Archive for Thursday, July 17, 2008

Friends lost and newfound

Dad’s soft heart makes him hero at home

July 17, 2008

You could guarantee you'd see Sandy about once a month at our door for more prescription diet for "Willie the Wildcat.'' You see Willie had a plumbing problem down there and needed a special diet to keep him from plugging up. Sandy would (politely) call in advance of her visit to make sure we had it in stock and for us to set the bag aside so she could pick it up on Saturday morning, her day off.

Sandy was a charming single mom of grown-up children but had the knack of harboring a few cats or dogs. The pets beat the boredom, and I'm sure were ample comfort for this loyal Kansas State alumni. Oh, did I mention K-State, Sandy had K-State football season tickets, so we saw her on Friday evening in the fall. Nonetheless, as with many of my beloved clients, I got to know Sandy nearly as a close friend.

This last winter, Sandy's health began to fail, and we started to miss her visits as she was hospitalized and became homebound by spells. But, on an occasion, I had the privilege to get a call from her or have her drop by. I would always carry her bag of prescription diet out to her car for her. This tradition was one I learned from my father and his brothers, who would carry the bags of groceries out to client's cars after a purchase at uncle's corner grocery store in Emporia.

Sandy's children, I believe, talked her into purchasing a new puppy at this time to keep her company at home while she convalesced. Ozzy, a male Yorkshire terrier came into her life with the energy of a Kansas thunderstorm. As terriers go, Ozzy lived on his own agenda, not Sandy's. On the occasional visit to vaccinate and de-worm Ozzy, I would hear Sandy's exasperations of how much energy it took her just to entertain him. Like many folks who get a puppy for all the wrong reasons, I could discern this love affair might not last.

Sandy's health began to deteriorate, and one day out of the blue, her daughter stopped by. Unbeknownst to me, Sandy had lost her battle with cancer. I was at a loss. Her daughter mustered up the courage to come in that day to ask if I could help place little Ozz" in a good home. I thought for a moment and said, "I'll take him. It just so happens I have a little girl, my only daughter, who has been begging her mother and me for a Yorkie. I'm sure 'Ozzy' will have the run of the place."

I could see a teardrop form at the corners of the daughter's eyes. She went back to her mother's home, gathered up one little ball of Yorkshire fur and his box of toys and personal effects, and then, dropped him in my arms. My heart said "yes'' but my practical mind asked "What are you doing, doc?"

I called my daughter immediately to convey the good news that we would have a new member of the family. She was elated and said she couldn't wait until I got home. That night, Ozzy got a new name, "Brock" and never hit the ground, as he hung to my daughter's arms, wrapped tight up around.

I truly felt Sandy's spirit in the room and what a smile she displayed. I smiled back. Who said dad's couldn't be heroes? It just takes the right moment.

Oh, Brock has not been a perfect little angel, but he has fit in just fine around the farm. Minnie, our rat terrier has roughed him up a few times and put him in his place. Suzie, the border collie, just tolerates him and does her best to avoid him. But, Brock has a home on the range, and his former master can rest in peace.

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