I need to mow the brother’s lawn.
Despite not taking any nourishment or liquids for the last three or four days, despite blood still being suctioned from his stomach, Jesse Eugene’s body continues to remain alive. We keep thinking that this must be his last day–and yet each day his body carries on.
The world doesn’t stop, of course, just because my brother is very slowly dying. It doesn’t even slow down. And yet all the little mundane chores and errands that take up so much time every week seem weirdly out of place. Yesterday I went with my oldest brother, Roger Lee, to replenish his supply of his favorite tea. We had to visit three or four shops before we could find one that carried the tea. At one point we were near a big box sporting goods store, so we stopped and went in. We looked at kayaks, we looked at golf equipment–and for a short time we stopped thinking about Jesse Eugene slowly dying in the hospice.
So this morning, instead of heading off to the hospice, I’ll be cranking up the brother’s aging lawn mower and making his lawn presentable to the neighbors. When I get to the hospice later, I’ll tell him about it. It won’t matter to him. It doesn’t really matter to me. The neighbors might appreciate it.
It’s just another of those many things that have to be done. All over the world, the lawns of dying people are being mowed.
update: The lawn is mowed. I can’t say it was fun, but it was a nice distraction. I’ve decided to do a yard chore every day until the brother checks out. Tomorrow I’ll power up his weed-eater and clear out this mess:
What I like about yard work is that there’s a clear, visible indication of how much work you’ve done. It’s oddly satisfying when you finish.
We spent ages and ages cleaning my mother’s house and weeding her garden so everything was in better shape than it had been for years. We (my two brothers and some of the partners) did all this because of the neighbours, family and friends. I remember washing the floor on the day of her funeral and though if I’m honest, the people who gathered there afterwards might not even have noticed, I felt a whole lot better for it.
I’m glad you shot the chaos before you clean it up. I remember driving home from the hospital when my daughter was born, thinking how can the world not have stopped over the last few days? How can it not grasp the significance of these events. I think dying must feel kind of the same way.
Greg, through all of this, you’ve been an inspiration, even if that isn’t what you set out to do.