I never liked your inside places. I think I was in one for less than seven of your days, after being removed from my pride. I liked the open spaces and freedom to be what I am. I liked mice chasing and bird watching. I liked deciding when I wanted to eat and when I wanted to sleep. I knew that the grounds in the place where you lay your people to rest was home when the sun hit that rock with the writing on it. I believe that the bright enveloping warmth still bathes it in such a way that, regardless of whether the heat is high or low, where leaves are falling or sun is shining, I could nap in luxury. It also doesn’t hurt that it allowed me to watch the backdoor of the food-preparing-place.
None of the females, who I believe you call United Church Women, ever chased me away or shooed me off. After a while, whether you were celebrating a birthday or marriage, death or goodbye saying, you always had that door open as food was prepared. Hospitality seemed so important to you. When you gather, whether in tears or laughter, even when you do or do not know each other, those females gather before the event and stay much longer than the rest. A marvel, really.
And sometimes they sang, that’s what got me interested the first time. The one they call Meadow came and offered solemn words. I think it was a ground laying day for one of you. And then … she began to sing and what a sound as the others joined in. I was curious, it’s who we are, so I came to the always-open-backdoor-during-events and listened. As the last note fell, the Meadow saw me. At first, I thought I better run, some of you do not like what you call strays and sometimes we get hurt. But she smiled that people smile when they know we are all connected.
She said something with the talking you do and the next thing I knew, there was a bowl with milk and ham. It was, to say the least, delightful. Ever since then, until now, that is the first memory that I have of people welcoming me, but not controlling and judging. And now, as I am remembering it in, I know I should not be surprised that they have carried me to a place where I might let go of my pain.
Seasons unfolded as they shall. From wet to warm, cool to cold, the field of rocks with writing was my home. Sometimes I would leave a mouse or two at the door – you know, as a way to say thank you. And always, when the heat was on in the food-preparing-place, eventually I heard my name, “Petey …” I always came, but you know, on my time. Sometimes I was down on the river bank watching the big-beaked-birds fall and dive into the water. Other times, chasing a fluttering winged thing was just too much fun. And, yes often, I was simply lying on the sun rock with the writing. Eventually, I would arise, stretch, yawn and then go see the females.
A bowl of this and that would greet me. The cooing and warm scritch and scratch were always welcome. And I knew they knew when I left, it was what I am, and I was grateful and never took their kindness for granted. They would watch me do my away-saunter and – sometimes – if the weather was cold, a square bundle of bound dried grass had been hollowed out and there I would rest until the cold passed.
Now, as they watch me with those tears you let fall when good-bye saying happen, I wish I had your words to say thank you for letting me be me. Life in the rock field was generally easy, often filled with surprise, but I always knew the straight path with the shooting metal cans was dangerous. And, up until this last year, well it was fun to be faster and nimbler than those transporters. But, as the needle from the one in the white coat is withdrawn, I can feel the pain subside.
They opened the door, called my name and then gasped. Broken, is what you would call me. It hurt so much and I knew that even if I was not here when they opened the door, they would know I had come home to the food-preparing-place to say thank you. Now, as the sounds fade, pain withdraws, I know you were my pride, my family as you say, letting me be what I am. So, all I have left to say, is “thank you …”