Two days ago, my parents celebrated their 25th anniversary, a significant milestone for two people who, except for several twists of fate, would not be together.
They met at a Little league field where mommy's youngest was playing. Papa was the league president. She noticed him before he saw her. She was still married but had been going through the motions and staying together for the kids for years. Papa lived alone in a studio apartment with absolutely no plans for a relationship
If a couple is meant to be, then life finds a way of putting them together. My parents started as friends. Friendships between men and women either stagnate or continue to grow. My parents thankfully graduated from friendship to a relationship, to courtship to betrothment.
They were married on June 19th, 1994, when the country was amid OJ fever. The bachelor and bachelorette parties were interrupted by the high-speed chase. The athlete turned killer was so on the minds of the guests that it was half expected that the Juice would come running down the aisle cradling a football was they exchanged vows.
Papa had always had a dog when he was young. The landlord at the studio apartment did not allow pets, so Papa had not owned one for years. He swore when he owned property; he would get a dog. But my mom still having three kids in the house was cautious.
They compromised on a cat named Gizmo. He made it clear, after several bites and scratches that he preferred to be left alone in the bathroom closet where he nestled on the towels on a high shelf. When an unsuspecting family member opened the door, Gizmo would leap at their faces with claws extended.
Mommy's daughter moved back home with her dog, Jake, when her husband was stationed in Saudi Arabia, Gizmo did not like Jake invading his home and retreated to the closest. When Gizmo came out, he began eating plastic bags and continued this odd behavior even after Jake returned home. My parents figured it was a nervous tic that would pass. It didn't.
The following spring my parents were at the mall. They stopped by a pet shop. There were dozens of dogs on display. Mommy pointed to one and said, “now that’s the kind of dog that I want, a nice little lap dog.”
Daddy saw an opening, and he was going to drive through it. He took Mommy to his Aunt Bev’s who had a Lhasa apso. She told my mom how easy it was to take care of a dog. Of course, she was lying, but she loved her nephew and knew he wanted a dog.
That night Daddy searched the Boston Globe classified, found Shih Tzu puppies, and made an appointment to see them the next day. That morning they drove an hour to Newport to sit by the water and read the papers, because that is the kind of thing people did before the Internet, and then drove to Dartmouth, where they met a litter of happy little Shih Tzus. One ran up to mommy and begged to be picked up. Mommy fell in love, and a new chapter of my parents' lives began.
They named the dog Blake and Mommy, who had not wanted a dog, quickly fell in love. She was off for the summer. She and Blake spent every second together. Suddenly our mom was a dog person.
Surprisingly Gizmo took to Blake, and they became best friends. After all, Blake hadn't made him live with a big, black, smelly dog for a whole summer. Gizmo added attacking people as they came down the stairs to his repertoire.
Gizmo continued to eat plastic, which was hidden from him.
In September of 2000. On the last day before their son went to college, their first grandchild was born. After he went to school, mommy was left work, a dog, an empty nest, and a freaky cat.
Three weeks after brother went to college Gizmo snuck downstairs and ate an entire large trash bag. My parents found him in acute distress. They rushed Gizmo to the vet, but there was too much damage, and Gizmo went to the Bridge.
Do not be sad. For six weeks earlier, to the north, a dog was born. Small of stature but big on attitude some said this would be the one to lead them all. She was created for just one human. The dog and the human had to wait for the fates to bring them together, and part of that fate was Gizmo’s passing.
My father found another ad in the Globe classifieds. On a Thursday afternoon after work, they drove two hours north to a farm. The owner was an older woman - a deaf-mute. Her daughter helped with the transactions. My litter mates and I were playing in a big field. I saw the woman and knew she was meant for me. I ran to her and nearly jumped in her arms. She was not getting away. From that day on we were peas and carrots.
Luckily Blake took to me right away. We were best friends from the minute I stepped into her house. With our parents, we went for long walks through the paths at the State Hospital. We chased squirrels and any other vermin. We even greeted some of the patients who had outdoor privileges. They loved seeing us. One of them asked if they could have a lick and my parents said yes. He proceeded to pick me up and lick me. That was not a pleasant walk. After a snowstorm, we tramped through the snow up to my necks.
Starting the day I came home there it was the best year of their lives.
Besides living with two dogs and laughing at my antics, this is what happened in the 365 days since I arrived in my forever home.
Every other weekend and more during the baseball season my parents drove four hours each way to New York City to either pick up or drop off their son or watch him play baseball leaving them bleary-eyed for days.
Three days a week was reserved for babysitting. They did not mind, but it was tiring.
Mommy struggled with her empty nest (from which Blake and I benefited.)
In this summer they had to leave me and driveway out of northwestern New York where their son was playing baseball.
Blake began to have seizures and was diagnosed with cancer.
9/11 happened, and they knew people who had lost family members and friends. It took them four hours to contact their son in New York. He had slept through the attack.
People became scared of their mail after anthrax was sent via post.
Blake, two weeks after 9/11 went to the Bridge. With the entire country worried about terrorism, it was hard for them to mourn her passing publically.
You may wonder why it was the best year of their lives
It was because they survived it. Marriage isn’t going from good time to good time; it’s learning how to weather the hard time, which my parents did admirably, albeit, thanks to one special little dog.
Having survived that year, my parents learned they could survive anything. Life has thrown a lot of beanballs at them since then, but they have learned how to duck.
Are you a trip hazard? Have your parents ever tripped over you? How often? Did anyone get injured
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