Monday, December 27, 2004

I really don't feel like sitting around the house right now. I don't know that any family deals with death well, but there are sectors of my family that don't do very well at all.

My dad is doing okay. He said that he was surprised because he fell right to sleep last night. He woke up at 4am, but that was more tolerable than tossing and turning all night. He's in relatively good spirits today. He's thinking that he should get a stress test, which is probably a good thing.

My mother is doing less well. She's been in a rotten mood anyway and was fighting with my dad before we heard about my uncle. She's so damn irritating about some things. When my dad told her that Tom died, she said: "Oh my God!" She was silent for half a minute, then followed it up with pronouncements about how she wasn't going to calling hours or the funeral. This morning she came right out and said in front of my dad: "I'm not enough of a hypocrite to go to that man's funeral." She didn't like my uncle or his family.

I couldn't care less whether she goes to the funeral or not or whether or not she liked my uncle. She would do well though, to stop ranting about it all to my dad, who adored his older brother and whose feelings are noticably hurt. She doesn't mean to be awful. She just doesn't deal well with death.

As a matter of fact, I've heard that she dated my uncle before she took up with my dad. She might not like him now, but she did once upon a time. Even very old and shallow loves are hard to lose forever. I already know how scary it is to grow older; I know it must grow even scarier over time.

The mood around my house today is, for very understandable reasons, heavy as hell. The only release we've had is watching my dog watch these crazy crows outside the window. My dog got a hambone today and was chewing it in the driveway; when she stripped the last shred of meat off it, she wanted to come inside out of the cold. As soon as she did, the crows moved in.

I've rarely seen crows get this close to the house. Crows are pretty smart birds, though. They post sentries, and I guess they can see that the danger's gone inside. Tess is watching them out the window. When they get too close to her bone she lets out a series of tremendous whelps that, so far at least, have sent the crows scattering.

I think the crows will figure out the ruse soon enough. When they do, old Tess will have to go outside and teach them a lesson. No nasty old crow is going to pick at her hambone.

Those crows have a hard life though. Yesterday my dad and I watched a hawk harassing them. Crows and hawks don't usually compete for food, so my dad figured that he was trying to pick off a crow for his dinner. I don't think he got one; I really sort of hope he didn't. I like the crows, though I guess I've come to understand that a hawk has to eat too.

Winter lets you know how harsh nature can be. When I was little, I used to like to follow deer and rabbit tracks. I would ask my dad how the deer and rabbits could eat when the snow covered up and killed all the grass. He was a good dad and very gentle, and told me that they always found a way. He said that their instincts always led them to the right places, and that millions of years of looking for food had taught them the best places to go and the best ways of getting food when they got there.

When I was much older and getting squeamish about hunters, he told me that hunting helped to keep the deer from overpopulating and starving. I learned then that winter is a very hard thing. I still don't much like hunters. And when I follow the little deer and rabbit tracks these days, I hope that they're the sort of deer or rabbit that has the right instincts and the right luck to find enough food to last the season.