This and That

Musings on Being a Writer and My Life
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Dog Tales–Welcoming a Dog Into Our Home

  • July 31, 2017 2:42 am

When I think about how happy I am to have my delightful dog Sparkle in my life, I am amazed.

For a long time I resisted having a dog. First of all, I am allergic to dogs, and I feared that I would be sick all the time. Secondly, I knew that a dog would tie us down. My late husband, Dan, and I loved our freedom and being spontaneous—often deciding to take an overnight jaunt to the beach when we got up in the morning. Dogs are very social, of course, and need to be around people—especially their “parents.” I didn’t see how our lifestyle would accommodate a dog.

True confession: I really didn’t like dogs—I thought they were a nuisance and I avoided them as much as possible.  And then there was my fear of dogs, which started when I was just 3 years old. Our family had an Irish Setter—a puppy. My Mom had her hands full with my brother and sister and me—and she was expecting her fourth child. So, I’m sure she had no available time to train a rambunctious puppy. My Dad worked shift work and had a long commute, so the dog sort of trained himself. I remember playing in the backyard and the dog knocking me down and tearing the sash on my dress. (I refused to wear pants when I was little. I told my parents that “Pants is for boys.”) Shortly after that, the dog (whose name I can’t remember) went to “live at the farm.” The result of my interactions with this pet was a fear of dogs that stayed with me into adulthood.

Sparkle came to live with us after my husband’s first cancer. Seeing his transformed face when he cuddled a dog at the hospital during his recovery, I knew we had to find one I could tolerate. People suggested a French poodle, claiming that they were “hypoallergenic.” But quite frankly, I found poodles to be cloying. And I thought that they were probably high maintenance princesses. But,  mixing a poodle with another breed, results in a    delightful dog that I could tolerate.

Finding a reliable, caring dog sitter who charged a reasonable fee to keep our pet in her home when we wanted to travel or had a busy day, made having a dog easier.

With all of the obstacles to including a furry “baby” into our home overcome, we found a little Yorkie-poo puppy that we named Sparkle.

My husband adored Sparkle. I credit her with helping him to recover from his first cancer surgery, which was a brutal operation following chemotherapy and radiation. She gave him great comfort and he loved to take her out for walks several times a day. Dan trained her with love and gentleness, and she was housebroken by the time she was only 3 months old. Walking Sparkle got my late husband back into life and he even met several other “puppy daddies” every day to chat and occasionally go out for coffee. After Dan’s death, Sparkle helped me mourn my terrible loss and I know that she misses him.  I cherish Sparkle as my connection to my late husband.

I’m astonished by how much I enjoy being a dog parent. Here are a few of my insights:

 

What I learned from my Dog, Sparkle

It is easy to love an animal.

A 14 pound,  one foot tall dog can be in charge of a household!

Petting a dog is soothing and helps to deal with stress.

Taking care of a dog is a job— and is a lot like having a toddler.Daddy's Girl

Kissing a dog does not lead to a fatal attack of “dog germs” (ala Lucy in “Peanuts”).

Playing with a dog is not only fun, it is comical and relaxing.

Dogs are a great comfort when you are sick, stressed or lonely.

Dogs love to eat—all the time.

Dogs have the most pathetic way of begging for food—all the time. And it is very easy to give into them.

You can learn “doggie-talk.”  For example, I know the difference between a bark that means, “I want to go out” and “I want a treat.”

Walking a dog is a great way to get to know people.

A dog can quickly learn that if she sits just right, you will give her a treat.

Living with a dog brings new energy into your household.

It’s easy to spoil a dog.

You can give your dog a cute name, and she won’t mind.

Stuffed dogs and dog books are no substitute for the real thing.

A dog will find a place deep in your heart and, at some point, you realize how grateful you are that she is there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Always Something

  • November 20, 2015 2:33 am
Kathy Joyce Glascott

  It’s always something: Something to celebrate, something to mourn, something to regret, something to attend to. I miss my husband. Because it is always something: a phone call or three; a doctor’s appointment; walking the dog; visiting friends, laundry; cleaning; the list is endless. I do it all alone. Alone. If I need help,…

I Turned Around

  • August 30, 2014 10:20 am

 

 

I turned around and my daughter was leaving home for college. She was eighteen, a pretty, raven haired girl.

