I try to be of help. Usually that comes down to walking my Sister's dog and my Mom's, when appropriate. My Sister adopted Lucy in New York City many canine years ago, say 12, and oh was she a troubled child. Now she is "an old lady" and is growing or has grown deaf, we aren't completely sure. So when I mouth, "Do you want to go out?" I use the same downward bulldozer gesture with my palm that merchants used to entice me into their stalls at the souk in Cairo. Her ears pick up and with bright eyes, she stretches her often wobbly hips and follows me to the door, toenails clicking across the kitchen's tile floor.
My Mom adopted Sweetie at the last hour of what was to be a doomed existence. Have I told you of his story before? She had worked late that evening and was looking through Petfinder while sipping a glass of sherry for a possible Golden to replace (without ever replacing) her beloved Emma. Save that instead she found a desperate plea to foster a rescue temporarily, starting that night. Without a home, without a safe place to go to, it was his last day before being put down. Tired though she was, my Mom called the number listed and was met by a kind woman who had driven up from Ohio in the night. What emerged from the car, was not a Golden but a massive pile of orange fur with big bones and Chow lion eyes that are so kind, all my Mom could do was bend down on her knee, open her arms to him and exhale, "Oh, sweetie, come here." And that was that. His loyalty is beyond measure, his gratitude too. I whisper to him that I know the truth, that he is a regal prince who was cast by a witch's spell into a dog's body. And yet there is no better place to be for he is dearly loved. When he was initially scooped up by the pound, he had been following a group of children. That says it all, I think.
I walk the dogs separately, not least because it is beneath Sweetie's dignity to "faire ses besoins" under the sniff of another animal but also because the more minutes I have to walk down the dirt road to the potholed bridge over the twinkling creek and back, the better. It is where I learn. I kick through the pebbles rolling under foot and past the skeletal remains of animals picked clean from predators - this is the countryside, after all. That day's nature comes to me. All I have to do is be moving still enough to take it in. The changes, what is new, what is leaving, what might be. All of this clicks forward the wheels in my brain and springs in my heart and somehow I come back to the big Victorian house a wiser person? Well, no. Better? That word rankles. More me in honesty. How about that?
The nights are cold and the freezing pushes the red up through the veins of the growing oaks all around. Very much of a hurrah and yet the ultimate in letting go to arrive well while perfectly on time.
The deers bathed in golden light on an open field blink back to me in agreement, the red-bellied woodpecker taps his Morse "yes" into the pines, the pin-eyed velvet fur mole chews loudly, zig-zagging through the grasses at my feet. We are right where we are supposed to be. I catch myself nodding a lot. "I am right where I am supposed to be, " I think with relief.
She Let Go
"She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of the fear. She let go of the judgments. She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head. She let go of the committee of indecision within her. She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on how to let go. She didn’t search the scriptures. She just let go. She let go of all of the memories that held her back. She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward. She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.
She didn’t promise to let go. She didn’t journal about it. She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer. She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope. She just let go.
She didn’t analyze whether she should let go. She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter. She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. She didn’t call the prayer line. She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.
No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing. Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be. A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore."
- Reverend Safir Rose
On a windy day, the smallest of leaves blow like a forethought of snow.
But all of this is a mémoire, written at another desk, with other dogs at my feet, familiar strange. In autumn, we always focus on the ending, what is lost or a bet on what can be forgotten and yet...it is always the beginning somewhere.
My Dad was a great admirer of Luciano Pavarotti's voice. For years after his passing, I couldn't listen to his arias as it made me cry but I have as of late. Perhaps it is because Toussaint is approaching but I feel like mon père might be watching over me just at present. But then again, there are many who are. I love my family.