On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

Published in the Rains County Leader on April 5, 2016:


How did you get up there, Kitty?

When Kitty was younger, at that age we all go through when we have more courage than sense, she learned to scale a tree quite a while before she figured out how to climb back down. She gave David and me some anxious moments, and she provided me with a column or two about David’s adventures when he climbed a ladder and coaxed her from her tree-top perch to the relative safety of the rooftop, and from there, back down to the ground.

After some unpleasant encounters with neighborhood feline bullies, she has become much less courageous and is content to watch the world through the windows while she relaxes in the security of the great indoors. However, she recently discovered that sometimes being under the roof can be as scary as being on top of it.

Normally, Saturday is her favorite day, because that’s the day David and I catch up on New roofchores in the house and in the yard. The doors are opened frequently, and she can dash out for a quick look around or hurry back in when she feels the least bit threatened. This past Saturday started out quietly enough – and then the roofers showed up.  David owned this house before we met, and after almost twenty years of Texas weather, it was time for some new shingles.

Kitty became restless when she heard two unfamiliar trucks pull into the driveway accompanied by the voices of four strange men. Then, three of the four men climbed up on the roof with a couple of shovels and a pitchfork and began the very noisy process of removing the old shingles. There were heavy footsteps and accompanying work sounds that vibrated the walls and rattled the dining room chandelier and the kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans. Kitty disappeared.

I knew she was safely inside, so I went about my chores, looking in her usual hiding places when I passed them but not really worried. At one point, I went into the laundry room to remove the sheets from the washer, and I heard scratching noises coming from behind the dryer. Two white paws appeared on the top edge of the appliance followed closely by a couple of flat ears and two huge eyes. Kitty scrambled up onto the top, looked accusingly at me and suspiciously at the offending ceiling, and ran under the bed.

We didn’t see much of her for the rest of the day. She came out when the crew took a break for lunch and, during the quieter parts of the operation, she stalked back and forth through the house, indignant at the disruption of her weekend. As the day and the work wound down, she ventured over to one of her favorite perches on top of a box of ancient LPs. It gives her a view of the back yard so she can monitor the activities of the local wildlife. She stretched up, put her front paws on the window sill, looked out in the yard, and immediately jumped down and ran back into the bedroom. David looked out to see what had spooked her and saw one of the workers raking up debris. Did I mention that she is not very brave?

Finally, the job was done and peace was restored. Kitty spent an hour or so checking out all her favorite spots – the ottoman in front of my chair, my computer case, the back of the sofa, and the dining room chair by the bay window – and then she stretched out and took a nap. Replacing a roof is exhausting.

Before I bring this to a close, I have to tell a tale on myself. I have had roofs replaced on a couple of homes before this, but the work always happened while I was at work. I was curious about the process, so I went outside from time to time to watch and to talk with the supervisor. It was an educational experience, and I also received an object lesson in the collateral damage of curiosity.

After the shingles were removed, I heard the sound of some kind of machine. I saw what looked like sawdust falling off the eaves, so I went outside to see what was going on. As I stepped out onto the front porch, I was covered by a shower of dust, oak blossoms, twigs, and bits of shingle. The noise was a leaf blower one of the guys was using to clear the roof of debris before laying down the new felt and shingles. He apologized profusely, but I laughed and reassured him it was my fault. I backed away to a safe distance and watched for a while, dusting myself off the best I could before going back inside.

We now have a beautiful new roof, and peace has been restored to the Brendle household. Kitty still seems a little skittish, but hopefully she’ll be fully recovered from her trauma and back to normal soon. As for me, I think I’ll be more careful about stepping outside the next time I hear an unidentified noise.



winding road Cover 25 percentA LONG AND WINDING ROAD: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos

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