What’s a few grey hairs between friends?

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The grey whiskers appeared almost overnight.   In the blink of an eye, my dog had matured beyond the youthful puppy I have known for 9 years.  Sure she still has the spunk of a young pup on occasion but I can slowly see time creeping up on her faster than I would like it to.

My solace lies in the fact that our affection for each other is timeless.   Her devotion to me, whether her joints are currently aching and she has no desire to jump on my bed, is endless.  She is, and will continue for years to be, my true companion.   She is happy to see me when I have returned home after four hours or four minutes.  She never judges my idiosyncrasies and she still manages to hear my soft sobs when I am trying to quietly cry and she comes to clean away the salty tears.

callaway

I thought my life was full before she came along.   I was dead wrong.  We have always had dogs.  Growing up, my life was filled with hairballs and doggy kisses.   But Callaway is a unique soul.   There is not a doubt in my mind that she was meant to be my dog.   The picture we fell in love with on the adoption website (the one above) was a picture of her brother but it was Callaway who came into my life and into my heart.  I fought for her during my divorce because I couldn’t imagine my house without her in it.

I know I must face the inevitable – time will not go backwards and those grey hairs on her muzzle will slowly multiply, but so will the grey hairs on my head.  We will face this truth together knowing that however long we were destined to be in each other’s lives, we will make the most of each moment.

 

Sometimes you can go back

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rearview-mirror

(image credit)

Some would say to leave the past in the past.  Over the course of this previous weekend, parts of my past engaged with my present and it was a wonderful blend of remembering old and making new memories.

I’ve never been one to shy away from the things in my past.  All of those moments, good or bad, made me who I am today.  And although things may not have worked out the way I may have wanted, I always like to think I learned a lesson from each one of those experiences.

I learned to be strong when I needed to be and to allow myself to feel vulnerable when I needed support.  I have learned that each one of the people in my past still holds a piece of my heart even though they may not be an everyday character in this act of my present.

But the final chapters of my story have not been written.  There may be a rough outline but the story has not been sent to print and there is always room for a few backspaces and some new paragraphs to be written.  Sometimes you can go back, not to the past you had but you can go back to reread the story line and see if any of those characters can be written into a few paragraphs of your future.

I am not going to live in the past, but I will always allow my past to live within me.

Balls to the wall

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It lay dormant, nestled in the corner of the family dining room at the cottage.  It listened to every one of our crazy conversations and eventually became the topic of many of those conversations instead of just blending into the background.

Its birth was accidental.  It came to be through a simple act of property maintenance.  The family cottage was built in the early 1900’s and had begun to show its age so, without regard for its final appearance, a spray foam was used to seal a few cracks in the old building.  What resulted in the upper corner of that dining room was eventually named and heralded as a true piece of our family history.

Perhaps this innocuous object was made more grotesque by my family’s depraved sense of humor.  It is even reasonable to say that other families may never look at this simple mass and see what we all saw.  But from the first time it was noticed at a family dinner, it was affectionately dubbed the “shiny ball sack’.

Over the years, this harmless protrusion witnessed our highs and our lows.  It feasted on the sounds of our laughter and it absorbed the collection of our tears.  Somehow that inanimate object became a large part of the traditions of our family meals and I was devastated to find out it was going to be amputated from its place in those family traditions.

I haven’t been able to visit the cottage yet this summer so I was unaware that the surgical removal had taken place – until today.  I came home from work to find a lovely gift bag on my front door step and when I saw what was inside, my heart swelled.  There, gently preserved in a shadow box, was the shiny ball sack that has been a part of our family dinners for decades.  My aunt had painstakingly saved this piece of history and presented it in a way that would allow me to keep this little gem of our family history safe and sound.

ball sack

My mom and I used to laugh endlessly about this mutation of foam and it will now find its place beside a picture of my mother in my living room.  It is a fitting ending to this chapter knowing that two of the things that brought me so much joy will be together again.

 

 

A part of life

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Death is selfish.  It lurks in the shadows.  It hides in a realm of certainty,  somewhere between acceptance and denial, and it feeds on our inability to process its inevitability.  It waits for nobody.  It heeds its own agenda and it gives no signs of compassion.  It simply reaps.

~~

Last week we had a senior’s bus tour at the lodge.  Unlike the previous tours, we had neither mildly concussed nor toppled our guests on top of one other.  The tour had been relatively trauma-free with the exception of a phone call a mere fifteen minutes after the bus arrived and our guests had been shown to their rooms.

Death had been hovering at the precipice and chose to include us in its folly with one phone call for the sister of its intended victim shortly after she arrived at the lodge.  What should have been a glorious adventure for Kathleen suddenly turned into a feeling of helplessness and isolation as she mourned the loss of her sister surrounded by a group of strangers.

But even in the face of sadness, there was no surprise in discovering that the group of strangers had chosen to embrace Kathleen and take on a part of her burden as their own.  As much as death wanted to be the headliner in this performance, the supporting cast was truly the star of the show.

