Happy Thanksgiving

A Happy Thanksgiving wish from Brandy and Bob.

May you all enjoy the time with family and friends.

We will be home, and I will be sure that Brandy gets special treats, even though she has no idea what this holiday means, and I can see she still misses her sister, even taking over her towel on the counter.

We will be fine, and I shall  bake a pie,

You all be well and enjoy this great holiday.

Brandy and Bob

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Memoriesville

Images,
flicker in the ether,
like scenes from
some old home movie.

Memories,
drift like gossamer,
with Saturday night lights
giving color to dreams.

Ghosts of the past,
from a place you once knew,
but can’t get back to.

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“Please Don’t Hate Me for This.”

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They came to our house on Mandan Street in the summer of 2006, two little female, Seal Point Siamese furballs with their black ears, paws, tail and mask around the face. The rest of their little bodies were covered with that cream colored fur that would darken as they grew.

The day we had to say good bye to Muffin was a hard one for Joanie. We had just come back from a trip to the clinic in Minneapolis, and went right to the vet clinic where they were holding Muffin for us. She had a severe infection that she couldn’t recover from and we had to let her go. After we got home that night, Joanie, who had, as a friend, a Siamese cat since I had met her said she didn’t think we would get another one or two. It was to hard on her, I thought.

Well, that lasted about three or four days, and she couldn’t stand coming home to an empty house, and she began searching the papers for a Siamese kitten, preferably two, since they would always have company when we would have to be gone. Her search continued daily, until one day she happened on an ad in The Forum, out of Fargo. She called me and asked if it was okay if she checked it out. She told me there were two Siamese kitties about two months old for sale in a pet store at the West Acres Mall. I told her to go right ahead. As far as I was concerned back then she could have anything she wanted.

She called my sister Jane, who lived in Fargo, to see if she could go the pet store and check them out. As luck would have it, Jane was at the mall when she called her, and she went to the pet store and was able to get a photo of the two little runts, and she sent it to Joanie. Joanie sent it to me, and I knew we were going to have two new friends at our house. She asked me if we could get them, and I just told her to make the arrangements. She did, and on Saturday of that week, we drove to Jamestown to meet Jane and her niece Jurnee, who had picked the kitties up and delivered them to us.

We didn’t have carriers with us, so the drive back to Bismarck was with two new kitties, who could not be contained. During the drive back, we named them Bailey and Brandy, and though they looked identical, we could tell them apart due to a line down the center of Brandy’s back where the hair stood up.

In the photo below, Bailey is on the left, lying down, and Brandy is the one sitting up eyeing the camera with some suspicion.
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In the following days and months, they took over our house and our hearts, and as far as Joanie was concerned that was just what the doctor ordered.

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If she was in the house, you could be sure that she was on the couch, and one or both of our new furry friends would be on the couch with her.

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Bailey was special to me too. That’s what made it so hard to make the decision I made the other day, that brought me to this point.

The night Joanie died, after all of the commotion of the Hospice folks having been there, and some friends had stopped by, I was sitting at the kitchen table, finishing a beer, smoking and making a list of calls I had to make the next morning, and other details. Brandy, had gone of to find her sleeping place for the night. Bailey, on the other hand had taken up a position at the end of the open stairwell that led to the basement, and waited for me. It was as she knew something terrible had happened that night, and the hospital bed in the living room was now empty, but she wasn’t sure why, she only knew it wasn’t good.  It was 2:00 in the morning, when I got up to go to bed, and then she moved. She was waiting to tuck me in, which she did, and then she went down to the end of the bed on the other side and laid down. She continued to do this with me for several years, so our bond was tight. Not that Brandy was ignored, because for several years, after we had left the house on Mandan Street, often times they both would join me on the bed when it was time for a nap, just as they had with Joanie. One resting on my hip, the other between my feet.

Fast forward to this summer, and many of you reading this, know that Bailey fell victim to kidney disease, and I know that I have written about it, perhaps to much for some, but that’s what I do.
Many of you, I have found, have had the same kind of experience.

The last few weeks have been the hardest, both on her and me. When I had to leave Muffin at the vet that year, and then bring Joanie back to see her to say her goodbye, I was more concerned about Joanie than I was about Muffin. That is not to say I didn’t miss her and feel badly about seeing her go, but my main concern then was Joanie.

This time, it was just me, and Bailey, and I think that’s why this hurt more.

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She had been declining, and quickly so these last few weeks, and by Tuesday afternoon, I had made the decision to take her in on Wednesday afternoon.

As I watched her frail body that morning, she laid on the counter and would drink, but not eat, and I knew I made the right decision, maybe not soon enough, but now the end was near.

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This photo taken earlier, when she would nibble a bit now and then.

From time to time I would pick her up and hold her on my lap until she would let me know that she wanted back on her counter.

I began to think of all that we had been through together, and it was making the morning tougher. By the time I put her in the carrier and prepared to leave for the clinic, I was plagued by self doubt, wondering if I was doing the right thing. Her voice, coming from the carrier as we drove, was barely audible, compared to the first time, when she complained loudly about being shut up in there on the way to the clinic.

This time her voice sounded so tiny.

I kept talking to her all the way. Why? I don’t know, but I always have talked to them both as if they could understand what the hell I was saying. On this trip it seemed more important.

