Sunday, January 2, 2011

Something Really Struck Me Today

I'll write the poem to go with this another time. for now you get the story behind it.

I know, that title seems like a "joke on the way" to those who know me. However, I noticed something that affected me deeply this morning.

It started yesterday. As I was driving to the gym, I saw an older couple out on a walk with their dogs, two yellow labs. I thought it was very cute that the older dog was participating in the walk as a passenger in a wagon. I thought "Ahh, that's sweet," and drove on. The fact that this was happening in 22 degree weather didn't really register with me at the time. I'm sure it was uncomfortable for the old gentleman as it bumped and heaved over and through rocks and holes at the edge of the road.

This morning, on the same back road, in the same place I passed them again. This time, I was struck so hard by the realization of what I was seeing (real or imagined) that I had to pull over and dry my eyes.

I may be imagining a scenario that wasn't the reality of the situation, but I'm sticking with it unless it gets proved otherwise to me. Don't anyone dare.

Here is how I see it. This man and woman, probably in their late 60s or early 70s have been married since they graduated high school. They grew up in the country, had children on a farm, and eventually moved to the Pacific Northwest, because there wasn't work in the middle of the country 40 years ago. They've suffered through the loss of one or more children due to sickness or military service. They have celebrated the birth of many grandchildren. They've stuck together and supported a child that has gone through a divorce; probably more than one.

To the outside world, these people live boring lives. They have simple hobbies that fill them with great pleasure. The name of the dog in the wheelbarrow is Reb (short for Rebel) or something like it because when he joined their family 15 years ago as squirming ball of fluff no bigger than "Mamma's" fuzzy slippers, he was unstoppable and showed little promise of being trainable.

Reb has thrown himself between danger and Ma and Pa, or another family member time and time again. He chased off a bear or mountain lion on a camping trip to Idaho; or maybe ended up on the operating table after the pitbull belonging to the drug dealer down the street tried to attack Ma as she leaned over to pick green beans in the family vegetable garden.

Reb's days are numbered, and he probably would have been more comfortable at home on his dog bed in front of the wood stove. However, watching his younger friend and his "people" walk out the door without him would have hurt worse than the way his bones ache from the cold.

The dedication and faithfulness that these beautiful people showed to their lifelong (his life) companion shocked me to my soul. I'm sure they are retired, and they take the time every day that they are able to take Reb and Junior for a walk around the neighborhood. I hope that I can prove as good a "people" to my best friend Orion, when he needs me to show him true love at the end of his road. I'm sure that if I played "hookie" from work tomorrow and took that same drive, at the same time, I would pass them right on that same stretch of road. I am not looking forward to the day that I pass them and there is no wagon bumping along behind Pa.

Orion has raised his head several times from his dog bed across the room, wondering what I am blubbering about as I write this. It finally got to be too much for him and he just came over and dropped his head on my knee. Damn it, that just made it worse!

I'm going to go think about how I can be a better "people" to the souls (canine, human, or other) in my life. Maybe one of them will chase off a bear for me one day. Or maybe I'll do the chasing.


  1. Very touching. Being loved for our soul when we are brittle and worn would be a true gift.

  2. I know your kids. They show they love your soul, now. Can't imagine you brittle and worn out. You radiate an innocence and childlike (not childish) excitement for the world, and I can't imagine that ever going away.

  3. I LOVE this! Sunny is right next to me and I am gazing at her...thinking of the wagon I will buy if I need to, down the road. Her selfless love and commitment to me has been unwordly. Who else could have pulled me through after my divorce the way she could...staying by my side and licking my tears until I could stand again on my own two feet...waiting patiently for me to have the spirit inside me to play with her on day again, like I used to. She believed in me the whole time. And I shall stay by when the light dims for her as well. Thanks for this spirit-filled example of true love!