Is Karma Interested in Sheep?

The reason I ask is because my Dad is convinced that karma is indeed interested in sheep.

Let me explain.

My Dad is incredibly accident prone and is the sort of person who can’t have a ‘normal’ illness. It’s not that he’s a hypochondriac, in fact he hates going to see any sort of medical professional as he feels that he’s wasting their time. In reality he tends to be told off for not being seen sooner by the rather ferocious practice nurse at his local GP surgery.

What would just be food poisoning for most other people results in a year long period of hospitalisation, a stay in intensive care, numerous cardiac arrests, ground breaking surgery and repatriation in an air ambulance for my Dad. That little incident occurred when I was 18 months old and he’s still living with the long term health issues 25 years later. We also didn’t go abroad again until I was 15.

There have been three occasions when my Dad has been seriously ill and prior to all three he has saved a sheep.

Yup, the large(ish) woolly farm animal that you find in just about every field in the UK.

Dad and his role as saviour of woolly creatures has become somewhat legendary within my immediate family. My brother and I can list all four incidents of sheep saving and the three cases illness that followed –

The sheep that was stuck on its back and Dad getting food poisoning.

The second sheep that was stuck on its back and Dad having acute septic arthritis.

The lamb with it’s head stuck through a fence and Dad developing Stage 4 kidney disease.

Then there’s the ‘spare’ act of sheep saving. He was deadly serious when we went to see him and my Mum a few weeks ago and he stated that he had ‘one in the bank’ just in case he becomes ill again.

I still have the distinct memory of walking in the Yorkshire Dales and spotting a sheep with a large coil of barbed wired matted into its fleece. My brother and I (aged about 10 and 7) turned expectantly towards my Dad, waiting for him to don his metaphorical cloak as protector of all things ovine.

Dad started to walk towards it and so it turned and began to jog away.

Dad jogged after it and so it began to run.

Dad ran after it and we caught a split second glimpse of him flying through the air to rugby tackle the sheep before they both disappeared behind a tree.

A few minutes later both Dad and sheep emerged from behind the tree; the sheep running in one direction and Dad (rather red faced) walking back towards us with the coil of barbed wire slung over his shoulder.

Me and my brother cheered, my Mum looked slightly exasperated and for the next half an hour we had an in depth discussion about karma, saving things and why God (we were a Christian family) would equate the life of a sheep to saving the life of my Dad.

My Dad is very aware of his own health and mortality, now more so than ever. In the last few years he’s lost a friend of a similar age to him, his health has taken a downwards turn and he’s witnessed the next generation being born. I know that he realises that he’s getting old and that he takes it to heart when he sees news obituaries of well-known public figures who were a similar age to him.

I distinctly remember taking my parents to Highgate Cemetery (when I lived in London) and walking round a corner to be met with an unusual wooden grave marker that had, at the top in large carved letters, Dad’s name.

It took all three of us rather by surprise but I know that it played on my Dad’s mind for several weeks afterwards.

Unsurprisingly my Dad is the most superstitious member of my immediate family. He claims to believe in ghosts and to have seen them on odd occasions, he professes a belief in an afterlife and also in visitations by deceased loved ones in the form of butterflies and the like. He also has the bizarre habit of looking upwards when someone calls his name and he can’t see anyone in the immediate vicinity. Apparently he thinks that one day someone or something will call his name because it’s his time to go.

With regards to the rest of my family my brother and the Northern One are the most skeptical and my Mum and I are stuck somewhere in the middle.

The Northern One never has and never will be religious or believe in the supernatural. He is quite happy to accept that we can’t explain everything but that it’s because we just don’t understand everything yet and one day science will be able to give an irrefutable explanation for anything and everything.

I am fairly certain that I no longer believe in God (another story entirely), I’ve never been to see a medium or psychic and I tell myself that I don’t believe in ghosts and other supernatural phenomena (which is far easier when it’s a bright and sunny day and not the middle of the night).

My Mum, although religious has very firm ideas about what she does and doesn’t believe and will quite happily argue her point for hours at a time, usually with the Northern One (I won’t let them discuss politics for similar reasons). She has no qualms about telling us when she disagrees with something but never once has she told my Dad that he’s being daft about the sheep.

As far as I can see she doesn’t agree with him outright and when we have discussions about saving sheep (it happens quite often) she doesn’t really join in but I think, for this at least, she sees how important it is to my Dad to have a buffer (imagined or otherwise) between him and death.

Or maybe she really does think that karma is interested in sheep.

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