DP: Today is Mother’s Day in the United States. Wherever in the world you are, write your mother a letter.
I have a picture of you taped to my lamp on my dining room table that serves as an additional desk for my writing. Every day, I look up or over and see that incredible smile, dressed in your favorite shade of red. I think it was taken at Disneyland – one of the adventure trips with your grandkids. It is fairly out of focus and doesn’t truly do you justice, but it captures your spirit and you live in my heart and mind and my soul. I breathe deeper and easier when I see you, Mom. I can almost feel your arms around me, or sitting on your bony lap – look who’s talking, I know! As we have gotten older, your wisdom and love become ever more clear. “Oh, Pooh Bear!” I can hear you so clearly saying that. As well as your “Well, as your grandmother would say, “You’ll be getting the purse, HuntMode.” An Irish legacy of some merit – though, you didn’t have a drop of Irish in you and frequently reminded us that there was far more to us than just the Irish – your side of English, French, Dutch and Belgium.
I remember being so fiercely regretful that you would never get to see my children or they you when we knew you were dying of cancer back in 1994. Has it really been 19 years? It feels both shorter and longer than that. I never did have human children, sad to say. I wanted four of ’em, as wild and crazy as that sounds. In truth, my children came in the form of my writings and the dogs and cats who have come in and gone to grace my life. Remember how much you loved Ju Ju, named after you because you and she were the most feminine, lady-like women I knew? JuJu died in January of 1997 at 18.5 years of age! Then came Doven, a 30 lbs. bundle of odds and ends and lots of love for everything and everyone who moved the air. Dyssa joined us within about a month and you would have adored both of them. Now, they have gone, too, and I assume you’ve met them and they are keeping you company for me, holding my place – I do assume I am going to Heaven, yes?!
We’ve got the newest edition named Elby, a cat of hunter prowess and daring deeds, who actually climbs the walls… and everything else he sees. Then, there’s my darling Claire, a greyhound that would wrap you around her
little – okay – not so little fingers. She is so gorgeous, Mom. We got the news this week that Claire, too, has cancer. Hers is of the bone, not the lung, but it is metasizing as fast as yours did. It began with a little limp and then she would get better, then back to favoring her foot. We thought it might be a jammed toe or a bruised foot or maybe a hairline crack somewhere. We gave the dog equivalent of ibuprofen and pain pills, but she wasn’t getting conclusively better. I found the money for $300.00 x-rays and that is when we knew for sure – it wasn’t her foot, it was in her hip and bone and would move pretty damn quickly through her system. I thought I would have to have the doctor give her the last shot that very day, but the vet said it was in the beginning to middle stages. The Vet is thinking it might be 2 weeks, a month, maybe even as much as 2 months (but unlikely).
It took me a couple of days to realize how close this was to when we learned of your illness – just out of the blue and they said you had four hours to four days to live… you beat ’em, Mom, with a full two months, thanks to that incredible surgery they performed. Claire is also like you in that she really doesn’t care for medicine – the pain pills taste bitter – and after a variety of tricks that are good at the max of two times per trick and disguise, she has settled on gobs of peanut butter on her favorite dog bones with the pill(s) buried in the peanut butter. She tends to gulp those down, and chase ’em with straight up dog bones that she crunches enthusiastically. They are the puppy size so she can have as many as she wants.
It’s been really hard this time, Mom. I feel like I am becoming an expert in death or saying goodbye to those I love and who have given me such love, Mom. Okay, so now we are both going to cry, eh? This burden of picking the time of Claire’s final day – thank you, God, that was out of my hands where you were concerned, Mom. I thought and prayed to have more time with this beautiful girl, but then I worry if I’m being selfish or giving too much medicine – doctor’s recommended dose, so that Claire’s final days are spent in a fog instead of living with joy and interest as she always has. Today, I tried an experiment of pacing the medicine throughout the day and she seemed much better, more focused and interested. Both the Vet and Eileen, the woman who introduced me to Claire and is my go-to person for all things Greyhound, agree it is up to Claire – that when there are more bad days than good, we’ll know. I am not sure I will last that long – though, I will say that Claire has taken to spoiling with sneaky and outright enjoyment. She has mastered the art of calling me into the room – just as if she had a bell to ring. And, then she’ll sit up and grin at me – that goofy dog grin Greyhounds own. She is still happy to go outside on walks and comes running at breakfast and dinner time, so today has been a good day.
Claire just came running into the room, jumped onto the couch and stood there to remind me it was dinner time and walks – both off the patio and out through the front door – her choice, not mine.
Please welcome my Claire when she comes, Mom. I know you will love her. She’s fast, Mom – she can hit 43 miles per hour in three strides, but I promise she won’t knock you over. 🙂 Here’s a picture of Claire Has Flaire, her racing name: