Taking back the reins



It is interesting to see how others respond when we choose to take control and stay in our own lane. This can be a change in direction for some, undesired territory for others. You know, when the pretty pony acts more like a stubborn mule, just because we need to stand our ground. 

Al’s brother has grown old as Al and I have grown older. It’s true. While we get up and make our bed together, Al’s brother wants my Sweet Al to find him a new housekeeper that will tuck him in. She can’t be over a certain age and must have visual appeal. While we are more concerned with ensuring pots and pans are scrubbed before going to bed, Al’s brother wants a dish who won’t stay the night. 

At 86, he still depends on Al, who is 83. From their earliest of days, Al has always been his brother’s keeper. No matter the task or ask, he prides himself for “always” being there. 

I said to my Sweet Al, “You’ve got to say no to your brother’s demands.”

Al quipped back, “It doesn’t hurt anyone for me to do what he asks.”

I don’t know why I even say anything. Where we are today has been their mode of operation since the day the two learned to walk. Why change now? Well, probably because some things in life need a new track to run on. 

Al’s brother called from Albuquerque and demanded he crawl under his house to check on the water pipes. Not so long ago, he called and asked him to climb on the roof to remove ice. Neither of these are places that my Sweet Al needs to be.

A recent call, “My ex-wife is coming up for the weekend. Open the gate, turn on the heat and make sure everything is ready for her in the house.”

That was the Friday in March when we received over 2 feet of snow from a single storm. 

Al told his brother it wasn’t a good idea for his ex-wife to travel. The conditions were bad and her car was not equipped to handle anything more than a light dusting of snow. 

If I were a betting woman, I could have told you verbatim what would have followed. That evening, the phone rang. It was the pretty pony. “Why didn’t you plow out the driveway? She’s stuck. Who’s going to pull her out?”

Nothing in me wants to relive all that followed, when my Sweet Al told his brother in short, “I told you she shouldn’t have come.”

I would ask why the family drama from the south continues to invade my peaceful home, but I already know the answer. With that, there are times I just want to knock Al’s brother off his high horse. 

I realize how that sounds, but all of us have to change our narrative at some point. Don’t we owe it to ourselves to recognize our own boundaries, defining a threshold by saying “no”? 

In fairness, my Sweet Al is getting better control of his own bridle. And, with that, knowing when to pull back when leading demands become nonsensible. It’s the only way to manage these types of situations less we enable those around us to trot all over us. 

The blue ribbon? My Sweet Al has a servant’s heart. There is no one he wouldn’t want to help or please, even an old and feeble brother who thinks of himself as an 86-year-old stud. 

Final brushstroke: There comes a point when we need to spit out the bit and let others do their own bidding. Yes, sometimes the growth of change is painful, especially when you are the recipient of hollow words that cause you to retreat more than parade ahead. But, eventually the stallion has to be put to pasture so the rest of us can focus on our own barn.