Thursday, September 12, 2013

Dog House Rules

As you all know, there is no slowing Grandpa down. He may be pushing 90, but he is still very active. Although he's aged a bit since my grandma died, he is still in very good shape for someone his age. And he does things every day that he probably shouldn't be doing. But it keeps him busy and he enjoys himself. He never has been one that liked staying inside or sitting still.

Last week we had a really hot spell of 100+ degree days. The heat doesn't really bother him, he's cold natured anyway so he actually kind of enjoys it, but when it gets that hot and the heat index is about 15 degrees hotter, it's too hot for anybody, including him. It was a Saturday afternoon and I'd been gone most of the day. It was the day before Labor Day, which is also the day before the opening day of Dove Season. My dad runs a dove club, so it's always a busy time for us each year. I had been in town at my parents' farm helping get everything ready for the following day. Before I left, I talked to Grandpa for a bit in the kitchen. It was early afternoon and I asked him what he'd be doing all day. He told me he was bored to death, it was too hot to do anything and he'd been stuck inside all day. He'd taken a nap and watched at much tv as he cared to, and now he was climbing the walls with nothing to do.

We finished our conversation and I got in town to help prepare. I was gone most of the afternoon and by the time I got back it was close to six o'clock. My dad's best friend from college (Chico from the goat blog :) was here and we were getting ready to go to dinner. Usually the whole family would have gone, but my brother also had company in town and instead of going out to eat with us, there were several of them so they were staying in and cooking out. Grandpa and I both headed outside together. I didn't have long before I needed to start getting ready but I needed to water my flowers and it had finally cooled off enough for him to go tinker in the machine shed. I started watering and he told me he'd be back shortly, but he didn't say what he was going to do.

About thirty minutes later, Buddy, the dog, kept coming to the yard and then back to the machine shed. He did this about 3 times and I thought it was a little weird, but he wasn't barking or whining so I didn't give it much thought. I kept watering and was getting ready to head inside. About that time my phone rang. It was grandpa. I immediately stared at my phone funny. I didn't know why he'd be calling me when he was less than 100 feet from me. I answered the phone and he was calm as could be. He told me he needed me to come out to the shop to help him real quick. I asked what he needed help with, and again, calm as ever, he told me he needed help getting a dog cage off of him. This threw me off a little. It still wasn't clicking. I asked why he needed help getting a dog cage off of him. He said "well, I'm in trouble". Then it clicked. It clicked good and I took off running.

About two weeks ago, I had asked Rusty, our hired man, if he would help me move the dog cage in the yard. It was in the sun for most of the day and it was too hot for Clem to be in it all day. I wanted to move it across the yard under a shade tree. Rusty said he would help me whenever, just to let him know. Grandpa heard me talking to him and said instead of moving that one, he had another one and we could leave the first where it was at and move the second one under the tree. That way she'd have one for shade when it was hot and she needed a nice breeze, but she also had one that sat in the sun once it started to get cold out and through the winter. That seemed like a perfect idea. He said he'd help me move it. That was fine with me, he liked doing things like that, but I told him to let me know when he wanted to do it and I'd get Rusty to help us.  Okay he said.

I should have known better than that. When grandpa decides he wants to do something, it usually means right now. And it bothers him until it's finished. So, earlier that week, I knew he had brought the second dog house from the farm in town out to the farm in the country. I knew it was out in the machine shed and he was doing a few things to it, but I didn't know he'd gone out there to work on it that Saturday.

When he said he was in trouble, I took off running. I got out there and couldn't find him. I turned around and in the corner I saw the dog house but I still couldn't find Grandpa. I got closer and I saw him and nearly died. The dog house was big and metal, so it was heavy and hard....very hard. When I got close enough to see, I saw him on the concrete floor and couldn't see either of his legs from the knee down. He had fallen and had somehow gotten his legs traps underneath the dog house. I found out later that he had been trying to turn it over onto another side, and he lost his footing and when he fell, he obviously dropped the cage as well, and it landed on him. Did I mention how big and heavy it was? It landed right on his knees and I was sure that his legs were shattered. When I saw him, I knew there was no way he was going to be able to walk when I got it off of him.

He saw me and still was calm as ever. He said, "Morgan Lea, I'm alright I just lost my footing. I just need you to get that corner and lift it up a little so I can slide out". How the heck was he going to slide his legs out when they were broken! I tried lifting the edge of it and couldn't, it was too heavy. I told him I was going to get Chris and I'd be back.

