The Toilet Paper Chronicles: A Grandpa’s Unexpected Battle

May 29, 2023

(FYI, if you don’t read to the end of the story, you will miss the best part.)

Upon returning from a trip to Colorado, I found that my grass had inconsiderately grown calf-high, knee-high for short people. I have six acres, but only mow four. Even for a bachelor, it feels like the Ponderosa when it is your job. I add some extra caffeine to my coffee and attack the land mass with a vengeance on my 72-inch mower. I had just sharpened the blades and replaced both rear tires. Feeling great achievement in the fresh rubber and the shiny edges, I’m sitting tall in the saddle, cutting a wide swathe across my spread. Not ten minutes in, my John Deere starts making a sound akin to your grandmother’s false teeth on a chilly morning, amplified by a thousand.

Upon close inspection, I surmise no grass is going down by this cutter today. My son lives next door to me, so I retrieve his 42-inch mower with a speed about half of mine and start crawling down the pasture like Forrest Gump on weed. I’m slowly making laps back and forth, wondering if I will die of old age before I’m done.

Suddenly, I notice that the mower is no longer cutting the grass. I stop and quickly discover that the mower deck belt was broken. (A mower deck belt is the thingy that wraps around the pulleys on the motor and the mower blades, thereby turning the blades and cutting the grass.) At this point, I’m googling for new cuss words, as I had used up all the vulgar utterances in my vocabulary and I hate to repeat myself.

I call my son who says, “I’ll be right over with a new belt.” In five minutes, he shows up with the belt and two of his grandsons, my great-grandsons Carter, 4, and Peyton, 3. Apparently, he thought we might need reinforcements. We delve into the job for about 10 minutes when he asks, “Where are the boys?” By now, I was so into the job, I had forgotten the boys were here. We look around and see Carter. “Carter, where is your brother?” my son asks. “He is in the house,” was Carter’s reply. Trusting the word of a four-year-old, we go back to work.

Not five more minutes and Peyton is standing behind the glass door between my kitchen and the carport where we are working, and he yells, “I need help.” My son is under the mower, so he asks, “Will you check on him?”

I open the door and find Peyton standing in front of the bathroom door with his jeans and Spiderman underwear at his ankles. He sees me, yells, “I need help,” and with no other explanation than that, he bends over, puts his hands on the floor, and points his tiny behind hole right at me like he’s going to shoot jelly beans out of it. Great-grandfathers are not supposed to have to polish off poop. I had barely changed any diapers on my grands, and probably only one time when my daughter was a baby. Here I am with a real dis-ass-ter! I look out the glass door to my son who is still under the mower.

How am I going to get out of this stinky mess? I’m a Christian man, and I know in times of catastrophe, sometimes miracles happen, so I start praying for a woman to appear, but God’s ears are deaf to my cries!

I consider the results of telling my son to stop working on his mower that I broke mowing my lawn to wipe a butt. I realize, “I am going to have to do this myself!” I hadn’t done anything like that since I was in my twenties! “Oh Lord, why have you forsaken me?”

Peyton, who has been patiently holding his pointed position, assumes I can’t reach him and moves his hands and feet, dancing across the floor like a spider, to draw nearer while pulling his feet and hands closer together, raising his tiny hiny another two inches in the air my way. He is doing this as if it’s the most normal thing in the world, without the slightest embarrassment. On the other hand, my eyes are rolling back in my head, my breath is getting shallow, and I don’t know whether to go for the Charmin or get a paper bag I can hyperventilate into.

Wishing I was under the mower with the grass and grease, I pull myself together with the self-talk – “You can do this, Willoughby. You can do this! It is only poop.” I grab the roll and attack the brown goo with fear and trepidation. I quickly find out you can’t do that job with your eyes closed as I make the mess worse. Peyton, all the time, is the picture of patience, not even realizing that “Grandpa Wooby” is having a near-death experience.

I am proud to tell you that in less than five minutes, I had heroically conquered the bottom breach with less than half a roll of toilet paper. I am thinking I will get some kind of appreciation but to my chagrin, Peyton nonchalantly pulls up his pants and walks off without even a thank you. You would think this was just a normal everyday event!

How ungrateful! Just happy to have clean cheeks, he blissfully goes out to play while Grandpa is suffering from PTSD. I slump out to the carport, emotionally wiped out, and tell my son, “I had to clean Peyton’s butt.” I was expecting to hear something like, “Oh Dad, are you ok? Do you need to talk about it?” I get nothing but a grunt! It was like no battle had been won, no enemy defeated, no injury suffered. Clearly, we are living in a day and age where people do not appreciate the sacrifices of others. Anyway, thanks for letting me DUMP on you. It does help.

So, the moral of this story is to humble yourself like a child, trust the Lord to clean up your crap, and you can have a peaceful happy life.

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