Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Sometimes my parents would take me shopping with them when they bought their contributions to the adopted families. I remember them explaining to me that we had to find something that other families would like, and we have to think about what would make them happiest and what they would need. Sometimes I was allowed to contribute an opinion on what we should buy. I would stand the bar at the bottom of the cart, clinging to the end of the cart basket as they wheeled through the store, wondering what these people were going to think when someone came over and did something nice, just because they wanted to do something nice. There was no other reason. Just to be nice.
As the years passed, the union shrunk, wages didn't go up as cost of living did, and the years of charitable giving disappeared. I'm not even sure any of my siblings were ever old enough to tag along on the deliveries before they ended all together. But I remember it. I remember looking forward to it every year. I remember feeling happy about making other people happy, and although I didn't pay too much attention when it all ended, looking back I'm a bit sad that it did.
It's had me thinking lately about what sort of example I want to be to the young people in my life. To my niece, my nephews, even Jasmine and Tori, who are pushing their way into adulthood but still young enough to be influenced by the examples around them. On the whole, I can't remember more than a handful of gifts I received when I was little. I remember ones that were especially prized, or that turned into favorite toys, and I'm more than grateful that I received them, but I'm not sure I remember any quite so vividly as I remember that woman smiling as we handed her a cane so she could get around more easily. We didn't give her just a cane, we gave her some independence, and that is priceless. We didn't just hand a bunch of wrapped packages to that mother who tried to hide her tears. We handed her a reason to smile when life might not give her too many of those. That is the example I want to set for the young people I know. That giving of yourself, your time, reaching out to touch the life of someone else, that is what is important in this world. It's through giving that we learn to receive with grace. And it makes you appreciate what you have so much more.
Next year I think I want to gather some friends and adopt a family together. I might not have the means to purchase gifts for an entire family myself, but I think that if I gathered a lot of friends and family together, we could change someone's life a little bit, if even just for one day. It takes a village, after all.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Basically, all I'm saying is that thank you notes are usually crap.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
All in all, he's been a great dog. He loved to play fetch in his younger days. He also used to find his own wrapped Christmas gifts under the tree and unwrap them, but only when given permission to do so, and he never touched any other gift under the tree but his own. He learned to open the treat bucket and help himself when the occasion suited him. He never had any accidents in the house prior to becoming a decrepit old man, and he loves the humans in his life. Particularly Jason.
Now he's old. Not like, a little old, but fucking old. His hearing went a few years ago, and from there things have been a bit down hill. He started losing bladder control, necessitating the use of doggie diapers. He began to poop in the house, mostly because he couldn't get up to let us know he needed outside. And sometimes it was in his sleep so....I'm not even sure he knew it was going on. We invested in a personal rug shampooer specifically to handle Simon messes. He's been battling arthritis since before we bought the house, and it seems to be getting worse as time goes. Some days his back legs don't seem to want to work at all. He's pretty smelly most of the time, partially due to the diapers, but partially due to the fact that baths are pretty traumatic for him these days. He can't stand in the tub, and he cries the whole time we have him in there as if he doesn't realize why we're putting him through this kind of torture. And then there are the times when he just barks. Like a metronome. For no reason. Just sitting, and barking. It's maddening. All in all, taking care of him has become more and more challenging with each passing week, but then there are days when he's able to wander up to one of us for affection, or the nights when Jason scratches his ears before bed and he looks like nothing in this world will ever make him happier than having Jason pet him, and I think "Yeah. Ok. I'm in for as long as you are, pal".
The reason I'm bringing this up is because today I was scrolling Twitter and saw this:
I thought to myself "Yes, that's sort of what it's about, isn't it?". Simon, for the majority of his life, has given us everything he had. He's loved us fiercely. He's been excited to see us come home. He's been there for a hug when we're upset, or for some entertainment when we're in need of a laugh. He's protected us, and in our absence he has guarded our home. He has been around for the major life changes. Getting married. Buying a house. And now, he's a very old man. He's not going to be around forever. His frame gets thinner with each passing day, and his legs get stiffer. He hears nothing. He barks like crazy and it makes us insane. But in 16 years, what has he ever asked of us? He's wanted food, and affection. That's it. He's given so much more to us than we have had to give to him, and maybe he was just paying it forward. Maybe now it's our turn to give back. Maybe love is about taking a dog for a walk in a wheelchair because his legs don't work anymore, simply because that is what love is. It's enduring, and unconditional, and if it were us in that position, Simon would give us everything he could.
Does that mean I don't have days when I think "I wish I had the courage to put you down", or that I don't want to look at him and pull an Austin Powers "WHY WON'T YOU DIE?!" when he's barked all day, pooped on the carpet a few times, and leaked out of his diaper? No. Not at all. I have those days, more frequently than I'd like to admit, but then I watch the doggie smile appear as Jason scratches his ears and I think it again. "Yeah. Ok. I'm in for as long as you are, pal".
Others might not understand it. I've heard more than a my share of criticisms about how we need to just kill him. One person outright said they dream of kicking him down the stairs when they're at home alone with him. People who don't have to take care of him bitch about how we should just get rid of him. These are people who don't see. They don't know. They haven't been there the whole time. They never saw how much love he gave back when he could. We owe him. We pay it back. Even on the days when we wish we didn't have to. That's what love is. It endures. It is unconditional.
Yeah. Ok. I'm in for as long as you are, pal.