loss

Goodnight Sweet Gypsy

The past couple of weeks have been filled with highs and lows. There is the obvious high of Christmas and all that it means and brings. There was also the high of learning that I am going to be a grandfather again this summer; that was a pretty big high I have to say! There was the high of my anniversary; 27 years together with my wife on January 3. I’m certain there were other good things, highs, which are not coming to mind at the moment. Looking at that list one would think I’ve had a great couple of weeks – but that list isn’t complete. The mixed bag of lows have to be added in still.

Since my daughter was out of town until Saturday, Sunday was our anniversary, and Monday was the “official” announcement of our daughter’s first pregnancy, I felt it wasn’t appropriate to share the rest of the story until now.

Gypsy

My Sweet Gypsy

Around the beginning of December I noticed while grooming her that our oldest dog, Gypsy, had lost a lot of weight; she had dropped several pounds I could tell though I hadn’t weighed her to see the amount. Getting up in years, I figured that maybe she was having trouble with the hard-kibble she had been eating all her life so we got some canned food to supplement her diet. I hoped this would let her pick up some weight and fill back out. She did enjoy the new food, and the fact that she got it all to herself; we didn’t want to get the other two dogs spoiled onto canned food.

A week or so before Christmas Eve, Gypsy began to act “oddly” and started having trouble keeping her food down. She had a partially collapsed trachea that we had been nursing/treating for a few years that I figured was the problem. I started to feed her two smaller meals a day which seemed to help. Then on the 23rd she lost a tooth, not surprising for a dog that was almost 16 years old. But the wound wouldn’t clot to stop bleeding and her lip became inflamed, puffed out like an acorn was in her mouth almost overnight. With Christmas falling on a Friday there was nothing much we could do except wait until Monday for the veterinarian to be back in his office.

By Sunday (12/27/15) the knot had more than doubled in size and the bleeding was almost constant; she wiped persistently at her face with her paw so I knew it was irritating at the best – and probably worse. I’d seen this rapid lump growth on her before several years ago; a cancerous tumor came up on her left, rear foot that required surgery and months of high dose steroids to cure, causing her to swell to almost double her normal weight. It was pitiful to see this agile, fleet-footed dog become unable to climb up on the couch, let alone run, jump or play. I can’t tell you how relieved we were when the treatments were over and she began to go back to old self again. We decided never to put her through that again if the cancer ever came back.

Of course I didn’t want to think, let alone say, it could be another tumor; if I did it would make it a real possibility. So I rationalized it could be an infection from the tooth she had lost; I was very adamant that this was possible, both in my mind and outspokenly. Though no matter the cause I had to take her to the vet on Monday.

Monday morning as I was about to dial the vet’s office my wife stopped me; she said that we ought to give it another day to see how she was and if the pain pills she had been taking (left over from another incident) were helping. I was relieved and yet not either; I knew this was delaying the inevitable, really. I called the vet and made an appointment for Tuesday, explaining the situation; 10-30 am we were to be there. Why so early? I thought! As the day went on I realized a few things: the medicine was helping (but not a lot), the bleeding wasn’t stopping, she wasn’t eating, and this wasn’t an infection. So I spent the day just loving, petting and talking to her, preparing for Tuesday and for goodbye, really.

The news wasn’t good; the cancer had come back and was very aggressive this time. Who would’ve thought: All this time I’d been checking her foot and leg and it comes back in her jaw?!? There were options, horrible ones, which I didn’t consider for a moment, things I won’t write about and don’t want to think of. It was time for her to leave us, not for her to suffer any more. At just before 11:00 am December 29, 2015, after being my constant companion for over 15 years, Gypsy left us, resting comfortably in my arms as she had thousands of times over the years. She now rests in the backyard beside her old friend Morkie, who left us in 2010, in a coffin my son made for her; he decided she needed something special to be buried in.

Gypsy was a very special part of our family. She was my comfort and company through many pain filled, sleepless nights. She saw me through a major surgery and I her through two. A more perfect, loving, sweet pet I cannot imagine ever existing. From the ragged looking rescue pup we adopted (I remember my wife saying, “Didn’t they have an uglier one than her?” when she first laid eyes on her LOL) to the beautiful, graceful dog she grew into, she meant something more to me and my family than I can fully express in mere words. There are so many wonderful, fun memories she gave us and for that we are so grateful. But more so, we are grateful to have been her family and received her faithful love.

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After a play-session this fall

I’m thankful we took that extra day, Monday, to have spent it with her. No, it wasn’t easier nor did it hurt less Tuesday; it doesn’t hurt less a week later as I write this for that matter. But it was comforting to a degree to have that time to say goodbye to my sweet Gypsy.

