Sunday, October 25, 2015

dividing life into two piles

Able is one of those songs I put on repeat.  It makes me think of Madeline, my first boss back in high school.  I decided I wanted to learn pet grooming when I was roughly 15 years old, so I opened the yellow pages and called the first place listed.  

Madeline, a biker chic in her seventies, told me to come on over the next day.  So I did, and she had breakfast ready, and continued to until I left for college.  We became very close over the next two years as she taught me the ins and outs of pet grooming.  I learned to shave ears, faces and pads, bathe squirmy creatures and even execute a few poodle cuts.  

Once, when we were shaving maggot-infested mats from a hissing and biting feral cat, the cat suddenly went still.  I watched in horror as Madeline attempted to resuscitate it.  I thought, this isn't going to work, but seconds later the cat was wheezing and quickly growing angry that we were still there.  Madeline scooped the cat up and plopped it in a carrier before it knew what she was doing.  

Noticing I was still standing there holding the razor and rooted in shock, Madeline started whooping with laughter and making fun of my face.  Her hair, usually in tidy dreadlocks tied with leather and beads, was wild around her face and speckled here and there with black cat hair.  Blood was dripping from her hands and even though she was laughing, her face was wet with tears.  I couldn't help myself and started chuckling despite a mountain of other conflicting emotions.  Within seconds we were both shrieking with laughter. 

When the lady who had rescued the cat from the wild came to pick it up, we left nothing out and told her everything.  She took the cat to the vet and Madeline and I rushed off to have rabies shots.  It turns out that the cat had a defective heart and didn't live long.  No one could get close enough to clean the cat up, but we sure as hell tried and had the best of intentions.  Perhaps that is when Madeline started sharing her A.A. wisdom with me, which pretty much divides life into two piles: shit we have control over and shit we have no business getting upset about because we have no control over it.

To this day, that same wisdom lifts burdens I have no right carrying.    

When I listen to this song I always do a quick mental tally of things I have control over and then tell the rest of it to scram.  

And when I say I'm not able, I say it with confidence and I think of Madeline, who gave me unconditional love and the gift of surrender.  

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