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Hot Women, Hot Humor

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  • Childhood Memories: Truth or Fiction

    Posted on Monday, June 6, 2011

    Surely I’m not the only one who has a strange unexplainable memory from childhood. A mystery of a memory that to this day stands as clear and pronounced as those early morning thoughts after  a couple of cups of fresh brazen coffee.

    I was only four years old, close to five, but four.  My best friend, Kelly, lived across the street from our Eichler home back in the “Mad Men” days of life in lazy California suburbia.  Kelly had perfectly matched twin beds covered in fabric that sang of castles and Prince Charmings.  She had an all-to-herself room, foreign to this little girl who shared small spaces with five other siblings. In my eyes, my friend’s room was like a kingdom.

    One foggy Friday night, we giggled and talked about boys, bugs and Barbie. We waded into hours untold and when we finally fell asleep, it was sudden and abrupt, like being plunged from a tower’s peak into the dark abyss where things unseen were awake and unbothered by the light snores of sleeping girls.

    Later, in the black void of a midnight room, Kelly shook me awake.  She coaxed me with a firm and gentle nudge, “Come with me to the bathroom, I don’t want to go alone.”

    I awoke quickly remembering I wasn’t in my own room.  I was on instant alert.  This was my first “overnight” and despite my previous declarations of independence and adventure, I was suddenly longing for the softness of my Mommy and the strong presence of Dad.  On the hallway to the bathroom, the ceilings loomed high, cavernous and full of unnameable spaces where surely monsters must be lurking.

    I stayed focused on the back of my friend as I followed her obediently into the bathroom.  She flipped on the light switch and my little soul settled. The world looked normal again.  But Kelly heard a noise.  “What was that?” she asked breathlessly, in a whisper, her face close to mine, her eyes as wide as my beating heart.

    I told her I didn’t hear anything but she was convinced she had heard something sinister, something bad.  She marched with purpose into her parent’s room with me following timidly behind like a second hand item from a neighbor’s garage sale.

    Kelly’s father who certainly didn’t possess the softness of my mother or the calming presence of my father got up reluctantly.  Grumbling and mumbling like a sorcerer’ curse, he grabbed a flashlight to prove to his insistent daughter and her mouse of a friend that there were no such things as ghouls who would snatch us to eternal prisons housed outside the light of this world.

    The house was searched.  Every corner, nook and cranny.  And nothing. “See, girls, there’s nothing here.  I told you!  Now back to bed!”  He held Kelly’s hand firmly as he escorted us back to our room.   Once again, I followed behind like a dutiful servant with my head bent down towards the floor thinking only of “Home“.

    Suddenly, a bright glow caught my eye.  I looked to the right of me and saw, with the innocent disbelief of a child, BRIGHT ORANGE GLOWING DUCK‘S FEET.  Yes, duck’s feet!   How could this be but yet there they were! No duck body, no duck head, just bright glowing orange duck’s feet walking right next to me, keeping up with my every step.

    There were no ghastly ghosts, no hideous zombies, no devious men with blood running down their scarred faces lurching towards me.  This was how I knew it wasn’t a nightmare.  It was absurd! It was real!  They were real!  BRIGHT ORANGE GLOWING DUCK‘S FEET!   Not even the laziest of nightmares could have conjured that up.  

    I tried to speak, to call out to my friend and her silly father but I couldn’t. The words refused to come held captive by my fear.  Those glowing duck’s feet illuminated evil.  Short relief came when we were safely back in Kelly’s room with the door shut tight and the lights kept on.

    I told her about the orange glowing duck’s feet and she laughed until her tears covered her frayed and well-loved blankie.  I was incredulous.  How could she not believe what I knew to be true?  What I had seen?

    Her laughter gradually turned to silence and the slow steady inhale and exhale of her breath as she fell back asleep was no comfort to me.  I was terrified by those ill-intentioned duck’s feet and wanted only to go home.

    As soon as I heard the morning stirrings of the grown-ups, I jumped out of bed, got dressed, said a quick thank you and scurried out the front door and made a bee line for home.

