Posts Tagged ‘family’

Saying good-bye to a great dog…

Yesterday morning, at around 8am, my wife’s parents had the sad responsiblity of putting to sleep their 12-year-old border collie, Flash.  He had been ill for many months, and his health and quality of life had been steadily and swiftly deteriorating.

I first met Flash in September 2002, when Kara brought me to Virginia to meet her family for the first time. As I was already certain at that time that I planned to marry Kara, I was committed to winning over her family. I brought a bottle of good scotch for her father and flowers for her mom. Kara and I liberated her younger sister, Diana, from a boring party and took her out for ice-cream.

Last, but not least, I had to earn approval from the dog. I did this by playing his favorite game, stairball, nonstop for an hour. The game consisted of Flash standing at the top of a flight of stairs and me at the bottom; I’d throw a ball up to him, he’d catch it or chase it if it got by him, and then he’d use his nose to nudge it back down the stairs, and it would bounce down to me. This was when I learned Flash and I had a personality trait in common: we were both obsessive-compulsive.

Not only did I win over the dog, he won me over, too. I’d never been much of a dog person before meeting Flash, but after a weekend with him I found myself seriously considering owning a dog someday. I very quickly learned to love that sweet, slightly demented canine.

He was a good pet, a boon companion, and a member of the family. Rest in peace, Flash.

The Tree and Perspective

My wife and I have just returned from a long weekend away in western Massachusetts, celebrating a belated Christmas with my family. And I was on hand as an unexpected development occurred and threw me for an emotional loop…

Allow me to clarify my lead: My parents are selling my childhood home.

My wife and I have just returned from a long weekend away in western Massachusetts, celebrating a belated Christmas with my family. On the day of our arrival — almost to the hour, in fact, my parents had decided and committed to buy a new condo, a few towns over from their current residence. The last time I had spoken to them, while they were considering buying a second house someplace like the Carolinas, they had talked about keeping the old house.

Now, without any preamble, they’ve committed to selling it and moving into their new condo this spring.

Just like that, I realized that after living there for 34 years, my parents were selling my childhood home, which they had purchased as their wedding gift to one another. The place I have thought of as “home”, that storehouse of memories, is being sold, and I am unlikely to have time to return to it again before the transaction is done.

All of this was perfectly obvious the moment I heard the news, but it didn’t realy register until late that night, when I was in my parents’ basement, finishing my writing for the night. After this weekend, I would never see my childhood home again.

And the part of it that upsets me most? Not the fact I won’t get to walk around inside again. It’s that I worry about the oak tree in the front yard. My father and I planted that tree on May 24, 1980. There’s a picture of the event in the family album. Me, a scrawny kid with no shirt on, dad with a shovel, the two of us depositing a Charlie Brown-pathetic sapling into the ground.

Twenty-eight years later, that oak tree is majestic. Dozens of arms, forty feet tall. In summer, when it’s in full leaf, it shades the entire house. It’s a magnificent tree, and my father and I put it there. In the emotional core of my messed-up brain, that tree is a powerful symbol of my bond with my father.

And soon it won’t belong to us anymore.

I feel like some intangible link to my childhood has been severed, and I’m adrift.

Then I came home tonight and received an e-mail that informed me that a friend of mine, the only son of my pal Bob Greenberger, has been diagnosed with leukemia and is facing a hard fight. In my twenties, another close friend of mine, Keith Kowal, died of leukemia. I know it’s going to be a battle for my friend who is ill now.

For all the sadness I’ve felt about never again seeing that tree in my parents’ yard, if you told me I could cure my friend by chopping it down, we’d all be divvying up kindling right now.

And that’s called perspective, I think.

ETA: My friend Bob has gone public on his blog with the news about his son Robbie’s illness. I’ve added a link to Bob’s blog.