We packed her stuff (there was a lot of it) into her red car and our car, too, and drove to the Southern Tier of New York State.

Dan bought walkie-talkies so we could communicate. From time to time, he made her call me to tell me that I was driving too fast. I was aggravated then, but now this memory makes me smile.

I turned around, and it was time to say goodbye. In a cavernous dining hall in Binghamton, we embraced our lovely daughter whose tears mingled with ours.

We drove back home, a four hour trip, alternately crying and driving. Dan kept saying, “Just keep busy. It’s like a death…” I was annoyed by these words, but now I know he was right.

I turned around and my daughter was living on the other side of the continent. Our visits were happy occasions, but too far apart. Dan said, “At least she didn’t move to Alaska.”  And that was our comfort.

I turned around and she became a professor at a University and found her soul mate and life partner.

I turned around, and Dan and I left our friends and family and moved to the land of “always summer.”  We made a new life for ourselves and basked in the sunshine and warmth of friendships. Visits home were joyous and nostalgic.

I turned around and Dan was seriously ill with a life threatening disease. He recovered and we adjusted to our “new normal.”

I turned around and the unwanted visitor came to our door again. He forced his way in and sent our lives into a tailspin.

I turned around, and Dan was a man old before his time, emaciated, lying on his death bed in Hospice House. At first, he knew his life was ebbing away. There came a time when he no longer seemed to understand that, mercifully. But he clung to life like a baby to his mother. His days became a living death.

I turned around, and he was gone. And I was alone.

I turned around, and my life changed in ways I could not have foreseen.

 

 

Then Our Eyes Met…

  • July 24, 2014 2:10 am

My husband had beautiful green-brown hazel eyes. They were, other than his thick, wavy, auburn tinged brown hair, his best feature.

When he annoyed me (too many times to count), he’d look at me, eyes all innocent.

“Don’t give me those doggie eyes,” I’d say.  Then all the irritation and annoyance would disappear like a puff of smoke. (Of course there were times when his little ploy didn’t work—but that’s a different story.)

When we were first married, we lived with his widowed father whose loneliness was as real as the sky above and the ground below our feet. Living with my father-in-law meant that our lives were intertwined with the whole extended clan who lived all around us. Our first two years of marriage were played out on the family stage.

One night we had a huge argument in our bedroom, the only private place we had. I have no recollection of what the argument was about, but I do remember going to bed angry and resentful.

It was summer and I was on hiatus from my job as a teacher, but Dan had to go to work.

I don’t remember saying goodbye in the morning or if he kissed me before he left.

The day wore on, and with the perspective of time and a little distance, I began to mellow.  I knew that I wanted to make amends, but I wasn’t sure of how.  I could have called him at work (he was the boss, so it wasn’t a problem).  I could meet him at the door when he returned, and we could apologize.

Yes, there were several options all limited by the presence of Dan’s aunt and cousin who had stopped by to say hello to my father –in-law.

I was in the kitchen, getting dinner ready, when Dan unexpectedly appeared.

I looked at him, our eyes met, and suddenly I was engulfed in his teddy bear embrace.

His aunt and cousin both said “A-w-w…” at the same time.

There was no need for words—his eyes said it all.

 

I Was Thinking

  • May 7, 2014 6:51 am

 

 

“I was thinking about my mother the other day,” Lori said. Rick looked up, rattled his newspaper and stared at her.

“Yes,” he intoned.

“Well, you know that it’s getting harder and harder for her to get up and down the stairs.” Lori hesitated for a moment and then added, “And she’s lonely, too.”

Rick set the newspaper down on the table with a slight thump. “And?”

Lori hated the way that he made her feel sometimes. Like now, for instance. She felt like a child, incapable of an intelligent thought.

She stood up straight and looked him square in the eye. “I want to ask Mom to move in with us. We have the room now that the kids are on their own.” She twisted the dish towel in her hands nervously, waiting for her husband’s reply.

Rick stirred his coffee deliberately and thought for a moment. Lori’s mother was okay. She hadn’t interfered much over the years. But he knew that Mary was much more astute than her daughter, who tended to take things at face value.