    I stormed through my front door demanding full attention.  As I blurted out my truer than a nightmare story, my face burned bright red with the passion of fear and power stored too long.  No matter no one believed me. I believed me and I was home and I was safe.  

    It would be years before I could spend the night at the homes of my friends. My mother spent many a late night picking me up from attempted slumber parties and failed all-night girl fests.  I would be sick as a dog, sticking my head out the station-wagon window as the car weaved its angry way back down those twisted country roads that led us to Home.  Gagging but never getting sick, I’d glance occasionally at the irritated frowns lining up in rows on my mother’s face and I would turn, close my eyes and clinch my fists.  

    There are times I think back on that strange night so many decades ago and I can still see those bright orange duck’s feet that scared me so and made my spine and memories morph into icy suspension.  The mind of The Adult tells me, “Silly.”  “A bad dream.”  “A tall tale.”  

    But the Child within me stomps her feet, shakes her head and insists with all her tiny forte,  “It was real!  They were real!  I tell you, it was real!”

    And the Me In The Now listens.  And pauses.  And thinks.  And feels.  And remembers.   And closes her eyes.  And clinches her fists.

    And believes.  

    Mystery solved.


    4 Replies
  • "Developing" Story: Padded Swim Tops For Little Girls

    Posted on Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    "Developing News" was flashing on my TV screen a couple of weeks ago.  I had become numb to any kind of "breaking" news but this one caught my attention.  The "developing" story (pardon the pun) was about a new bathing suit being sold by "Abercrombie and Fitch" originally called the "Ashley Push Up Triangle Bikini".  In short, this bikini had a padded bikini top and was being marketed to seven-year-old girls.

    Parents reacted quickly, spit-firing mad at this promotion of prepubescent pressure and A&F quickly changed the name to "Striped Triangle Top" despite keeping the offending padding in the swimsuit top.

    Seeing this news brought me back to about 8 years ago.  Some old friends were visiting from out of state.  They brought with them their two daughters, one ten and one five.   Since they were staying with us for a week, they were welcome to use my laundry room.

    One morning I needed to wash some clothes and took out our companies’ clean clothes from the dryer.  As I was setting them aside, my eye caught a most unusual item.  It was the smallest tiniest black lacy padded bra I had ever seen.  I was puzzled.  What the heck was this and whom did it belong to?  Some kind of Amazon Barbie Doll?  

    I brought it out into the kitchen holding it like a smelly piece of moldy food.  My children were in the room, as well as the ten-year-old visting girl.  Her parents were gone running errands.

    "Who the heck does this belong to?"

    The little girl, truly a little girl who was showing no signs of development or the advent of puberty, said shyly, "Oh, that's mine."

    I was stunned.  What the heck?  Who would make a tiny little bra like this all black and lacy and padded for little girls?  And, gulp, who would buy this for their child?

    Without thought or reflection, I instinctively knelt down next to the little girl and said, "Oh sweetie.  You don't need to harness yourself like this.  You're a little girl.  Your job is to go outside and play.  Play in the tree house, swing on the swings, dabble in the creek, jump on the trampoline, play with the dog, zip down the zip line.  Play and know that you're beautiful just the way you are."

    I was met with the blank stare of one who did not understand.

    I felt angry with her parents, furious at "The Limited Express" for making the damn bra in the first place.  Angry that this little girl was getting a loud and clear message at such an early age.  YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH.  

    I thought back to my own prebuscent days, days that lasted well into my teens.  Without getting into any unnecessary details, let's just say that I was a very "late bloomer".  

    Memories poured in of junior high school and of the taunts and teasing from clueless and stupid acne-faced boys.   As I would walk in the halls between classes it was not uncommon to hear, "There she goes, the carpenter's dream...flat as a board."  Or, "Oh there's Mary, her chest is like a sunken treasure."

    At that tender and vulnerable age, I found this grossly unfair.  Hello!  I had no control of my breasts or the timing of when they would finally decide to come out and play.   And thankfully, I had a strong sense of self.  While the jibes and insults were hurled my way, I knew that the size of my chest, or lack of it, had nothing to do with my value as a human being.  