Napping

Napping

End of an Era: a haibun

For many years my wife and I have been colloctors of old things. Sometimes we have had a “collection” in mind or working on, others finding old things that were just interesting to us. This hobby has been fueled the last few years as we have played with dealing in antiques and collectables, renting a space in a local antique mall. Of course to stock a space takes a lot of stuff … and space to store the needed items to rotate and re-stock the shop. I know what you’re thinking: No, we really aren’t hoarders! 🙂  But as we age and our styrength is drained by “life” the desire to collect and to resell has begun to wain and … to weigh on us. This week happened to be our community’s semi-annual sale and we decided to parse our inventory-stock and other “stuff”.  The ridding of the items, some valuable, gems, some, ah, not so much, was very freeing for us both. And we both are, I think, coming to the realization we just don’t have the time and ability to do this anymore; you might say we had an epiphany about how our lives have changed and are continuing to do so.

Young full of vigor
Surrounding selves with treasures
nary lost to age

Change upon us – did we choose 
Era ends then begins new

Linked to CDHK challenge #718 which, to me, speaks to loss and change. Take a gander and see what it says to you. 

Morkie: Tanka Tribute

It’s hard to believe
Five years since you had to leave
You’re missed every day
Thankful for the time we had
And for the memories glad

I was so upset the day I had to take my little buddy Morkie to be put to sleep I couldn’t recall the exact date; it was on March19, 2010 (I looked up the post I’d made when we lost him to know for sure). But I vividly remember the day he came into our lives – September 5, 2000. 

He had been sent to the shelter some months earlier; his owners were old folks and when one died the other went into a “home” and Morkie and his sister went to the pound. His sister was adopted but Mork wasn’t. A few days before his “time was up” one of the workers called a rescue group about an hour away and they saved him. 

At that time I was doing some volunteer website work for the rescue. During a batch of updates I came across Mork’s photo and bio and left him off the update list, opting instead to show him to my wife. His bio said he was older, seven at least, and hated men and could be a little snappy. But we liked him. 

I called the lady that ran the rescue, Theresa, and she tried to talk me out of coming to see him: he hates men, especially balding ones (should I have been hurt by that comment? LOL) and had already been adopted and returned – twice! I said we’d be there to see him in person the next day. 

It was a solid hour drive to get to the rescue and we were all excited to meet Morkie: me, my wife and two kids. Theresa met us at the door and warned us again about how he was and how she was concerned it just wasn’t going to work; I simply told her he hadn’t met the right family yet – he hadn’t met us!

We went inside and saw him cowering in a far corner; Theresa has a dozen or more cats waiting to be adopted and he looked like they’d take a swipe or three at him. I sat down about six feet from him, gently laid my cane aside – another concern she had – and reached my hand toward him. It took about two minutes before he came to me, gave me a good sniff-over, and sat right at my feet. I petted him gently, all while Theresa stood with her mouth agape in astonishment. He came home to his forever home that day. 

Morkie had a good 10 years with us, doing whatever he pleased, whenever he pleased, which wasn’t much. But he sure enjoyed plopping himself in one of our laps and being petted so that was his primary activity. 

Mork had what we think was a stroke one night around 10:00; he was a pitiful sight that long, dreadful night. I stayed up with him all night, holding, petting and talking to him. And crying because I knew it would be our last. 

In the morning I took him to the vet. There was nothing to do but let him go peacefully; he had suffered enough and wouldn’t last much longer as it was. The vet asked if I wanted to be with him when he “did it”; I didn’t even pause to think before I told him, “Of course I do, he deserves that”. Holding him, saying we would be going home soon seemed to comfort Morkie; he knew what it meant when we were out and I told him it was “time to go home”. And soon he was home again, for the last time. But not before a long, tear filled time spent in “the room” after he was gone. 

All this came rushing to my mind as I read about the newest Carpe Diem challenge “experience” last night. From seeing Morkie’s photo and bio to wrapping him for burial, he gave me quite a few experiences, running the gambit from funny to very sad. This is one of the last photos I took of Morkie; he always “chased the sun” moving about to nap in the sunshine, as he was doing here.  

 

Pondering

This past weekend my wife and I went to see the movie “American Sniper”. If you aren’t familiar with it , it’s a big-screen adaptation of the autobiography of US Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the sniper with the most confirmed kills in US military history. While my opinion on the movie is not relevant, I will say that I believe Kyle was (is) a hero.

The movie got my mind churning upon some thoughts I’ve had before, about tragic death in general and during wartime in particular. Let me say first that I love my county and have the utmost respect for those that fight and do what they do to protect us and it. But that doesn’t change the nagging thought that oftentimes haunts me whenever I learn of these tragic events.

Going with the the Haiku Horizons weekly prompt of “point” I share this with you.

They forfeit it all
Reduced to lost names, obscure
Faces – What’s the point?

A tribute to all who have given freely of themselves so we may enjoy that which we have – and too often take for granted.