Friday, January 25, 2008

Together For Eternity

by PS Gifford

      Two nights ago I went to bed as I always did.
      I took up a hot milky drink and a good book and as my wife
drifted into her dream world, I drifted into the imagination of the
writer.  At some pint, I became defeated on my battle to maintain
keeping my eyes open, and with the final remnants of my waking state
somehow managed to switch off my reading lamp and bookmark my book.
      Typically, I am a sound sleeper.  The only thing that ever
awakens me is a storm or my dog needing to go outside.  But that
night I found myself wide awake.  Fragments of the dream I had been
having still flashed in my minds eye.
      I glanced at the clock.  It was 3:30am.  I desperately tried to
recall my dream which was fading by the second.  I remembered faces.
Family faces.  I remembered tears.  I remembered black clothing.  But
what I remembered most of all was a feeling of peace.
      It is difficult to translate this feeling into words.  I somehow
felt strangely tranquil.  I instinctively allowed my hand to drop to
Tasha who was asleep on her bed alongside ours.  As I scratched, she
wriggled contently in her sleep.  My eyes managed to adjust to the
light and I could just make out the silhouette of my beloved wife
cocooned in bed sheets by my side.
      Three and a half hours later the ringing of the alarm clock
sounded particularly harsh as it pierced the morning silence.  I
abruptly awoke.  I remembered I needed to take my father to an early
morning doctor's appointment.
      My father, at 80 years old, has overcome some severe health
issues.  He is well on the road to recovery although he has
difficulty getting about by himself.
      At precisely 8am, on my third cup of coffee, I arrived at his
house.  Traffic had been unusually light and I made it in ample time.
He was still getting ready.
      As he got dressed he shared with me a curious thing that
happened the night before.  He told me how at 3:25am he had awoken
and was so restless that he had gotten up and had a glass of milk
before returning to bed.
      I suddenly recalled my waking at the same time.
      Then it all became clear.
      "You remember what day it is don't you?" he asked.
      I stared at him blankly.
      "It is the day that Olive and Frank get cremated."
      I could not believe I had forgotten.  Olive was his older
sister.  Their passing had come as quite a shock.  They were both
discovered dead at the bottom of the staircase in their home back in
England.  They had apparently been that way for several days.  They
were found after their son had called authorities to check on them,
after he hadn't heard from them for over a week.
     The coroner report concluded that Olive had fallen off a stool
while attempting to change a light bulb.  She had landed awkwardly
and had fractured her hip and several other bones, rendering her
unable to move.  We can only assume that she called for Frank, who
was 85 and incredibly frail and battling many health issues.  When he
went to investigate he must have suffered a fatal heart attack,
brought on no doubt by the shock of seeing her like that.  They had
been married for over 60 years.
      My father was naturally heartbroken by the news, as was I.  We
had discussed flying over for the funeral services but the 11 hour
flight was much too risky in my father's state of health.
      Because the coroner's report took some time, and because of
issues with their son, their only child who lives in the States, the
cremation was held back for an incredible two months.
      My father continued.  "The service commenced at 11:30am."  He
looked at me solemnly and I gave him a hug.
      Suddenly it all became remarkably clear.  With the time
difference, that was the precise moment we both awoke the night
before.  Perhaps, in some sort of spiritual way, part of us was there
after all.
      Here is a poem I penned the day I heard the dreadful news of
their passing:

      Sixty plus years spent together -
      With nary a single day apart.
      Through fine times and the dire,
      they stood by their sacred wedding vows.

      They raised just one single son,
       who fulfilled his dreams in the States,
      six-thousand miles from Birmingham,
      Where he was born and lovingly raised.

      He is a success in each and every way,
      Blossoming career, loving wife and three kids.
      His parents were overflowing with pride
      For everything their son had achieved.

      Fifty years spent in the same house,
      Which sheltered them from the elements.
      Yet, despite its diminishing condition -
      they stubbornly refused to ever leave.

      Yes, sixty grand years spent together,
      and a modest legacy to be proud off.
      For they lived, essentially as one - able to
      finish each others thoughts, with a knowing nod.