When we got to the clinic and checked in, I sat with her waiting for them to call us in. She was slumped in a ball in the carrier and quiet, and I began to think about Brandy, and what she would wonder when her sister didn’t come home, and she would never see her again.

I think the two of them had been separated for a total of two days since they came to live with us in 2006, and that was when Bailey was in the hospital a couple of months ago.

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Finally they called us in. I carried her into the brightly lit, sterile examining room, and placed the carrier on the table. I opened the top so I could touch her and pet her while the Vet went over what was going to happen.

Bailey seemed to be stronger as I pet her.

When the Vet was done, I asked them for a few moments alone with Bailey, and they left the room.

I picked her up and held her, all the while talking to her as if she could understand what I was trying to say. Her eyes seemed brighter than they had for some time, and as I held her up so I could look at her face, I said, “Please don’t hate me for this.”

She looked at me, and her eyes seemed to say to me, “It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s just the closing of the circle, I’ll be okay.”

At least that’s what I wanted to believe she was saying.

I waved for the Vet’s aide, and they came back in. I put Bailey back on the table, picked up the empty carrier, scratched her head one more time and left, still wishing I could have done something more for her, but also remembering that I still had Brandy waiting at home for me.

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        Bailey, 2006-2016

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Bailey

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She rests under the covers on the bed now.
I spend some time stroking and petting her frailness,
Hoping, like with humans, physical touch eases the pain.

I look at her, and I bring her out of hiding,
to the counter where her dishes and water wait.
She takes a sip of water and a nibble of treats.

She sits on the counter, looks around, thinner,
but then jumps down to the floor and trots to the bedroom.
Looking at the bed, I raise the blanket and make a hole for her.

It seems she has no more need of me.
The darkness and warmth of the the hole I’ve made is enough.
I fear I’m losing her

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Labor Day 2016

Labor Day Weekend 2016

I wrote this  on a Labor Day weekend, a few years ago and today, on the eve of this weekend that signals the end of summer, I sit here and reflect on what those weekends meant to me. Melancholy has a way of creeping into my brain on the eve of this weekend. On this night, chances are Joanie and I would have been on the road headed for Minneapolis and St. Paul with a stop in St. Cloud at Joe and Joni’s. I read this again, and really couldn’t think of much I would change about it, so I post it again as a reflection on happier times.

Both Joanie and my youngest sister, Joni are both gone now, and I think that adds to the bittersweet remembrance that comes to me every year about this time.

A Reflection.

It was our weekend for years.

On a Thursday or Friday, we’d point the car toward I-94, bring along some cassette tapes, pick up some coffee and not look back

It was Labor Day weekend and it was ours.

Joanie wanted to go to the Renaissance Fair. I’d never been to see it, so that was the plan. I thought it would be a one time deal when it started in the early 80’s, but it went on well into the 90’s.

The trip became something special to us. We both loved Minneapolis/St. Paul, and how the pace of the life slowed down there on a holiday weekend.

We’d stop on our way down at Mabel Murphy’s in Fergus Falls, and often follow that with stopping in St. Cloud at Joe and Joni’s place. Joni was my younger sister.

After a night there, it was on to the Cities, and for years after that first trip, we would leave Joni with this, “We’ll meet you by the bear at noon.” The bear was this huge carved statue, located in an open area, not far from the main entrance to the grounds, and we would be there on Sunday.

Our Saturday’s in the Cities were spent just roaming around with no agenda. We’d look for new restaurants or bars to drop into. We’d find places like St. Anthony’s on Main where there might be live music on a plaza, and we’d park there until searching out somewhere else. In the evening, we treat ourselves to a good dinner, or find a place like Guadalaharry’s to settle in for some margaritas, food and fun with the staff.

Our Saturday nights always ended with a Bailey’s at the hotel bar.

Sunday morning, it would be bagels and coffee, and the Tribune at Byerly’s in Edina, and then it would be time to head to Shakopee and the Renaissance Fair, and the first thing we did when we got there was to get some flowers for her hair.

We would meet my sister Joni by the bear, and at least one time she brought her daughter Audrey with her. She would get flowers for her hair as well, and then we’d be off to wander the expanse of the grounds.

We came to love those Sunday’s at the Renaissance, for they were a riot of color, sound, humor, characters, music, food and drink. We loved the characters like Rat Catcher, Grave Digger, Puke and Snot, The Pickle Man. We got to know places like Folkstone Well, Bad Manor and all of the various stages around the grounds.

The food was good, the music and Joanie would spend a lot of time wandering through the various shops. We also collected a very large collection of ceramic wine goblets over the years, and I still have them. Each one has the year we got them painted on them.

We stayed each Sunday we were there until they closed, and one of the highlights we looked forward to at the close of the day was the dance. There in a large open area, they would bring out some big kettle drums, and members of the cast and crew of the fair would begin pounding out a rhythm, and soon, in the late, warm afternoon light, an unseemly sight began to take place. Cast members, vendors, customers of the fair were gathered in a circle and soon people were dancing with an abandon that was infectious. I even managed to get Joanie to join in a couple of times. It was always a feel good way to end our day at the Renaissance.

So on the eve of this Labor Day weekend, I sit here sipping some wine from one of those many Renaissance goblets, and I think back on those weekends that were ours.

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I think back on how much fun it was to go to the Fair, to get some flowers for their hair.

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