Tuesday, October 19, 2010

And Rudy Had to Leave Us



I am pouring orange juice and the sound of small footsteps and baby prattle is coming up my lane. I turn to see Cameron, all of 30 months old, wearing her purple teddy bear pajamas that she refuses to take off. Carrie shuffles in and when I look into her face it is swollen and tear-stained. In a shaky voice she explains that she has been up through the night with their family dog, Rudy, who inexplicably began suffering seizures. By five a.m. Carrie was holding the poor animal trying to keep him from hurting himself. She had spent the night by herself with the baby and the dog, her husband working in Chicago and the boys staying with their father. I imagine her alone and scared watching the early strains of light in the cottonwoods outside her window knowing something fearful was going to happen and it would affect her young children in a negative way. Between the two families several dogs were lost in a few years, timeless friends for my grandsons. Cameron turns to me and says, "Rudy's broken."

Carrie has always been a strong girl. She comes from a long line of strong women. My mother's mother lost her husband to blood poisoning from a pulled tooth before he was thirty years of age. Elizabeth raised nine children during the Depression in a small Iowa farming town. Clothes from flour sacks, two of my aunts losing all their teeth in their early teens, no milk. Elizabeth could make soup from anything, even cows' lungs, her sons walking ten miles a day to pick someone else's corn.
It's hard being a woman. It's hard being anything, but we still have to put up with pornography and low wages and push-up bras and the Moose Lodge. Sooner or later these old farts will die out. I will personally lead the celebratory parade.
I don't want my daughter to deal with all this. She has not had an easy life. Her mother was a strange and estranged parent who still has the note Carrie wrote at age six asking when her mother would come home. I also have the school photo from that same year, a little girl with crooked bangs and red-checked dress and scared eyes. I keep these things together in the back of my recipe box, her brothers' pictures, too.
I remember the night of her senior prom. She had bought a dashing red gown that would set off her black hair and sparkling eyes - her hair was in huge rollers and she was adding bright red paint to her nails when the call came. Boyfriend had crashed into a tree and he had jumped out of his purple truck, orange flames painted on the sides. He circled the stalled vehicle screaming, "I can't believe I totalled my truck!" I instructed my son to take the cookies out of the oven and Carrie and I drove the short distance to the hospital. After sitting around and thumbing through very old magazines we learned that the young man was all right - just bashed in a few places like the purple truck. I stood and stretched and said, Carrie, I'm going to walk home - you take the car. The mother of said young man jumped to her feet and said, 'What! She is in no shape to drive!" Carrie and I looked at each other and there were smiles in our eyes. To keep the level of melodrama at a low point I did take the car home and Carrie was chauffeured back by that overly emotional woman. Oh Lord, life can be so tiring.
Carrie counsels young children from abusive and neglected homes. She talks to their parents, a scared and bullied lot themselves. She never tells me the stories, and I never ask. She goes to court, writes endless reports and she was in her office at eleven o'clock the night before she was scheduled to have her labor induced at 6:45 the next morning.
She awes me, inspires me, and I am humbled by her.
And Rudy had to leave us, a brain tumor. Now we deal with the aftermath.

3 comments:

MrDaveyGie said...

You and yours all amaze me. Good people with wonderful hearts for others. May time heal.

LoRFLoR said...

I am so sorry for the loss of Rudy, what a heartbreak. Also, I found this post rather intriguing and interesting, leaving me wondering - I think the window has been opened wider into a view of you and your life. Diddo to crazy davey.

dawn marie giegerich said...

Yes, Lorien, I did that, didn't I? I debated for a few days before making that admission. I am deaing with this still thirty years later, trying to decide what to do. And crazy davey, yeah, isn't he enjoyable? Thank you for your insight, as aways.