My dad once rescued an angry mama cow by luring her into a runway where she thought she could mash him flat as a Gumby toy. He let her stay close to his heels until he reached the door into the barn.
Then he grabbed a fencepost and vaulted onto the top railing while the cow’s momentum carried her into the stall. Not easy but effective.
My brothers slammed the gate behind her and she was penned in a safe place.
That memory of a lithe and strong man of resource has held firm in my mind as I watched his abilities wither along with his body.
The family woke up to Dad’s challenges when he set his pickup engine on fire. Dad was a master mechanic and, even in his 80s, he wasn’t afraid to crawl under the hood and adjust a carburetor.
Something went wrong. Something that wouldn’t have gone wrong 10 years before.
The fire scorched the pickup engine and underside of the hood.
Dad was nearly in tears for his clumsy mistake.
We were nearly in tears at the thought of a fire stealing him away from us.
We could have grounded him, taking away his vehicles and finding ways to keep him tethered to a recliner and television.
We became very interested in his projects. We hung out with him as often as we could, turning a wrench when he started a repair. We listened when he discussed maintenance.
Just like Dad had rescued that angry cow even though she didn’t know it, we had to do the same for Dad.
He’d taught us to solve problems creatively. If he could vault the fence to save a cow, we searched for ways to save him from himself. Not easy but effective.