When the time comes to say good-bye

When the time comes to say good-bye

As I sit down to write what could be called a eulogy, the sun is pouring in through the window. I like to think this is Konan telling me, It’s ok, Mom. I’m ok.

Before my husband took him to the vet tonight, he took this photo of us. I think you can see in his eyes he knew he was about to cross the Rainbow Bridge. In my heart, I knew it, too. Earlier in the day, I made sure to spend some time with him, petting him, and I even sang to him. I tried not to cry, because as the mom, you don’t want your baby to feel or pick up on your sadness. You want them to think everything is ok.

Knowing the end is near and that it is for the best doesn’t make saying good-bye any easier. Reading texts from my husband as I sat in Dairy Queen, sharing a funnel cake and ice cream with our toddler who doesn’t understand he won’t see Konan again, I tried not to cry again. I felt bad I couldn’t be there for my husband (who also had to be there at my cat’s side a few years ago when we said good-bye) and for my dog. For the jerk that Konan had become to some people, he clearly loved and seemed protective of Cub (likely why he was a jerk to others), and Cub wasn’t intimidated or bothered at all by his 100 pound dog.

The universe has a way of coming full circle. Many people know the story of Konan: when he was young, ruptured his ACLs, required surgery, it was expensive, we fundraised to help us cover the costs because my husband was in school, and from that experience, Doug created The Konan Koalition to help other families cover the cost of expensive surgeries.

And tonight we found ourselves facing the very decision many families we helped (or couldn’t help) had to face…our now old dog had ruptured the suctures from his surgery, had an infection in his leg, and is beginning to show signs of dementia. It would cost a couple thousand to fix. We could try meds and physio, also expensive, and no guarantee that would work. The irony wasn’t lost on either of us as we texted back and forth until we agreed, “This was it.”

Konan joined our family because my husband wanted a dog, and yet he became my dog. I fondly remember him shitting on a yoga mat as I talked on the phone to my boss, unable to get him outside. We enjoyed many play dates at Sutherland Beach dog park. My first cat, Patches, tolerated and played with him a bit, but not to the extent our second cat, Jeremy, did. Jeremy loved that dog, and we often joked Jeremy thought he, too, was a dog, because he always wanted to rough house with Konan. All three of our kids loved Konan, and he never showed anything but love back.

Konan scared the shit out of many a friend and foe, partly because he was a big dog with a big bark. We admit he became a bit of a jerk by the end in his old age. But to us, he was a big lug with a big heart who grumbled when you tried to cuddle with him. I’m certain he’s in doggie heaven with Patches, chasing her as she hisses and swats at him. He’s running joyously and pain-free through water (though not too much), chasing and eating sticks as big as fence posts, hopping around like a goof with other dogs.

Thank you to everyone who over the years has supported The Konan Koalition and the SPCA, which is where we brought Konan home from. Thank you also to the U of S small animal clinic for all their kindness and compassion over the years (when Konan used to go for physio, he was a memorable guy!). From all the comments I’ve read so far, our silly mutt touched a lot of people, and that makes me feel good. Until we meet again…

Soft hands: a grandmother’s touch

Yesterday my son and I came home after a three-day visit at my parents’ house.

It’s always bittersweet when we leave. I’m happy to return to my husband, animals, and our home and routine. But we always have so much fun. It’s clear my son loves his grandparents, especially Grandma.

It’s probably at least in part because she willingly takes him outside 6 times in a day if he asks and traipses up and down the street pulling his sled because he only likes it on flat surfaces (once he likes something, he really, really likes it). Or it might be because she goes up and down the stairs with him umpteen times! Or because she’ll always get down on the floor and play with him at his level.

Either way, it’s clear he’s going to have years of fond memories, much like I do from growing up with a grandmother near by.

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My mom’s mom lived about an hour from us, and my dad’s mom died when I was quite young, so my memories are mostly with a lovely woman who lived in our small town. At some point, Mrs. Fletcher became my grandmother.