    But I'm not saying it didn't hurt, that it didn't penetrate the heart of this wild-hearted little girl who longed like anyone else to be loved, seen and valued for who she was.  

    This morning, I wasn’t as angry at “Abercrombie and Fitch” as I was at the parents who are buying them.  I was quite sure A&F had done their market research and determined what there is a strong market for.  The company is simply reflecting the culture.

    Call me a prude.  Call me judgmental but shame on any parent who buys their little girl a padded bra or swimsuit.  If parents don't buy them, guess what?  The company will stop making them.  Period.

    The "breaking" news today was nothing new.  The sexualization of little girls has been going on since the beginning of time.  But those behaviors have always been considered abhorrent, illegal and more than immoral.

    Normalizing those behaviors, in fact promoting them by buying padded bras and swimming suit tops for little girls is just plain wrong and again begs the question, "Isn't there some way we could make people pass some kind of common sense test before they can become parents?"

    But we can't.

    I'm glad there's a "bikini backlash" to this new Abercrombie and Fitch bathing suit.  I'm glad parents are mad as hell and declaring that they aren't going to take it anymore.  

    But I’ll be curious to see A&F’s quarterly sales reports to see how this new spring line does because that's the real bottom line.   If this suit is a hot seller, it’s going to age me real quickly.  And you will find me fumbling and mumbling my way through life repeating over and over, “I just don’t know what this world is coming to.”


    14 Replies
  • How Many Stepmoms Will Kelsey Grammer's Children Have?

    Posted on Wednesday, January 19, 2011

    I watch "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills".  Don't ask me why.  I'm sure it would take a very comfortable couch and years of psychoanalysis to try to figure it out.  I don't have the time, patience or respect for psychoanalysis to do that.

    Women love to watch these real housewives shows and act all shocked and horrified.  They/we/me pretend we are nothing like them.  We would never be that catty, that mean-spirited, that self-obsessed and we certainly would never ever make our lips look like that!

    Whatever.  This is not the vortex of this post.  What I am especially fascinated with is Camille Grammer, soon to be Kelsey Grammer's ex-wife, mother to two of his four children, wife #3 out of soon to be 4.

    Without reducing myself to the generic cat fighting that women sometimes engage in (and yes they do), Camille Grammer is an interesting specimen.  She is a woman who had a surrogate deliver her two children because supposedly she has “Irritable Bowel Syndrome“.  Really, the hideous stretch marks that were caused by the births of my four ungrateful children are no pretty sight, I can tell you that much.  WHATEVER her reasons, I think Camille might be brilliant.

    Camille, at the urging of her husband of "Cheers" and "Frasier" fame, Kelsey Grammer, chose to expose her life on national television via a reality show ala Snookies or Snookums or whatever-her-name-is style.  We can only pray there's no book deal in Camille's future.

    Watching the show can be painful (yes, I'm a closet masochist), but even I am uncomfortable watching Camille being told, while the camera is magnified on her face that the husband she purports to love madly is madly in love with a 29-year-old flight attendant he impregnated several months earlier (this ended in a miscarriage) who is madly in love with him and because they are so mad about each other, Kelsey, an addict to immediate gratification, must have a divorce and have it NOW, despite the 13-year-marriage and two small children involved.  He's slated to marry Wife #4 in February of this year (isn't that like, next month?).

    I don't care that Camille appears to be a self-centered, passive aggressive woman who sets up her "friends" to be verbally assaulted by a delusional psychic who makes Camille look like a close relative of Mother Teresa.  She is still a human being and I have great compassion for her.

    I really do.  And I'll tell you why.  Because in my Real life, I work with stepfamilies.  I work with ex-wives and I work with new wives.  I work with stepcouples, stepchildren, stepfathers, and mostly stepmothers, the lowest rung on the family ladder.  

    If you're a stepmother, you know exactly what I mean, unless you're part of the 0.5% that doesn't.

