Preparing to say goodbye

CiCiMy dog is dying and it hurts.

We have been together for almost 16 years.
That’s a very long time for a dog, and me.

We bonded almost immediately from the moment she came into my home at 8 weeks of age.

There’s a bond that grows between an animal and its human.

Neither ever owns the other.
We are together because we want to be.

I keep thinking of the movie “ET” as I watch her slow down from a long life.

Elliot and ET were connected.
They mirrored each other and so do we in so many ways.

My wife used to say if my dog was a woman I’d marry her.

I suppose that’s true, if I wanted a wife that bites and poops on the rug.

She’s my constant companion – never leaving my side until I go to work the next day and waiting by the door for my return.

Every day for 16 years.
That’s a very long time when I think of it.

Many marriages don’t last that long.

Day after day she is about the only one excited to see me.
No one in my life at this time showers as much love and devotion as this small ball of fur.

She’s gotten crankier with age, and that’s okay because I have too.

She had pancreatic cancer last year but the surgeon thinks he got it all.

Something that is a million-to-one outcome when everything you read says the prognosis is never better than grave.

While the immediate danger seems to have faded, the infirmities of old age continue to grow on her small body.

Sometimes it’s hard to get up.
Sometimes she limps as she follows me down the hall.
Running is no longer possible but she can still can move fairly fast if the doorbell rings.

Like me, her hearing is not so good for most things but she still can hear a dog food can open from another room.

She doesn’t see as well as before.
Tossing an occasional small piece of steak on the floor in front of her usually begins a frantic search because it’s hard to see it.

Her medicines make her hungry and thirsty all the time but give her a good quality of life, although the vet cautions they may also shorten it.

Like a small child scared of the dark she insists on sleeping with me curled up next to my side, always touching.

Feeling her warmth is comforting because I know she is still here and I sleep better for it.

Knowing what is coming fills me with dread and I try to push from my mind.
Her dying is going to come no matter what I think or do.

But it’s always there, sneaking its way in when things are quiet and we are alone with her in my lap.

My wife worries that when the dog passes it will so affect me that I might follow soon after.

I’ve heard of that happening, mostly husbands and wives, not dog and human.
But who knows.

And what happens when she’s so old and so tired that the loving thing to do is put her to sleep?

How will I ever find that courage to hold her in my arms while someone kills her, for that’s exactly what will happen.

I don’t know if I can – yet the cruelest thing would not to be the one to provide her comfort in those last minutes.

We started together and we should end together.

Whatever happens, it’s coming and I can’t stop it.

A Tough Day

It wasn’t a good day at work.

I had to bring this young engineer into my office and tell him to shut up.

He’s young, and like many young kids he gets a bit mouthy, especially in the hallways where other people can hear him.

Sure, we’d all like to make more money and sometimes the promotions come slow – but complaining about it publicly is never a good thing.

I remember what it’s like to be him.

When you’re 22 you own the world and you know you can do anything you want and do it well…and you want it now.

I have to remember nobody knows the rules in their first job.

We don’t come out of college with a sheet of paper telling us what we should and should not do to stay out of the politics of the office.

Be nice, be appropriate, don’t risk, don’t push.

I don’t remember when the enthusiasm of youth goes away.

When you have a mortgage or a couple of kids or the corporation finally beats you down?

When the boss (me) sits you down and tries to tell you it’s time to grow up without breaking your spirit can be a difficult thing.

I look at some of the pricks running departments today and wonder how they ever were considered good enough to be in a position to affect someone’s whole life.

People like me don’t leave legacies.

The things we built were done with others, and they probably will be torn down and rebuilt again and again.

We just try to live a decent life, cry in private over what our country is turning in to and maybe leave things a little better than how we found them.

For people like me, our legacy is molding young men and women into something special and keeping their soul alive until they can survive on their own.

I guess that’s okay.

New Years Day 2013

It was a nice day this New Year as I stood on the corner and watched people go by.

I’ve noticed one thing good about being oldler: people don’t look at me as a pervert or mugger when I smile at them.

Thinking back I remember when I hit a certain age, maybe in my mid-to-late 40’s, women stopped glancing at me when they went by.

I guess I was officially “old” and people who were “old” just don’t register in their mind any more.

Not everyone wants to be admired but just recognized they exist.

When you’re a young lady your mind is on boys and work, as it should be.

But there’s something in the mind of someone that age doesn’t see an elderly person.

Sometimes that hurts because we are still relevent and useful.

There was the first time a woman told her friend at a party I was too old for her.
That put a huge damper on my evening so I left and went home.

A lot of sad things start to happen in your late 40’s.

Maybe it’s nature’s way to prepare us for our later years when we’re seen as mostly in the way.

Then, in my early 60’s, I became safe because I’m now really “old” and in their mind I shifted from a dirty old man to their favorite grandpa.

I remember my grandfather mentioning something about getting older when I was in high school.

I don’t remember what he said but I recall saying to myself I will be young and strong and athletic forever.

There seems to be a point in everyone’s life where you realize you are now old.

Not old in how I see myself, but realizing it’s how others see me.

I was upset when a teenager at the McDonald’s counter first started asking if I want the senior’s discount.

The first dozen or times I said something like, “Not there yet” and paid full price, even though I qualified.

Too proud, I guess.

I didn’t want to be old or have other people remind me I was.

After awhile I stopped fighting it and now simply nod and smile.

Of course they don’t ask anymore – they just know.

Sometimes I see the men at work, 30 years younger, looking across the room at me and I wonder if they’re waiting for me to retire and get out of the way so they have a chance to move up.

If the damn Congress would fix the economy I would love to.

Meanwhile, I am not useless.