My dad assumes the position in a lawn chair as I pick up the shovel. This is already becoming somewhat routine for us. He has six citrus trees in pots that need to get into the ground. Those roots need a chance to spread a bit before the oppressive heat strikes in a couple of months. Seems apt with all the chaos around. Planting a tree is surely the ultimate sign of hope in tomorrow. Getting these trees in the ground assumes a gravity equal to the weight of the dirt I'm lifting. My dad wants to live long enough to taste the sweet fruit from these trees. And my mom wants to be there to take a picture of that, I'm sure. There are certainly enough reasons to surrender to the chaos around so you take hope wherever and whenever you can find it, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant.
He does what he has dubbed, his 'pointy finger' routine. He points and wags his finger where he wants the tree. After some rearranging and second guessing, I start digging into the heavy clay. It's hard work and the smell of sweat starts to mingle with the heady fragrance of the lemon blossoms that have already opened up. At the bottom of the third hole, I encounter a buried piece of concrete. Rather than risk breaking the shovel, my dad asks if I need a pry bar. I answer in the affirmative and sit down puffing to catch my breath. Rain has been conspicously absent so the dirt is as hard as the concrete I'm trying to remove. Before I know it, my dad is shuffling back carrying an iron pry bar that weighs probably 15 pounds. "Either you're foolhardy or you're feeling a lot better. Probably a little of both." Just 4 or 5 days ago, he'd have trouble walking 20 yards, much less carrying an object that's nearly 10% of his body weight. (That's about 18 meters for you Canucks reading this.) Unwilling to get my hopes up, I still begin to wonder to my mom if the chemo is already working its magic in him. An eternal pessimist, I comment that perhaps it's just the steroid that's perking him up. Time will tell.