where the writers are
You've just got to learn how to take that shit
Heading out again

I walk the dog. Daily. Dog does his business in the grass. I pick it up. 

We've owned the dog for 4 years. That's 4 X 365. Dog poops twice a day. Sometimes three times. That's nearly 3000 poops scooped up from the ground. If each poop weighs a pound that's over a ton and a half of poop. A pound at a time. 

I used to hate dog poop. Hated people who walked their dogs and let them poop on our yard. Some didn't even pick it up. 

Common courtesy and caregiving

When you have your own dog, you learn that it is common courtesy to pick up after your pet. Don't leave dog shit in other people's yards. You just don't do it. That's part of caring for your pet. For yourself. For society in general. Society has enough shit going on without you adding to it. 

I'm also caregiver to an aging parent. Aging parents sometimes shit in their pants. It's a fact of life. They wear adult diapers for such occasions. Sometimes they smell as a result. You learn how to deal with that shit when you're a caregiver. 

The other day it worked out that I could take my father to visit some assisted living homes in our neighborhood, because it's getting hard for my stroke-ridden father to get up and down the stairs at his split level house. Which I've always hated. That house. No love lost there. We'll clean it out and sell it when he's done living there. Take all that junk he's accumulated over the years and trash it or sell it. Because dad likes garage sales. Buys all kinds of shit he doesn't need. Acquisitiveness is the American Way. Americans like buying all kinds of shit. Even if they don't need it. Makes them feel better about themselves somehow. 

If you're the caregiver though, you have to learn how to deal with all that shit lying around the house. Learn that it is the price of sanity, perhaps, for an individual who can no longer talk except to say yes or no. Who can no longer drive himself or go out on his own. That's a lot of shit to deal with. For anyone.

So assisted living might work better for dad. His live-in caregiver likes to buy shit too, you see. He's a former Belarussian solder with a penchant for bargains. He and my dad get along great in that category. That house I hate is now full of their mutual shit. But it keeps them happy.

Making the best of things 

The Belarussian does not know my plans for dad. Not yet. So dad and I are out visiting homes in secret. I don't really like secrets. They don't feel honest. Except when you have to make decisions that might not involve others. Then secrets are a vital convenience. You deal with the other shit as you go along. 

For a treat I bring along 2 coupons for free ice cream sundaes from my father's insurance agent who sent them to us on our respective birthdays. He should, for what he's paid in homeowners and car insurance alone each year. 

Dad likes the ice cream idea. But he doesn't seem so keen on the assisted living situations we see. Pretty much old ladies. No other men around. They all die off too early, one must suppose. So it's old ladies and nothing else. Dad gets along with everyone. Most of the time. But he likes his life bombing around to garage sales with the Belarussian, who takes dad into the city sometimes, and also to Hooters once in a while. Where the ladies are not old. They are tightly bound in shiny shorts and sometimes nylons that make their legs look like sausages. Good enough to eat. That is why men go to Hooters, one must suppose. 

So dad and I make it to the ice cream joint and I propose to dad that I could go inside, buy the ice cream and save him getting in and out of the wheelchair. That is what my instincts tell me to do. But, dad wants to go inside.

When he wants to do something he usually either gets his way or starts yelling "NO NO NO NO!" which ruins the whole day and brings up all the shit between us going back to my youth when his verbal abuse was too much to take. Most of us carry shit like that around with us our entire lives. It's a fact. As real as dog poop. Which, when you do the math, adds up to a ton of shit to carry around. For all of us. 

Well, shit

Halfway through his ice cream sundae dad makes a funny face and points toward the bathroom. He could have to pee. Or he could have to poop. I say a short prayer for the former. And dread the latter. 

He hauls down his pants when we're inside the stall revealing his catheter and I realize, "This is not him needing to pee."

And he doesn't make it in time. Groans and lets loose a load in the diaper hanging down around his knees. 

Shit you don't expect

I'm stunned. But realizing that you're alone in this world with a responsibility at hand is something you learn to live with when you're a caregiver of any sort. So I set to work cleaning up the mess in his diaper. It is a huge wad that has to be broken into handfuls with grips of toilet paper. Each is set up on the toilet stall for disposal, because I can't reach the bowl with him in the way. Dad lets loose with a few chuckles.

It is impossible to tell if he is laughing with me or at me. Don't really want to know. No time for that. You just have to learn how to take that shit either way.

Then he tries to argue with me when I stop to wash my hands. I tell him: "Listen, I'm going to wash my hands whenever I want. You just be patient." I've learned not to take some kinds of shit. From him. Or anyone. 

The rest of his wayward poop gets dumped in the pot and a couple of flushes takes care of things. Thankfully.

I say a grateful prayer to God that I was able to handle things and keep wits about me. God helps you through all kinds of shit if you let him. 

When the dastardly chore is done, the diaper must be removed and disposed. Then dad works away with toilet paper and we move over to the sink to collectively wash up. I'm thankful to help dad wash up well and we are finally done with the adventure. Holy crap. 


Back out in the restaurant we head back to the table so dad can finish his free ice cream sundae. I drop a $5 tip on the table. We leave in the wheelchair with everyone smiling at us. They can see I am his son. We look alike. The waiter holds open the door and we emerge in bright fall sunshine. The world is still spinning and there are gulls floating over the parking lot as angelic as the heavenly hosts that ostensibly await us all. 

You learn how to deal with all kinds of shit in this world with the scriptural promise that the next world will not hold much of the same. Or so we're told. God put Job through all kinds of shit, you know. And Noah. Jonah. Even Jesus for that matter. 

God really does seem to have a weird sense of humor. At least that's what the Bible tells us.

Which means we might now really know what kind of shit we'll face in the afterlife. If there is one. If not, the jokes on us.