Happy Birthday, Maddie!

My corgi girl is now fourteen.
A sweeter canine I’ve never seen.

She’s going white, I’m growing gray.
Yet we both know still how to play.

So full of love, this peaceful little dove.
Smiling up at me, and the blue sky above.

A beacon so bright, she’s been a delight.
My girl won’t leave me without a good fight.

Still, there will be a day, though not soon I pray.
When this good girl’s finally called far away.

I trust she’ll rest well, and I’ll then rest, too.
Knowing our love and deep friendship was true.

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.

The perfect gift

Another birthday sails in to port later this month, but I’ve chosen to celebrate my gifts today.

We’ve been blessed with a November heat wave, a rare event here in the northern plains. Many years our snow shovels have already had a vigorous workout.

Yet this morning, my workout routine includes a barefoot walk on a sandy beach. I allow my tired, misshapen toes to wiggle in the chilly waters for a while before putting my socks and shoes back on.

I then walk towards the sunny and empty town docks, serenaded by a lone loon’s distinct yodel.

I find the notes are almost as crisp and clear as the morning air filling my lungs.

Selecting my favorite dock as a table, I remove half of my peanut butter and jelly sandwich from my back pack.

As I take my first bite, I notice the raspberry jam tastes sweeter and the oatmeal bread a little fresher than usual.

After I finish my lakeside breakfast, I cross the railroad tracks back towards my car to drive to work.

But I stop for a minute as I find another gift’s been planted just for me.

It’s the perfect surprise.

A bouquet of wild, late blooming sunflowers!

I pick a few and smile.

Their message might be the best birthday gift of all.

I may be in the autumn of my life, but I can still grow and shine as well.

April’s dog is full of grace

Today we celebrate a very good girl.
She loves everyone, she doesn’t chase squirrel.

At 13 years old, she’s still very bold.
Though I don’t have to scold, that heart’s full of gold.

In dogs years, I hear she’s now 91.
But my girl’s not done, she’s still having fun.

And though she is lame, this pup’s a grand dame.
Sure, days aren’t the same, her life’s a new game.

It’s one of sweet bliss, with joy she would miss.
So she soaks up the sun, oh…what a lucky one!

 

Reflections on gratitude

Every year, this particular week is one of reflection for me.

Along with Thanksgiving, I acknowledge my birthday, and that of a brother who died too young.

And once there was a wedding anniversary.

It would have been 29 years of marriage this week if my husband Richard was still with me.

I find my memories of years gone by are as warm as they are cold.

The recollections of steamy windows and turkey bastings still fill my heart, even if the details of faces around the Thanksgiving table are fading.

And birthday party gifts of little pilgrim candles still dance happily in my head, though in one a bit fuzzier.

Yet dark November commutes on icy roads driving Richard to his adult day care center in his last years still send a chill up my spine.

My Spode Christmas mug companion, lined with mistletoe and hot coffee, would turn cold as Coke by the time I’d cross the city line to New Hope each morning.

I’d try hard to be ‘of cheer’ but would fail miserably.

Typically mumbling to myself, “New Hope? How about ‘No Hope’?” as I’d drive off from the facility downtown to work.

Dementia can do that to a caregiver.

But I’ve learned there was hope back then, and perhaps there always is.

Not of a spouse recovering from an illness where there is no cure, but of a caregiver coping with acceptance, loss and finally moving forward.

I drove to the store in sunshine today to replenish my coffee supply for my Christmas mug that now rests on the kitchen counter.

As I first walked through the door, I was greeted by the scent of buckets of yellow roses and a happy clerk restocking them.

I was definitely tempted.

The price was good, but I walked on by.

I can’t just buy them for myself, I thought.

But I stopped, shifted into reverse, then picked up a bunch along with my French Roast.

Smiling at the friendly check out clerk, I said, “These are terrific! Just like the ones I held at my wedding 29 years ago today.”

I added my husband was now gone.

His face saddened some, but then he smiled as well.

I watched him attach a sticker to the cellophane wrapping.

A “paid” sticker, I thought.

“Here,” he said, handing them back to me. “No charge. Happy Anniversary!”

I admit a tear rolled down my cheek.

Ok. Maybe two.

But my gratitude far exceeded any sadness.

And isn’t that how it should be every Thanksgiving week?

I’m voting yes.