Sunday, July 21, 2013

Lessons of life

Over the past decade, I have not only become a "Senior Citizen" and a septuagenarian but intuitively I sense that I may be a more sensitive person than I was in years past.  The very fact that I put that observation on the public table here is probably evidence in itself.  I'm not sure whether it's a good thing or just an inevitable reaction to aging, but it clearly is an observation that those close to me might have seen even before I did — at least one would hope so.  That sensitivity was brought home in a poignant way this weekend as we lost a very close and dear companion.

On Easter weekend of 1998, an emaciated and tick-ridden puppy wandered into our lives.  Only a few months old, she staggered into our carport and decided that was the place she would die.  Doris and I were not ready to introduce a dog into our world, but neither were we willing to ignore the needs of an animal in distress.  To make a long story short, we nursed her, nurtured her and ultimately fell in love with her.   Little did we anticipate that her choice would become reality or the pain that her departure would leave in our hearts.

She was a pure-bred Portuguese Water Dog, a rare breed in the U.S. and not the sort of dog that people generally abandon on a lonely country road.  We named her Pasha, after the high born Turkish rulers of the Ottoman era.  It is impossible to describe the disposition of this remarkable creature.  She embodied all of the positive and lovable traits that one might put on a wish list.  It is claimed that dogs do not "love",  but this one most certainly did and it was contagious.  We were a family that traveled often in those early years and Pasha went everywhere with us.  A more congenial and obedient dog has never been born.  To avoid submitting her to the unpleasantness of a dog kennel, we purchased a motorhome and it became our mobile kennel on many trips across the country—including five 416th Bomb Group reunions.  About five years ago, Pasha became the big sister to a bundle of dynamite that we named Ghazi.  She handled the task well.  When Doris and I went to Ireland a few years ago, our dear friend Norrie Rawdon came all the way from Texas to sit with Pasha and Ghazi at our home in Missouri.  Few dogs have had life better, but even fewer dogs have given so much in return.

Pasha was nearly 16 years old when she passed away quietly at home in the arms of those she loved and who loved her beyond measure in return.  She is interred near the base of a vibrant pear tree here at the place she chose to die.  We are ever so grateful she made that choice and for the many years that we had with her between then and now.  Her life was more than an appendage to our own, it was a lesson that we needed to absorb in our own lives.  I believe that has been the case and we will remember her always with gratitude for it.