    But this isn't about the plight of stepmothers.  It's about what I call, "Wannabee Mothers"...women who invade other womens' lives and think that because they have some kind of relationship with a man who happens to be a father, they can suddenly lay claim to the children of that man as if they were virgin territory back in the days of the Wild Wild West.

    On the "David Letterman" show this past Thursday night, David's first guest was none other than Kelsey Grammer who entered the stage with confidence, grace and a bomb, I mean aplomb.  He was frothing at the mouth to share the good news of his impending nuptials and seemed ever so slightly irritated at having to first discuss his not-yet-finalized divorce.

    He chided Letterman's reticence for showing anything less than euphoria when he prompted the famous talk show host to be pleased for the "new developments" in his life.  

    The camera then suddenly moved to the" green room" where the newly engaged flight attendant sat with Kelsey's two children from his marriage to current wife Camille.

    Kelsey was gushing about all their recent family time, the time he and "Kiss Me Who Needs A Condom Kate" have been spending with his two children and how fahbulous the children are doing.  

    Kelsey's son was perched on the lap of his soon-to-be stepmother while his daughter sat to the left of them.  All three of them had on the brightest of smiles and big waves to the audience who was applauding as if they had just won the recent Idaho state lottery and they were all one big regular Brady Bunch.  Grammer had said his children wanted to become actors and he wasn't kidding.

    So this is the thing that bothers me and because of the professional work I do, the truth of the matter is, a stepmother does not automatically a mother make.

    Now before all you stepmothers get your panties all in a wad, simmer down.  Believe me, I know what you do.  Lord knows I know what you do!  And honestly, I'm on your side, AND the mother's side, AND especially the children's side.  But research that is so solid it's considered fact and the National Stepfamily Resource Center, as well as the majority of stepfamily experts, advocate that stepparents, as a general rule of thumb, avoid trying to do anything that resembles parenting.  There's good reason for this but that's a subject for a different post.

    Bottom line, Kelsey Grammer has had three marriages and is geared up for #4.  Will this make his new 29-year old bride stepmother to ALL four of his children from his three marriages?  I'm so confused.

    Grammer's children have no choice about their father's marital liaisons and have no power over which women he chooses to bring into their lives.  But as soon as the enamored couple says, "I do", wife #4 will be stepmother to Camille and Kelsey's two young children.  Seeing Kelsey's latest side-kick on national television sitting there with children perched on her lap like newly adopted puppies from the pound just didn't sit well with me.  And knowing that Camille, the mother to those children, had to watch this made my heart hurt for her.

    There is no more tenuous relationship than the relationship between the ex-wife and stepmother.  One must tread ever so carefully when trying to get between a mother and her cubs.  

    The  "Big Love" final season premiered last night.  Thank god those polygamous Mormons don't believe in divorce.


    6 Replies
  • Yes Virginia, There Are Still Some Gentlemen Left

    Posted on Monday, December 13, 2010

    I recently received an email from a young woman named “Virginia“.  She was asking me if there were any manners left in the world.  She was wondering if the word “etiquette” even existed.  She’s a freshman in college and was alarmed to read a recent study that reported that college freshmen tested at 40% less ability to empathize with the sufferings of others as compared to her counterparts who were twenty years older.

    She lamented about phone calls being interrupted because the person she was talking to had another call coming and could she wait?  She was tired of gruff responses from customer service representatives and people screaming expletives at one another at the drop of the hat.

    And for the life of her, she couldn’t remember the last time a boy her age had opened the door for her.  

     I told her that quite frankly, I didn’t have much hope, especially since manners seem to be something many parents no longer feel are important to teach to their children. Why just last week, I told her, I was holding two hot cups of coffee following a young girl of about 12 who was leaving the cafe ahead of me.  As I was going through the slightly opened door, she turned around and saw me coming.  With a blank look on her face, she turned around and let the door slam into me, spilling my coffee on my unsuspecting clothes.

    I was with a friend and said loudly, “I guess her parents haven’t taught her what manners are.”  She never turned around.

    When our four children were very young, my former husband and I were adamant that we would teach our children good manners.  We would practice with them when they were the smallest of tots.    

