“We seem to have reached the age where life stops giving us things and starts taking them away. “ – Dean Charles Stanforth (Jim Broadbent) – Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
We had to put our dog, Sophie, to sleep yesterday. Within two weeks she went from old but spry to riddled with infection and cancer. It was a bit of a shock but I think we all knew that her time would be coming soon. I honestly didn’t expect so soon and certainly not so sudden. The one thing that makes it easier for me to handle is that once she started feeling bad, things moved quickly and she didn’t suffer long. My wife and I were there at the end and it was one of the hardest things I have ever been a part of. When she knew we were there you could see in her eyes that although she was in pain, she wanted nothing more than to go home. We spent some time with her at the vet’s office before we had to let her go and I hope that our presence in some way helped to ease her passing. Even a day removed from the event the memory of watching the life slip out of her body chokes me up a bit although I know we made the best choice for her. She was as much of member of our family as any of the human members and her passing has left a hole in all of our hearts.
2011 has been a year of goodbyes for us. My grandfather passed away from long term illness earlier in the year and that was an exceptionally hard loss. Henry Ray Dorton, or Papa, as all of the grand-children and great grandchildren called him, was a huge figure in my life. He is second only to my own father went it comes to men whom have shaped my views on what it takes to be a good person, father, and friend. Papa was a man who cared deeply for family and would give anything it took to take care of the people in his life. He was a man who loved working with his hands and the earth but who also carried himself with a quiet intelligence. Papa was one of those people who always did the right thing but never cared to brag about it. He was the type of person that inspired other people to do their best and when he said he was proud of you you knew he meant it. Most of all, however, Papa was a man who knew how to laugh. Of all the memories I will carry of my grandfather, the one thing that will always be a part of me is his sense of humor. Papa was always looking to make someone laugh. There is no doubt a good sense of humor is one of the greatest gifts he ever gave me.
I remember going with him, my parents, and my uncle to a reunion of sorts for people who used to be in the Boy Scout troop he lead when my uncle was a boy. At some point during the event everyone was sitting around in a circle telling stories from the past when my grandfather stood up and dropped his pants in front of everyone. Little did we know, but he had been walking around all day with his old Boy Scout shorts on under his pants. He thought it would be quite a good joke to show everyone he could still wear them by dropping his slacks at an unexpected moment. It was a great moment and one that I think encapsulates my grandfather’s view of the world. He taught me not to take things so seriously. I think his view was that there is enough seriousness to be had in life as it is so have some fun while you can. I have uncountable stories like that and I am very glad I have those memories to pass on to my daughter.
Death has always been a tricky thing for me. I don’t feel I grieve the way other people do. I have never been one to dwell on the sad part of death. I remember those who have passed but I never seem to feel that deep sadness and loss that other people feel. Everyone grieves in their own way and I suppose my way is stoic acceptance. Nevertheless, I miss my grandfather and my dog deeply. I know death is an inevitable part of life but I still wish for that one more day. I’d like the chance to make my grandfather laugh like he once made me laugh. I wish I could go hiking one more time with Sophie. She loved to be out there just walking in the woods.
Now that I think about it, both of them did. If there is such thing as a life after death I’d like to think maybe Papa would find Sophie and that they would go for a long walk in a bright, green wood.
Yeah, I think that’d be alright.