Happy Birthday, Dog

I celebrated my birthday last night with a can of Chef Boyardee.

Well, sort of.

Actually I’d gotten my real celebrating done early since I heard a few weeks ago that winter would be arriving on my birthday, which it did.

It’s amazing how the weather folks can nail down their predictions, but not those political prognosticators.

Anyway after scraping ice off my car locks I drove safely back home in snow and a howling wind. I could have picked up chow mein and chocolate cake, but putting the car to bed and grabbing a can from my personal blizzard bistro seemed much more inviting.

I partied briefly with the dogs afterwards, ignoring the big mess of papers on the floor from a bag of recycling I’d forgotten to take out in the morning. My terrier Tucker had been particularly tense and had torn them all up into tiny pieces.

It seemed the screen door near Tuck’s crate in the kitchen had been banging for hours from the 50 mph wind gusts.

We all decided to try to turn in early to stay warm, even though we knew it could be a restless one.

This morning still hearing those high winds and feeling a draft in the house my spirits sank some.

I got down on my hands and knees finally picking up the tiny bits of paper I’d ignored that were now lodged into the back of Tuck’s dog crate.

Looking out the window, I was blue looking up at the gray sky and the return of a frozen white landscape.

And I was likely blue as well from missing my big brother Scott whose birthday was today.

Being just one day shy of two years apart, we typically celebrated together until he passed away unexpectedly some years ago.

Scott was experiencing a few challenges right before he left us, but I’ve been reminded by my sister that he’d begun work on making changes in his life and “he’d even gotten a dog.”

‘Dog’ had always been Scott’s nickname.

And he loved every one of them.

As I was about to finish cleaning the crate, Tucker walked over and licked my hand just as the old Bing Crosby holiday song, “Counting My Blessings” began to play on NPR.

Suddenly a picture from a stack of old photos resting on a shelf in my kitchen slid down towards the floor.

As the rest of my canine crew trotted over my way, I picked up the photo.

I saw it was a picture of Scott and myself with a big birthday cake.

And I’m thinking it’s from the last celebration we shared.

“Happy Birthday, Dog!” I said softly walking out the door into the day with my little pack of blessings on leashes.

All was calm and the sun was bright once again.

And that’s another blessing for sure I thought, as I made myself a snow angel.

Life goes on

Grief was my constant companion for much of the last ten years.

During that time I lost both of my parents, and my spouse several times over to memory loss.

Caregivers of those afflicted with Alzheimer’s and dementia first lose their loved one as their cognitive skills disappear in several unique stages.

And then they ultimately witness that final loss, with the death of their loved one.

I was no different.

By the time my husband finally passed, there were no tears left to shed.

Yet earlier this week I caught myself crying some after the election.

My tears weren’t particularly tied to the results, but more towards the hatred and lack of civility bubbling over everywhere.

Still those tears weren’t long lived as I know there is much work to do in this country.

I decided I better start with me.

I knew I had to find some peace to feel grounded if I am to be productive in the days ahead.

Making sense of this election and defining next steps will come to me in time, but only after the rhetoric has faded.

So Saturday I chose to find comfort and community while standing in line for shrimp chowder at the local butcher shop, and a generous slice of pumpkin cake at the bakery afterwards.

The warm welcomes and sweet scents soon had everyone inside smiling again.

No phones appeared or politics were spoken in either place.

And this morning it was all about blue grass and lemon grass Thai treats at our Sunday’s Farmers Market.

Humming as I left to stop by a neighborhood church service, I found myself parking further away than needed.

But I knew it would give me a chance later to walk over the bridge of a brook sparkling in the sunshine, and check in on the garden just beyond.

After the service, upon entering I discovered fragrant and strong yellow roses were still blooming in the breeze.

And cheerful white daisies, too.

I sang softly, “…life goes on in endless song” from the closing hymn I’d just heard.

Yes, I believe it really does.

Even in November of one particularly nasty election year.