i hate the dandelions

Ryan and Elise taking time to visit Jacob’s bench at Miami University

Naomi doesn’t typically mow the lawn so it was lovely to come home and see the lawn mowed on Friday.  Within 12 hours, the dandelions returned and brought friends.  Our front lawn is a sad mixture of grass, dandelions, weeds, and moss cover as a result of a large evergreen tree.  My neighbor to the north has a beautiful lawn.  He and his wife spend hours watering, seeding, weed killing, aerating, feeding, more feeding, and much more daily.  They use the same organic lawn service as me.  Semiannually, they apply pesticides with fair warning to the neighbors so the dogs don’t get sick.

I hate dandelions.  The first growth pops up a beautiful “buttercup” flower.  After a week or two, the flowers are replaced with cotton ball seeds that spread like cancer.  Mowing them down only fuels them and spreads the seeds.  Uprooting the dandelions at this point is too late.  The dandelions are here to stay.

This weekend, Naomi and I worked on the yard.  I pulled (okay Ben did most of the work) multiple front bushes.  I then spread 30+ bags of top soil.  Naomi planted our annuals.  The front of the house is getting closer to what we desire for the season.  We’ll be replacing our normal dyed, poisonous mulch with organic Sweet Peet.  

The move to remove toxins into the environment was not made lightly.  When my kids were young, I took them to Ben’s mom’s house.  Ben was “home” for a visit so we hiked around the brook/creek behind the house.  I am unsure if this is an established waterway or just a collection of water at the bottom of some hills.  Regardless, we hiked and climbed around.  We like that shit.  Within 20 minutes, my legs turned a bright blue/green.  After initial panic, we realized we were covered in fertilizer runoff.  It was laughed off and an hour later we were showered and clean.  Or were we?

My life decisions didn’t change that day.  I continued to use fertilizers.  I continued poisoning the environment and my body with toxins without much thought to the dangers.  I am one person.  My soil is not going to be solved overnight.  I can be as organic as I want but I am a victim of runoff and wind.  I am also a victim of time.  And, lest we forget, I HATE the dandelions.  

What happened to us?  Who’s to blame?  I blame one person: Mr. Jones.  He and his family are the enemy.  They do something, and we are in a constant need to keep up with the Jones’.  I feel it.  I met new neighbors this weekend and I noticed the work they did on their lawn in a short period before I saw their faces.  I was jealous of their garden, front walk, and porch.  The house looks perfect.  I need it.  These fucking people don’t even have a single, maddening dandelion.

JS’s dog at Jacob’s bench with the dandelions

My son got cancer as a direct result of the need to change the environment.  Jacob died because of our need to change the environment.  Jacob died because those fucking dandelions are annoying.  I would inhale a lifetime of dandelion seeds to bring him back.  I’d give my own life to bring him back.  This is not revolutionary.  Almost every parent in the world would give his/her life to save his/her child.  I’m not special.

My niece graduated from college two weeks ago.  She walked across the stage at The University of Michigan, with the reality that her cousin died.  My other niece graduated from the University of Kansas, yesterday, holding the same duality of elation and grief.  They completed the last two years of school while adding this sadness.  Jacob’s friends from St. Ed’s, toasted him at Dayton’s graduation.  His Miami friends took time to visit a bench, dedicated to his memory, at Miami University.  His graduation would have been yesterday.  

I have one annoying niece.  She is “all about the environment.”  She does all of this annoying shit like dedicating her life to reversing the damage of the past three generations.  It’s irritating listening to the truth about our pestilent desires of keeping up with the Jones’.  Holy shit, we need more Schuylers!  

We live in a country of preservatives, pesticides, “natural flavors”, lead, aluminum, need for multiple cars, social media clout, etc.  The cost is our lives.  I was doing yard work yesterday and I drove across the street to borrow a rake.  I’m the American dream.  I drove a car across the street because I am so fat that my knees no longer work properly.  The pain is so severe I have to “plan” my exertion.  I take five medicines daily: Two for depression/anxiety and three for my cholesterol, BP and heart health.  I am vitamin deficient because the foods I eat aren’t providing proper nutrients.  

Caps for Jacob!

So, how am I the American dream?  I ate myself, nearly dead, with shit.  The food companies love me.  I take so many drugs (PRESCRIBED) that I am keeping Big Pharma happy.  I have a multi-day stay at the hospital every year, keeping the hospitals and insurance companies happy.  Don’t be fooled, this is good for insurance companies too!  I drive any and everywhere so I keep the oil industry happy.  

Why did it take Jacob’s death to see any of this?  It comes down to ONE word:  Money.  “Big <insert industry>” pays our government.  Our government then does a misdirection magic move that makes Penn and Teller envious.  It convinces people to hate by blaming brown people and women.  It preys on white people and convinces them that they are “losing.”  Per Chris Rock, “If y’all losing, then who’s winning?  There’s a one arm, white bus boy here who won’t trade places with me, and I’m RICH!”  

I want to reiterate, Jacob died because we failed.  We failed to see what we did.  Since Jacob’s death, I know multiple people who’ve been diagnosed with cancer.  Some have died.  When are we going to say that we surrender?  When are we going to see the dandelion for what it is?  A flower.

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