Of all the things we’re lousy at, quitting is at the top of the list. From the looks of the recycling bin, you could make a case for moderation, but that’s a recent, COVID-related short-coming, and Mom will confirm that I didn’t grasp the concept of “No” until Mrs. Short whacked it into me in first grade. I had Mom for kindergarten—true story—and while she was comfortable calling me a smart ass in front of my peers, she was averse to exacting more substantive remedy until we were at home away from judgmental eyes. Mrs. Short felt no such constraint the following year and often checked my clever trousers commentary with back of her hand. It was standard stuff in the 1960s and I’m a better human for it.
On the one hand, persistence led to better grades than DNA might have predicted, a couple of bucket list items checked off and the same weight today that I carried in college. On the other, there are a few investments, relationships and at least one shoulder joint that would have benefited from the sense to tap out and admit that I was overmatched in the contest. On balance, refusal to quit was a net positive in my life, but I still I feel that shoulder when I heave a bag of litter into or out of the back of the truck.
Our persistence shows up at Chez Kirkland—no litter pan left unscooped, a clunky sentence reworked to spark a smile and more than a few critters wandering around who credentialed folk deemed beyond repair. There’s Bran, a paraplegic given four weeks to live, who celebrated his birthday terrorizing the dogs and demanding Mama Su hand feed him rotisserie chicken, Toblerone (Toby), a constipated runt, also given 2-4 weeks to live, whose digestive system now lives up to his name, and Gracie, a little black and white tripod who kicked panleuk’s butt with three good legs and is far faster than any of us on two.
But of the patients turned squatters, Mr. Hobbs, our ginger with the ugly back wound, is going to serve as the reference for others on the margin after he’s gone. As you can see, his injury has almost healed (see our Nov 2020 post…inconceivable!) and he now totters around the grounds like a happy drunkard who never loses his balance or temper. Two months ago, his concern was (or should have been) our willingness to discount the logic and experience of our most trusted vet. Today, his day is no longer about survival, but whether or not the ducks are going to show and when that skinny bizzie Twiggy will stop blocking the space heater. He’s the old man at the club with no flocks given and an inspiration to the kids standing in line with a fake ID.
Someday, there will be a little one with grim health prospects but something endearing about her face, squawk or attitude that will make us bow up when the vet says that our resources are best used elsewhere and it’s time to move on. The vet will be right, but we’ll consider the advice and options given and counter, “What about Hobbs?”…and that little misfit will live to see another day. It won’t always work out, but when it does and she enjoys the sunshine on her face and daydreams about what she’d do if she caught one of those ducks, she can thank the old timer who set the precedent against which her prospects will be measured. Mr. Hobbs.