Chris was right next door over in the Seed Shed. It's the farm office building and it has a sitting area and full kitchen we use for family functions and get togethers. Chris and his buddy were in there watching tv before they had to start cooking for their get together that night. I ran in the door, all worked up and not making much sense. I yelled for him and he didn't answer me. He can't hear thunder. But I saw Bruce and yelled I needed his help. He was obviously confused and asked what was wrong. All I remember yelling is 'Grandpa is in trouble I need your help!" and I took off running back to the shop. I immediately saw Chris' head shoot up, that got his attention and I saw them both get up and I heard them following me....but other than that they had no clue what was going on. And clearly I wasn't much into details. I was a lifeguard for several years and a crisis didn't really send me into a panic. Apparently this isn't true in my own situations because I was yelling random things, running everything, and breathing like I had just carried 7 mules on my back up a mountain. I probably sounded like I was about to have a stroke.

I got back to the shop and tried lifting the cage. I couldn't lift it the first time, but for whatever reason I got it the second time. I don't know how because I couldn't lift it now if I tried. But I got it enough that he could get his legs out. Grandpa said "that's just great" and at the same time Chris and Bruce came around the corner. I was still holding the cage......and then all of the sudden I wasn't. The dog house was gone. It was there.....and I was lifting it....and then all of the sudden it disappeared. I turned around to try and figure out where it went and there it was.....half way across the machine shop floor. Bruce is a big dude. Very tall and very solid. I would always want him on my side in a fight....but even he can't tell you how he threw that dog house. He said he couldn't lift it now to save his life. I guess that's what adrenaline does for you.

Before he threw the cage half way across the state, he said a few cuss words. A lot of them actually. Really only one. But he said it several times. Grandpa isn't much of a cusser and because of that most of us try not to cuss around him just out of respect. When I first got into the shop and saw the dog house on his legs, I screamed "oh shit" and then realized what I said and immediately said "oh, grandpa, I'm so sorry! I shouldn't have said that!". I'm pretty sure, in that moment, me saying shit was the last of his concerns. He told me it was fine just to get that thing off him. So, when Bruce rounded the corner and started repeatedly saying the F word in every single form you can imagine and in 14 different languages, you can imagine I was a little taken a back. He meant no disrespect at all and now, in hindsight, it's hilarious, but I had never heard one individual say the F word so many times in such rapid succession. Especially to Bob Ford! He was obviously freaked out and was saying it out of panic......but let me tell you he can let that word fly in a pinch!

After all the commotion of the cage toss, Grandpa starts chuckling. CHUCKLING. Bruce and Chris were trying to get him up off the ground and then tried to get him to take a seat and all he kept saying "I'm alright, I'm alright, I just couldn't get it off me". Meanwhile, I went to the nearest corner and had a nervous breakdown. Seriously started bawling. I was sure he was going to be paralyzed or at the very least have broken bones. That is one big freaking dog house! And I have no idea how the only thing he managed to get was a bruise on his knee where it landed.

But in typical Bob Ford fashion, he wasn't phased. I'm sobbing and Chris and Bruce are making sure he's alright, and he puts his hands on his hips (signature Bob Ford pose) and says, "now boys, since you're over here could you go ahead and flip that for me?" Bruce just stared at him with an open mouth. Chris just looked at me and shook his head. He'll never change. He's a stubborn ole goat.

They got the dog house rotated and I asked Grandpa if we could just go back to the house. Alright, he said. "I mean, I'm fine. But I guess I'll go back if that'll make you feel better. Bruce gave me a hug and said "this is why you don't have a career yet, this is why you're here." I'm not sure if he knew how much that meant to me....but it meant the world. I've struggled a lot with not being able to find a job that is within my degree. I don't consider living with Grandpa to be a job. He takes care of me. Not the other way around. And I consider it one of the greatest blessings of my life. But I hadn't ever thought of it that way. I'm getting precious moments that I can't ever get back and won't always have the opportunity to take advantage of. I'm glad that I'm in a position that I'm able to be around to tinker with him during the day, go pick peaches and sweet corn, have lunch and dinner every day, take rides on the tractor, and rescue him from underneath the dog cage. Whether Bruce meant to or not, he made my struggle with myself and a career a little easier. Love you mucho, Brucie!!!

