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ALL ABOUT TIP TOE
1 June 2017
I finished binge-watching the remaining 6 or 7 episodes of Grace and Frankie today. Such a good show, for those of you with Netflix who have not watched it. So glad to hear that it has been renewed for Season 4.
To justify 3+ hours of un-interrupted TV watching I combined it with going through some of those boxes we brought home from my mother's. There are still oh so many boxes left, but, sadly they are all filled with framed photos and photograph albums that I don't have a clue what I'm going to do with, except add them to all the boxes upstairs filled with more framed photos. What does one do with framed photos????
But once again, I am going through every slip of paper, every photo album (throwing away the ones that are filled with pictures of people I don't know) and reminiscing. For example I found a collection of photos taken at our 1982 family reunion where my now-deceased cousin Clancy got drunk and threw EVERYBODY into the motel swimming pool, including the then-72 year old aunt Marie.
[Aside: My memory of this free-for-all was being shocked that this old lady would be treated so shamefully...and now I realize she was 2 years younger than I am now!]
We had a Brasilian student with us, his first couple of days of a 3-week stay. He was the worst student we ever had, but things got off to a very bad start at the reunion when he was tossed in the pool...he didn't want to be there in the first place, but being tossed into the pool was the final insult. His home stay went downhill from there.
But one find in among the "crap" was a book of writings of my aunt Barb, who was a wonderfully witty writer whom I aspire to emulate. I loved her memories of "Tip Toe," and reprint it here.
Besides our mother, Tip Toe was probably one of the greatest loves in our father's life. He never really spoke of her in terms of endearment, but one could tell his feelings for her were a bit out of the ordinary.
Our mother took this affair in stride, as she did so many things in life -- but the day came when the "foot" had to be stomped, the voice raised a few decibels and a decision made.
Tip Toe had suffered a stroke of sorts and her legs had become paralyzed. Dad, in his tender caring ways, wanted to bring her much close to the house to tend to her, but mother stood with one of her "not in my lifetime" decisions. Father knew better than to belabor the point.
Of course the reasoning behind mom's resentment was that Tip Toe was a pig -- a beautiful, very large 200 lb sow.
Dad had built a small enclosure for her on one side of the corral facing the barn - one side facing the house and the other two sides facing the mountains to the west. She was usually in his line of sight no matter where he was as he went about his daily chores.
I was never allowed to go to her "bedroom" but was allowed to stand on the fence and watch as dad practically spoon fed her, rubbed her back and legs, and helped her move to a clean bed of straw every day.
Actually, she never had a name until her illness. It was her hind legs that had been affected, but she managed to move herself about with the front ones standing on "Tip Toe" and dragging her rear parts behind.
I have no recollection of time as it applies to just how long she lived with her affliction, but the day she left this piggly world will always be a day that I will remember.
Whether our dad finally put her out of her misery or if she died of natural causes has long been in dispute. Dad never said, and no one ever asked. It happened one summer morning as six of us children and our mother were sitting at the breakfast table waiting for dad to come in from early chores. When he finally joined us, one could tell something terrible had happened. It was the only time in my life that I ever saw my father cry. "Tip Toe was dead." With that announcement from him, the crying was unanimous. Even our mother wiped away a tear.
The next problem before the family was what do we do with a very dead, very large Tip Toe. Should she be sold for meat, rendered for fat, or should we dig a rave, put up a marker and pray the coyotes would ignore it? As all of these options were discussed, father was silent. He didn't eat breakfast that morning, just sipped his coffee in silence. As we all chattered about the disposition of our favorite pig, dad, in his own quiet way, concluded that he and he alone would take care of her. He wanted no help and hoped we would understand.
That day there was a quiet in our house that had never been before or since. We all walked softly, talked quietly, and the squabbling among us was minimal. We sat in groups of two or three and wondered, and as we wondered there was a great noise of sawing and pounding going on in the lumber shed and we surmised that dad was building a coffin for his beloved Tip Toe and that we were going to have a funeral.
Late in the day, the pounding ceased and a worn and tired father came in to say that he had built a sled of sorts and that Tip Toe would be tied on it. With the truck, he would pull the sled down the hill and across the valley to an old abandoned mine shaft and there Tip Toe would be deposited in her final resting place.
By early evening, Tip Toe was securely tied to the make shift contraption and my brother Scotty was allowed to help, but was told that he would not be able to go the final mile with them.
The six of us sat on the front porch with our mother and listened for sounds across the valley. As it grew dark and lights from way over by the mine flickered on and off, we knew our dad was on the way home.
Summer nights on the front porch at the ranch are still one of my favorite memories. Our mom would usually sing to us. Sometimes crazy little songs she made up, sometimes the old classics or glorious hymns. The night TipToe was buried was a night of hymns.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
The only photo ever taken of the entire family.
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This is entry #6675