Rick bit his upper lip. He and Mariel would have to more discreet.

But then again, he thought, Lori would be busy with her mother. They’d go out shopping and to lunch and movies. Things Lori didn’t usually do. It seemed that she had almost no friends and rarely went out. The only social life she had was as his wife, when she entertained important clients or went with him to those boring dinners he was obligated to attend. She seemed to enjoy those evenings though, and would dress up and gossip excitedly all the way home. And she was a superb hostess—a great cook with a flair for decorating and using clever themes.

When he thought about Lori, it seemed strange to Rick that she had so few friends.

When he met her in college, she was bubbly and loved to be around people. In fact, she had drawn him out of his shell, taking him to all sorts of parties and concerts. People were naturally drawn to Lori, like a moth to a flame. She had what they called charisma.

After they married, Lori buried herself in raising their family and eventually she had little to say that was of any consequence—at least to Rick. Maybe that’s why I strayed, he thought.  She was just boring. And he still had a slim waist and a full head of hair. He found that the Mariels of the world were plentiful and willing.

Lori rinsed the dishes and placed them in the dishwasher with a clank.

Rick smiled slyly and said, “Well, let’s do it! Your Mom’s a great old gal and it would be fun to have another person here.”

Lori was giddy with excitement as she hurried into the den to call Mom. She thought about how surprised Rick would be that her Mom’s belongings were already packed in boxes and cartons. All that remained was for the movers to come.

Lori bit her lip to stop from smiling.

What did Rick take her for, she wondered, a babe in the woods?

Wouldn’t he be surprised if he knew about the plan she and her mother had devised to deal with his flagrant series of affairs? She was amazed at how good her Mom was at using the internet. Wasn’t it shocking that you could find a poison that was virtually untraceable at a web site?

Lori and her Mom couldn’t wait to start cooking and baking all of Rick’s favorites. It would take about a month to do the job.

Lori smiled, thinking about how delighted she would be to have Mom live with her.

 

 

 

Not Just Another Day

  • February 26, 2014 7:29 am

Today was a difficult day for me because  it was the year and a half anniversary of my husband’s death.

I think of him every day and miss him all the time.

I miss holding his hand when we would drive somewhere. I miss watching TV with him, enjoying our dog, planning trips and days out, going to the movies, playing cards with friends,kissing him and hugging him, and all of the hundreds of little things that make up a relationship.

I wish I could see him just one more time. I wish I could tell him once again that I love him, and that I am happy that we had so many years together.

But that is not to be…his life here on earth ended too soon.

 

We spent over 40 years together. It wasn’t always easy. In fact, there were many times when I wondered if we would make it. But I am glad that we did. We built a life together, helped one another through the roiling waters of change and dissension, raised a lovely and successful daughter,  and grieved together.

Dan and I were quite compatible. We enjoyed similar activities–going to the beach, the aforementioned movies, and visiting with family and friends. He was my chief cheerleader–the guy who was always on my side and encouraged me. We had an equal relationship–no one was in “charge” of the other person–we both had breathing room.

 

I shed some tears todaydan and kjg. Tears of loss, regret, and anger.

 

There will be many more days like this, I know.

And as I was told in the Grief Support Group I attended, “You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you can’t go around it. You must go through grief.”

 

And that is the journey that lies ahead.

 

Picture Credit: Kathy Joyce Glascott’s private collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Being a Widow

  • November 12, 2012 6:59 am

I am a widow now that my husband passed away. I don’t like the word widow. It conjures up images of old ladies in rolled black stockings shrouded in “widow’s weeds”—black clothes hanging off their backs. Women who no longer exist, who are mere shadows of who they used to be. Women, who unlike the rest of us, know that their best days have ended.

I don’t feel that way.

Yes, I grieve. For how much Dan loved me. For my husband’s company. For his humor. For his very presence. For the joy he took in our daughter. For how much he loved his dog. I even grieve for how much he could annoy me.

It is very hard to get used to living in my house—not our house, driving my car—not our car, talking about my daughter—not our daughter. The very language of being alone takes getting used to.

