THE PINNACLE OF IRRELEVANCE [F, 6-1-18]
Ernie always liked me best. He went crazy whenever I showed up, danced in circles around me, wouldn’t let me out of his sight, sat beside me on the sofa with his paw on my leg to keep me in place, sat on my lap at family meals [even though other people forbade us]. Until the last time.
That was when I knew I had reached the pinnacle of irrelevancy.
I have been in the process of becoming irrelevant for some time now. That’s the way of old age. Don’t misunderstand, please; irrelevancy doesn’t mean that we are not liked or appreciated or loved. It just means we aren’t needed for anything, except being liked and loved and appreciated. No one needs us for the practical stuff, like preaching or writing or playing third base or providing ideas and advice. There are younger, more with-it people for that.
But I knew I would never be irrelevant to Ernie. He would cry at the front door when I left. He would sit there for two days hoping I would return. Until the last time.
He was four years old when our daughter, Katie Kennedy, the famous YA author, and her family got him from the shelter. His first people had been an older couple, with the man doing almost all of his care. Finally it became too much for the old man, and they gave him to the shelter, to find a new home for him. Just after grandson Joe, then ten years old, had told his mother, “I don’t just want a dog; I need a dog.”
Naturally, when Ernie met me, he assumed I would be at his beck and call, be his faithful and constant servant, just as the former old man. He was right.
Three years later we moved 650 miles away. We saw Ernie only twice or three times a year. Nothing changed. I was still his favorite person, the one he went crazy about each time I showed up. Until the last time.
Last Sunday, grandson Joe graduated from high school. When Helen and I came in the door on Saturday, Ernie didn’t even notice. He paid no attention to me the whole weekend. Just because Katie now provides his care the 362 days of the year that I am not there, she is now the one he cries for at the front door when she leaves.
I had reached the pinnacle of irrelevance, unneeded even by the dog.
The graduation trip required a respite from writing CIW. Now, through Ernie’s prescience, I have come to realize what he already knew: I am irrelevant. I have nothing to say, nothing that is worth your time to read.
Thank you for being a faithful reader. Writing CIW has kept me sane. It has also allowed me to put off realizing how irrelevant I am. Now the time is here to do what old men do best—be irrelevant. I’m sure I’ll do that well, because I have already reached the pinnacle.
Grace and peace,