This is for Debbie Kim~ she knows why

Friday, June 25, 2010

SURVIVING NANNY~ Gardenias & Best Friends

Along with the addition of Oliver B. Greene to my life, that whole year was one of many changes.

I just thought he to be the worst thing to happen to me that year. I was wrong.
Chico died sometime after my introduction to Rev. Greene. I don't understand what happen to her. She just got sick one day.
I remember Papaw trying to take care of her. I remember it was very hot outside. I remember he telling Nanny he had to bring her inside, under the air conditioning. I remember Nanny having a fit about no filthy animal coming into her house. Then , to my shock, I remember Papaw shouting bad words at Nanny, slamming the back door, gathering up Chico in his arms and bringing her inside.
I remember Nanny retreating to her bedroom. I could hear her praying and crying. I remember thinking, "Good, let her cry."


Papaw and I made a pallet for Chico in the middle of the dining room floor. This was the coolest room in the house, as the large window unit hung from this room's window.

Chico struggled to breathe, her respiration uneven and erratic. As soon as she rested under the cool air, her breathing improved. I loved my Papaw so much at that moment.
He pushed water in her all day long. Told me she needed to get to a vet, soon. Papaw never had had a driver's license, Mama and Daddy were at work, we had no extra car. I begged him to call Mama and make her come home. Mama could take her to the vet. Papaw said no, we could only call Mama for emergencies. Well, this sure seemed like an emergency to me! Still, he said no.
I prayed harder that day than I had ever prayed in my life. Sometimes Chico would seem better, then she go right back to fighting for air. I continued to pray.
Mama finally got home. I didn't wait for her to make it to the front door, rather I flew outside, down the hot walk, screaming at her that Chico was bad sick!
She raced inside to find Papaw leaning over her body. She was breathing but her breaths had become rapid and shallow. "Get her to the car, Daddy!!" Papaw swooped her up in his arms and placed her in the backseat of Mama's car. Then, they were gone.

Papaw and I returned to the house. Don't think either one of us had eaten all day; still I didn't feel hungry. Papaw insisted we eat something. Nanny was still hold up in her room, hadn't seen her all day. Must admit, she had been a pleasant miss.
Papaw found something to throw together, and we ate in silence. Sensing my worry, he assured me we had done all we could do for her, and I had made a real good assistant doctor.
"But Papaw, what if she dies?" I could feel the hot tears burning, but I refused to cry.
"Well now, you are old enough to know nothing lives forever. She's getting to be an old dog and she just might not make it. She has had a real good life, and that's something to be thankful for.
I want you to remember that."
As much as I wanted to be mad at Papaw for speaking so casually of Chico's death, I couldn't be.
He just had a way of stating fact, with little emotion, and this made bad truths less scary.

We cleaned the dishes, put them away, and waited.

I heard a car pull up outside and ran to the front window. It was Daddy, home from work. Again, down our walk I ran, the concrete now cool to my bare feet, long shadows had replaced the baking sun. I quickly explained to Daddy where Mama was and why. I don't think he even came inside, just turned and went straight back to his car. In seconds he was gone. Going to check on Chico.

It was dark when Mama and Daddy finally came home. Papaw and I had waited the whole time in the living room, mostly in silence. Neither one of us had much to say, which for me was unusual. Papaw never talked much. Daddy said if Papaw did open his mouth, you best listen.
He'd have something important to say.
Both Mama and Daddy slowly pulled up to the curb and parked their cars. Papaw asked me to switch on the porch light. I strained to see if they had Chico with them. I could see Daddy carrying something in his arms, my heart soared. Maybe Chico was home!!!
I took one look at Mama's face and knew better. Her face was all red and swollen, no doubt she had been crying. Daddy didn't look much better. All he had in his arms was the pallet Chico had rested on for the day.

Papaw rose from the rocker and announced he was going on to bed. The stairs creaked with each slow step he took, until I heard his bedroom door close.

