Bright and Dark

My old dog is pacing this morning as he often does these days. He’s a thirteen year old chow mix who has arthritis in his hips IMG_8636and shoulders (not helped by the leap he took from a second story window as a young pup, or the time he went through a plate glass window in terror over fireworks on New Year’s Eve and ran like hell for miles, only limping home at four in the morning with a sheepish expression). He’s not completely deaf, but not far off.  He sometimes stops now in the middle of the room with a bewildered expression, and I know he forgot what he was doing.  Since I’m familiar with this, I tell him to go back where he started and his purpose for going to the kitchen will come back to him.

The point is, he’s old and getting really old right before my eyes. The pacing started recently, just a restless, endless circling of whatever floor we’re on. He can’t get comfortable. He has all the supplements and the painkillers and a special drug for Cushings and….well, none of it is going to keep him alive forever.

12705453_10153418938840893_4732546385600136097_nOn the other hand, I have a new granddaughter. Isn’t she the sweetest little thing? She’s a calm, thoughtful baby, unlike her sister, who was born at a full run and hasn’t slowed down since. (Much like my own boys, Ian and Miles, but maybe I’m projecting) Many of my friends are longing for grandchildren, and I know I’m blessed. I was young when my own babies were born, and here’s the payoff–I’m a young Nana, too.

Another event this month was that my old cat Athena, roughly 18 years old, suddenly went down hill and had to be put to sleep. I was astonished. Crushed. She was old, yes, but she’d been fine–until she wasn’t. And that’s how we all want to go, isn’t it?  Skinny and noisy, maybe, but still chowing down on the food and cuddling with the people we love, then–ugh, I don’t feel well. I guess I’ll die today.  If I get a choice, that’s what I choose.

But I was wrecked for a couple of days. She was my friend for a long, long time. She was the last animal lingering from the time when my children were small and I was a bustling, busy young mom. Her passing marks the passing of 12654322_998324673591455_1155556203263120998_nan era.
The circle turns, the weeks, the days, and I had one more event this month. A big one.  My older son, Ian, proposed to his girlfriend. The story is a romantic one–and he gave me permission to tell it.  My mother gave him a ring that belonged to my grandmother, and he had it remade by a jeweler whose family has been in the business in New York City for generations, into a vintage-looking beauty, using the stones and adding another (old and new).  The process took quite awhile, but finally it was ready last Thursday.  He said, “I carried it around in my pocket for a couple of days, feeling like Frodo.”

But at last, the moment came, in Washington Square park at the end of an ordinary Saturday. They’re both alums of NYU, and there in the neighborhood where they’d spend so much time, he proposed and she accepted.

And as if heaven wanted to rain down some extra joy, a news photographer happened to spot them and took this photo. Isn’t it amazing? I want to frame it.

The circle turns. Joy and sorrow, sorrow and joy, celebration and remembrance. It’s all so precious in its way, isn’t it?

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4 thoughts on “Bright and Dark

  1. aida alberto

    I have a Chow mix same age as yours but she is a female. She is suffering from arthritis also. Breaks my heart to see her struggling to stand and keep up with me. Her name is Samantha and is the best dog ever.

    • Aida, I remember that your chow and mine are close in age. It’s really a precious, challenging time, isn’t it?

  2. Debbie

    My 13 yo dog is a Sheltie, but I so identify with your thoughts & description of your dog!
    I wish he could live as long as I do, but mostly I just want to make life as easy as I can for him.
    Let him go gently.
    Like I wish someone would do for me too.

    So sorry to hear about Athena. My cats are getting old too!

    Congrats on your grandaughter, & your son’s engagement! What blessings!

    The cycle of life moves on & on……..

    • Barbara Samuel

      I’m so excited! :) Who knew this stage of life would be so full of love?

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