Dog Love

“Life begins when the kids are gone and the dog dies.”

I remember seeing that quote on a bumper sticker years ago.  At the time I had three small children and one large Rhodesian Ridgeback named Kali.  I lived in a state of low-level overwhelm most of the time although I’m not sure I was in touch with it.   I remember laughing knowingly at the bumper sticker, my then cynical (and overwhelmed) self pining for a time when I would have more freedom from both kids and dog.  Well the kids grew up and moved out (I miss them all) and at age twelve the dog died.  I miss her too.  I wish I could have been more present more of the time for them all.

Luckily (or maybe it’s not luck at all) my relationships with my kids have shifted in delightful ways as they have taken on more and more responsibility for their own lives.  They are exciting and fascinating people. We remain connected and sometimes, if they are around (and they let me), I can still find ways to actively support and nurture them.  This usually involves food, cheerleading, the occasional shopping trip and always an attentive ear.

At the same time I have missed having a dog around.  Occasionally David and I discuss the merits of having a dog (a fluffy golden doodle perhaps–soooo cute!) but we both really know that we don’t want to be tied down at this point in our lives.  So when I get to spend a few days with Sam’s dog, Deacon…

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…it makes dog-loving heart sing.  Deacon is a beagle/basset hound mix.  He’s goofy and sweet and spent half of last night nestled in bed between me and David.  OK, he was really on top of David.  Kali was never very well trained and she was kind of an aloof dog.  Sam has trained Deacon very well, and he has that “glad to be part of the team” rescue dog personality.  I adore him, and I’m very grateful that Sam brings him along when he comes to visit.  I had some fun yesterday snapping photos:

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On the couch…oops!

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This close-up is my favorite:

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Thanks Deacon, for bringing your delicious dog energy into my house.  You rock.

This and That

I had a busy few days because all three of my children were home.  My daughter needed some R & R and she arrived on Wednesday.  Her brothers drove down separately, (Sam on Wednesday and Michael on Friday) to visit.  It was a weekend full of chatter, reconnecting, lots of good eating (that lemon pound cake got polished off!) and a special cameo appearance by my granddog, Deacon.

Anne posing with Deacon:

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Sam posing with Deacon:

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And yes, the power beard is real.  Am I the only one thinking about the Popeye comics?

Michael wasn’t here yet but he would not have posed with Deacon and respectfully requested that I not take pictures of him.  OK, I can do that.  But I love having dog energy and exuberance in the house.  Reminds me why I love dogs and don’t want to own one again 🙂

Hanging around with grown-up kids is for the most part a lot of fun.  Some highlights of the weekend included:

1) Watching Deacon bark at our fake owl with the spin-around head in the yard.  Apparently he is the only creature to be bothered by Mr. Owl as far as we know.  He’s pretty scary..

 

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2) Anne taking over in the kitchen to make the rice pilaf for our steak dinner.

Here it is (on day 3 now. Oops!)

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Trust me, it was yummy.

3) Shopping for yarn with Anne so I can finally make her something.

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As you can see I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this gorgeous yarn.  Fingers crossed that it will fit!

4) Talking psychology, philosophy and spirituality with Michael.  I introduced him to my psychotherapy god, Irvin Yalom.  Can’t wait to talk with him about the books I lent him.  Would love to have a photo (of Mike, not the books) but sigh, alas, no.

5) Watching “Frozen” with David and Anne.  I know I’m a little late to the party on this one.  LET IT GOOOOO!

6) Being hit with a horrendous bout of laryngitis on Saturday.  I literally could. not. talk.  (and I still can’t). Universe speaking anyone?  Clearly it was time for me to listen.

Everyone left yesterday and except for the bummer of the laryngitis David and I had a chill Sunday with a morning hike, him working in the woodshop and me catching up on paperwork and knitting.  And then I had a big urge to bake so I made this:

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That’s the smitten kitchen summer strawberry cake (thanks Anne for the recommendation)–gluten-free version!  A sweet way to end a sweet weekend.

Hope yours was something special too.

Loving on Sam

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My son, Sam is 22 today.  And I want to dedicate this post to him.

I don’t have a lot of photos of Sam on my computer but this one is a favorite of mine. It was taken about two years ago and I love it because it shows all that is uniquely wonderful about Sam- his tenderness, his toughness, his joy in the moment.  And in the image I see the dog I didn’t want him to have, the tattoo I didn’t want him to get and the patio chair where I wished he wasn’t smoking cigars.  His spirit and audacity, his willingness and determination to live life on his own terms is all captured here.  It hasn’t always been easy to be a part of his journey but he has taught me so much-about autonomy and respect, about non-judgmental parenting and about unconditional loving.

Sam is larger than life and he was that way when he was very young.  Energetic, independent and so very loving.  Sam is the youngest of my three children and he had the unenviable task of differentiating himself from his older brother and sister.  There was a specialness in Sam that I could always see, from his hyper-intelligence and perceptiveness to his incredible loyalty and kind-heartedness.  I have always hoped that he would come to know and value these things in himself and as he grows and matures and his world expands I feel optimistic that he will.

I am so grateful to Sam for hanging in with me as I struggled to let him go.  I know there were many times when my anxiety made him feel like I didn’t trust him.  What I needed to trust was not that things would be perfect (of course they won’t) but that Sam could handle the ups and downs and successes and failures in his own life.  He has asked me repeatedly to speak plainly, set boundaries and be honest.  I have worked hard to do all those things although at times I can still struggle. He has helped me to be a better mother and a better person.

So Sam, thank you for all the amazing you bring to my life.  And Happy, Happy, 22nd Birthday.