Thursday, April 8, 2010

What is Brave?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a day when I cried off-and-on throughout the day (ESP of the Heart). We were traveling to Sunriver that day and had stopped for dinner at a restaurant in Bend. During dinner, I again started quietly shedding tears. My almost-18-year-old daughter was sitting next to me and I was sure that she would be mortified that I was crying in public, so I apologized for being such a wimp. Her response surprised me, “I don’t think you’re a wimp. I think you’re brave for being able to cry in public. I wish I was that brave.” Now, this is a young woman who has weathered four knee surgeries in the last seven years, who intimidates people with her 5’2” toughness, who isn’t afraid to do silly things in public or call attention herself – I think those attributes are brave. Someone else I know is going through a tough time and is taking it all in stride, displaying the utmost dignity and professionalism. I look at this person and think, “Wow! That is so brave. “ As someone who wears her heart on her sleeve, I think I’d be venting my anger and whining away my sorrows. So, maybe when we behave in a manner that is authentic to who we are and when others see in us that which they don’t see in themselves – perhaps that is when we appear most brave.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Real Problem With Pets

Yesterday I wrote about some of the day-to-day problems with pets; today I want to write about the real problem with pets – and that problem is that pets normally do not outlive us. I was reminded of this recently when my daughter-in-law’s 18 year old dog died. She had had him since she was in high school and, during the last few years, we got to know him and care about him. He wasn’t my pet but I loved him just the same him – I was Grandma to a dog.

When we first met Caesar he was still able to go for a run with us around the lake in Austin. When my son and daughter-in-law lived with us for nine months when they first moved back from Texas, Caesar was still able to get up and down the stairs in our home. However, his health, eyesight and strength had declined dramatically over this past year. I often looked at Caesar and realized that as he aged, the rest of us also age. He was less able to participate in day-to-day activities, but he still relished a special event when he could be at the center of the activity. A trip to visit us for Sunday dinner perked him up, even though he was only able to lay on his bed in the family room. It was difficult for him to get up and move around, but when the other dogs or the cats ran around and played, Caesar would perk up his ears and sometimes even try to get up and romp around for a few minutes. His was a gentle nature; like most dogs he just wanted a little attention, a good pet now and then and, in return, he would curl up his tail in delight when someone he loved came near, making that person feel that they were very special, indeed. As I said yesterday, we have lots of pets; they are all part of our family and, when one leaves us, it leaves a small hole in our hearts. I found a quote recently that said something to the effect that having a pet will bring great joy into your life, but the pet’s ultimate death will also bring great grief. That’s the way it is with so much in life – we get the great joys, the happiness and love only because we are willing to accept the pain that comes with the finale.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Poop, Barf and Things that go Bump in the Night

We have pets – lots of them and, in the last week, I’ve experienced many of the problems with having pets. Last Thursday morning, as we were scurrying around getting ready for my oldest daughter’s senior project garage sale, my youngest daughter came into my office with a horrified look on her face. “Mommy,” she choked, “I think Reggie (one of our big dogs) had a problem in my room last night.” Truly, she looked like she was ready to throw up! I followed her back to her room, opened the door and was horrified at the sight – to put it delicately, Reggie had had a lower digestive system gastric problem…in circles, all over the room! An immediate call to the carpet cleaners got us an appointment for first thing the next morning. In the meantime, I cleaned up what I could, and then we opened the windows and shut the doors.

Last night I was awakened by Czar (our other big dog) making a funny sound. Assuming he was just cleaning himself, I told him to stop, but then he got up and went to the other side of the room and it soon became apparent that he, too, was having a gastric problem, this time of the upper digestive system, if you know what I mean. I flipped on the lights and saw that half his dinner was now sitting on the clean carpet of my bedroom. I quickly ushered him out of the room with the intent of getting him downstairs and out the door, but he only made it as far as the top of the stairs before the other half of his dinner was deposited on the clean hallway carpet. I finally got the dog outside and went back upstairs armed with gloves, paper towels, rags and carpet cleaner. Awhile later, with the carpets reasonably clean again, the dog back inside and settled back in his bed, I started to drift off to sleep only to hear what sounded like someone rummaging around in our garage, which is right below our bedroom. I got up and went to listen at our bedroom door – nothing. I went back to bed and it started again. I decided to go investigate in the garage, but, as I reached the top of the stairs, I realized that the sound was coming from my daughter’s closet, which abuts our bedroom. Could my daughter possibly be up at 3:00 a.m. cleaning out her closet? I quietly opened the door to her room, turned up the light enough to see that she was in bed, sound asleep, but the noise was definitely coming from her closet. I sneaked over to the closet and swung it open – the light was on, but nobody was in there. Then the noise started up again and I looked down to see that my son’s hamster, Dixie was running around the closet in her play ball. She would run till she hit a wall – bump! Then she’d turn and run the other way. I have no idea why she was in the play ball, locked in the closet at 3:00 a.m. and, when questioned, this morning, no one has any knowledge of why or how she got there -- yea, right…

A friend with three small children recently told me that her husband and daughter really want to get a puppy. Even though I love my pets and can’t imagine not having at least some pets in the house (though we don’t really need as many as we have), I say to her, “No! Not now! Kids already provide enough poop, barf and nighttime noises!”