I have not published a blog in quite a while. I have been writing blogs, yet, to put a long-blog-story-short (and I did write an unpublished blog about the reason for not publishing, though it will be published at some point in the near future) the last thing we have needed this past year is someone else’s opinion. It seems everyone is emboldened with a dogmatic opinion these days -I suppose it is a mix of outrage, frustration and the availability of social media.
But this blog is not really an opinion.
Hence, I write.
Hence, I plan to publish.
My dad has been in hospice care, in a very nice area of Northridge, CA for over 3 years. The man is 87 years-old and has been defying death his entire life. He was born premature and needed to be placed in the family farm oven as a makeshift incubator. He has survived car accidents, gas leaks, heart attacks and, most recently, Covid 19, of which he did not experience as much as a single sniffle.
He is losing his faculties slowly and most currently his hearing has failed him.
So I went over to bring him a whiteboard so we could establish communication via dry erase markers.
When I arrived the caretaker was changing his adult diaper and sheets, and requested that I leave and come back in about 15 minutes. So I left for a short walk around a rather nice and upscale neighborhood.
What I saw next was one of the most bizarre things I have seen in my life.
As walked in the sidewalk-less street, I noticed a small creature “limp running” its way toward me. My eyes are not the greatest so I waited until we got closer to each other and put on my glasses.
I had no idea what I was looking at. And why was a defenseless creature racing TOWARD me?
It was too big for a mouse, too small to be a decent size rat, while its head was much larger than its skimpering body. The poor thing had an incredible limp and seemed absolutely bewildered by what was happening. I was perplexed until….
I continued walking and noticed a dead animal in the street. As I made my way towards the dead creature, I slowly began piecing together what transpired. Apparently a pregnant possum was struck by a car, spilling out her babies from within into the street. As I hovered over the carcass, I noticed some of the premature possums lay dead on their momma, some were trying to snuggle up to her while others, much like the one I first encountered, decided to run for some kind of cover.
This was a very bizarre experience as it was both heart wrenching and tragic, regardless of one’s thoughts on the current state of the possum community.
Why did I encounter this very strange accident on the same day I had to face my dying father’s loss of hearing? As our elderly parent’s age, it seems there are certain milestones that are a reality check for a new downward turn in a seemingly constant descending state.
This was that.
I immediately knew I had to write about this small but memorable event in order to make any sense of it whatsoever. Please do not misunderstand, I am definitely NOT a “everything happens for a reason” guy at all. In fact, the only meaning any event has in our life is the meaning we assign to it.
Did the gods place a dead possum in my path in order to provide a symbolic message in my life? Maybe, though I would question the gods ethics if they felt they had to either kill or orphan a bunch of possums just so Jimmy can write a blog and learn a little something about life.
No, it just happened. And if there was a reason I could never know it with any degree of certainty, so what’s the point in trying?
Why not? It’s not like the future of my life will depend on my interpretation of a strange event, though to attempt to have this event fit snug like a jigsaw piece into the puzzle of my life narrative is, at best, an exercise in creative thinking that may help shape the understanding of my father’s condition (as conjured and cockamamie as it may be) or, at worst, I have wasted an hour or so writing about a random, weird happenstance.
Later that day I was able to share this story with my sisters. My oldest sister, Marybeth, believed this injured, baby possum represented my ailing and dying father. He too was introduced to the world in a tragic way and has been running ever since. Since he longer has anyone else on earth, he is running toward his children for safety.
And there is not a damn thing we can do for him.
I looked at those possums and felt so damn helpless. Does animal control even care about possums? Are they not considered a rodent? Could I scoop them up and save them one by one? These little animals did nothing to warrant such a shocking and repulsive means by which to enter this world, but is that not true with many people as well? We have no choice in so many things and, in the end, we are all running for what we think we need to keep living. Breathing. Thriving. To stay sane in an insane world.
The reality is I do not know. I just don’t know.
I do know that possum faced certain death as do we all, with some closer to the finish line than others.
Maybe I am just more in tune with all things life and death at this time in my life. Doesn’t matter. Love you dad. And, like the possums, appear to be as helpless and alone as anyone.