We Loved Lucy

The retired man I live with and I fell in love with her.  We loved her enough to let her go.

Lucy had a respiratory infection at the shelter, which they had treated with an antibiotic.  She coughed some the first night, Wednesday,  so we took her to our vet the next morning.  Dr. Syska said it was pneumonia and prescribed a much stronger antibiotic.  Lucy was pretty droopy all day Thursday but would go outside and pee when we took her.  She was no better on Friday and spent most of the day with her head on my lap. She didn’t want to eat or drink any water.

Saturday morning she was worse and struggling to breathe.  We took her back to our vet, who was visibly concerned.  We decided to take her to the emergency specialty animal hospital to talk about admitting her for IV antibiotics and fluids.  We saw her lung x-ray compared to a normal one.  Both lungs were almost full of fluid.

We talked with the vet about possible outcomes, looked at each other, and I said “I think it’s time.”  Deciding to treat her in the hospital felt like agreeing to torture her, with no assurance that she would ever really be well.  The vet told us we were doing an unselfish thing.  Doing the right thing sometimes feels awful.

Lucy was lying on a fluffy, soft, blue rug on the exam table.  I wrapped my arms around her as the vet started the injection.  Her body relaxed, finally, and she was gone.  No more gasping for breath.  She was at rest.

We loved her, even if it was only 3 1/2 days.  We believe she is in heaven, happy, healthy, running and playing.  And waiting for us to come play.

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Published in: on February 17, 2013 at 9:15 am  Comments (15)  
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I Love Lucy!

God spelled backwards.  My daughters say (and believe) that “dog” is God spelled backwards.  I sure hope God isn’t as timid and exhausted as the the dog asleep on the couch in my den.  She’s lying on the grey wool  sweater that I wore when we brought her home from the animal shelter.

We put our 13-year-old dog to sleep a few months ago.  She had a sweet disposition and smelled like chocolate. Sydney was a golden retriever mix who shed a lot.  We still miss her.

Our daughter coaxed us into “just looking” at dogs at the pound.  She quickly found the website on the iPad. I had criteria–small enough to snuggle with, okay with little kids, not hyper (we are in our 60’s), NOT a puppy, and, of course, a connection that left no doubt she was my dog.  Based on online pictures and descriptions we decided to check out Munchkin, Smurf, Jake, and Brownie.

We–my daughter, her almost-3-year-old daughter and her 10-m0nth-old son, one front-facing car seat and one rear-facing car seat, the retired man I live with, and I–piled into the white Camry and left on our quest.  We included my daughter in Raleigh using our phones to talk and text and making many promises to send pictures of the dogs.  We were all excited.

The Guilford County Animal Shelter vibrated to the rhythm of barking dogs.  The kids were unfazed.  The place smelled good and was spotless–hurray for the staff and volunteers!  We walked up and down the rows of cages looking for Munchkin.  We found her in the second room, put her on a leash and paraded out to the fenced-in play yard.

Adaline tempted her with a tennis ball, but Munchkin ignored her, even when the ball hit her in the face.  Point 1 in her favor–she tolerated a rambunctious kid.  The dog explored the big pen we were in, came over to where I was sitting, plastered her body to my leg, and laid her head on my thigh to be petted.  Point 2–we connected.  She didn’t care about anyone else.

My daughter went back in to get the 3-legged dog we saw in the cage next to Munchkin.  I took her into the next play yard to check her out.  I’m a little disabled, she is disabled.  We had to try.  And we could really feel like heroes if we adopted her.  But…no connection.  She didn’t care that I was there.  Plus she drooled a bit.  Feeling like an executioner, I shook my head from side to side.  I don’t remember her name.

Munchkin, by this time, was on my daughter’s lap in the other yard.  I felt a pang of jealousy.  “Mom, do want to just get this one and not try any more?’  I nodded my head yes.  We never got to Smurf or Jake or Brownie.

We completed the paperwork and paid the fee and left her to be spayed.  The retired man I live with and I went back the next day.  The staff person brought her out from the back and stopped in front of us.  Munchkin pooped on the floor.  I wanted to cheer for her feisty little self!  Or at least laugh.  She clearly was ready to leave the shelter.

She and I rode home in the backseat.  She rested her head on my leg.  When we went in the house, she jumped up on the couch, I sat down beside her, and she curled her body around my side like a nursing baby does.

Oh–we changed her name to Lucy.  And she still likes me best.

Published in: on February 14, 2013 at 5:48 pm  Comments (10)  
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In and Out of the Car Was the Hard Part!

The retired man I live with suggested with great enthusiasm, “Let’s go to the Zoo!” to our daughter, her kids and me.

The NC Zoo, 30 minutes down the highway from us, houses animals from Africa and North America on over 600 acres of “natural habitat.”

I was the only one who hesitated.  The website  says to plan on 2-3 hours to see the Africa section.  That’s a whole lot of walking for me.  There’s a tram, but you can’t see the animals while riding it.

“What the hell,” I thought.  “I am not missing Adaline’s first visit to the big zoo.”   If I couldn’t walk the whole way, I’d figure out what to do next, even if I had to say “I can’t” and ask for help.

