IN LOVING MEMORY OF A GATOR
Alan had always been a smoker, but he never smoked inside the house, preferring to sit outside in the garden and look out at the lake and wildlife – regardless of the weather, he would sit outside. Since this was an ingrained habit, even with the disease, he continued to smoke.
The little lake we live on is privately owned by the homeowners surrounding three sides, and since most of our neighbors are elderly, people rarely go out in boats. One day there was a small rowing boat with some young black boys who were fishing. Alan had never, ever, been a racist – in fact the opposite, he was honest and open with everyone. Over a period of time, we would see the boys in their boat and occasionally Alan would go down and have a laugh and joke with them. For some reason they started anchoring right by our dock. At first I didn’t think there was anything wrong, they were just teenagers out fishing. It then became a daily thing, from very first thing in the morning to last thing at night, they were just sitting at the end of our garden. If they had rowed around the lake, I could have probably understood. This started to become a major source of irritation for Alan, and if I’m honest myself, it felt like they were invading our space and of course I knew that Alan was starting to get upset.
One afternoon I was in the kitchen making a cup of tea, and I could see Alan down on the dock flailing his arms about, obviously agitated. I ran outside and Alan was in the middle of a terrible racist tirade, somehow I managed to get him back into the house, and then I ran back down to talk to the boys. They were obviously upset, and threatening to get a lawyer for racial abuse – I was encouraged when one said he was going to get his mother. I tried to explain that Alan had Alzheimer’s, but they had never heard of it. When I went back into the house, Alan was rushing about in the Garage arming himself with hammers which he wanted to throw at the boys. I locked all the doors, drew the blinds and eventually managed to disarm him; he eventually calmed down. After this, the boys were in their boat every single day, sitting right at the end of our dock, so I kept the blinds in the house closed and encouraged Alan to sit by the front door to have his cigarette.
A couple of days later, early in the morning, I thought I would take Alan out for a walk before it became too hot, I started to open the blinds and the boys were on the end of our dock, fishing and looking up into the house . I immediately drew the blinds close, prepared breakfast then dressed Alan ready for a walk. The doorbell rang, and a young man on a bicycle asked me if I knew there was a gator on my front lawn. I walked outside and right on the front grass was a young gator about 4 ft. long on his back. I stepped forward to take a closer look and knelt down, the young lad kept saying “careful it will roll over and bite you”. Then he suggested it had been run over, however, I could see there was a piece of white plumbing pipe stuck in it’s throat and it must have been in enormous pain. There was no way it had been run over, someone had done this on purpose. Alan had followed me on to the lawn and with all the excitement he was rushing about. I went to the Garage and got a garden rake, and laid the flat side of it under the gator’s throat (just in case he did get a lease of life) and asked the young man to hold the handle; I then proceeded to pull the pipe out of the gator’s throat, it was about 18″ long. All the while the young man was saying “careful he will flip over” I told him with that amount of pipe forced down his throat he wouldn’t be running anywhere. He asked if I was going to call the Wildlife Rescue, but I knew he was probably going to die. If there was any chance of survival it would be in his natural habitat, so I asked the young man to help me carry him down to the lake in our back garden. He thought I was some crazy ******* woman. In the end we flipped the gator over. I had my hands around his mouth and the young guy had the tail end, and we walked down to the lake and slid him in, he just hung on the side of the lake wall. The young boys were not in their boat fishing.
After all the excitement, I finally took Alan out in the car, and stayed away from our house the whole day.
After this incident, I felt threatened, someone and to this day I do not know who, had tortured a gator and put it on my lawn, and to be honest I was fearful something else might happen. One of my Soul Sisters, who had lost her husband to Alzheimer’s about a year before and who was now studying to become a Nurse herself, came to sit with Alan so I was able to go to a Caregiver meeting, and it was the general consensus within the group that I should call the Police. I really didn’t want to exacerbate the situation, so I went to a neighbor who is a Policeman and explained the situation. His response of “well what do you want me to do?”, didn’t go down too well with me, but in the end he said I could post a sign at the end of my dock, which I never did.
The boys started fishing again at the end of our dock, although now each time there was a lady in the boat with them, who I took to be their mother. If I was in the garden I would always say hello, or give a friendly wave. About this time, I tried to encourage Alan to go and lay down in the afternoon, and on one such occasion, my Soul Sister dropped in for a cup of tea. We were sitting in the garden chatting, and the boys and their mother arrived in the boat. My girlfriend thought I should call the Police, instead I went down and started talking to the lady, and apologized for my husband’s verbal racial tirade and I also explained that he had Alzheimer’s, she said she worked at a nursing home and knew about the disease. When I returned to my girlfriend, since she also had experience of Alzheimer’s, went down to talk to the mother. To this day, the boys have never been back fishing, and thankfully, I’ve never had any more gators on my front grass.
However, after slipping the gator into the lake that day – I went down in the evening and the poor creature was still hanging there, (see photo) if I’d had a gun I think I would have shot him to put him out of his misery, unless he was already dead. That evening, I’m thinking to myself OMG I have to go down to the lake to get the gator out in the morning otherwise there is going to be a huge stinky mess of a rotting carcass. Thankfully, the universe was taking care of me and in the morning the gator was gone – no sign of it. Whether another gator had eaten it, or vultures, or whether it had just been blown somewhere else in the lake, I’ve no idea.
It was so sad, a poor innocent creature being senselessly tortured.
2004 Alan Building the Deck
In his Workshop making Garden Furniture
Alan Building an Arbor
The Lake and Garden