Monday, December 24, 2012

Sheba the Christmas Shepherd

I used to clean my neighbors home.  I was new to the area and wanted something to do outside of my own home.  My neighbor, a beautiful woman, worked very hard at her job and had little time for cleaning.  She had a cleaning lady although one day was talking about the areas she wished could be improved.  I offered to clean her home.  I really liked it, as I would walk over in my slippers, unlock her door, put on my IPOD to some rock-n-roll and just clean.  To me, it was like I was getting paid for a fun workout!

One day, in the winter, I was jamming away, dancing around and cleaning when it was time to clean the exterior of her sliding glass doors.  I went outside.  It was a cold, cold day, but sunny.  I wondered if the Windex would freeze right when it was sprayed on the window.  I had taken off my IPOD and I heard a sad wailing.  I could tell it was an animal and it sounded hurt.  The sound seemed to come from the river. 

Each winter, when the temperatures drop, the top of the river freezes over.  The water still flows beneath the river, although the top forms an icy crust.  I walked across her back yard and stared.  Sure enough there was an animal walking and crying in the center of the river.  I went down to the dock and started making kissing sounds, calling to the animal.  The animal started walking toward the dock.  Once the animal was about 30 feet from the dock, I could tell it was some sort of dog.  But, it looked strange.  In the distance I could see it's face did not look normal, and it must have been just a pup.  I kept calling and calling but the animal seemed frightened and stayed on the ice.  I went inside and called animal control. 

A few minutes later a Sheriff arrived, as in our small town, animal control is the Sheriff.  He came in and walked out onto the porch with me.  I explained the situation and we caught sight of the pup whimpering and wailing walking along the center of the river.  It was a scary situation, because the ice was not solid and there were little melting puddles within the ice that was very thin.  The animal could have fallen through and I was beside myself.  The Sheriff indicated that there was nothing that could be done, as the dog started running up the center of the river and it was too dangerous.  No human would consider doing such a foolish thing, going out onto the ice, they would surely fall through.  I thanked the Sheriff as he left and continued to clean, the whole time listening for the poor pup.

At the end of my shift, I poked my head out of her sliding glass door, to hear another neighbor calling to it.  I walked down to the dock again, this time to see a neighbor downstream, kneeling at his dock holding out a hot-dog.  The pup was back and crying on the ice, walking slowly in but  stopping about 20 feet away from the dock.  Then it started running up towards my direction and ran past me on the ice.  This time, I had a chance to see it closer and realized it was a German Shepherd puppy.  It's eyes where white, because it was blind.  A blind dog, stranded on the ice.  My heart just tugged, but still there seemed nothing we could do.  I went back to my house.

For two days all of us who lived on the river, listened to the poor baby crying on the ice.  We all talked on the phone, we all left food out on the docks, we all called to it.  It seemed like a helpless situation, and it caused us much anxiety to hear the wailing in the middle of the night, knowing this pup was on its second day there, with no food and bone chilling temperatures.

My hubby had been on the road for work.  But, he spent time on the phone with me as I told him about this dog and how heartbreaking the cries in the night were.  On Christmas Eve, my husband was due back home.  Once he arrived, he asked have I heard any news on the dog?  I shook my head 'no' as the last time I heard it, was the night before.  I was sure the dog had perished.  Just as I said this, we both heard a wail.  I jumped up and said that is the dog!  Next thing I know, my hubby was out the back door.  I ran to the porch after him.  Yelling for him not to do anything crazy and to be careful.  He disappeared through the archway which lead to the river.  I stayed on the porch completely frightened for him.  Time began to pass and I heard nothing.  Not my hubby or the dog was making a sound.  When suddenly, in the darkness of the sunset, my husband's silhouette appeared beneath the archway, with a bundle in his arms.  My heart leapt!  He carried into the house the dog who now had now been on the ice for three days. 

The dog, we called her Sheba, was a puppy of 6 months.  She was completely blind.  Around her neck was a nylon cord that had been broken or chewed.  Her nose was hot and she was barely hanging onto life.  We fed her milk and water through a dropper.  We kept her warm.  We took care of her until a vet was willing to see her a couple days later.  They put her on an IV and was not sure if she would make it.  She had an infection from the cold temperatures.  But, Sheba pulled through within the week.  We knew we couldn't keep her there on the river, so we were going to take her to an animal sanctuary in another state.  Before we had the chance, the vet found a wonderful home for her up in the hills.  A home where they raised German Shepherds, with acres for them to run, all fenced off.  It was like a dream.  On every Christmas Eve, I think about Sheba, and of course my hero, my hubby.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I Just Called to Say I Love You

Our family recently got through the one-year anniversary of my husband's passing.  On the day, my son and I wrote little notes to him and then burned them.  We blew the ashes out into the wind.  It was our way of sending him the thoughts in our hearts.  Later, we were talking about other ways that we still talk to my hubby.  My son told me he calls his cell phone and leaves messages on his voicemail. 

After my hubby passed away, I could not bring myself to cancel his cell phone service.  So, I pay for his line every month.  I had already played his voicemail greeting and recorded it on a hand-held recorder, just so I could have the sound of his voice stored, but still, I want to be able to call him.  So, his cell phone account is still active. 

While discussing this with my child, he told me he calls his line often and on particularly difficult days, he may call more than once.  Then, he told me that he even texts him.  I asked how often he texts his step-dad and he says about once a day. 

To which I responded, "There's just a slight problem with that, your Dad doesn't have texting on that line.  No wonder my phone bill has been so high... :)"

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Big Hill

I'm a list maker.  I always have been.  I save all my tablets of lists from over the years so that my grandchildren could read about all the mundane things a person did, back in the old days.  When my family was young, I made lists for shopping, homework and chores.  When my hubby had his trucking company, I made lists of repairs and maintenance, lists for taxes.  I think my hubby liked this in me.  I made the lists so he didn't have to.  If there was something he was forgetting, he could always look at my list - or the 'honey do' list that I made for him :)

When my hubby was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis, my list making really went into action.  This is where my expertise kicked into gear.  I made lists for medication, bathing, food, topics to bring up to the doctor.  Lot's of stuff to list!  When my hubby was on hospice, I made more lists having to do with the end of his life.  Some where things I knew that I would need to do, other lists I took dictation from him.  Call so-and-so.  This is what I want for you and the children, ect...

I started doing this a long time ago, because I had trouble sleeping.  I would toss and turn and think of the things that I thought needed to be done.  I realized that writing things down eased these feelings and would help me sleep better.  I also felt that it was my way of taking care of others.  To know what was expected of me and what needed to be done.

After my hubby passed away, I made a list of 5 small things that were actually huge.  They were some of the biggest things, I knew in my heart I needed to do.  Some of the items had to do with finances, others had to do with the children, another healing.  This list, for once, I didn't write down.  It stayed in my head and I tossed and turned many-a-night.  These were such large things to me, that one could simply give up due to the overwhelming feeling and sometimes I really wanted to.  The things on the list were also connected to my life with my darling husband.  A way to make him proud of me, if that is possible.  So, I couldn't walk away from this list.

Today, I completed that list.  I should feel proud and in some ways I do.  I actually think the list has got me through this last year.  It gave me a reason to go on.  Now, I have finished it.  I climbed a big hill and now am sitting on top of it, feeling not proud, but sad.  I never thought of what I would do after climbing the big hill.  I guess I will sit here and ponder it for a while.