I had to call him over a dozen times to get him to look at me. Our poor old man is just about deaf, probably legally blind, and has a hard time eating because his teeth are very worn down. Let's just say, it's a good thing we can buy soft food for him.
He doesn't go far anymore. He might meander to the edge of the woods but he doesn't go exploring. He makes a loop around the back yard, behind the barn, and then settles at the bottom of the back porch on a small patch of grass. He likes his little world.
He barks at nothing. Maybe a leaf blowing across his limited field of vision, or as the Man says, "He's barking at leprechauns."
He is my mother-in-law's best friend. She talks to him, he talks to her, he settles right by her feet at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She always saves a little bit of food for him, making sure it's small and soft and easy for him to eat. She pours a little extra milk in her cereal just for him.
He is a well loved member of our family.We weren't supposed to have him this long. About four years ago he had a growth removed from under one of his front legs. The vet didn't give us much hope. It was attached to a nerve so they couldn't get it all. The type of growth it was had a high rate of recurrence. He gave us six months to a year with Jack.
I cried for weeks.
Every time I looked into his warm chocolate brown eyes, I cried. Every time he put his head on my lap, I cried. And every time J would lay on the floor, petting him and talking softly to him, I cried.
J has always had a special bond with Jack. They grew up together. A boy and his dog. Jack follows him everywhere. At night, when I'm ready for bed and I can't find Jack, I look in J's room. Jack is usually snuggled up there, on a warm fuzzy blanket at J's side, with J stopping to pet him every now and again.
J is my eternal optimist. When we had to break the news to the kids after Jack's surgery, J refused to believe the time limit the vet gave us. He just kept saying, "No. He'll be fine."
Four years later, Jack is still with us. And every day with him is a gift.
I'm thinking about how each day we're given is a gift, period. None of us is promised tomorrow. I get sad thinking about all the days I've squandered to nothing.
Mom came home from lunch today and told us that her sister-in-law's brother lost a seventeen year old granddaughter last week during the snowstorm we had. She slid off the road and down an embankment and didn't survive.
148,920 hours. And sleep accounts for a third of that time.
She really only got to live 99,280 hours.
Somehow seeing it like that makes a lot of things not so very important. Things that divide people, things that make people rant and rave and get up on soapboxes about. Things like which party is leading our country, or whether gas prices will stabilize, or whether the housing market will recover. Maybe it's because we're coming out of a horribly negative campaign season, but I don't really want to hear about another issue again.
Because you know what?
I don't think they are important at all. The world will still be here tomorrow. There is nothing new under the sun - Ecclesiastes tells us that. We need to stop arguing and bickering and blaming each other.
If there is anything that comes out of this tragedy, I hope it's that we learn not to take our days for granted. Not to wait for tomorrow to do something nice for someone, or to spend time with someone. Do it now. Do it today. I'm not going to let another day go by that I don't tell the Man, and J, and K how much I love them.
Because we only have today. And why would I want to spend that precious time with anyone other than the people I love?
*My 500th post. A good one, I think.