When I was a little girl I had a rat terrier named Snooper and, even tho this photo isn't of him, it looks an awful lot like the way I remember him. You have to keep in mind that this was 47 years ago so my memory might be just a wee bit foggy. What a great dog he was! Rat terriers are very smart dogs and Snooper was no exception. When my older brothers were at school my mom never had to worry if Snooper and I went out in the yard to play together. If I'd get too close to the street, Snooper would jump up on me and push me back onto the grass. His only bad habit, so to speak, was chasing cars. We lived across the street from the only Catholic church in my small hometown and on one fateful Sunday, Snooper chased one car too many that parked along the street and went off to Doggie Heaven. Oh, I was one broken-hearted little girl!!
Three months ago my Dad suffered a devastating stroke. He's in a care center for the rest of his life now. I go to visit with him a couple times a week. I know most of us think "EEeeek! A rest home! How awful and depressing!" Well, maybe for some -- but not my Dad. For one thing, he's always been a 'people person' and liked being the center of attention. His personality in his later years used to be so strong and, at times, OBNOXIOUS that he'd be the center of attention, all right...but not always in a good way, to put it mildly. If there can be a blessing in something like a stroke, in my Dad's case it's made him into the sweetest-tempered, most easy-going, happy-go-lucky guy in the world. It's amazing, the transformation. The staff there loves him. The other residents get a kick out of him. My younger brother and I stand and scratch out heads and marvel. We don't know where our "old Dad" went but we're sure happy with the guy who's taken his place!
My Dad has a Boston Terrier named Penny. Penny is 10 years old and a great ol' girl. She lives at home with my Dad's wife Millie. Well, since having his stroke, my Dad believes that Penny is living at the foot of his bed. Anything bad happens, it's Penny's fault. Food disappears, Penny ate it. But only the bottom half of her lives there...somewhere along the way, her front half got disconnected! When my brother and I visited him together a week ago, Dad told us he'd taken a drive to Loughlin, Nevada, that morning. We asked him why he'd driven down there and he said, "Well, I took Penny down to the UNLV Veterinary School there. They have the best school in the country." When we asked why he took Penny there he looked at us like we were two of the dumbest people on earth! "Why, to see if they can put her back together!" he huffed. He said, "It was the funniest thing I ever saw. Kristine (that would be ME who's never been to Nevada in her life) was walking down the street with Penny's two halves. The back end was on one leash and the front end was on the other. You should've seen the front end of Penny try to balance on her two front feet!" By that time, Eric and I are in hysterics and Dad's chuckling for all he's worth. Well, my Dear Hubby and I went to visit Dad yesterday. I asked him if the folks at UNLV ever managed to put Penny back together and he said "Nope. She's not here right now but I have her family here," and he patted the bed next to him. "Her family? But she never had pups, Dad." "Oh yes she did!" he tells us, looking over at my Dear Hubby and telling him, "It's a modern miracle! Penny gave herself her own C-section and popped out 4 puppies! Blew herself right apart!" Dear Hubby couldn't handle it...he was laughing so hard he was literally down on his haunches on the floor, clutching his sides. He and I were laughing so loudly one of the nurses came in to see what was so funny! When we told her she just smiled, shook her head, and said, "Oh, Victor!" The thing is, my Dad realizes he's saying something funny and I think he's just as amazed at what comes out of his mouth as we are....he was laughing right along with us! I told him, "Dad, if anyone's feeling sad or blue, all they need to do is come see you!"
Even in the middle of a tragedy there can be laughter. My Dad sleeps a lot. I ask him what he dreams about and he tells me "Back when you and your brothers were little kids." I dream a lot about those years, too...the happy years we had as a family. But, blessedly, Dad doesn't seem to remember the bad years. He thinks my mom is still alive. He's happy and at peace. And you know, so am I now. I have my Daddy back and what can be bad or sad about that? Love you, Dad.