      And now they have passed on as one
      Unexpectedly and shrouded in mystery
      From this earthly physical plane,
      Carried up to the next spiritual level.

      They were uncovered hand in hand,
      At the bottom of their stairs,
      several days after their passing,
      by a shaken investigating police officer.

      We don't know the cause of their demise
      We will need to wait to Friday to discover,
      the results of their scheduled autopsies
      For the puzzling and elusive answer

      Yet, I know those sixty years together,
      were simply a beginning to their love.
      For now, it is undeniably destined,
      That they shall be together for all eternity.

                 -- PS Gifford    <psgifford at>

Friday, January 11, 2008

Goodbye TeddyBear

TeddyBear Kenyon

June 10, 1998 - December 15, 2008

Nine and a half years old.  Not a very long life.  But Teddy lived it to the fullest.   He played up to the end.  He loved his toys, he loved to "blitz"-as all Bichons do.  He was never really sick until that last week & weekend.  He had diabetes, and was starting to have several other organs fail.  We just couldn't see medicating him so he could live...that would be living for us, not for him.  Teddy got in trouble sometimes.  He'd wander away from home.  He nipped me more than once.  I wasn't "his boss" my husband, Dave was.  He was Dave's pal, the closest dog Dave ever had, and we have had several. Teddy knew he didn't have to mind me. But when Dave was gone, he became "my dog, my boy" within hours.  Funny how dogs do that.  He'd lie on my feet when I sat here typing at my computer.  He loved to cuddle. He cuddled more with Dave than me, but he did love it if I took an afternoon nap--then he always put his head on my legs and curled up into them.  He had a gorgeous thick white coat.  It was so thick we couldn't even comb it.  He didn't care for kids as my next door neighbors day-care kids had teased him all his life.  He sat in Dave's lap when Dave was home at night.  They were truly the best of pals.  Dave always called him, Pal, too.  We still have Kaycee, our Maltese who turned 8 on Dec. 23, 2008.  She missed Teddy horribly that first week especially and laid on the couch depressed.  She had no sparkle in her eyes.  Dave was with him when he was put to sleep.  I didn't know he was going to go in, but I should have, Dave would never have let Teddy go through that alone.  But I could have driven the car home.  Dave was not in shape to do that.  Dave told me later, he hadn't cried that hard since he lost his Mother when he was 12.  I took Teddy's kennel and his things and threw them on the heap of stuff in the basement we have of things that are going to the dump.  I didn't want Dave to come home and have to look at them.  But I forgot, all his toys were still up here.   Kaycee doesn't play with toys, sometimes Ted would get her to play tug, or blitz with him, but that's it. She is a quiet dog, she was the alpha dog over Ted, though. She started fights all the time over chews,and sometimes food.  You'd think she'd have known better, being 1/3 his size, but Ted always backed off usually without Dave even telling him too.  Ted could get into trouble, but you couldn't help but love him.  He was a demonstrative dog, an emotional dog, and we miss him so much that I can only now write about him and it's been 3 weeks.  We will never forget Teddy, he was a dog full of pep.  He loved to play, chase squirrels and rabbits, and birds and sometimes he caught them.  Oh TeddyBear, I hope you somehow knew how hard it was to let you go.  I know Jessi (Jessica Sue, his big sister, who was more my dog, who we had the first year or so we had Ted) met him at the Rainbow Bridge and welcomed him to be with her and play with her. Neither one of them have pain anymore.  This is good, but why then, does it have to hurt so darn much?  Teddy, Goodbye,my friend, and your Dad's best pal, and best friend.  Your life was brief but brought us much laughter and joy throught the 9 1/2 years we had the honor of having you in our home.  Rest in peace, boy.  A part of our hearts went with you.  Somehow we have gone on, but never ever are we the same.  I know you were a dog and some people don't understand the closeness we have with our animals, but fact is fact and we do!  We loved you, Teddy!

Mom (Merry), Dad, (Dave) & Kaycee Kay (your 8 year old sister,the "Wonder" Maltese.)