My suitcase was packed except for a few toiletries and what I would be wearing on the plane in the morning; leaving Arizona would be bittersweet. I had traveled to our daughter’s home to help her after acute pain in her abdomen led to emergency surgery. Her husband, children and even her cats had welcomed me with open arms from the moment I walked through the door, with everyday life flowing smoothly around and including me as if I had always been there, living with them.

Now my visit was coming to an end. The doctor had released our daughter from care to resume normal activities and my assistance was no longer needed. My help may not have been needed, but the family demonstrated with loving words and gestures that my presence was wanted, making the departure that much more difficult. Even the kitty seemed to be saying, Don’t leave Mayam, when he brought me a parting gift…

… the tail of a lizard, recently detached and still writhing.

I thanked Hunter, so aptly named; profusely and with as much gratitude as one can muster while carrying a still warm, severed lizard tail back outside. With Hunter in tow, I tried to find the owner of said tail to return it, but having come up short, (pun intended), I laid the gift on a paver stone and once again thanked my benefactor.

Back inside the house, I sat down at the kitchen table and started to cry. I really missed my husband and our three fur babies; I wanted to get back home to them, but I didn’t want to leave my daughter’s home and her wonderful family, especially since I didn’t know when we would be able to see each other again. Then a very random thought occurred to me…

I wonder if this is what it’s like when we approach that time in life when we need to depart.

I allowed my mind to wander to that place where conversations on the topic are avoided or held in very hushed tones and only when the discussion is absolutely necessary. Once again, I was there at the bedside of my family member who was about to depart on their one-way trip to Glory, a posture I have been in too many times. That place where we hold frail hands, whisper loving sentiments and all the things we had been meaning to say but never did. A place where grief and guilt collide fusing into anguished prayers for more time together. I wondered if my loved ones had bittersweet feelings about departing, reluctant to leave their kith and kin on this plane, but excited to see those that had gone on to the next plane years before and were deeply missed.

Hunter sauntered inside from the patio, sans lizard tail, and plopped down at my feet; this time offering his soft white belly as a gift. As I pet him I thought about how we so often express our love and sympathy with the traditional arrangement or spray of flowers; beautiful upon receipt but whose fairness fades with time. Of course, like most customs started centuries ago that we continue to practice, the original purpose was established for practicality; simply put, fragrant flowers mask the odor of decomposition. Of course with innovation and the advancement of technology over the years, we no longer need floral arrangements, and it has become acceptable to request donations to organizations near and dear to the deceased in lieu of flowers, which led me to wonder…

… why NOT lizard tails?

Does the gift really matter, be it flowers, a memorial donation or a casserole; isn’t the message the same?

You mean a lot to me, I’m thinking of you, I hurt too, but I’m here for you!

Can you imagine how corporate America would have capitalized on the marketing campaigns for giving gifts of lizard tails instead of flowers? There would most likely be Lizard Growing Farms and Lizard Shops; cute adobe buildings housing warm rooms artfully decorated with rocks displaying various varieties of lizard’s tails to choose for your loved one. There would be silk and plastic lizard tails for those who preferred not to destroy Mother Nature’s handy work. Advertising firms would create catchy slogans like:

Getting sick Skinks! Wish them well with a beautiful tails.

February 14th is Valentine’s Day, Iguana wait to the last minute? Gecko going, quantities limited.

Designs by Liz

It’s been three months since I left Arizona and now I am in Florida at the behest of my sister-in-law. My brother had a heart attack, required by-pass surgery and I am here to be of assistance. As we sit in their living room, a lizard skittered by sending my brother’s wife flying off the couch to catch it and put it outside. He had been in her room the previous night, no doubt to let her know that he was there to comfort her and tuck her in. I smiled at the coincidence and knew right then and there how I wanted my obituary to read when the good Lord sees fit to call me home:

In Lieu of Flowers, Please Bring Lizard Tails