Of course we couldn't just go straight back to the house. On the way, we passed the Igloo dog house that he has for the inside of the cage. It had old straw in it and that wouldn't do. Clemmy needed fresh bedding for the winter and he wanted the old out. Now. He started to do it himself. Igloos are freaking heavy by the way! And he was trying to turn it upside down to dump it out. I stopped him and told him I'd do it. We finally got all that straw out and he wanted it moved across the yard. Of course, he doesn't ask me to do that either he just starts pulling it. I stopped him....again....and took it from him. I asked where he wanted it and lugged it half way across the yard.

All of this was for me, anyway! And he was supposed to let me know before he did it so I could help. That worked out well for everyone. Typical.

After all that, I finally got back to my phone. In all of the shuffle I had dropped it in the yard. My mother had called. Like seven times. Bless her ever loving heart. I had thought that all of this had been pulled off without her knowing. Because she freaks her freak in a time of crisis for her family. It's one of the best parts about her....but I'm pretty sure she nearly kills herself every time.

Apparently before he called me, Grandpa had tried to call my Uncle Jay. I'm not sure why he did that, he knew I was in the yard, but he called him first. Uncle Jay couldn't come help though, he was in Wisconsin. So.....Grandpa then called me. But, obviously, Uncle Jay and Marci were worried so they had tried to call a few others to see if someone else could come help. They got ahold of Marci's son, Brian, but he wasn't close. Finally, he had no other option than to call my mom. He ain't no fool. He didn't do that until he absolutely had to. No matter how he described it or what he said, I think he knew she was going to lose her mind.

He tried to be as delicate as possible. He told her several times it wasn't an emergency (half lie, but I don't blame him), he told her to stay calm and he needed her to do something. Apparently, this didn't work out so great for him because at that point she essentially told him to cut the crap and tell him what was wrong. I guess something about "dad is trapped under the dog house" doesn't really come across as "non emergency". She hung up on him. Let the good times roll.

Did I mention she was in the shower when he called? Yeeeeeepp, you bet she was, and if you thought Robin Lea Weller was going to take the time to put real clothes on in this situation you are dead freaking wrong. Her dad was in trouble and by golly she was going to get there fast. My dad had just gotten home and was changing his clothes. He had nothing on but his shorts. My mother was in a bath towel. And she starts rambling incoherent sentences....I think that's where I get my cool under pressure...thanks mom! : )

He finally got it out of her what had happened and they loaded up in the car.....Zsa Zsa in a bath towel and Popsicle in shorts and his crocs. I'm sorry.....but now that it's over and everyone is okay.....this is my very favorite part of the story. I know she was in a frazzle....(just as I had been about 10 minutes before that) and the two of them racing to the country going about 110 in shorts and crocs and a bath towel really trips my trigger. Even better for me is trying to recreate the phone conversation with my uncle when he just kept repeating to stay calm. God bless his heart. He knew better than that. We all would have done the same, and when I was in the middle of the situation I was acting like a freaking lunatic when I didn't know if he was okay or not, but telling Zsa to "stay calm" or "don't panic" in a situation like that is like telling a stallion not to buck. Or a lion not to roar. Good. Luck.

That night at dinner, I went through the whole story in detail with Zsa Zsa, Popsicle and Chico. And I think my dad summed it up best. At one point I used to think my grandpa had 9 lives like a cat. He tried to change a girl's tire once and the jack gave out and the car fell on him and he somehow rolled in the ditch. He flipped a tractor mowing ditches once and was standing and waiting for someone to come by with his hands on his hips when Chris found him without a scratch. He put the transmission out of the truck while trying to feed the horse in the back of the pasture in the middle of a blizzard, and then instead of staying in the car like my mom told him to, decided to walk back to the road and meet her so she didn't have to drive as's a good two miles from where the truck was, he lost the flashlight on the way, and did I mention it was a blizzard? In the middle of winter and the worst storm we had had in years, my mom, sister in law and my niece (wearing only a diaper and a blanket because they didn't have enough time for anything else!) met him half way back to the road. He didn't pay one bit of attention to my mom lecturing him about how stupid it was for him to try and walk back in the middle of the storm, he opened up the back door, completely ignored my mom and looked at Kalynn and said "that's just the girl I was wanting to see!" He climbs to the top of the grain bin and has slid to the bottom of the hill on the mower more times than he can count, but somehow he's never been seriously hurt. He doesn't have 9 lives. He has 29.

I'm not sure how he does it, but we've all just come to accept it's what he does. God forbid anything ever did happen where he would get hurt, but somehow he's just lucky. He does things a man in 40's shouldn't be doing. But he does them anyway. Me telling him to stop now won't make a bit of difference.

And at the very least, if he does something bad enough, I can just put him back in the dog house again.

That'll teach him!

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