Me, Mama and Daddy all looked at one another, waiting for someone to speak the horrible words. Finally, Daddy spoke up. "Pal, (that was the only name Daddy had ever called me) Chico didn't make it." I knew that. I knew she was gone, just from Mama's face. Still, hearing it out loud made it real. I felt the floor open, my head swim, knees buckle. I wanted to scream, Noooo!!! but knew it was true. For some reason I ran to Daddy, not Mama. Maybe I needed to borrow some of his strength. Tears came then sobs. Daddy, rocking me back and forth, stroking my head, whispering, "I'm sorry, Pal". Over and over and over, til it became a mantra.
Mama was crying again, her sobs mixed with mine, like a two part harmony.
I don't know how long we stayed like this. Guess as long as we needed. Eventually I had no more tears.
I climbed from Daddy's lap and kissed his stubbly cheek. I knew Daddy felt the same loss for he loved Chico too.
"Where is she, Daddy?" He paused, then explained they had left her body at the vet's. She had gotten very sick and was suffering. " The vet gave her a special shot to take her pain away and to help her get to heaven."
"So do you think she is in heaven now?" Daddy assured me she was, then added, not to listen to anything Nanny might say about this. Chico was in heaven, period.

Mama asked where Nanny was, as she usually stayed in the thick of things. "Oh, she and Papaw got mad at each other over Chico and Papaw said a whole bunch of bad words to her and she has been in her room all day." "Jesus!" Mama exclaimed. She headed upstairs to Nanny's room.

Daddy was left to tuck me in. He found clean pajamas for me, slid me under the cool sheets, then kissed me goodnight. "You sleep tight now, Pal." "Daddy, you think you could open my gardenia window?" Papaw had planted gardenia bushes underneath my bedroom window. They were in full bloom. On warm summer nights their aroma would fill my room. Daddy slid the wooden window up, pushing the stick in place to hold the window open. "Thanks, Daddy."
"Daddy, could you do one more thing?" Daddy nodded. "Could I please sleep with Chico's pallet?" I wanted to smell her. "You know Nanny will have one more hissy if she finds that dog pallet in a clean bed. Dang it, Pal. You are gonna get us both in all kinds of trouble."
"Please Daddy, just for tonight?" He turned, mumbling words I couldn't make out, to go get Chico's bed.
Daddy had rolled the pallet up tight, then stuffed it in an old pillow case. He explained maybe we could convince Nanny most of the dog hair and filth would stay in the pillowcase. We both knew this was a long shot, maybe she would appreciate the effort.

Hard to believe when I woke in the morning, Chico wouldn't be outside waiting to play. I tried to get used to the idea I would never see her again. Odd to think someone so loved, so much a part of my daily life, could just be gone so quickly. Harder still to believe I would never see her again. It just didn't seem real. Nothing about the day seemed real.

Maybe all of this was just a bad, bad dream. Maybe I will wake in the morning and Chico will be in the backyard, just waiting on me. The day held the feel of a bad dream. Just maybe the sooner I fall asleep now, the sooner I will wake to see her.

I held her pallet tight against my body and inhaled deeply. Her smell was strong on her bedding.
I squeezed the pillowcase closer, pretending it was Chico. It smelled right, but lacked the rhythm of her breathing, the weight and warmth of her body.

I grew sleepy, willing to fall into the black ink of sleep. Tomorrow I would wake and find my dog in the backyard, bright pink tongue hanging out, black tail wagging at the sight of me.

Tonight I would fall asleep with the two aromas which brought me the most peace, my Papaw's gardenias and my best friend.



6 comments:

Holistic Horse Care July 12, 2010 at 11:41 PM  

Haven't heard from you for a little while. Hope all things are going well.

Sharon Brumfield July 16, 2010 at 7:37 AM  

You know you could put this in a book right?
I love your words and the pictures they paint.
Oh the pains of childhood....and the innocence of it all.
It is amazing how we make it through life with all the rips and tears to our soul.....God knew what He was doing when He created us.

Please keep writing! Between out of town time, an obsession with reading at the moment, applying for jobs,and just normal life....time here has been slim. But I want you to know that when I check through what has been written in blogdom.....I check here for sure!
Hope all is well. :)

debianne July 17, 2010 at 4:24 PM  

My old favorite - gardenias!
My new favorite - YOU!

Rising Rainbow July 25, 2010 at 4:31 PM  

I'm glad you lived in a family that allowed you to cry over such a loss.

Sharon Brumfield July 27, 2010 at 11:04 AM  

Home between sessions of our conference and on line looking to see if there was something new here.
Just want you to know that I am thinking of you.
Keep walking girl.
Love ya!

Sharon Brumfield August 31, 2010 at 8:06 AM  

Although I am not blogging at this time I wanted to check in and see how you are doing.
Just thinking about you!

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