even though by the time you read this, it will already be Monday.
Friday had the potential to totally suck rocks but gratefully it got better. Started off having to wake at 0'Dark:30 because the furnace man was coming to work in the rental unit. Yours truly needed to be awake to let him in. So I was, a half hour before he arrived. I thought a half hour was respectable enough for me to not look like I just rolled out of bed. However it was cold and my hoodie and pajama pants didn't help. I totally looked “go college.”
furnace man shows up and seems to be a decent enough guy, minimal small talk, gets right to work. As I am leading him down to the turn-of-the-century basement, mom calls my cell...
Yes, I'm up.
No, I'm up...really.
I'm not 19 anymore...I'm responsible.
He's right here next to me, want to talk to him?
Furnace guy: Can you go and turn the thermostat as high as it will go?
I'm on it.
No mom, that was the furnace guy.
Bad news...go ahead.
and then she hit me with it...
My dog had passed on. Maybe passed on is not the right way to describe it, cause my dad had to put him down. But mom said, “we lost Buster...” as if he was misplaced. For a moment, I really hoped he had ran out of the house and was on the lamb, but deep down I knew what she meant. A 14 year-old bassett hound does not run away from a fireplace, two hots a day and probably as many walks, especially not when he has someone who loves him as much as my dad did.
There was more small talk between my mother and I, not that I can recall what was said, but, we exchanged good byes. I hung up and for a second sat down and just wished the fucking furnace man could be done. I wanted a few seconds alone. Maybe not to wail and gnash my teeth but, if I did want to do that, it would be ok.
he came upstairs about 15 minutes later, handed me a bill and then started with the small talk again. Asking if, “I had grown up in this area?” I told him he had and he name dropped some names on me. Names from my childhood and early adolescents. Names of kids who used to beat the shit out of me and torment me just for fun. Three brothers, two legit, one adopted, all mostly assholes. One is a cop, the other owns his own landscaping business and the third..well he just looks like a full-time prick. Driving around in his Mercedes convertible, trying to not let his thinning hair and bald spot show.
I didn't regale furnace man with tales of times gone by. I wanted him to go so I could be alone and start my day. He left. I took some time to think about my dog. I cried. I'm not above admitting it. There are certain bonds when created it takes a death to end them. My bond with Buster was good but not as strong as his bond with my father. For whatever reason my parents don't really associate with a whole lot of people. Not to say they're shut-ins or snobs but they still work a great deal and volunteer, so their free time is limited and often they just want alone time, much like myself.
My dad would get up every morning and go to the bathroom, take his pills and feed Buster. After Buster ate there was a quick walk and then dad and Buster would hop in the car. They would drive off the island to Tim Horton's where my dad would get a coffee and donut combo. The coffee for my dad, the donut for Buster. From what both my parents tell me, Buster was quite a hit at the drive-thru and usually he was salivating just waiting to pull into the window.
My dad grew up an only child, in a cold house, not to say he was not loved, but communication was not a strong suit of either my paternal grandparents. Grandad ha seen some shit in WWII and afterward, worked for the FBI for a short time. My grandmother, armed with a high school education, worked as a nurse for about a hundred years. After retiring, she donated about two thousand gallons of blood and did hospice visits or something or other. My dad had a good child hood, like me he was a fat kid, but I'm sure he wanted for nothing. He grew up with three or four great friends, two of which he is still in contact with and occasionally sees. Buster however, was a constant. Always around, always looking to see what my dad was up to...where he was going...and if there might be a treat involved.
The last two dogs my family has had have been bassetts. Rosebud, Busters predecessor, died early, we think she ate some rat poison and hemorrhaged to death cause our local vet was, “too busy” to take her. Buster on the other hand lived to be fourteen and had been in declining health. My dad was away at a conference when Rosebud died. I think he felt some sense of responsibility, I'm not sure why.
Dad was the only one around when the vet found a softball sized tumor on Buster's spleen. Mom told me that he called her at work, she has been working at the school she retired from just to pick up some extra money. “Wait...wait..wait..let me be there with you, “ she told me she told my father over the phone. He told her, “not to worry, that he could do this and not to bother leaving work.” He was the only one around when he made the decision. He was the only one around when his best friend was put to sleep.
Even now, there is a part of me that wants to know what was going through his head at that point. Not because I want him to relive a major tragedy in his life, but to gain from his experience. My dad has always been the greatest example of strength to me and I'm sure he felt anything but strong at that point. Part of me wants to give him a big hug and let him know he provided a wonderful life for Buster and that dog could not have asked for better owners and friends than my parents. But I won't say anything because I know how hard it is for him to express his feelings and even though I know it's cathartic for some, I think my dad is better left alone.
I finish this post tired and teary-eyed at the loss of a great friend and wonderful pet. I've been trying to take comfort in the fact that like the movie says, “All Dogs Go to Heaven.” I want to believe that. It is my firm hope and belief Buster has crossed the Rainbow Bridge without issue and is playing with all of his new found friends.
Rest In Peace Buster, we will miss you very much!
I hope you all are well.