     We would have them walk across the room, look us straight in the eye, shake our hand and say, “Very nice to meet you.”  We would take them to nice restaurants, even at their tender ages, and taught them manners and social graces.  If they didn’t behave (this happened often enough), they would be whisked out of their chairs and taken outside until they could agree to come back in and behave themselves.

    It was not uncommon for people to approach us halfway through the meal to commend us on the good behavior of our small children.  They admitted to feeling annoyance when they saw our small clan enter the restaurant and they admitted to being worried for nothing.

    I taught my children to say “please” and “thank you“.  And I would always laugh when people would tell me, “Your children are so polite.  How did you do it?”  I would say to them, “Thank you very much, but really, don’t you think this should be expected behavior from children, from people in general?  That this should be the norm and not the exception?”

    But rudeness seems to be the new decorum.  

    Oh, but I had a ray of hope the other day.  A gesture so rare, so unseen, it changed my entire day.  No, it MADE my day.

    I had some packages to mail and was carrying them awkwardly from my car to the mail center.  I was juggling them and hoping to just make it to the entrance without spilling them everywhere.

    Out of the corner of my eye, I spied a father walking with his three young children.  The oldest, a boy who looked to be about four to five years old, was leading the pack.

    I heard his father exclaim, “GENTLEMAN ALERT!  GENTLEMAN ALERT! OPPORTUNITY TO BE A GENTLEMAN HERE!”

    His young son’s face lit up in anticipation.  He didn’t miss a beat.  He saw me with my packages, ran ahead of me and opened the door with the sweetest, brightest open smile I’ve seen in a long time.  His pride and joy at being able to help me were like bold rays of sunshine on an otherwise cold and bitter day.  

    I smiled right back and said, “Oh my gosh.  Thank you so much!  What a true gentleman you are! Really.  Thank you so much.  You just made my day!”  Beaming, that kid was beaming.

    The look of pride on his father’s face was well deserved.

    I loved that kid and I loved that father.  Clearly he was a father who took his parenting very seriously and had not forgotten in an age where the word “gentleman” is on the endangered species list, how to teach his son to be aware of the needs of others, even strangers.

    I think a lot of men have been rebuffed, especially by women, when they offer to hold open a door, pay for a dinner, walk to the right of the women they are with.  They’ve been told it’s insulting and demeaning.

    I’m not one of those women and I never will be.  I believe in the importance of chivalry...not the fairy tale “knight in shining armor who will whisk me away to the land of happy ever after“, but the chivalry that is conveyed by small acts of mindfulness and care.

    So Virginia, to answer your question, YES, there are still gentlemen left in the world.  And when you see one, thank them.  Tell them you noticed. Tell them you appreciate them.  Teach your young sons and teach your young daughters to be gentlepeople.

    What the world needs now is love, sweet love.  And some manners and good graces wouldn’t hurt either.


    5 Replies
  • The Ouija Board and Me

    Posted on Saturday, October 30, 2010

    "Thou shalt not worship false gods before Me."

    This commandment was drilled in my head while, I swear, I was still in the womb.  There were nine other commandments embedded in my brain at tender ages, as well as a host of other rules and regulations I needed to learn if I was ever going to be serious about following God, at least from the perspective of the ever-watchful eyes of the Catholic church.

    Growing up, I didn't mind Catholicism so much.  I was a kid whose aim was to please and following these rules seemed to make my parents very happy so that worked for me.

    Movies and TV shows I watched had to be pre-approved by the Pope himself (I will never forget my profound disappointment as a 6 year old when the local priest declared "The Three Stooges" as forbidden.).

    Anything that had to do with the occult was doubly and triply forbidden and I kept myself sheltered from anything that smacked of the devil.

    Leaving the nest at the tender age of 17, I went off to college, a large California state university, a university that was consistently on Playboy's Top Ten List for biggest party schools.

    Soon after my arrival, I forged a strong friendship with another girl who was to become a close friend for years to come.  She was much more exciting and daring than me and I loved her wild ideas and rebellious musings.

