Gilroy’s early life started, well, in Gilroy. My friend and neighbor called me from the Gilroy shopping outlets and told me what she had found in the parking lot there. “Well, bring him on home!” I told her, as you do. A few years down the road and Gilroy was joined at Solace by another creature who had been picked up crossing the road downtown and then another who somehow showed up, and not for dinner, on Thanksgiving Day. And then there were three of them: Gilroy, Thursday Solo and Turkey.
For the longest time, we thought we might see some babies and then life clipped along, as she does, and we forgot about being grandparents again. After all, one grand child is really enough for us to handle and she is 5 and full on!
Then peculiar things started to happen. Somehow Gilroy was getting into Chickingham Palace — home of the ladies Sibyl, June, Betty, Pauline and Maureen. He was getting under the fence from the Secret Garden and just hanging out with the chickens in their area. This was alarming at first. And then it was amusing.
If he felt safe with five clucking ladies, sporting sharp beaks and aggressive feet, then he was even more of a character than we had originally thought. I still took him back home to the ponds every time I found him there though, lest the ladies thought they could pick on him and, like any defenseless male surrounded by a houseful of bitchy women, he would be unable to defend himself.
This happened three times in one week and the last time I was forced to crate him, because he was so upset with me that he tried to wrestle himself out of my grasp and even tried to scratch me — unheard of in these parts! The weekend preluding Mother’s Day in America, he could be found under a nest of hay, under a small stool in Chickingham Palace. Guess what! Gilroy was not a boy; Gilroy was all woman and she was trying to lay some eggs in peace, for crying out loud.
All gleeful at the prospect of being grandparents again, we built her a proper nest out of an upside-down cat litter box and a diving pool complete with slide to get in and steps to get out for when she got all hot and bothered, as laying ladies can do. The other ladies — the clucking kind — just carried on with their business pecking around for bugs; not at all impressed by vibrant life happening before their very eyes and the serious nesting process going on in their home.
Snails, turtle pellets and the best fresh lettuce were delivered to the new nesting turtle house amidst the hens and I felt immensely honored that Gilroy, my beautiful red-eared slider lady turtle, had trusted me enough to keep trying to teach me until she knew I would finally get it. Patience such as only a mother knows!
Talking of Mother’s Day, this is the first time in a very long time that I shall actually spend it at home. Normally I am overseas with my dad celebrating his birthday; so it is strange to contemplate otherwise, especially knowing the airline audaciously canceled my flight and not the other way around.
I feel powerless and a bit huffy; but I am determined to make the best of it. I shall examine all the new life around me — the doves nesting in the cypress trees, the cute bunnies in the bushes, the butterflies and the dragonflies skirting over the pond.
Tiny blue-green slithers of baby dragons have arrived in our secret garden, kittens are being born all over the place and some are reportedly headed to Solace. I have baby birds under the eaves of my house and now, icing on the cake, there are baby turtles being born in my old stable. If my own mother were still alive, she would say I was nuts. She also might chance to observe that I was really lucky to have all this beautiful bustle of life around me in this beautiful place.
I think about her, now gone nearly 20 years, and I remember what a big job it is to be a mother. None of us are faultless in that arena for sure and some bestow more burdens on their offspring than others. But we are branches of the same tree regardless, and though we shouldn’t cast blame — we have our own lives to live and children to raise — I do think that being a grandparent, after actual parenthood, is quite the blessing.
You can be their fun place and their safe harbor. And then they leave. They can love visiting you and you can be quite exhausted when they leave. It is a very special relationship though and so much fun.
I cannot wait to see my granddaughter again — every time she leaves there is a very large hole in her wake (surrounded by all her trails of stuff everywhere), and it’s extremely quiet — spookily so. I also sleep like a log for days. I’m looking forward to introducing her to my grand-turtles, when they are born, and letting her name them.
That nod to the circle of life would inspire her, I think, and give her a basic understanding of what it’s all about. On the tail end of that, she’ll no doubt get to meet my new kittens.