The retired man I live with drove the Camry.  I rode shotgun.  The other three got in the back–on one side the forward-facing car seat for the 2-3/4-year-old granddaughter, on the other side the backward-facing car seat and its base for the 6-month-old grandson.  Their mom, who was a zookeeper before children and very excited, perched in the middle after she climbed over the baby car seat base.

We had snacks for Adaline and water for all of us.  The high-end double stroller I found in a consignment store (best deal ever!) fit in the trunk, barely.  And we were off.

We parked far away from other cars.  We needed a lot of space to unload.  First out of the back was the baby, in his car seat, then his mom had to climb past the car seat base and almost planted her face in the asphalt beside the car.  Grandpa got Adaline out of her car-seat and her mother grabbed her hand before she could dart away.  My hands don’t work well enough to help so I stood guard by the baby car seat in an empty parking space.  A bee got caught between two of my finger and stung me while Grandpa wrestled the double stroller out of the trunk.  (Nothing was stopping us by then.)

Her mother put Adaline in the front seat of the stroller and lifted Atticus from his car seat to the back seat of the stroller.  Grandpa put Atticus’s empty car seat in the car.  We gathered purses, diaper bag, and camera bag, stuffed the diaper bag and a purse in the pullout basket under the stroller seats and hung the camera case and another purse over the stroller handle.  We headed to the entrance.

We saw giraffes with a baby, lions, chimpanzees, 2 mama gorillas with babies (!!) and ate pizza for lunch.  Adaline and her mom rode a carousel, we saw rhinos and ended at the elephant habitat where a big, dusty elephant with saggy wrinkled skin slowly strolled past the spectators as if on a red carpet in front of paparazzi.

I walked the whole way, with stops on benches by the animals.  I think maybe it took us more than 3 hours.  Then it was time to reload.

The retired man I live with got the car while the rest of us waited by the entrance.  Reloading began.  At one point, Adaline and her mom were in the car, Atticus was in his car seat on the ground beside the car and I was helping Grandpa remember how to collapse the stroller and wedge it into the trunk.  He headed for the driver’s seat and our daughter and I yelled “Get Atticus in!”  He did.

It was a beautiful day in every possible way.  Except for leaving the camera behind.  We might need more practice.

Published in: on October 18, 2012 at 6:16 pm  Comments (11)  
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Meandering Mind

1.  You can’t see your own ears.  Unless you look in a mirror.

I heard someone say that 3 days ago and it’s still stuck in my mind, a random, useless, captivating piece of information.  If I were an artist I’d draw a head on a long neck twisting around like a spring.  The face would be laughing.

2.  It’s a wonder the parts of the body work at all.  There are a few flaws in the design.  Like knees.

And the uterus is above the bladder.  A pregnant woman I know couldn’t pee for 12 hours.  Her baby was the size of an avocado.  (See babycenter.com.)  Her growing uterus shifted just enough to block urine trying to come out of her bladder.  Kind of like when you step on a hose hard to block the water so you can release it and spray your sister in the face.  Maybe the pregnant woman will uncork the tube from her catheter and spray it like little boys do.

3.  I’m at the beach.  At 8:00 am I sit on the balcony with my hot green tea and listen to the ocean and watch the waves just keep coming.  My soul rests.

I love the beach.  I want to hear it and see it.  I don’t go on the beach these days.  I sunburn easily and my brother has had melanoma.  I’m afraid of twisting my un-artificial knee.  I don’t like being hot.  And I’m never sure I’ll be able to get up if I sit down on the sand.

I love the beach, especially anytime other than summer.  I want an oceanfront condo with a shaded balcony, an unobstructed view of the waves and a comfortable chair with a way to prop up my feet.  A squishy couch for naps, a good novel, a copy of The Sun Magazine and five days of solitude all pamper my Spirit.

4.  Most living creatures are fine.  My zookeeper daughter used to take care of snakes and reptiles.  The little squiggly things have personalities.  One skink (no, not skunk) cuddled against her neck when she picked it up.  The snakes were boring, but I didn’t mind being in the snake room.  Her dad and her husband did.

However.  Slugs are totally disgusting and give me the shivers.  Slugs came to our front step every time it rained at our old house.  Some were the size of a fat dill pickle from a barrel at Mast General Store in Boone.

You can kill a slug by pouring salt on it.  It probably suffocates.  I bought lots of round, blue salt boxes each spring for 7 years.  I got excited, almost giddy, when I poured salt on the slugs.  (I killed the slugs when my kids weren’t watching.)

I’m not really a kind, compassionate person.

Published in: on August 11, 2011 at 10:30 am  Comments (4)  
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The True Story Of Rudolph

(I really hope this is a true story.  Thank you, Sam.)

A man named Bob May, depressed and brokenhearted, stared out his drafty apartment window into the chilling December night.

