This is the week I was going to write about my mother. She passed away on August 3, just about 90 days before her 90th birthday, which would have been today.
Mom was a picture of endurance and optimism, energy and strength. She was a dancer in her 70’s, a golfer in her 80’s, and a performer her entire splendid life, and oh, how she loved those theater openings. She so looked forward to every new season at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. And if you think I am outspoken or opinionated, you should have heard mom, because everyone was entitled to her opinion. But mom, this column is not about you. Sorry, you have been bumped.
You see, mom, last week, I lost my dog, and you know how I love my pets. You once said to me that “When I die, I should only live long enough to come back as one of your dogs. They live the life of royalty.” You said I should name my dog Prince or King, because that is how they lived.
Some of you have met my mom. She would come to the office every Thursday and we would take her to lunches at the Manor or the Floridian. She was at the SFGN anniversary party at J Marks. But all of you know my dog Rescue. He was at our office every day.
Rescue was born in Mexico, and was an illegal immigrant. I gave him a home when he was about to be put down for an incurable hip condition. “Gosh,” I thought, “if you put down a dog for bad hips, I hate to think what they would do to me because of my knees.” So I will have a lame dog, I thought. He can hold up my cane. Two Thanksgivings ago, I brought Rescue home, and for two years, I had a remarkably affectionate partner who was inseparable. That is a lot longer than a lot of gay relationships.
It is not just that Rescue was inseparable; he had a hard time separating the fact that I was the person and he was the dog. I had a hard time explaining to him it was my bed and my pillow, and not his. I would want to go swimming at night, but he would already be in the pool. The best was when he would go for a midnight dip, then run back upstairs to the bed and try to claim his pillow, soaking wet. He was not a practicing lawyer, but I could not open the car door in the morning without him jumping into it. Then I would have to spend about thirty seconds convincing him I am the one that is supposed to be in the driver’s seat.
Everyone knows that Goldens have a marvelous temperament, and Retrievers especially so, but I wish I could have explained to Rescue that it was not necessary to retrieve from the backyard and bring up to the bed, lizards and mice. He spent his days tracking them down. And he also taught his human a new trick. He would bring me a ball, you see, and I would throw it. And then he would bring it to me again. And I would throw it again. And again and again- until I learned to throw it just the way he wanted. Usually, that would mean getting up off the couch repeatedly, so I would retrieve the ball from under a chair where he hid it. He would test me to see if I could find it. Sometimes, that would be my whole stretching exercise for the day- reaching under a couch to find the ball Rescue would push to the most unreachable part.
This puppy had an indomitable spirit and loving disposition, and was essentially the SFGN mascot, coming to the office day after day as we put the paper together. He got along with everyone, and his job was to make sure no one left any food in the garbage cans that he did not recycle in his stomach. Last Friday, we finished an office meeting to discuss the Holiday schedule, and everyone stepped outside for some fresh air, a cigarette, or a snack. Somehow, Rescue stepped outside and into the path of a car on Dixie Highway. Just like that, moments after playfully bouncing on the couch, he was gone; taken from us in a sudden, final, traumatic instant. Two and a half years old.
It is the first time I have ever lost a pet to an accident like that. All my dogs have lived full lives. I so prided myself in teaching my partners to keep their distance from moving vehicles and passing cars; to chase baseballs instead. In the past month, we discovered Rescue had a rare eye condition as well, which could lead to early blindness. We were treating him around the clock with special meds. I have to think it was worse than we realized; that his vision was terribly impaired at that fateful moment when his life abruptly came to an end. I have to deal with the fact that I am somehow responsible, not properly watching for my partner.
I would like to ask my mom what she thought. I know she would understand, and have an explanation. Heck, I know she would even understand me writing this column about Rescue instead of her. Moms always understand what the rest of the world does not. I miss you mom. Happy 90th birthday. Happy Thanksgiving.