Earlier this afternoon, I finished up putting the second coat of teak stain on my deck stairs. I bring the paint inside, put the lid on and placed it on a short ladder by the back door inside the kitchen. I then set about taking cuttings from a cactus, humming and moving about the room, feeling productive when I accidentally kick the ladder and the half-full can of dark stain hits the floor and splashes all over the kitchen. I yell out in shock and horror as I watch the brown liquid run across the linoleum, spray all over the back door (which was open), onto the walls, and onto the washing machine. I freeze. What the hell am I to do?! This is dark stain – I gotta act fast. The paint is all over my legs, on my feet, blocking my way to the linen closet to get towels to soak it up.
Meanwhile, my dog, Tater, who had been lounging on the deck doing a bit of sunbathing (away from the painting action) is standing stock still at the door, curious about the noise and obviously wanting to walk right through the stain. I yell out in a murderous voice, “BACK YOUR LITTLE ASS UP RIGHT NOW!” He does exactly that and slinks away.
I’m frozen. The paint spreads over the floor and down the walls, now in tiny brown rivulets, marking everything in its path. I leap over the dark puddle praying I don’t slip in the paint, and I run to the closet, grab the oldest, most threadbare towels, rush back to the kitchen and start scrubbing. I’m on my hands and knees, dripping sweat, all the while mumbling over and over, “This is no big deal. This is no big deal. This is NOT a big deal.” I can see the paint is staining the back door. Where to focus my scrubbing?! – this shit is everywhere.
After about an hour and a half, I have finally cleaned up all the paint; the soaked, stained towels are now hanging off the back deck and I am sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor. Covered in paint, drenched in sweat, cursing, nearly crying. “I do not need this right now,” I say to no one in particular. Tater is still at the back door, though now he is laying down, quietly watching me, looking like he wants to come in but unsure of the consequences. “Come on in buddy,” I say. “The coast is clear.” He strolls by me and goes to his water bowl. I laugh. Homeboy ain’t worried about a thing.
And I think, “You know, stop moaning, Angela.” I am healthy enough to leap over paint puddles and vigorously scrub the floor. I have my own house that is mine to splash with paint if I want to, a house I bought and take care of on my own. My dog is alive and healthy (though the vet says he’s too fat).
I walk out onto my deck into the sunshine. I look down at my shining, glorious newly stained deck stairs. And I feel good. And happy. And grateful. But if that dog had run through the paint and through the house…whole ‘nother ballgame kids, whole ‘nother ballgame.
Beautifully said, our pets are just as much family as us. Respect what we have in life.
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So true. I’ll never forget him sitting there as close to me as he could (since he couldn’t come in), watching me work (this is before he went blind). His nearness, somehow, brought me more peace and, later, I thought about how our spirits are truly a balm to the soul. I often earn about him “earning his keep” but he does that every day by bringing joy to my heart (though he farts too often to keep a quiet mood going for very long).