I know that I present a brave face to the world. For the most part, my emotions seem under control. At times, I am sure that I seem almost clinical. I tell people that he died because there was no other option; that his health had deteriorated to such a degree that it was the only thing that could happen. His last few months were so drawn out that Dan’s life had become a living death. There was little to hope for—certainly not recovery.

When I look in the mirror, I see an intense sadness in my eyes. My days are spent listlessly doing things I have to do—taking care of all the errands that accompany a death. And there are many: the lawyer, Social Security, the bank, the retirement system, credit card companies, the DMV. Everyone needs something from me and I have no energy to do any of it.

Sometimes I would like to lie in bed, or sit in a chair and sleep until it feels better—whenever that will be.

I have to reinvent myself. Find ways to fill in the lonely evenings. Find friends to have dinner with—because the prospect of eating my evening meal alone is too painful. Come to terms with the fact that certain of my couples’ friends will no longer see me as “fitting in.”

My family and friends tell me that I am “strong.” I can show this so-called “brave” face to the world—while inside I’m an emotional mess.

Sometimes I’d like  to completely fall apart. Am I foolish to soldier on? I don’t know.

All I do know is that I feel like an enormous scoop of my soul is missing. Someone asked me recently how I was doing. I told her that it felt like I had lost my arm. She nodded and said, “Oh.” What else could she say? What else could I say?

I hope that, in time, the rawness of this pain will be dulled and I can enjoy the new life that has been thrust upon me.

I Was Thinking

  • July 1, 2011 6:53 pm

“I was thinking about my mother the other day,” Lori said. Rick looked up, rattled his newspaper and stared at her.

“Yes,” he intoned.

“Well, you know that it’s getting harder and harder for her to get up and down the stairs.” Lori hesitated for a moment and then added, “And she’s lonely, too.”

Rick set the newspaper down on the table with a slight thump. “And?”

Lori hated the way that he made her feel sometimes. Like now, for instance. She felt like a child, incapable of an intelligent thought.

She stood up straight and looked him square in the eye. “I want to ask Mom to move in with us. We have the room now that the kids are on their own.” She twisted the dish towel in her hands nervously, waiting for her husband’s reply.

He stirred his coffee deliberately and thought for a moment. Lori’s mother was okay. She hadn’t interfered much over the years. But he knew that his mother -in-law was much more astute than her daughter who tended to take things at face value. Rick bit his upper lip. He and Mariel would have to more discreet. But then again, he thought, Lori would be busy with her mother. They’d go out shopping and to lunch and movies. Things Lori didn’t usually do. It seemed that she had almost no friends and rarely went out. The only social life she had was as his wife, when she entertained important clients or went with him to those boring dinners he was obligated to attend. She  enjoyed those evenings though, and would dress up and gossip excitedly all the way home. And she was a superb hostess—a great cook with a flair for decorating and using clever themes.

When he thought about Lori, it seemed strange  that she had so few friends. When he met her in college, she was bubbly and loved to be around people. In fact, she had drawn him out of his shell, taking him to all sorts of parties and concerts. People were naturally drawn to Lori, like a moth to a flame. She had what they called charisma.

After they married, Lori buried herself in raising their family and eventually she had little to say that was of any consequence—at least to Rick. Maybe that’s why I strayed, he thought.  She was just boring.

And he still had a slim waist and a full head of hair. He found that the Mariels of the world were plentiful and willing.

Lori rinsed the dishes and placed them in the dishwasher with a clank.

Rick smiled slyly and said, “Well, let’s do it! Your Mom’s a great old gal and it would be fun to have another person here.”

Lori was giddy with excitement as she hurried to the den to call Mom. She thought about how surprised Rick would be that her Mom’s belongings were already packed in boxes and cartons. All that remained was for the movers to come.

Lori bit her lip to stop from smiling. What did Rick take her for, she wondered, a babe in the woods? Wouldn’t he be surprised if he knew about the plan she and her mother had devised to deal with his flagrant  affairs? She was amazed at how good her Mom was at using the internet. Wasn’t it shocking that you could find a poison that was virtually untraceable at a web site?

Lori and her Mom couldn’t wait to start cooking and baking all of Rick’s favorites. It would take about a month to do the job.

Lori smiled, thinking about how delighted she would be to have Mom live with her.