Monday, November 20, 2023

On Life, Labs, and a Lodestar

My husband travels a lot in his job, though not as much worldwide since COVID changed the dynamics of meetings (there are still those calls from the Australia facility at weird hours but they're a great bunch and I don't mind). But he is still often away from home, and Lorelei Lab and I have our own routine, especially during winter. After coffee is brewing and I'm showered and dressed, she gets playtime in the yard or a walk, once it's light out. After work, evenings are quiet, with a few chats with friends on the phone or the computer, and a cup of tea while she sets up watch by the back door, hoping, against hope, that "Dad" will come home early.

Last night she was expecting him, but work extended his trip another week so it was only with a little coaxing that she left her position by the back door and came and laid by my side with a huge sigh.  But God willing, he will be home.  
We get to expect such things, the sound of a car in a driveway, perhaps the phone call from a child or grandchild that they too made it home safely with the giant load of clean laundry they did at your house, or most of the contents of your wallet. But I only have to look at a flag carefully folded into a triangle on the mantle next to three spent rounds, and a couple of small wooden boxes with a dog toy on the top to be reminded, that getting home is never a guarantee.

It makes me cherish what times we have, all of us, my female friends who run the gamut from a beautiful blond with long blue-tipped hair to an author/equestrian who crafts her creativity from a small homestead out west to an African American minister who grew up in the inner city. All completely different women, but all alike in what we have overcome; the fears we have vanquished, and all having lost too suddenly, and with little warning, someone we loved, that sharp edge of horizon that suddenly vanished like an illusion.

The young don't seem to comprehend such moments, not the youth of childhood which knows no pauses and introspections, the world one large play station, but the "youth" that when I was a child, I would have considered "ancient". That time of life when you are busy with your own young children, jobs, parents, subdivision turf wars, and the constant undercurrent of needing to be liked, acknowledged, clicked on, hit on, and validated by people that 30 years from now you won't even remember the names of.
Don't miss it. At all. Especially those moments of boredom, of bone-searing weariness from wearing four hats, of dissatisfactions that could be relieved by only the rashness of staying out too late, having one shot too many, giving up a job or a relationship, like a bird leaving the safety of a comfortable perch for no other reason than you "felt like it". Only years and more than one empty bottle of regret put such days in their perspective.

You wake up one day, to an empty bed, a silent phone, and a cold house, and it's as if you'd suddenly heard a whisper, a soft cryptic uttering that cuts deeper than any rogue tool in your shop can, one of your mortality.  But instead of being something to fear, it's a way to savor your day, whatever it brings. It may bring a day of doing little or doing a lot, but it doesn't matter. What matters is the little scratching made on paper, of fingers on a keyboard, of a clear undistanced voice across the phone from another soul who needs your support, your wisdom, your ear, as they count their own days.
I had a meeting with my tax guy, getting ready for this coming year, and as always, he lifted an eyebrow at my 15-year-old truck and said, “You still live there”, noting the address in an old working-class village in the city. Like always, I didn’t say anything but smiled, and he said, “You know, you’re a millionaire, you could live anywhere?”  I just shake my head. I’m happy here in my fixer-upper with my elderly Veteran neighbors, writing a check any dang time I feel like it to support an animal shelter or the less fortunate, no desire in the world to live in one of those overtaxed, glass-walled, neat and orderly homes that blot out the sky, as cozy as a dental lab.

 No thanks. I smile and pour another cup of good coffee, drinking it not because of a pounding head of a late night, but because it simply makes me feel right with the world.  I look out an old window, the aged glass, milky with frost, coalescing a view that is as old as time, a sound, a whisper, murmuring from outside of time, a time as old as an ancient tree, the smell of the forest here in the middle of a city. A view as old as a hundred years ago, or maybe only ten. 
On the worn rug, lies an old yellow dog, her head on her dad’s slipper, left underneath a table. Her comfy dog bed is disregarded, it's not the most comfortable setting but one in which she is secure, knowing that he will come home, living unaware that it’s so very fleeting, that time that waits for us all, as inescapable as lodestar. 

Outside stands a hundred-year-old spruce tree, one of what used to be more than half a dozen, reduced to just two due to blight, age, and storms.  It has survived, it endures; it has its inevictable part in the memory of this place even when it too is felled.

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Welcome to The Book of Barkley and the Blogville dog blogging community. This blog was created for more memories of Barkley as well as updates on our Lab Rescues that have joined our household since Barkley left us.

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