12 October 2009

Signs of Life

Signs of Life
10/12/2009, 7:58 AM #

I often wake up very early, sometimes around 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, and can’t go back to sleep. This morning I descended the stairs and headed for the kitchen to get a glass of milk, check on the dogs and just look around.

In the foyer my foot hits an object and sends it scooting across the floor and, in the dark and quiet house, a familiar tune disturbs the silence, as red and green lights start flashing. The tune was Popeye The Sailor Man, not the words but the tink tink of electronic cords that emanated from the little plastic toy.

A few days ago it was raining and my shoes were muddy when I came home. I took them off in the mud room, next to the kitchen, and left them there to dry so I could go back later and knock the mud off. When I returned, one shoe was missing. Annoyed but not mad, I searched the house and found the shoe in the toy box, laces untied and pulled out except for the two bottom holes where I tie them in a knot.

Last night I left the TV remote control on the side of my chair while I went to the bathroom. When I came back the clicker was gone. An extensive search found the thing under my chair with the batteries missing. An even more extensive search discovered the batteries in the arm rest pocket of my chair.

He knows how to open the cabinet doors just enough to reach in and unhook the mechanism that is supposed to prevent his entry. Pots and pans are always on the kitchen floor and often are found in other parts of the house.

I was not too surprised to see a small handprint, in jelly, on the window by the patio. Chairs are now being used to ascend to the tops of tables and are being dragged over to counters to facilitate the experience of discovering things once out of reach. The gate, that was intended to keep him from climbing the stairs to the marvelous mysteries of that nether region, now merely slow him down for a moment. He often shows up in my upstairs office, unannounced and looking for trouble.

He must have a bite or a sip of anything I eat or drink. He insists on sitting in my recliner with me. He never stays long but comes and goes as he pleases. He wears a shirt with a message on it that says, Blame it on the dog.

He is fifteen months old now. Two years ago he did not exist. I could not imagine him. I was not thinking of him; I was not hoping for him. I did not long for him or even want him; but to live without him now is not an option. The beat of his heart sustains mine and his smile makes me want to live forever.

Jack Dallas

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