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Monday
Sep242012

Farewell, old friend

The changing of the seasons is a time to look back as well as forward. This fall, I am looking back on a friend of 14 years.

My dog has been in the ground for moew than a month, now, next to two other old friends. Some critters have recently become interested. The excavations of the critters made it easier to plant a nice stand of spring bulbs over my friend. Their excavations never got deep enough to reach their goal. Still, last week I sowed the ground with a lot of cayenne pepper to discourage them.

Rusty was so incontinent for his last six months, that unless the weather was severe, he had to sleep outside. He was excited to go outside, but concerned about me that I was unable to let him in. He wondered why, but there it was. Last week, fall weather arrived. With the old house cooling, there were creaks and I kept looking up to see him on the porch, or waking up to let him in.

The best gifts a dog gives you are ones that you don't appreciate at the time. All of those dawns I would never have seen, except for the &^** early morning sanitary walks. Those early morning wake-ups I cursed led to a productive three hours of technical writing.

Since my shoulder was re-built, I have had a series of small triumphs, of the "first time that…since the shoulder repair." I remember me delight the first time that I could rest my arm on the window of the car on a Spring day while driving. I remember the first time could get a spice from the shelf above the stove using that hand. Each time there is some pain, followed by joy, a clarion that alerts me to something that I have gotten back. They come less often now. Last month I was digging in the yard, feeling grim. It had been a long day, and here was one other task, a bad surprise although long anticipated. My left shoulder began to hurt. Somehow heat jumps up, and my my mind says "ahh yes, the first time you've dug a shallow grave at dusk since the shoulder repair."

As I finished, I could hear the band playing at the general store up the valley. Bats circled overhead in the gathering dusk, attracted by the bugs, that were attracted to my sweat. I wrapped him in the last of the colorful sheets, well worn, from when my children were young. When I finished my work, I pulled a chair from the porch, and sat beside the mound. I don't drink Scotch, generally, but I got a glass of the really good one that my son gave to me for Christmas, added a splash of water to make the aromas bloom, and sat beside him one last time. The music drifted over. The summer insects sang their evening song. The bats flitted here and there.

One last gift, doing something I did not want to do, one last bit of joy from the old dog.

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