Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Dad and the Garbage
My dad rearranges garbage.
He's been doing this for several years now. I noticed, way back when, that whenever anyone threw anything away, dad would quickly go to the trash can to reorganize it. This is partially due to the fact that he uses plastic grocery bags as his garbage bags, so he is striving for maximum efficiency of space. It is also due to the fact that he hates the idea of flies (fruit or otherwise), and so he quickly wraps banana peels, peach pits, etc, in plastic so as to lessen the likelihood of flies being drawn to them.
There is something else he does. His municipality recycles everything-- plastic, paper, aluminum, glass. He knows that plastic does not decompose. So he puts organic waste in plastic bottles-- milk bottles, for example-- on the theory that the decomposing organic matter will help the plastic to decompose just a bit. (Mind you, the plastic is all going to be recycled). I stopped trying to point out to my dad the error of his ways about two visits ago. Now I just watch placidly as he fusses, and then proudly explains his efforts to me.
Of course, none of this is about garbage, really. What I think this is really all about is the betrayal of the aging body, the feeling of being unsteady on his feet, the knowledge that he shouldn't be driving, really, the hell of needing to wear adult diapers because his bladder and bowels are so unpredictable. Dad rearranges the garbage because, really, there is precious little in his life over which he has control these days. He certainly doesn't have control over his body, or his children, or his taxes, or the fact that his wife of 58 years predeceased him. Despite a several year campaign and countless visits to his doctor he still can't control the fact that his blood pressure bottoms out unexpectedly, leading him to fall or faint, sometimes in public places. He can't control much of anything, really.
So dad rearranges the garbage, and I watch him rearrange it, and try not to be annoyed. It is such a little thing. It is such a big thing.
So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me...