not in 33 years as a woman who chose to stay at home to raise her family.
That's a long time to then have your whole world change.
Oh, I've been through major changes before. Like when my first born
graduated from high school and then went away to college. I was always so
excited for him to enter each new phase in his life. I just wasn't expecting
how hard I would take it when it happened. However, I had the responsibility
of knowing there were two other boys still at home and needing my attention.
No time to sit back.
Two years later, my middle son joined his brother in Arizona to attend
his first year of college. I can still see him driving off down the road,
car crammed with everything he would need to start the next chapter in
his life. As I waved good-bye with tears in my eyes, I turned and saw my
youngest standing behind me. One more who needed my attention.
No time to sit back.
When it was time for the "baby" to leave for college, my heart broke. My
career as a full-time, stay-at-home mom had come to an end. Yes, I had
filled my life with travel always seeking new interests but I loved being
there for my boys.
There I sat, on the stairs that used to resonate with the sound of footsteps
running up and down, and my tears flowed. Until I felt the nudge of a cold
nose on my arm. I turned and saw my four-legged child standing beside me
ready, as always, to comfort me.
No time to sit back. I was not alone.
That's my Annie that you see! I can't regale you with hilarious stories about
her. I can't tell you about quirky habits. That wasn't her. But perhaps you
might understand her when I tell you how she came to live with us. Two
years had passed since our last two dogs had died at ripe old ages. The boys
were missing having a pet in the house and I was finally ready to embark
on adding to our household once more. However, there were requirements.
1. English Springer- black and white this time
2. Six months old - not wanting to go through the puppy stage
3. Female - with all that testosterone in the house I needed to bond with
4. Not a barker
After looking at breeders in our area and coming up with nothing, I was given
a name of someone in Minnesota. I called her. "Yes, I actually have a dog
that meets all those requirements! Her name is Abbey. BUT I already have
a couple that wants to come and look at her. If they don't take her, I will
let you know." Oh, sure!!! These people will fall in love and I'm going to
have to continue my search. Two nights later, as I was going to run an
errand, I thought about Abbey. Hmmmm.... I would definitely have to change
the name if she were mine. (My husband's ex-girlfriends' name. The one
before me! I think all you ladies out there understand!!) "Annie"! I could
call her "Annie"! Sounds similar and it wouldn't confuse the dog too much.
Wrapped in the darkness of the evening, starring up into the star filled sky, I
shook off the hope that it would come to fruition. Pulling into the garage on
my return home, my husband greeted me at the door. "We got a phone call!
She's ours if we want her. The other couple cancelled their visit!!"
Seriously? I couldn't believe our luck! If that isn't God's hand in this, I don't
know what is!
Such a gentle spirit you would ever meet! If you looked deep into those
dark eyes you could see the hand of God. And we were blessed to have been
the family chosen to take care of her! For me it even went one step further as
we were "attached at the hip". Any step I made... she followed. No matter
how many times I went up and down the stairs, she was right there. Working
in my studio? She sat in the oversized, comfy chair while I worked away.
Trips in the car? She would be so excited to go! And I felt comfort in looking
over my right shoulder and seeing her curled up in the back seat. I had
back surgery, and she stayed by my side... not demanding a single thing.. the
whole time I recovered. Such unconditional love and devotion I had never
She was twelve when her eyesight started to go. Those eyes that searched for
me when she woke up from a nap and I wasn't there, could no longer find me
with ease. And she would become disoriented. Bumping into walls. Getting
stuck in corners and we would have to rescue her. Guide her back to the safety
of the couch.
She still would get in the car every time we went somewhere. Still excited
to go with us even though now she needed help getting in. In October, I
celebrated my birthday with a roadtrip to go antiquing. Annie was right there
in the back seat. My dearest friend and companion. I stopped at a road stop on
the way... one of the prettier ones around... and took this photo to
commemorate our adventure.
Just looking at her, you would never know her eyesight was gone or that
her spirit was taking a toll from all the confusion. That is what made it
hard for us. We tried everything we could to make her life improve. But
bumping into walls was turning into incessant twirling in circles. Each
completed circle made her even more stressed. Putting her on the couch,
out of harm's way, didn't ease her discomfort. And I knew. I knew as much
as she didn't want to leave me... and I didn't want to leave her (after all, she
was to live forever, right??!) I had to do what was the kindest thing for her.
On December 17th, God received her back. God's precious angel had
returned once more to His fold. I was blessed to have been the one chosen
to take care of her while on earth and will be eternally grateful!
The pain at being the one left behind is unbearable at times! I know it will ease
with each passing day. And I know someday I will want another four-legged
child in my home and in my heart. But for now my house is empty. Really
and truly empty... the first time in 33 years!
I will have to relearn how to fill my days. A trip to Starbuck's for my iced
tea.... spring cleaning a closet just a bit early ..... going into my studio to see
if something triggers my creativity.... maybe even learn to like shopping for
clothes! Baby steps. One day at a time. And some time in the future it will