The vet shakes his head as he looks at my old Jeff. “He’s on his last legs!” he says, and it is painful for me to hear that.
“What can we do to make him comfortable?” whispers my wife, and is told of a waterbed, to look after his aching joints, and painkillers to relieve his pain, “and plenty of love and care!” We all smiled despite the sadness, because that is something we can overdose him with!
“Why are you keeping your dog alive?” asked a neighbour later.
“This is the time for him to know how thankful we are for his life.” I said, “He’s guarded our home relentlessly night and day, waited for us to come home when the children were studying abroad, and the only sign of welcome in an otherwise empty home was his wagging tail and whines of joy.”
Now it was our turn.
Forgive me, all you who are not fond of dogs or pets, for bringing them into my stories, and here let’s make a quick exit, and into the world of humans.
What an opportunity old age is, to tell those who have loved and cared for us that this is the time we will do the same in return.
So what if you mess the bed or the table. So what if you have to be fed; didn’t you do the same for us? Now sit back or lie down and enjoy being looked after.
It might be a bit of trouble, but wasn’t that the same trouble when I was a toddler?
“Bob!” says an old lady, “I don’t want to be a burden to my children!”
Is that how we look at our parents? As a burden? How sad. Here’s a wonderful opportunity to make them feel loved, that even as they are helpless, they marvel in your helpfulness! Even as they forget, they are grateful for the memories you bring up ever so often to make their days delightful!
And delightful they should be.
Smiles should light their faces as they get up each morning to face a whole day of love. Smiles, because they don’t see their age or helplessness, but you with a headlight of dazzling love!
And one day you’ll come home and find them lifeless, and even as you grieve for them, you’ll hear a still voice speaking from the great beyond saying, “God bless my child, as he or she journeys without me…”
And those blessings remain forever!
I come back to my old Jeff, and gently pet his still huge head, and is that a chuckle I hear from his throat as he growls, “Master, looks like you’re guarding me in my old age!”
And we both laugh together!