We often spent summer holidays with them, travelling across the province to see the sites here. More than once we went fishing up north at Cowan Lake. I remember a particularly rainy vacation at maybe Green Lake? We stayed in the cabin and played cards and pick up sticks.

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We regularly went over to the Fletchers’ house. My parents and they would play cards. I would play their piano, watch TV, play with empty Toffifee containers and those little ceramic animals. Those little things stuck with me so much that when I saw those little animals at a flea market the summer before Cub was born, I just had to buy them. Even though he’s still far too young to play with them.

Mrs. Fletcher made awesome chicken noodle soup with thick noodles. She always made me tea and had cookies for me to eat. And she had the softest, plump hands.

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She died of cancer just after I started my first year of university. We all felt so fortunate that she was able to see and attend my high school graduation since we knew she wouldn’t see other milestones. I don’t have many regrets in life, but I do have one around her: when she was sick, she asked if I could come over and help hand out candy to any trick or treaters who came. Afterward, she gave me $10, likely just to be kind and compensate me for my time. To this day, I feel guilty that I took it. No doubt as a grade 12 student, I dashed off to hang out with my friends. But I hope she knows that my friends or a volleyball tournament or really anything weren’t more important than her.

I’m not sure I believe in heaven, but it’s a nice thought to think she somehow sees me, Cub, and my mom. And even though there’s no blood connection, every time I hold my son’s hand and stroke it, I think of her, because he has the same, incredibly soft, plump hands. I like to think they are from her. She was family, after all.

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I could go on and on about the memories I have of her, some big, some small, all great. She was just always there, kind of like my mom with Cub (and me growing up, too). It makes my heart warm to know he will one day grow up with all these wonderful memories, too: some big, some small, hopefully all great.

We measure wealth in more ways than just money

My husband (APB) reminded me of this last night when I was stressing about money.

As I was eating a late night meal (breastfeeding leaves me famished) and crying over anger at myself for being so frustrated with our dogs earlier that day, he listed all of the reasons we are rich, and none of them had to do with our bank account.

So today, as we celebrate being married six years, I also celebrate how far we have come together. We’ve come from almost nothing, and just like anyone else, we’ve had tough times, but we’ve weathered them together and come out the other end, still mostly smiling.

My 6th anniversary gift to APB: wood in honour of 6 years. It's a carving we bought on our 1st vacation together. The cats broke the mirror in it, so I replaced that with a photo of our family.

My 6th anniversary gift to APB: wood in honour of 6 years. It’s a carving we bought on our 1st vacation together. The cats broke the mirror in it, so I replaced that with a photo of our family.

In six years of marriage and nine years together, we’ve gained, in no particular order:

  • moving from a tiny shoebox we rented to purchasing a condo, a house, and now likely our forever home. Our home is beautiful in a small community like I always wanted and on a quiet street like APB always wanted;
  • two dogs and two cats that I/we love even when they drive me/us crazy;
  • two vehicles to get us where we need to be;
  • careers we both enjoy and that enable us to live the lives we want (which means I get to spend a lot of time with our son, which is what I always wanted);
  • family who love us and is about to ger bigger (no, not pregnant! A marriage that will add some lovely people into the mix!). I’ve personally gained two beautiful stepchildren and together we have a beautiful baby;
  • good friends whom we can lean on and laugh with.
  • Most importantly, we have each other. And in this past year as parents together, I’ve seen how supportive APB can truly be. He was a fiercely protective advocate for us in the first few days in hospital after Cub’s birth and that has continued.

On our wedding day, September 12, 2009. It was a gorgeous sunny day, just like today.

On our wedding day, September 12, 2009. It was a gorgeous sunny day, just like today.

Money is important, but it isn’t everything. Happy anniversary to APB who may never smile (although look! he is in the picture above!), but I know he loves us more than anything and would do anything to make us happy. This is proven by the fact we have two cats.

 

 

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