In my twenties I lived in a rundown quadruplex. I was broke as were the three other tenants. The rent was cheap as was the quality of the apartment. One night while sitting outside with one of the neighbors, we had a conversation about possessions and our lack of them. The conversation then turned to my neighbor’s grandmother. He told me his grandmother spent her final days in a nursing home. She was only allowed a minimal amount of possessions. Everything she treasured fit in a shoebox. What she filled her shoebox with were photos of family and the people she loved, a few trinkets and her beloved chocolat. (Insert French accent here)
These days as my mother slips into her final days, I wonder at the difference between her and my friend’s grandmother. My mother was born in the thirties to a middle class family living in a third world country. They became middle class by scrimping and saving. After marrying my father, they were also thrifty with their money on an income that would qualify at just above the poverty level.
My mother turned out to be a thrifty and clean hoarder. She collects things like the plastic tubs margarine comes in, empty boxes a package came in and other useless items. She thinks someday they will come in handy. When I tried to get her to get rid of these things she fought hard to keep them. For whatever reason, these are the things she finds hard to let go of. Now the time has come where she has to downsize. She too will find herself in a nursing home where she will be able to keep only a few possessions. I am not sure she can bring herself to do it. Ridding her life of these possessions, I am sure has played a part in her hesitation to move.
I have been thinking about my shoebox. With the advancements in technology, I would only need my cell phone or a small tablet in my shoebox to look at dozens of photos. There are a few things that I have kept from the departed. Right now they are in a storage box that would fit under my bed. I treasure the little things people give me, a gift from the heart that makes me smile when I look at it. I will add ashes from my departed dogs. Someday I would like to have the ashes made into a glass trinket. I have no immediate family, no husband and no kids, only dogs. My box will look alot like my friend’s grandmothers. It will have a few tokens, a few photos, lots of smiles, lots of tears and a whole lot of chocolat.
There is a lot of debate surrounding what happens to our precious pets after they pass. Conservative Christians do not believe animals have souls therefore they can’t possibly enter into heaven. Most Scientists on the other hand do not believe in the whole concept of heaven so why would they much less humans go anywhere after death. As a Christian and a dog owner. I believe there is a heaven and I don’t want to go to a place where dogs won’t be allowed.
Many dog owners celebrated what was falsely reported as Pope Francis stating all dogs go to heaven. After all, the current Pope took the name of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals and gardens. I’m not Catholic but I know St. Francis’ story. I pray to St. Francis every morning to look after my dogs when I go to work. I pray for their comfort and safety that I can’t provide while I am gone. I even have a St. Francis statute in my Memorial garden dedicated to my passed cats and dog.
It was another Pope; several years ago that stated something similar to all dogs go to heaven. The story is told that the Pope was comforting a child who had just lost his dog. I can testify, those words are extremely comforting when you have lost your best pal. A friend of mine told me the same thing when we were talking about losing my very first dog. I felt instantly comforted. It truly eased my pain to think of my dog in the best of hands, cancer free and happy.
Dogs are the closest thing to angels we have here on earth. Whether or not you are a believer, if you have owned a dog, you have been loved unconditionally. I have been forgiven, I have been loved and my dogs have comforted me. I have also laughed, played and learned compassion, patience and tolerance, all with my dogs. I don’t want to spend the afterlife without the companionship of a dog. When I think of a dog that has led a tortured life or been killed in a shelter, I hope they finally find peace and comfort in heaven.
For those of us who believe all dogs go to heaven, I hope we are right. I can’t wat to see you again Snickers.
In the last three years my mother has lost her son and her husband. She has gone from a woman with purpose to a depressed woman who wants nothing more than to join her son and husband in the afterlife.
Before you jump on the bandwagon and decide to agree with my critics, let me explain some things. My parents were not affectionate people. There were never any hugs given, no long talks about life and how to cope, no excursions together, no working on projects together and certainly no I love you’s. We coexisted and I was expected to figure out life’s mysteries on my own. I did. I got an education, worked to gain some skills and then moved on, two thousand miles away from home. It was not easy but I made it. Eventually, I managed to make a pretty good life for myself.
