Due to the nature of my work, all names have been changed to protect confidentiality…and the innocent.
Upon arriving at work one morning, this bitty creature greeted me near the trash cans. He was kind enough to stand COMPLETELY still while I drew this. Okay not really, but he was pretty still for a rabbit, and I think it may have something to do with the overuse of pesticides in the city of Cleveland. He did allow me to snap his portrait with my phone, then when I got home, I drew my best approximation and brought it with me to work next time.
This little lady was thrilled…”You drew my bunny?”, and I said it was to reminder her that nature lived all around her tiny brick bungalow, where her world exists of a few tidy lawns, a street full of potholes, and neighbors who may not be aware that she comments on their every move. On this particular day, birds were the target of her ire–“these Cleveland birds are the LAZIEST goddamned birds EVER. I’m NOT feeding them all summer, so don’t buy any more food. They should be digging up WORMS, or they can go down the street to Jack’s house. Let HIM feed the dumb ass things”.
Naturally I completely ignored this latest diatribe, and went out to fill the feeder, smirking all the way. After I tortured yet another egg for her meager breakfast–one would think she’d need more to fuel the strength of her opinions–I sat to make notes in the binders we keep, and it wasn’t long before I heard the clatter of a quad cane and a huge BANG on the storm door. “GET AWAY FROM THERE, you DUMBASS blackbird. Let the little birds eat first. BANG, BANG, GODDAMMIT, then the shuffle of fuzzy slippers as she made her way back to her seat from which she reigns as the foreman of the block . Harassing the local wildlife is one of her favorite things to do, not knowing that in chasing away all creatures great and small so the little birds can eat, she scares away everything that isn’t nailed down, including the occasional unsuspecting neighbor taking their morning constitutional.
She’s not MY mother, so she can say any damned thing she wants, and no apology from me, because she’s got a heart the size of the state she was born in. In order to take care of “poor mommy”, she had to quit school in the fifth grade, since they were too poor to hire help. But her lack of education didn’t prevent her from acquiring a boatload of common sense, and I’d be a fool not to learn everything I could from this stocky paragon of wisdom. She wanted to know if this was Sunday, and I said, “No, I don’t come on Sundays anymore, because I got someone to drive you to church”. “Well, why can’t YOU drive me to church?” I’ve explained this a thousand and one times, but replied, “because I don’t have adequate insurance to carry other people in my car.” “Well, you don’t have to tell your boss EVERYTHING you know (the intricacies of liability protection aren’t worth the breath it takes to explain them), AND YOU DON’T HAVE TO SLEEP WITH HIM NEITHER!”. Well, thought I, perhaps I can just leave that out of today’s notes, as I pondered how much simpler life would be if I could just think and act like this slightly bent woman, who swerves around convention as if her world isn’t subject to laws of any kind.
Lately there have been times when I’ve swerved a bit myself, shelving the knowledge I obtained in college, and hearing the voices of my clients in my head, sometimes following the wise counsel they don’t even know they’ve gifted me in an effort to live a more direct life, without the tangle of rules and equivocation. And I find that my mental Rolodex is filling up with all kinds of things my own mother didn’t teach me, things I can actually use to operate more smoothly in a world that often confounds me with it’s sublety, fraught with endless opportunities for relationship wreckage. Sometimes the best way to deal with a situation is the one that makes the most sense, and if I break a few rules, it goes right along with the breakage I cause in their kitchens, where I’m as nervous as a cat in a hen house, but less likely to cry over it, because, “Awww, hawney, everyone makes mistakes”, and compassion smoothes the ruffles of life, especially when it comes from a little menace like the one who lives in the “baby house” she lovingly chose, because she wanted a room with a view, shaded with an aluminum awning.