The old fellow goes out to the garage and hops on the riding mower. His wife hasn't hidden the key and it starts up. He mows odd meandering paths around the property. They reflect the meandering of his mind.
“I don't see no more grass to mow,” he tells his wife when he goes back inside.
“It looks fine,” she says kindly. She is now on her second round of child raising.
She cannot relax or take a break for more than fifteen minutes. He has tipped the three-wheeler over during a rain storm and lain in the mud for over an hour. He used to regularly run down the tractor battery when he tried to use it, or fix it, and left the key in the “on” position. Male relatives managed to convert most of the accessible farm machinery so that keys could be removed. The riding mower is the only toy he is allowed to use.
He is bored and restless, having led an active life prior to this. Now, there are regular doctor visits and short day trips his wife devises to keep him out of trouble. He is not allowed to drive the pickup anymore. The last time he did, he quickly became disoriented and luckily a relative stopped him before he left the private rural lane.
He sleeps deeply in the lounger in front of the television. The Andy Griffith Show blares on, but he doesn't seem to hear it.
I've brought over a bucket of duck eggs, which the wife likes for baking. She invites me in and we take a tour of the small home to look at her vast collection of pig figurines, knickknacks, baskets, and key chains. She's been collecting them for many years and they fill the tops of her kitchen cabinets and the spare bedroom. I express admiration and we walk back to the kitchen through the living room.
I sneak a look at the pale man in the chair. He is breathing so shallowly that I briefly wonder if he's died.
He is okay and the next day his wife stops by as she picks up her newspaper and I weed the garden in the early morning. We stand by the fence and have one of our more frequent conversations on nothing in particular and lots of small unimportant topics. We both need the diversion.
The husband has expressed concern over our llama, which he hasn't seen in several days. I explain that Zorio has been staying inside the barn during the hot, humid days. He needs a Summer haircut, but won't stand for me to shear him. The goats are going out llama-less in the meantime. However, the llama is healthy and is getting hay and feed inside during the day and can graze during the cooler nights.
She will tell her husband to assure him that there is nothing to worry about.
I muse on the mystery of declining minds and aging bodies. I think about the bond of kindness and patience in long term marriages.