Years ago I bought the two plastic bowls with the wooden holder at a craft sale. Our dog, Gucci, was no sophisticated breed so fancy feeding dishes would have seemed out of place. These were in keeping with her pedigree. The bowls couldn’t tip, wouldn’t break and the size was right.
Having to remove those dishes from the kitchen after Gucci died was incredibly sad. It was visible proof that she was truly gone from our lives, and a poignant reminder that even animals leave behind remnants of their time on earth.
Our adult son, Michael, also had a dog, Dempsey, and when Michael came home to visit, so did his dog and those bowls gained a new owner. When Michael and Dempsey left after a visit, the bowls were stored downstairs until the next time. And then last July there were no more next times. How complex, the relationship between human and canine, and remarkable how a dog can bring out the finest in people. And no matter how long the pet’s life, it’s never long enough.
Last month the bowls came out of storage as Augustus D visited for the first time. It’s humorous and a bit taxing to transition from a perfectly trained dog to one just learning social etiquette. Gus, as he’s more often called, unless he’s being disciplined, is a bundle of energy and optimism. He’s certain every visitor is there just for him, and he’s determined no visitor leave without abundant gestures of hospitality. That can mean a display of tricks, a few dog kisses, or abounding enthusiasm in jumping up and running around.
Even with a house full of company, including a baby and two high-speed four-year-olds, there were no mishaps. A couple of close calls to be sure, but Gus outdid himself and he’s welcome back anytime. Once again the dog dishes are in use, and the pitter-patter of four feet is a very good sound.
When Terry and I married in April of 1971, there were no thoughts about the relationship not lasting. It’s easy to become rather smug about a marriage that survives babies and three teenagers going through various stages of puberty, and job changes, and deaths of parents, and the myriad events that make up that marriage. And then you see couples exchange vows years after you and some of those marriages don’t last and then the smugness turns to humble gratitude.
No magic formula can guarantee the outcome. Two people can marry with everything going for them, but somehow it doesn’t go far enough and the marriage ends. Others marry with the deck seemingly stacked against them, and they celebrate 50 grand years together.
My husband and I have few words of wisdom to share about marital longevity. You have to want it, you have to work at it, and it’s advantageous to surround yourself with people and circumstances that help fortify your commitment to each other. Sometimes you have to remind yourself why you married the person, and how much better your life is with that person.
We’re delighted to celebrate 39 years together. Three children, two sons-in-law, three grandchildren, and a new granddog are wonderful blessings to mark the occasion. Tomorrow makes no guarantees so we’ll give thanks for those in our lives today. And for each other.