Friday, October 29, 2010
A Fine Whiskey Called Ted
For some reason, I've been thinking a lot about Ted lately. For those who don't know from my past entries on Ted, he was my golden retriever/yellow lab mix dog I had as a youth. He came into my life as a abandoned stray about one year of age and had previously been shot in the rear hip. I never knew if he had been shot because he was supposed to be a hunting dog and was gun shy (as has been known to happen) or if his being gun shy was a result of being shot but whatever the case, he was man's best friend or in my case, boy's best friend instead of a hunting dog.
As a result of his emergence into my thoughts recently and my daughter's love of me telling her stories, I have been telling her stories of Ted which only bring up more memories. She loves them and it has helped me broach the subjects of sickness, death and heaven, things that she has been experiencing lately in the form of her favorite godmother who has been in the hospital and on life support for the last two months. Up until recently, we thought death was the eventual outcome and thus I have been preparing my daughter but she has now shown tremendous improvement in the last week and so maybe my daughter's knowledge of death can remain just a story associated with Ted for now.
Although Ted died in the spring due to complications from medicine he took to alleviate the arthritis pains from being shot as a puppy, I mostly remember him in the fall when the weather is like it has been, sunny and cool. Being Halloween is almost upon us and pumpkins are everywhere, they also remind me of one of my favorite pictures of Ted in the photo at the top of this post. On that day, we were harvesting pumpkins on a sunny but cold and breezy day and Ted being the smart dog that he was, chose to remain in the old farm pickup where the sun radiating in through the windows had it nice and toasty. There he napped on one of the pumpkins that was laying in the seat for some reason I can no longer remember.
Perhaps the memory of Ted which I liken to a fine whiskey that gets better and smoother with age, has been caused by my own physical ailments. Like Ted, I was injured in my youth and as a result have a bum knee that is some years better than others. After a several years of normalcy, it has been plaguing me off and on this year. Also like Ted, there are medicines which take away the pain but are not good for long term use. Ted lost his life when his medicine eventually destroyed his liver. I'm hoping that isn't the way I depart this world but if it were, I would understand. Giving that medicine to Ted I knew it would eventually get him in the end but it turned seven years full of pain and suffering into seven good years free to do whatever he wanted. In human years that is like 49 years. If I live the next 49 years pain free and able to do whatever I want, I will be a happy camper when I cash out my chips.
Ted has been dead now for almost 20 years now and still it feels like last week. I'm sure if I thought about it hard enough I could even smell him and sense his head between my hands as I gave him a good scratch behind the ears. I was fortunate that I had the opportunity to say goodbye to him as he lay out in the green spring grass slowly dying but still thumping his tail in appreciation and looking up at me with his eyes. When he died an hour later, we buried him 40 yards away at the base of an old tree where I visit him now and then. There is no marker but I don't mind. I have the memory and after nearly 20 years of mellowing in the barrel of my mind, it is as smooth as ever. There was no finer dog.