Saturday, November 25, 2006
Lady: ???? - 2006
"Okay, let's go before the sun sets." I set off for the southwest corner as the sun touched the tops of the oaks. He followed and we walked past the old firewood crib and through the spindly pines until we came to a faded green, crooked wooden cross set between two longleaf pines.
I scratched an outline in the sandy pinestraw covered soil on the east side of the cross.
"This is big enough, but make sure it's good and deep."
I pointed to his hips, " At least that deep."
He nodded, " Are you sure Ranger is on the other side of the cross?" He didn't want to disturb the final resting place of our best dog.
"Yes, I'm sure. I buried him." It may have been hard to see that day, but I remember where I put him.
"How long ago did Ranger die?" He was looking at the crooked cross now.
" About six years ago ..."
"Six years, I guess I'm a pretty good cross maker." He leaned on the shovel and gazed at the battered little wooden cross.
"Yes, you are." He was only nine at the time. The crudely nailed cross with the dog collar draped across it had stopped me in my tracks the first time I came across it. I had planned for just the two longleaf pines to be Ranger's monument, hoping to avoid the creation of a "pet cemetary". The kids had other ideas.
Now, here we were again.
" I'm sorry you have to do this, but I have got to leave, in fact, I'm late."
My brother and I had switched vehicles for the day so I could use his truck to bring a showpig home from Georgia. It had been a long day. I'd been on the road since 4:30 am, driven to Tifton and back and now, I had to drive halfway across the peninsula. My brother was even now leaving his house and driving towards me. I was supposed to be on the road driving towards him. We would meet in the middle.
"Are you sure you're okay with this?"
"I'm okay, I want to do this for her."
I loved him for that.
" You know she was a lucky dog. Whoever dumped her here in 1997 missed out on a very sweet dog."
She seemed old back in "97 and now, 9 years later, she had become blind, deaf, and riddled with cancer. You could actually see her winding down over the last month. I found myself torn between letting her wind down on her schedule, or letting the vet help her go. What if she was in pain? Was I being selfish?
The abdominal tumor had grown rapidly and looked painful, yet she went about her daily doggy business without any whining or sign of suffering. She was doing all her usual old dog business ... only slower.
So I waited, indecisive ...
In the end, she made the decision for me. A teary-eyed Mrs. FC found her curled up on the porch, only she wasn't there anymore. We wrapped her in the old blanket she liked to sleep on.
Now I was handing off a traditional "Dad duty" to my son and somehow it didn't feel right.
"Thank you for taking care of this."
"It's okay Dad."
I had to get on the road.
I left him in the falling light with a shovel and the blanket wrapped body of a good dog.