfer to his riding mower and cut the grass. He nodded and smiled and offered a simple “Yes” and that he looked forward to that. Saturday’s work done, and our Coq au Vin dinner pleasurably consumed, and the kitchen cleaned and washed and put away, I sat down with the craft kits I had purchased and assembled, painted, and clothed four Valentine’s Day gnomes, little people that sit cutely on the hearth spelling the word “LOVE.”
Love your love gnomes, Roger! And your blog. 🙂
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Thanks, Batsy. That means a lot. We’ve been following each other through life for many years!
That we have, Roger.
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