On Thanksgiving and Puppies and Old Age

I have so many things in my life to be thankful for.  There’s the easy stuff – my family, my health, my friends.  There’s the stuff that’s harder to define – the things that you have to work for but in the end, were either blessings in disguise, or lessons that needed to be learned.

I watch my friends post various things about Thanksgiving, from how blessed they are for their family, how much they love the things around them.  And all the pictures of their happyness.  And I know mine is coming, building up somewhere inside me, but it hasn’t quite materialized until today.

The easy stuff is, well, easy.  I love my family so much it hurts sometimes.  I can’t imagine what my life would be without them.  I had a thought the other day, wondering if my life was what I imagined it to be, “back when I was younger.”  Which led to some serious cookie-eating, because “back when I was younger” isn’t supposed to have happened yet.  I’m still young – in my mind anyway.  But the body lets me know that time is moving on, quietly, and quickly.  There’s not a thing I can do about it, but learn to appreciate the people in my life, and my life for what it is in this moment. And the hope that I have loved others as much as they have loved me.

And that is the lead-in that I needed.

We will be saying goodbye to our Buddy-dog this week.  This last August, he celebrated what we believe to be his 16th birthday.  When we adopted him from the SPCA, the vet estimated that he was about 18 months old.  He was scrawny and ugly, and had been on the streets for quite a while.  His SPCA name was “Atropolis.”  Horrible name.  I lobbied for “Dee-Oh-Gee” (Dog, just spelled out), but the boys had the final say. He was a rescue dog – but I would argue that he rescued me.  He came to me at a time in my life when I needed unconditional love – and that’s exactly what he gave me.

“Buddy,” said Matthew (who was almost 5 at the time).  “He’s going to be my Buddy, so that’s his name.” And that was that.

In the beginning, he was just a mess.  I trained him to a degree – he could sit, and lay down, and jump up.  He ran all over the backyard, and would chase the lawnmower, barking and trying to bite the tires.  He is a shepherd/collie/mutt mix, and he liked to herd his little humans.  If they were in the backyard playing with him, you could watch, and see him trying to take them places.  He’d nip at Steven’s pants – I don’t believe he ever actually nipped him – but he was trying to push him to where he wanted him to go.  At 3, it was fairly easy.  And Steven was just about the same size.  Matt was a little bigger, so Buddy wasn’t quite as “in his face.”  But he was right there with him.

We have a lot of Buddy stories.  He would chew on everything.  EVERY thing.  I think he chewed through at least 3 wiring harnesses to Larry’s trailer.  And probably 5 garden hoses.  At least.  And Larry would be so mad – he’d chase Buddy around the yard with the remaining ends of the garden hose, or with a spatula – whatever he had in his hand at the time.  Buddy would run – but just fast enough to be out of range.  It was quite the scene in the back yard, let me tell you.  We ended up putting in an electric fence with a shock collar.  Buddy would stay in the back, until we called him, and then he’d make a mad sprint across the line, because he knew he had so many seconds (10) before he’d get shocked.  So many times, it would start to rain, and we’d stand on the back porch and call him in.  And he would just fly across the yard.

Buddy was the one who taught the other two dogs how to roll around on the floor.  I haven’t seen other dogs do this, but Buddy was the master.  He’d push his chest down on the floor, with his rear up in the air, and just roll his head around.  All over the floor.  Now that he can’t support himself very well with his back legs, he’ll lay down on the floor, with his nose stuck out and his chest on the floor, and do the same thing – roll his head back and forth across the floor.  And the other two do it with him.

Buddy is my snuggle puppy.  Bear sleeps with us, and is right on top of me most of the time (he’s six pounds), and Daisy would love to snuggle, but her breath stinks. Buddy was my cuddler.  He’d lay down on the floor with me and just be with me.  He was such a fluffy dog that he was like a big pillow. The boys would lay all over him when they were little.

Over the last few years, Buddy has lost his hearing.  His humans have all adapted – instead of calling for him when he’s in the house, we stomp on the floor so he can feel the vibrations.  He can still hear high-pitched whistles, but not very well.  His sight is still good.  He had an episode last year with vestibular disease – doggie vertigo.  He couldn’t walk and he wouldn’t eat, he was so dizzy, and we thought we were going to lose him.  He probably lost 10-15 pounds and was on an IV.  After a week in the hospital, the vet was ready to let him go, but we took him outside to try to get him to walk. He wouldn’t walk or eat or drink for any of the doctors or nurses.  But he walked for me.  I overheard the vet tell Larry, “Well I’ll be damned.  Mom has the power.”  I asked if I could spend the day with him the following day, and then maybe take him home to family.  I took him a cheeseburger, and took him outside of the vets’ office and sat with him for two hours.  And he walked for me.  Bless him, he tried and tried, and he did it for mom.  I took him home that day, and he’s been with us for more than a year.