His 4-year-old daughter Barbara sat on his lap quietly sobbing. Bob’s wife, Evelyn, was dying of cancer.  Little Barbara couldn’t understand why her mommy could never come home. Barbara looked up into her dad’s eyes and asked, “Why isn’t Mommy just like everybody else’s Mommy?” Bob’s jaw tightened and his eyes welled with tears. Her question brought waves of grief, but also of anger. It had been the story of Bob’s life. Life always had to be different for Bob.


Small when he was a kid, Bob was often bullied by other boys. He was too little at the time to compete in sports. He was often called names he’d rather not remember. From childhood, Bob was different and never seemed to fit in. Bob did complete college, married his loving wife and was grateful to get his job as a copywriter at Montgomery Ward during the Great Depression. Then he was blessed with his little girl. But it was all short-lived. Evelyn’s bout with cancer stripped them of all their savings and now Bob and his daughter were forced to live in a two-room apartment in the Chicago slums. Evelyn died just days before Christmas in 1938.


Bob struggled to give hope to his child, for whom he couldn’t even afford to buy a Christmas gift. But if he couldn’t buy a gift, he was determined to make one – a storybook! Bob had created an animal character in his own mind and told the animal’s story to little Barbara to give her comfort and hope. Again and again Bob told the story, embellishing it more with each telling. Who was the character? What was the story all about? The story Bob May created was his own autobiography in fable form. The character he created was a misfit outcast like he was. The name of the character? A little reindeer named Rudolph, with a big shiny nose. Bob finished the book just in time to give it to his little girl on Christmas Day. But the story doesn’t end there.


The general manager of Montgomery Ward caught wind of the little storybook and offered Bob May a nominal fee to purchase the rights to print the book. Wards went on to print  Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer and distribute it to children visiting Santa Claus in their stores. By 1946 Wards had printed and distributed more than six million copies of Rudolph. That same year, a major publisher wanted to purchase the rights from Wards to print an updated version of the book.


In an unprecedented gesture of kindness, the CEO of Wards returned all rights back to Bob May. The book became a best seller. Many toy and marketing deals followed and Bob May, now remarried with a growing family, became wealthy from the story he created to comfort his grieving daughter. But the story doesn’t end there either.


Bob’s brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a song adaptation to Rudolph. Though the song was turned down by such popular vocalists as Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore , it was recorded by the singing cowboy, Gene Autry.  “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was released in 1949 and became a phenomenal success, selling more records than any other Christmas song, with the exception of “White Christmas.”


The gift of love that Bob May created for his daughter so long ago kept on returning back to bless him again and again. And Bob May learned the lesson, just like his dear friend Rudolph, that being different isn’t so bad. In fact, being different can be a blessing.


Alone and Together

I love my family.  I especially love my granddaughter, Adaline.  I have trouble holding her now–she’s 18 lbs. of wiggle and joy and my arthritis-damaged wrists are only safe for her when we sit quietly and rock.  I’m still good at getting her to go to sleep, if she is willing to miss what’s going on.

We are blessed to have both girls and their families close by.  Our two sons-in-law are very different, but equally entertaining.  All together (including 3 rescued dogs) we make a raucous, raunchy commotion.

The original four of us are 3 introverts and one extrovert.  The introvert daughter married an introvert and their genes combined to create an (apparently) extrovert baby.  The extrovert daughter married an equally driven extrovert and they adopted a big dog that has finally begun to settle down some.

Extroverts are energized by being around people.  Introverts are energized by solitude.  I am an introvert.  My husband is an introvert.  We are all (including our aging dog) tired at the end of a weekend with people, even if we love them.

After the last people-full weekend, I changed the sheets on our bed and started on a pile of laundry.  I wrote and I read.  I went through all the fliers/brochures/emails about classes and workshops available this fall.  Many of them call to me, but I can’t add very much to the rhythm of my days.

I need balance and moderation.  I want it all.

People tell me their sacred stories.  I want to listen to them with presence and serenity. My sponsor says we can only give from our overflow.  I remember HALT (Am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired?).

God, help me find my balance, so that I may do your will.  Amen.

Turtle or Gazelle?

Kim and Donna, as part of a Soul Collage workshop, led a guided meditation to help us envision our totem animals.  I was hoping for something graceful and elegant, able to leap in the air and run fast—a gazelle, perhaps.  My Spirit gave me a big, old, ponderous, turtle.

Turtle is not glamorous, but really not as uninspiring as I first thought.  Here is what I learned about turtle symbolism:

1.  Turtle’s whole life is one of steadfastness, effort, and patience. It lives a slow and steady life of “non-doing”.

2.  Turtle takes its wisdom one day at a time – not reacting, simply accepting and moving on in its natural rhythm.

3.  The medicine of Turtle is its deliberate and thorough approach to life.  

4. Turtle naturally withdraws and goes within when in turmoil. It does not need to learn the importance of this focusing inward, it naturally knows.

5.  Turtle is courageous because it makes progress only when it sticks its neck out and moves forward with patient, steady flow.

6.  Turtle is always at home within itself.

I have spent years learning about living one day at a time, being in the moment, and accepting life as it comes to me.  All those words in all those books and discussions are summed up in “Turtle”.  Once again I am humbled.  And delighted by how cleverly Spirit teaches me.