    Early in the fall, we decided to go to a palm reader to get a cheat sheet on our futures.  The palm reader was harmless enough, despite the fact that she told me I would be married twice and because of my loud protestations to the contrary, the brow beaten palm reader conceded that maybe I would be engaged once, and married once.  She wasn't a palm reader with a strong spine.

    Our brief foray into things unknown led us to the next level:  a Ouija board.  We would pull out the Ouija board and close our eyes and ask sincere and important questions like who would we date and where would we live.  The small plastic piece (a planchette) was a willing accomplice in providing answers that would make us scrunch our noses and groan in unhappy anticipation.

    One lazy Saturday afternoon, we were dinking around on the Board and slowly our room was filled with curious onlookers who wanted to know what the heck we were doing.  One of them, a girl named Susan, was skeptical.  "Okay, ask the Ouija board which school I'm transferring to next year.  I haven't told a soul.  It's been a huge secret."

    Easy enough.  We asked the Ouija board, "What school is Susan transferring to next year?"  The quick response was "U...C...L...A."  Susan was dumfounded.  "Who told you?" she demanded from us and we both could only shake our heads and said that we hadn't had a clue.

    Several girls started getting nervous and antsy and someone called out, "Ask that board who it is."

    My girlfriend and I could barely keep up with the cheap plastic piece as we asked the question once again out loud, "Who are you?"    "S...A...T...A...N" it spelled as the piece whipped across the board, flew across the room and hit the closet on the other side.

    Suddenly, the room was drained as girls ran out screaming and yelling.  My girlfriend and I sat on the bed looking at the board, each other, and the plastic piece that now sat innocently on the floor on the other side of the room.

    What were we doing and who were we dealing with?

    I was excited, ramped up and strangely felt quite powerful.  The Catholic guilt was gnawing at me for exposing myself to dark forces, but I pushed the thoughts away.  I was away from home and the priest and the nuns who pointed their fingers and shook their heads in disapproval.  I could now do what I damned well pleased.

    I went down the hall to go to the restroom and a strange loner of a girl approached me.  "Mary, I have to tell you that all summer I had a recurring dream that two girls would be very powerful in the dorm and that they would lead others down a dark path of devil worship and evil.  You are one of those girls."

    Holy Mary Mother of God!  Wait just a minute here, I thought.  I'm a good girl I am and I wanted no part of leading anyone down a path that would lead straight to hell.  I got humble real quick and assured her that I would no longer be a part of the Ouija board, palm readers and anything else that might smack of the demise of the civilized world as we knew it.

    My roommate had opposite plans.  When I returned to the room, I told her about our dormmates recurring dream and she laughed and scoffed and said, "Whatever!  I'm having a séance in our room tonight and we're going to get to the bottom of this whole Ouija board thing."  I told her that there was no way in hell I would participate in anything that smacked of satanic involvement.

    On a dark spooky October evening, while I was safely ensconced in the TV room surrounded by the safe warm bodies of young college men, my roommate and at least a dozen girls were in my room with candles burning and hearts pounding.  

    About an hour later, screams were heard down the hall as hysterical young women were pouring into the TV room.  They were hard to understand.  My roommate, the only calm one, stepped forward to report that the Ouija board had identified itself as a dead college student who had overdosed on drugs.  A name was given and the girls freaked out.

    I sat there shaking my head in obstinate disapproval.  I had suddenly developed a strong case of self-righteousness and looked knowingly at the girl who had had the ominous dreams.   I silently said a few "Hail Mary's" and "Our Father's" for added security measures.

    My roommate went down to City Hall the next day and indeed found the name of the deceased student.

    I've long since left the hauntings of the Catholic Church which were far scarier than the antics of the Ouija board.  But some things, despite our best intentions, stay ingrained in us for years.  I've never touched another Ouija board or sought the counsel of a psychic.

    I will always remember the day the Ouija board spelled out where Susan was transferring schools and the letters "S...A...T...A...N" were spelled out as the planchette flew across the room.   My now doubting mind has no answers for how that happened or how the name of a dead student that no one knew was spelled out on a board that cost $12.99.