But it’s time.  I don’t think he’s in pain. Yet.  But his back legs are too week to hold him up for very long.  He struggles to stand up after laying down.  He struggles to lay down.  He will only eat soft food.  And he’s slowing becoming incontinent, although only when he sleeps.  This morning, he couldn’t get up without help, and after the last fall, his back legs spasmed, and he wet himself.  It’s time.  It’s probably past time, and I worry that we’ve waited too long because we were being selfish.

And it hurts SO much.  He’s loved us so much, and we have loved him, but we have taken him for granted. I only hope that he knows how much he has meant to us all these years, and how much we will miss him.

I will miss you every day, Buddy. I have loved you so much.

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Five More Minutes

It starts in the mornings when the alarm clock first rings. “Five more minutes,” I think. “I’ll get up in five more minutes.”

Naturally, that first five is really nine, because that’s what the snooze button is set to. But that’s ok, because I don’t really sleep the entire nine minutes. Sometimes I do, but usually it’s a time spent in foggy contemplation of what the day is going to bring. 

Then, in the shower, I tell myself just five more minutes of hot water. That’s all I need to finally feel awake. 35 minutes later, I get out and get dressed, all the time thinking I just need another five minutes and I’ll be out the door. 

Throughout the day, I find myself telling others – “give me five minutes and I’ll let you know.” A very good friend said that lately I seem to be in an alternate universe, where five minutes can be only two, or even ten hours later. Everything just moves so fast lately. 

I’ve told my family the same thing. Five more minutes until the show is over. Five minutes left until bedtime. If you don’t do X in the next five minutes, we’re going to have a meltdown. 

And I can’t help but wonder when it’s going to reverse. From – “Give me just five more minutes” – to “If I only had five more minutes.”

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Making Up the Bed

When I was little, mom always wanted me to make up my bed in the mornings. I resisted so much. “What was the point?” I would argue. “I’m just going to get back in it and mess it up. This way, it’s waiting for me.”  The only time I would make up the bed was when I changed the sheets. 

Even then, though, I loved the feel of a fresh set of sheets. Making it all nice and pretty, and then being able to slip between nice cool sheets has always been one of the small pleasures in life. But I still resisted making the bed every morning. 

As an adult, and maybe even younger, I love being in bed. I resist getting up in the morning because I’m just comfortable. “Five more minutes,” I’ll beg Larry. “Just five more.”  Eventually, after about three such requests, he kicks me out. 

When I get home, the first thing I want to do is crawl back in my bed. I can do anything there – watch tv, read a book, talk on the phone, work on the computer. It’s most definitely my nest. 

But I still resisted making it up in the mornings. Until recently. 

For some unknown reason, Larry began to make it up on the mornings. I would get out of bed, and he’d smooth my side down. Then later, when he got up, he’s finish with his side. I only partly noticed -after a shower, I usually crawl back in for just a bit to talk – and I’d notice I had to pull the covers back. But I’ve not asked him yet why he started this new habit. 

It’s dawned on me slowly over the past few weeks – I’ve been making up the bed every morning. Beyond recognizing that I really like crawling into a freshly-made bed in the evenings…it seems that it helps set the tone for the day. I’ve always tried, especially when under a lot of stress, to find one task I can accomplish easily so that I can see some kind of progress. It helps push me on the bigger projects. 

I think making the bed in the mornings is something like that. I’ve accomplished one thing already, and can move on to the next. And I can finish the day by crawling into that nice, cold, perfectly made up bed. 

This may or may not have been mom’s intention when she would get on to me about making up the bed. I’m willing to bet it was more about trying to keep the house looking nice. And it only took 40 years for me to figure it out. That’s how moms do it best – life lessons desguised as chores. 😏😋

This morning, as I made the bed, I sent out a thanks to mom – because tonight, I will get to crawl back into my favorite place, and rest, knowing that if everything else falls apart, I accomplished one thing. 

Love you mom. ❤️

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Who Cares?

When the question becomes “when” instead of “if.” 

When you start to wonder “where” instead of “why.”

When you begin to realize that what may seem random actually is, but not because it’s organized. It’s because we’ve lost our humanity. 

