Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Blessings: Of Puppies, Fire, and Neighbors

As I mentioned in my last post, the past week has been one of good things and bad. One of the good things was the story in my last writing about the two men who were reconnected through a chance meeting in Ireland and my blog post about our trip.

Not everything was good last week, although perhaps there is a happy ending of sorts in this next story. Last Tuesday night was the coldest night we've had in years, about 10 below zero. Early the next morning, our next-door neighbors' house caught fire and burned to the ground. They lost everything in the fire except their lives and what they had on their backs. I cannot describe how it felt to stand there and watch as the firefighters tried to get the flames under control, and then to see the realization on the faces of our friends as they realized it was a hopeless cause. An explosion inside seemed to provide a burst of fuel that sealed the fate of the house. I don't know what might have exploded--in our homes, we have so many things with the potential to be a fierce propellant. We stood in a huddled group under quilts Larry brought up from our house in the bitter cold and watched as their home of 20 years disappeared before our eyes. I cooked bacon-and-egg biscuits and made coffee, but I know everyone felt as helpless as I did in the face of that fire, and few had any appetite.

The good news--and the blessing in all of this--is that they have a large, loving, family, a supportive community and church family, and many, many good friends. Saturday a crew assembled to help them sift through what was left to see if anything was recoverable and a few special valuables were found. One of my sons drove across the state to help, and his brother joined him;they grew up with the family that lives on this hill. Eventually the site will be cleared and they will have a new home and I know the community will be there to help. Things can be replaced, but the loss of personal mementoes and photographs has to be devastating, and there will be the hassle of replacing important documents, etc. It could have been much worse and that's the take-away, isn't it?

Back to good things: I've been wanting a puppy. Our old dog Jeb is, well, old. We know his days are likely numbered as he walks stiffly around, and settles down to sleep with a groan. It was time to get a puppy to begin training with him and Otis. Old dogs make good trainers for puppies--they don't take any nonsense, they've learned a few things and they make good sleeping companions for little dogs still scared of the big old world. I wanted a golden lab but what came our way via Facebook was another black lab. This little guy had been dropped by the road in last week's bitter weather. A young man and his wife found the puppy and put it on a Facebook group for adoption. Those forlorn eyes touched me.

So now the pup is here. He's been to the vet for his shots and a checkup and has been pronounced healthy but seriously malnourished. He has a skin condition due to near-starvation but it has begun to clear up with a good diet, lots of brushing, and many rubdowns with my olive oil and lavender oil mixture.

The little guy seems to have decided that Otis is his daddy. Otis was unwilling at first but has given in to the hero worship.

Here you can see how the poor little fella's face looks right now. I don't know how he got the big scratch on his head, it was there when we picked him up.

Playing with on of his favorite toys. He has many toys already!

He's a good little boy, only 6 weeks old, who is learning fast. Larry named him Blackie in honor of his own first dog. (I call him Bubby, but his name will stay Blackie.) We've had a time protecting rugs, shoes and pillows from puppy teeth, cleaning up after him and just enjoying watching a puppy again for the first time in five years.

I was supposed to tell stories for Groundhog's Day on Sunday but the weather prompted a cancellation of the event, and that was okay with me because my son from the other side of the state was able to come home for the weekend. Having him and his daughter here helped me get through what is always a bad weekend, the anniversary of Jon's death. It never gets easier, but I have learned some ways to make the passage more bearable: stay busy, be around people, and focus on family and good memories. Some day I will be able to call his daughters on this day but I am still not up to that because Granny in tears is no help to girls who have their own grief to get through. I am so proud of the way they have forged ahead with their lives, finding success in each of their chosen fields. Their father would be amazed at the women they've become.

So, a week of ups and downs. And isn't that how life is? Never predictable, never boring, sometimes difficult and even unbearable, and yet the sweetness of good times and good people sustains us, and on we go to meet the next moment, the next day.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.



I was looking for something upbeat to read and stumbled on this. You always have so many good things to share and I appreciate each one. Just as you explained - life is an ebb and flow of good and bad - In light of that I just read a book titled The Sweetness of Sorrow. It was beautifully written with many examples of how one moves on when faced with loss.
We can read all the words in the world but the fact is we each have our own unique journey and it can't quite be captured in words, even our own. Sending hugs and prayers for the family whose home burned. God bless for sharing with us.

Country Whispers said...

Definitely a rough week! So sad to stand helpless as someone's "life" burns around them.
Thinking of your neighbors as well as you as this week passes by.
I'm sure that cute puppy will help to bring some laughter your way too!

annie said...

s sorry to here about neighbors but thankful the they came out and had help!
nothing like a new pup!
cute pup!
hugs on the grief, next week is the first anniversary of my brothers passing, and the 11th of my mom, the hurt still lingers

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