Thursday, June 10, 2010
The Life that Normal People Live
Today the emptiness hits full bore. For two and a half years I have been awakened at 5:00 AM by the demanding bark of a princessly dog and the jangle of tags as her nails click-click-click their way across the floor to the back door. Attempts to return to sleep were futile due to the repetitive sharp little “feed me” bark from the kitchen when The Princess returned from her morning ablutions. The day’s schedule was dictated by her squire, Oliver, whose waking moments required constant vigilance. Between the two of them, my life was predictable and orderly.
This morning, a silent house left me sleeping until well after seven-thirty. Sadie and Charley would happily sleep until noon – they have the bladders of camels and while Sadie loves her food, she doesn’t get out of bed until she hears the ting-ting of kibble falling from the measuring cup to the stainless steel bowl.
I miss my shadows, my sheltie shadows who woke me early, followed me from room to room, impatiently demanded to be fed whether I was ready or not, and generally created the structure for my day and the chaos in my life. I love Charley, Sadie and Allie but my two little shelties took up more space and demanded more from me than the three of them combined. I am not used to this emptiness.
It is hard to believe that just over a year ago I was caregiver to eighteen animals – four dogs, a cat, 12 foster piggies and an abandoned alpaca. Now there are just three. And it occurs to me, as I sit in the silence at 9:00 AM drinking my second cup of coffee and thinking “I guess I should feed the dogs” ------ is THIS how normal retired folks live?
It is such a strange feeling – this solitude, this lack of structure in my life. I can go out whenever I want for pretty much however long I want. I could drive to Victoria for the day, or even Long Beach, or go to a concert in the evening – there is no one here who needs my constant care. It is, in some ways, very liberating. But it is not a liberation I find pleasing.
And so I shall take Charley and Sadie for a walk, brush them, talk with them, take them for another walk, brush them some more, talk with them some more, until I hear them say “Mom! Enough already! Let us SLEEP!”
It will take some getting used to, this freedom, this solitude, this quietness, this lack of structure, this slow pace of life. And, no doubt, about the time I begin to enjoy it, another critter will find me and change the routine again.
But, for now, I shall flounder around in my near-empty house, lavish attention on my couch-potato dogs, putter in the garden, sip cups of tea on my patio as I immerse myself in a novel, and live the life that normal retired folks live.