Due to a series of events, I was elected to babysit for the weekend. Joseph dropped off Lucy and her bag of formula, bottles, and other doodads for the proper care and feeding of a baby kangaroo.
I just acknowledged my new charge with a wave—I was in the middle of an intense conference call with two other parties—one in Arizona and one in Pennsylvania. I was the official note-taker and trying to focus on the conversation. Lucy was in a little harness clipped to a tether fastened to the deck where I sat taking advantage of the outside cell reception, the spring sun, and the only clean section of the pollen-coated table.
Lucy has to be bottle fed every four hours. It is possible to mix kangaroo milk and take notes at the same time. Just FYI.
It was a few hours—yes, hours—into the telephone call when I looked over to see Lucy go hopping into the hedge. Dismayed, I noticed that the clip had come off her harness. Just a few hours and I had already lost my charge.
I did my best to make it seem like my head was in Pennsylvania helping solve the problems facing our clients when in reality, my head was in a hedge with one hand pressing my cell phone to my ear and the other feeling its way through the branches in effort to locate one small marsupial who blended perfectly with the sticks holding up the leaves.
If they could see me now…
I had read somewhere that if you overfeed a baby kangaroo they will get diarrhea. Well, Lucy and I were on the five-hour drive to Jacksonville later that day when she jumped out of her pouch onto the passenger seat.
It was then that I discovered that I had been over-feeding Lucy.
And before I could figure out what to do, Lucy had dragged her tail through the mess and jumped onto my lap.
I saw a cop slyly parked by a break in the trees and checked my speedometer. All I needed now was to try to explain to an officer why I was speeding through Georgia with a stinky kangaroo on my lap.
My car smelled like you might imagine it would smell under the circumstances. We had 100 miles to go.
Needless to say, I was questioning the wisdom of my decision to take the little girl on a little adventure. If there isn’t a law against taking these things across state lines there should be.
Things got worse when I arrived to learn that my grandpa had a medical condition that would require an immediate visit to the doctor. I could just picture myself sitting in a hospital waiting room with my 96-year old grandmother bottle feeding a wallaby. Grandma hates attention.
But I didn’t have many options. Lucy tends to make friends rather quickly—and I had expected she would there at the retirement community—but the novelty wears off in a hurry, and…well…there was that overfeeding thing we were still dealing with.
My latest babysitting attempt was turning into a disaster.
And thankfully, we were able to get by with a fairly short doctor’s visit.
And the over-feeding thing did start to resolve, which seemed to give her a little bit more confidence.
While my grandparents napped, I saw one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen. One elderly gentleman in a powered wheeled chair, pushing his wife—in a wheel chair of her own—around the courtyard. He was singing aloud a song I didn’t recognize. I suspect he might have written it himself. As he was singing it. “I love you…” he was singing, “…from the bottom of my heart.”
I took a picture, but I was at such a distance it you couldn’t really see it. Not really. And a picture just didn’t do it justice anyway. It was one of the sweetest things I ever saw. Especially since it didn’t look like his wife was the least bit conscious of what was going on.
It was a few hours later when I saw the same gentleman outside in the parking lot. I wanted to meet him. And I had an idea. I had something that he might like to meet too.
I introduced myself and Lucy. He introduced himself as Dean and told me about his wife, Mary. She had suffered from Alzheimers for the last fifteen years.
And for the last ten, she hadn’t even known who he was. Her mind was gone but her soul was still trapped in this earthly body. And as long as it was, she was still Mary. And he still loved her. And he was going to serve her just like he had in the happy days when she had known and appreciated him.
Dean enjoyed meeting Lucy, but I don’t think she made as much of an impression on him as he did I me. I was just glad Lucy was there so I would have an excuse to meet this faithful man.
And, I suppose, if he can take of his sick wife from a wheel chair, I can bottle feed a wallaby.