Moments of importance come disguised as life. Memories are the distilled essence of these moments. How we let these memories affect us is up to us.
We have decided to adopt a cat. An older cat that has been left alone and spends her days crying in her room for the people passing by to pay her a visit. It works, but she needs a home with people. We must wait until a few procedural things are completed but it once finished, she’s coming home to live with us.
The thought of adopting a 9-year-old cat causes me some worry. It will not be too far off before, after assuredly becoming emotionally attached, we will be saying good bye.
Years ago, as a young boy, I woke early to watch my weekly dose of cartoons while everyone else slept, my usual routine for Saturday morning. It also included the consumption of at least one bowl of cereal with at least 3 spoonfuls of sugar more than my mother would’ve allowed had she supervised its preparation.
This morning, my father was already up; not especially unusual but less usual than normal than my routine. I ventured out to the garage where he made the noises of being engaged in some activity.
I opened the door from the kitchen to the garage. Dad had our family Sheppard mix, Sham, on a leash. The garage door was opened and the truck with camper backed up to it. He was guiding the dog to the open door of the camper. The dog wagged his tail at my appearance. Dad didn’t seemed as pleased to be discovered.
Sham had been around for as long as I could remember. So had dad. But I didn’t recall ever seeing them spend one-on-one time together and especially not on an early Saturday morning.
I asked him what he was doing and he told me that he needed to take the dog somewhere.
I didn’t quite understand. But I requested to come along. He agreed with a command of “as long as you don’t cry”. I thought it an odd condition.
He loaded the dog into the camper. I requested to ride in the back with the dog. He agreed. I realized sometime during that ride what the nature of this task was to be. We were taking Sham to the pound.
I hugged Sham tight. I cried. I felt the dog already knew the reality of the situation but held stoic for me. He had always protected us kids like that. He gave my face a lick. I normally didn’t like it, but it was ok this time.
I wiped my eyes and made sure not to cry when the truck came to a stop. I do not remember going in but I remember riding home in the cab. No words were shared during the drive. Nor tears.
The truck pulled in the drive and my father placed it in park and set the parking brake. “Don’t tell anyone,” he said.
I immediately told my sisters when they got up. And the secret, that I can’t imagine would ever been able to be kept, ended. As time moved forwarded, the explanation of Sham being sick became the reason. The secret drive in the morning, the easiest way to deal with young hearts that wouldn’t understand.
I remember a few things of Sham. I remember feeding him nightly. I had to open the cans of dog food and fill his bowl of water from the tap. I remember sitting on the front lawn and lying against him. I remember his eye brows of light colored fur. It gave the impression of always smiling, happy to see me and my sisters. And I remember hugging him that day in the camper.
Whenever I think of getting a pet, it’s that last thought that always makes he hold back. I heard it said once that a pet is a heartache waiting to happen.
But like all things in life, if we hide from all the possible pain, we’ll miss life.
Despite the way my relationship with Sham ended, I’m looking forward to welcoming Lady Pipkin Marigold to the Jensen household. I’ll worry about how it ends when it does. In the meantime I’ll enjoy the purrs in between.