    But stranger things than this have happened and all I can say is, "I don't know."


    7 Replies
  • Puppy Love

    Posted on Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    I was never what one would call a "dog person".  I was raised on 7 acres and my parents would get the occasional dog, but they were never allowed inside and their stays with us were brief.  Their lives were claimed by the occasional passing by horse or the garbage truck on an icy winter day.

    My parents got a cat or two, but at some point, we would go on a Sunday drive and they would "drop" the cat off at the curb of some farm saying that they would be much happier there.

    I was a small child and so I took these things in stride.  I trusted my parents and so I never really learned the value and the magic of owning a dog or cat.

    That changed twelve years ago.  When I got divorced, I had four children ranging in age from pre-adolescence to full blow teenagehood.  I found a 100-year old farmhouse on 2 acres in Boulder and knew I had to get a dog for the sake of my children who were going through the difficult transitions that were necessary when their father and I were no longer married.

    We got Duke, the Perfect Golden Retriever Dog as a young puppy.  I was crazy busy at the time and my children hovered over him as if they had found precious water in the middle of the Sahara desert.  Duke helped to heal their hurting hearts and he quickly became a treasured family member.

    As the years wore on and my children left, it became a home for Duke, my husband and myself.  Because of my childhood history, I had to be taught that dogs were interested in more than food and hikes.  Over the years, Duke turned me into a “dog person” as he taught me unconditional love as he always seemed to know when I needed an extra bit of comfort and care.  

    At the age of twelve, Duke passed away this summer.  It was sudden, unexpected and sadder than I can begin to express.  I cannot write any more because in many ways, my heart continues to break.

    Duke, the Perfect Golden Retriever Dog  

    Good friends, dog owner friends, insisted we get another dog as soon as possible.  This seemed unimaginable and insensitive to me.  But the loneliness of our property and the ache in our hears when we would arrive home void of the greeting and smile of Duke the Perfect Golden Retriever was almost unbearable.

    Puppy Maximus AKA Max came into our lives the end of August.  My two daughters, who had been grieving terribly for Duke, came with me to meet Max before we could bring him home.  

    Ah, I never truly appreciated the sweet smell of puppy love.  Max jumped all over us, let us hold him like a baby, licked our faces with, I swear, a broad smile on his face.  Our hearts felt hopeful and new.  

    Daughter Cassie feeling the love

    A happy Puppy Max on daughter Kellie’s lap  

     

    Me and Max...let the healing begin  

    We brought Max home a week later and he became my constant companion.  He's loving, sweet, playful and mischievous.  My daughters, who live nearby, come to the house frequently to get their fix of puppy love and we can't imagine our lives without him.

    We took him to the Pearl Street Mall one early autumn evening last week.  The mall was crowded with Boulderites enjoying being out and about before the onset of cold and winter that could come at any time.

    You would have thought Max was Brad Pitt.  Seriously.  We were mobbed, we could barely move an inch without hearing someone say, "Oh my God!  Look at that puppy!  Oh please, please can I pet your puppy?"  Newborn babies in strollers couldn't compete for their attention.  Max was an instant celebrity and he lapped up every second of it.

    It didn't matter the age, race, or gender.  I was astounded to see the immediate softening of people's faces as they saw us walking towards them with Max.

    What is this power?  This puppy love thing?  Is it their innocence?  Their curiosity?  Their playfulness?  Their joy at rolling around in the grass just because it feels good?  Their openness and curiosity?  Their loving nature?  I'm still learning but puppies seem to bring out the best in us, melting our hearts and reminding us that the simple things in life are what matter most.

    The morning after Duke died, my husband and I walked outside.  There  in the bushes in front of our home were two happy face balloons tied together that had blown in from parts unknown.  Did Duke know his life was coming to a close?  Was it an encouragement from him to "don't worry, be happy"?  Was it a message from him that there would soon be another who would slap silly grin smiles on our faces?  

    I wouldn't be surprised.   Getting Max didn't make me stop missing Duke.  But Duke was an excellent teacher and his unconditional love and loyalty will always stay with me and for that, I am humbly grateful.


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