Now my mother has in home care peppered with visits to the hospital. She refuses to move in with me or with any other family member. She also refuses to move into an assisted living facility. She believes the government should be taking care of her. I explained to her that is not what our government does. She spat out that it was the responsibility of family to take care of her. I told her I would not quit my job and move back. I have established a life here and I have a career.
As my grandparents aged, I watched as my parents communicated with them but never went to see them. When they died, they attended their funerals but there were no visits in between. Yet somehow, I am expected to make frequent visits home even though it costs me a substantial amount of money to make the trip.
I do have one supporter in my corner, my Aunt. She is senior to my mother by five years. She does not understand why her sister does the things she does. She also tells me to live my life and that she and her sister have lived theirs. Often she reminds me I have done everything I can possibly do for my mother.
What my mother wants is to die. I can’t say I blame her. At her age, she has lost the two people who gave her purpose. I hope she finds peace her on earth. Then maybe her number will come up. Feel free to judge me but don’t be offended if I don’t react to your judgment of me.
You probably gave a good chunk of your time this past week to work. You may even be a workaholic. I put my 40 hours in every week and sometimes more. I am not one of those that enjoys overtime. The extra money is nice but I would rather have the time. The clock just keeps on ticking taking me seconds closer to the end of my time. Money won’t but me more time.
If you spent your weekend obsessing about work, I have news for you. No one cares about how much time you put in over the weekend reading emails, obsessing over that looming deadline or the plans you are making for your next week. No one notices. All that time you wasted this weekend plotting and planning will not be rewarded. Does it really make you more effective to be obsessed about work? I don’t believe it does. You need to be a well-rounded person, one with a clear mind. You will burn out quickly and resent your job if you spend every waking moment thinking or doing for work.
These days I see parents planning their entire weekends around spending time with their kids. This is extremely foreign to me. My parents never spent time with me as a child. I wonder if I would have turned out differently if my parents had shown some interest in who I was. Strong family units are the backbone of America. Even though I believe it is incredibly healthy for parents and children to spend time together as a family. You still need your ‘you’ time.
Take some time every weekend and recharge those batteries. You will never regret taking care of yourself. Someday the end will come for you. Will you wish you spent more time working or will you wish you spent more time with the people who matter the most to you? Will you wish you hit everything on that bucket list or will you be happy your danced your dance and ran your race?
You are no good to anyone if you are not taking care of yourself. The stress will eventually seep through, destroying your health and killing your mood. It is not always easy to find that time to escape and work on you but it has to be done.
Then the time has come. The moment I must walk out that door and leave them, for hours.
My heart tugs at me, beckoning me to stay. They don’t cry or make a production of my going. It is my sense of the transience of time that makes me want to go back.
I am being pulled in a million different directions. I have to go to work. We need food, shelter and basic comforts. Work needs me. There are so many things that need to be done. It always insists I give it more and more of my time. I am a fixer of things. I amthe one that rights the wrongs for many people. I do what is asked of me and I give all I have, my mind, my time and my presence. I love what I do but I love my life more.
I realize I have created a phobic reaction for myself every time I walk out that door. So many things can happen while I am gone. I worry about the loneliness, the solitude and the inevitable happening while I am gone. As much as I dread the moment when my dogs will leave my life. I want to be the one that is with them when they go. I want to hold them and comfort them, whispering my adorations into their ear as they slowly cross to the other side.
On my way home my thoughts are not filled with the vast tasks I left undone or the ones I never had a chance to get to. No, those tasks will still be there tomorrow. They will be there for the next person who takes my place when I finally leave my job. There will never be a day when my work will be done.
My thoughts are on the expressions of unconditional love I will receive when I walk in the door. In the minds of my dogs, their long-lost friend has returned. They greet me with joyful barking, running around in circles, and literally jumping for joy. No person can make anyone feel that special. We spend time together outside regardless of the weather. We play, we enjoy each others company and then it is time again to get ready for the next day. I just hope that it is enough and their hearts are filled with the love I try to return.