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.

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(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.

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(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!

Never let me go

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otters

I held you in a dream.

You became a part of me,

as if my body never ended

and you were merely

an extension of me.

And though I felt like I was floating away,

you were there

to pull me back to you,

to hold me in my slumber,

to keep me in your embrace,

to never let me go.

(image credit)

**I saw a video of these otters slowly drifting apart and coming back together.  They inspired this poem.

We’re both shaken up

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“Happiness is a warm puppy.” ~ Charles M Schulz

~~

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I have had the pleasure of sharing my life with this beautiful creature for the past 8 1/2 years.  She has been my companion and my confidant without question.  Last night she had her second seizure in exactly six months to the day.  I must admit I handled this one much better than the first but it is still a very traumatic event.

It is a horrible sensation to feel helpless, unable to control what is happening to the one living thing that has given me unconditional love since we first laid eyes on each other.  The only thing I could offer her in the moment of her worst distress was the return of my unconditional love.

I remembered to remain calm.  I kept her out of harms way as her body remained rigid under the gentle touch of my hand.  Once the sound of my voice could be heard again, she began to relax.

You don’t have to have a child to feel like a mother.  I lay in bed after she finally went to sleep, hyper-vigilant to the point that I remained awake for hours after the event.  I listened for any odd sound in her breathing and for any strange noise similar to the commotion that originally alerted me to the seizure at the beginning.  Once I did drift into slumber, any unfamiliar discord woke me with a slight panic but the puppy continued to snore softly in her bed.

This morning, she is the same puppy in a dog’s body.  She is full of energy, eager for her walk and her treats and acting happily like nothing ever happened.

We see the vet in a few days and fingers crossed we get a relatively clean bill of health.  I’m not ready to imagine my life waking up and not seeing that face.

Time is not linear

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I remember the phone call like it was yesterday.  My brother called from Vancouver in the wee hours of the morning to tell me that I was an aunt and my nephew had safely entered the world.  I was living in Ontario and felt like I was a world away but somehow felt like I was in the room with him at the same time.   That phone call came 16 years ago.

Tonight our family gathered at my nephew’s restaurant of choice to not only celebrate the auspicious occasion of his 16th birthday but also the successful completion of level one of our graduated licensing system for new drivers.  Yes, local friends stay off the sidewalks, my nephew is behind the wheel.

New-Driver_Steering-Wheel

(image credit)

It was a numbing experience watching their familiar vehicle turn onto the road that led to the restaurant and not see my sister-in-law behind the wheel.  TJ held the very proper pose of hands at 10 and 2 and didn’t even flinch when his dad lobbed a snowball at the car and hit it squarely in the middle of the driver’s door.  You could feel the pride, and some relief, radiating from his 16-year-old face as he crossed the parking lot.

As I write this post, their family has returned home and, at his request, TJ is out driving around our small town taking his dog “Zoey Hot Wheels” for a car ride.  I’m sure it is the first of many trips they will share with him behind the wheel and I couldn’t feel more proud of his smooth transition into the next phase of his life.   Happy birthday Buddy!!