I’m hoping to be just like my dog, Loco, when I grow up. Not that I want to bark at strangers and follow myself around the house all day—just that I’d like to be as consistently happy as she always is.
From the moment I surface beneath my mound of blankets to hit the snooze button for the first time each morning, until I submerge again into the sandman’s shadows—she’s happy. And she’s not just ‘happy’ happy, she’s ecstatically thrilled about everything. If I get up from reading, a wagging tail propels her into spirals around my feet. Any sudden movement brings on a whole new carnival of contentment; a gala celebration.
If she goes outside she’s overjoyed. When she comes back in she tears up the floorboards with her enthusiasm. Even if she’s sound asleep and I slip quietly by, her tail—as if stirred by my overwhelming presence—wags at my passing. She’s no less enthusiastic about everything life has to offer than she was nearly a decade ago when she christened the threshold of every happy moment at the altars of our affection, with her wiggling wee bursting bladder.
Everything with her is as new as a freshly spanked baby’s bottom—she lives on the delivery ward of blessings about to be birthed; the cusp of perpetual penchant.
She’s the sound of an ice-cream truck on a sunny Saturday morning. She’s new furniture and old books, slapstick comedy, clowns and every happy thing you could conjure up.
If she were a drink she’d be champagne; if she could fly she’d alter the earth’s orbit. She lives life like it’s some huge pie eating contest—gobbling up all she can before time runs out.
And, it’s not as though she’s any stranger to hardship, either.
Oh, the troubles she’s seen…
She just knows how to bounce back from it is all. She doesn’t know anything about letting circumstances keep her down.
So, yeah—that’s pretty much the way I’d like to embrace the rest of my life. Living like it’s a walk in the park, because truthfully—sometimes it’s more like a walk down the plank.
And as much as we’d like them to be—trite and shallow canine comparisons, however clever—are not enough to keep some of the very sobering situations and circumstances from seeping inside and petrifying the very marrow of us.
We can’t always tear up the floorboards to the next adventure when the next adventure is another disappointment or letdown. Sooner or later, exuberance buckles beneath the last straw. It’s not all that easy to wag your tail in that place, much less sit up and beg for more. But God doesn’t expect us to, either. He promised to find us wherever we’ve been scattered to—bring us back, bind up our injuries and strengthen us. That’s where I’ve been lately—getting all bandaged up and better.
I can’t help feeling more exuberant about life again, though I’m nowhere near altering the earth’s orbit yet. Some of those circumstances and situations are just as foreboding.
Still–I aspire to live life like my loco little dog–in a carnival of contentment; on the cusp of perpetual penchant–bouncing back from the brink like it was just a nasty old bath or something.
When we first got Min, the ‘nasty’ cat, she was, well… she was nasty. My daughter talked me into getting her from her uncle’s friend because no one else would take her and she absolutely had to have a new home.
This, of course, was after she’d talked me into getting ‘Loco,’ from the girls’ dance group teacher because no one else was going to do it, so we absolutely had to.
“Min likes being brushed every day,” he told us. So we brushed Min.
Min liked being brushed very much. She liked being brushed the way a serial killer loves stalking their next victim. She loved to let the brush glide gently over her silky fur and around her appendages, and then suddenly thrust her front talons deeply into your humerus, while pummeling the exposed flesh of your forearms into shreds with her back paws. It would sometimes take two of us to pry her off.
We tried oven mitts, but she would only exact revenge later by swiping out at us from unexpected locations while we went about our day. We gave up.
Min also liked to back Loco into a corner and lash her repeatedly. I had no idea cats could move their paws so fast it looks like a blur. It took me a while to rescue the dog the first time I saw it because I was mesmerized by how much it seemed like I was watching an old cartoon flick.
Min grew older and mellowed. She adapted to our dog and rabbit, and eventually became approachable when Mia came on the scene. She’s the CatFather, still–and the other pets know it, but she’s become affectionate over the years (in her signature scabrous style), and we love her dearly–nasty quirks and all.
Lately, Min seems to be aging exponentially, though. At first she couldn’t hear very well. Now she can’t see–we find her sleeping in odd corners because she just ends up somewhere, and there she stays. She’s become skeletal. If not for the huge amount of fur she has, she’d be an eerie sight.
She’s also slow going up and down the stairs and doesn’t always make it to the kitty litter on time. She makes messes almost daily. I have to lock her in the room where the litter is every night so that I can keep the messes to a minimum.
And, I am battling the age-old, old-age pet dilemma–when, if ever, is the right time to put them down? Now, see–I can’t do it. Just typing those words makes me cry. There’s still so much life in her yet. She loves to hop up on my lap and fall asleep. She loves for me to bring her out on the back deck and brush her–I can finally do it without oven mitts or fear of retribution.
I left her out there the other day and after a few minutes found her emaciated body curled up, fur wafting in the breeze and tail thumping the deck, a look of contentment across her face. So, I came up with my grand, baby gate idea.
Surely, the two younger pets would learn to leap over it, and Min would be confined to the upstairs–with food, water and kitty litter seconds away.
I propped it up and started teaching Loco how to jump it.
She cowered and waited until this afternoon when I lifted her over, and made a beeline for the food and water. Mia slept through the whole thing.
Then I heard a loud thump, followed by a lamenting meow, and Min limping down the stairs. She walked into the kitchen, spread herself out on the linoleum, and wagged her tail. How can you mess with determination like that?
I don’t have the heart to put her down, so I’m praying God will take her peacefully in her sleep–on billowy clouds of ascension, while angels play harps, and visions of tuna pâté dance in her head. But, in the mean time, if you have any ideas, I’m game.
Jasper and Ralph could only watch helplessly behind the locked door at the aftermath outside–when the Small Rodents truck collided with the Small Flightless Birds truck . . .
The best part of yesterday was raiding my friend’s rhubarb patch (I’ll bake a pie tomorrow that we won’t eat–we’re just not big pie eaters) and picking buttercups at the creek with the neighbor girls.
The best part of today was finding some really cool yard sale treasures–like this photo box–for just $1.50,
Meeting Max (who lives a few doors down),
planning this really cool idea I have to paint the stairwell to the basement black with daisies on it,
and saying ‘sorry’ to my son for getting upset and yelling at him earlier.
I had this extraordinary friend, Sophie. I met her in Montreal, at a bus stop on my way to church one morning (she’s from Egypt and makes the best baklava known to man). I ended up going to her church instead that morning, and she ended up becoming like a second mom.
“Heather,” she told me one night while I was visiting. “Always keep a short account with God and everyone else.”
I haven’t always been able to do that, to be honest. But, at times like this I really have to wonder what’s up with that.
Just having one of those I know I should have done more with my day kind of days.