Fellow travelers and staff made every effort to ease Kathleen’s suffering and reunited her with her family before the bus was due to leave the lodge.   It takes a village – and this village had a great deal of empathy and ingenuity.  Kathleen was able to reconnect with her family and attend her sister’s funeral.  And although she was missed on that last day of the bus tour, we knew she was where she needed to be and she knew we all held her in our thoughts and prayers.

heaven-pic

(image credit)

Death is selfish.  And although it may be a part of life, so is love and compassion.

 

A built-in rinse cycle

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I have to post this story again because the pattern seems to have emerged again today.

Working in the hospitality business goes hand in hand with working long hours.  I can adapt to the hours but my dog is the one who takes the brunt of my lifestyle.  I will never leave her outside on a chain to battle the elements – she is firmly ensconced in our home, lazily spending her hours watching the wildlife from the comfort of my bed.  I have several people who are more than willing to come over and let her out during the day because she is such a happy dog and, for me, having her be the excuse to leave work for thirty minutes is wonderful.

dog 005

(a much younger Callaway)

During these long days, I often wonder how she invests her time.  Is she reorganizing my kitchen cabinets?  Has she mastered the satellite remote?  Does she inventory my refrigerator?  But each day when I get home from my struggle to survive my sometimes 10-14 hour days, she is there to greet me and nothing in the house seems out-of-place.  Until recently…..

I returned home from my usual work day and I was greeted by the reassuring excitability that I have come to expect.  The house, as usual, was completely intact.  The garbage was untouched and the serene ambiance wrapped its arm around my shoulder and pulled me into its embrace to welcome me home.

My attention was immediately diverted to the duvet cover on my bed and what seemed to be a single article of clothing bunched up in the middle of the bed.  It wasn’t shredded, however the entire shirt was extremely damp.  She had been licking my shirt and focusing her attention on the armpits of the shirt.

Now you have to understand that my closet is hidden by a decorative cloth shower curtain that poses as a makeshift door.  Somehow, she was able to pull back the shroud of the curtain, move the articles of clothing she had no interest in, leaving them in a heap on the floor, and gingerly lift the shirt from the middle of the pile of laundry in the basket.  She also strategically replaced the curtain so nobody would catch on to her devious plot.

As much as I miss her during my day, it broke my heart to realize how much she truly missed me during her day.  The writing was on the wall, or in this case on the bed.  My scent comforted her during her lonely day while she waits for me to return home.

We are only at the beginning of our busy season but, before I know what happened, my work days will become shorter and more structured.  My time with her will increase and perhaps her need to be close to my deodorant-saturated shirts will abate somewhat because I will be here in the physical form and not just the odoriferous form.

And who knows, perhaps in the meantime I can save myself a fortune on laundry!

A Heavenly Wish on Mother’s Day

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Big brother 2

She birthed me and swaddled me,

she showered me with love.

Her arms always embraced me,

they fit me like a glove.

Her words were the only ones,

that could help to heal my scars.

Hers was the only light,

that would comfort me in the dark.

She woke me up to play with me,

she laughed at all my jokes.

She sang with me to old musicals,

although she couldn’t hold the notes.

Her faith in my abilities,

has stood the test of time.

She’s the portrait of what a mother should be,

and I’m glad that she is mine.

So, here’s to you, mom, on this special day,

my love for you has no end.

You are my giver of life, my confidant,

and will always be my best friend.

And though my wishes are sent further today,

into a world I am unable to touch.

I know you hear my words of love

and they will forever mean just as much.

I’ll bet you think this blog is about you, don’t you?

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She’s so vain.  I didn’t think it was possible but my dog has begun to show narcissistic tendencies.  She is absolutely one of the sweetest dogs I have ever known and I never thought I would be writing these words about her.

Our routines have changed since she had her second seizure a few weeks ago.  She came through it just fine but I wanted to keep as close an eye on her as I could, so her outdoor adventures became shadowed by my presence and an extendable leash so I could monitor her well-being.

Three or four times a day, we walk to the end of our road and back and she thrills in discovering new smells each time we travel along the same stretch of pavement.  She has been trained to sit down at the side of the road every time a car passes so they are not concerned about getting too close.  But lately after each car has passed, her smile widens and she leaps from her seated position to follow the occupants of the vehicle that she has convinced herself are on the road only to see her.  I am loath to admit that my dog has become a Kardashian.

Tail wagging, she veers into the middle of the road to catch a whiff of the humans in the metal can on wheels.  If the car is going in the opposite direction, I suddenly find myself the one being walked down the road.  And, much to my dismay, several cars stop to chat only reinforcing her belief that they have stopped just for her.  After her faithful subjects have curtsied and paid their respects, her head swells slightly, I feel moderately deprived of oxygen and we continue our walk until we are securely tucked back into our humble abode (which I’m sure she now feels is beneath her).

new 008

(image: Callaway as a puppy)

As I’m sure it happens in Hollywood, Callaway’s fame happened overnight.  Three or four times a day, I apparently walk a movie star.  I missed the memo explaining my new role in this relationship but as long as I still have that smiling face in my life, I’m okay with it!