People have always challenged authority. Today’s legends are the last century’s traitors. Coups to overthrow governments have happened since the beginning of time. Whether it’s on a local level, or a worldwide platform, it’s not anything new. 

What is new is that we hear about it now as it happens. What may be new is the insensitivity to it. But what is not new is change.  We have changed how we react because now we see it so much, we have developed ways to compartmentalize it. We ALL know that it’s not right. Even those that are perpetuating the violence. And yet it continues. 

Who cares? 

I care. 

We all do. 

Or at least, we should. 

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We Hold These Truths…

Today is an in-between day. Not only in 2016, but in history as well. July 3rd has no special significance in and of itself. 

July 2, 1776 – the Continental Congress voted to approve a Virginia motion calling for separation from Britain and the words of this resolution were added to the closing of the Declaration of Independence. 

July 2, 2016 – we celebrated with family and friends by having a cookout and swimming, and a celebration of a young man moving to the next chapter of his life. 

July 3, 1776 – I can imagine Thomas Jefferson and others standing before the Continental Congress and passionately arguing for support. For people to put their trust in them and to do what they felt deep within their hearts was the right – the only – thing to do. 

July 3, 2016 – I have had a lazy morning, thinking about trimming rose bushes and reading books and watching some television. And wondering if I should take a drive somewhere, just for fun. 

240 years ago, I imagine that there were very few people in the colonies laying around reading a book, contemplating laying out on the sun and thinking of taking a leisurely drive to somewhere unknown. Thomas Jefferson was busy trying to create a new nation. The British army was busy trying to figure out where to attack and where they would be attacked. And they likely never thought there was any real chance that the Continentals would be successful. 

And yet. 

Only July 4, 1776 – the Declaration of Independence was formally adopted by 12 colonies after some minor revisions. (New York waited until July 19). 

Let’s not forget what we’re celebrating tomorrow. And remember that it didn’t just happen on A day. It started long before that, around 1765, and carried on until 1881 or so. And continues still today. 

Land of the free. Because of the brave. 

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When Change is Inevitable

There comes a time when everything changes.  I never know when this is going to happen, but it always feels like I’m riding a bubble, and it’s going up, up, up…and I know the pop is going to happen, but I just don’t know the when.

It’s not always a physical change – most often, it’s mental.  And it’s not always personal, but it usually is.

Things are changing.  The summer, believe it or not, is growing closer to an end.  How can that be – it’s only the end of June!  But, it IS the end of June.  I have one more day in the Dallas office as we know it, and then we travel to Portland – to the National Office! – to learn some new and exicting things, and meet some new and exciting people.  Then next week, we officially become an exciting and new company.  This new company is going to bring about a lot of change.  a LOT of change.  And I’m so damn excited about it, I can’t wait to get started.  Others are fighting this change – even though they say they’re not.  That’s the part that is going to get to me and wear me down.

But I’m not going to let it.  What’s the phrase – I’m going to be a CHANGE AGENT for my firm.  We can do this.  We may go kicking and screaming, but we can do this.  And “we” is a relative term – there are many of us who are looking forward to this.  And there are a few who don’t realize what they’ve gotten themselves into.  But it’s going to be ok.  We’re going to be ok.

I’m going to be better than ok.  I’m going to be great!


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The Lost Art of Writing A Letter

I have a special gift for someone that I’ve been trying to get in the mail for a few weeks now. One thing and then another have caused me to put it off, but my real procrastination was the letter that I wanted to write. 

I would sit down to write, and the paper remained blank. There was so much to say that everything would get bottled up and just would not free up. It is an important letter to me, and I wanted it to be perfect. Serious, yet funny. Touching, but not sad. Inspirational, but not over the top. So for a while, the words wouldn’t come. 

Today, I finally sat down and started.  I probably could’ve written more if I had used the computer. But that’s cheating. This was/is, deeply personal. So I wrote it by hand. More than a page later, I am done and it is ready to mail. 

As I set it by my purse, my boss came in and happened to see it. He stared, wrinkles up his nose, and in a suspicious tone, asked what “that” was. I explained that it was a letter to a very special young lady and I was getting ready to mail it. 

“Why on earth did you hand write it,” he asked. “People use computers and email now.”

I told him the story of an amazing, wonderful, courageous, fierce little girl, who had become a beautiful young lady, and how I felt that handwritten notes are a large part of it. 

I know he doesn’t understand. But that’s ok. I know others that do. And they make my heart happy. 

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