Friday, July 20, 2018

Shayla: "Our Furry Child"

I had to include a picture with today's blog, so that you would be able to appreciate this beautiful lady who is so much a part of our daily lives: our black labrador, Shayla.

We rescued her from a county shelter about eight years ago. She was three then. There has never been a time in our married life that we have not had at least two dogs in our family; at one time we had four! (That proved to be a bit much.) When we got Shayla, we had recently lost Rascal, a male Karelian Bear Dog who lived a full life for 17 years. We got him as a puppy, so it was the worst canine sadness of all for R.J. and me.

The other dog who shared Rascal's life was Molly Brown (a beagle/hound mix) and when Rascal died, she literally pined for him. He had been like a dad to her since the day we'd brought her home as a puppy from the pound. (We've always had rescue dogs.) Molly immediately accepted Shayla into the family, and I guess the feeling was mutual, because when Molly left this world, Shayla pined for her as well.

Thinking about a blog topic today, I passed our sleeping ball of fur in the living room, and decided that she need to be introduced to you all. She's almost 12 now, and the vet says she is very healthy for her age. We could have told him that. I sometimes think she is smarter than either of us, and, just for the record, she is also spoiled rotten. We have always spoiled our dogs with treats and lots of love, and they have all had long, healthy times here on earth.

Shayla is our only dog since Molly's passing. We talked about getting a friend for her again, but she seems to enjoy being our only canine, and we see no reason to upset that balance.

From the time I was born, dogs have been part of my life. My parents always had them, and R.J. and I got our first puppy in our first year of marriage. There are many stories about them all, and I think I'll feature different "furry children" in upcoming blogs. I've always believed that having them has added a unique richness to our home life. They've also constantly reminded me of the one-of-a-kind devotion they give to their human parents. That's a gift like no other.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Remembrance For A Friend

I've spent the better part of an hour trying to begin this post. All my words have been carefully thought about, but eventually deleted, because they all seemed to pale and wane when I read them.

I lost a special friend recently; a woman I cherished in my life for over twenty years. She was older than me, but I never thought of her that way. From the day we first met, there was a connection, enforced by mutual respect, and a love for life, that bonded us.

The struggle I'm having with writing about my sadness over this loss speaks to what a unique woman she was, and that's why just stringing together adoring adjectives fail miserably. She was a giving individual, both to her community, her family, and her friends. All commendable attributes, but many deserving people can be described that way.

She and her husband were welcomed into our home numerous times, as I was to hers, and we shared so many fun and rewarding moments together while we lived near each other. After I moved away, we would have regular visits by phone, keeping in touch with each other's lives, and commenting on a host of topics. 

I learned much from her. She was educated, worldly, and had a delightful sense of humor (and a laugh that never failed to make my day). I'd like to hope that a small part of what she taught me I have succeeded to emulate.

Our last visit in person was about a year ago, and a treasured memory. My husband and I were back in the town, where she still lived, for a book signing, and I loved being able to present her with my novel, which I lovingly inscribed to her. A few weeks later, she sent me a note praising my writing, and sharing specific ways in which the book had touched her. Her words were so beautifully crafted; I read that note over and over.

I've given you just a few of the many ways this woman influenced my life. I'm sure, if I'd expressed these to her during her lifetime, she would have deflected them. That was another reason I loved her; she was gracious and unassuming.

I guess the best thing to do is just to say, I was definitely lucky she chose to be my friend. And my tears will continue for some time, because I will miss her voice, her hugs, and her never-ending love of life.