Sunday, December 03, 2006

Mad Rooster, 5X7 watercolor painting.

I think I can add this guy to the silly animals collection.

When my kids were small, we had a mean rooster named, Duke Rooster. A trapper brought him to our house, and asked us if we'd keep him. This trapper had been tying Duke by one leg to a tree, using him as coyote bait. When the coyote came in to get the rooster, the trapper would shoot the coyote. This trapper said the rooster had fended off so many coyotes, so courageously, he began to feel sorry for the rooster and was looking for a good home for him so the rooster could live out his days in peace.

We took Duke Rooster in. Which was fine and good until Duke became the tyrant of the farm. The kids didn't dare go outside. He had spurs that would win in a Boone and Crocket spur contest. We carried a pitchfork with us everywhere we went and when Duke squatted down and spread his feathers for a charge, we'd pick him up with the pitchfork and hold him until he got out of the mood. With his feet through the tines on the pitchfork, he couldn't go anywhere and he'd eventually get over being mad.

Duke roosted at night on the corral rails. We think a hawk got him because one night, he disappeared. For a rooster, he lived quite a life.

My grandma is dying. She had a massive stroke last weekend. She wants to die, she refused all life support. Her throat is paralyzed and so is one side of her body. She never wanted to live to be as old as she is, she wanted to die when my grandpa died but that didn't happen. She's been in a place where she was cared for as she couldn't live alone for a few years now.

I guess I feel as mad as this rooster one minute and as sad as all get out the next. I wish she could peacefully go to be with the Lord in heaven. Who knew she would suffer this long without food or water? And knowing how she would hate to live with IV's and feeding tubes and not being able to move and being to old to recover, how can we wish her to live any longer? And how can we, as her family, not respect her wishes? Even after she had the stroke, she couldn't talk, if a nurse approached her with an iv or oxygen or suggested a feeding tube, she'd get so agitated. She jerked oxygen from her face, she doesn't want any of it. Talk about courage to the very last. She always told us, "Don't worry about me, I'm a tough old bird." It's true, she is.

But how I'm going to miss her presence on this earth. She's the one person who taught me it's ok to have fun in this life. You don't have to take yourself or the next guy seriously. Drink a beer, invite your friends in for a party, go fishing and whoop and holler! Cook a huge meal that almost founders your friends and family and enjoy every minute of it. Dance until dawn. Camp under the stars.

She hassled me every step of the way over my paintings. She rarely liked what I painted. To her, everything had to be "real". You couldn't paint just the eye of the horse. You had to paint the entire horse. Mountains had to look like they really are, you couldn't interpret the way you loved that mountain by adding your own colors and style. Yet she's the one who gave me my first set of oil paints and nudged, prodded and poked me to keep painting. She was an artist herself, like her mother was before her and like I am now.

When my son called me last night, he said, "Mom, how are you really?" The first words out of my mouth, "I'm a tough old bird, Johnnie, don't worry about me." They were her words and I said them without even thinking... her legacy lives on and she'll always be with me.

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