Monday, December 13, 2010

The Puppy Christmas

Today is another giveaway day on Three Wicked Writers Plus Two. All you have to do to be entered into the “hat” drawing is simply comment. Share a memory if you’d like. That’s what this month is all about here at the blog. So what am I giving away? A hand beaded bracelet by Ruth Woolsey. See the pic at the bottom of the post. You have from now through Thursday evening to post. Natalie Dae will announce the winners for this week on her regular Friday morning blog post.


My father was a tobacco farmer—until he made a career move, that is. lol But I was only five at the time this happened and can only relate how I came to be the proud owner of a puppy as I was too young to remember it all. I do, however, have flashes of the day my dad brought the puppy home to me, but it’s hard to tell if those memories are truly mine or if they were somehow manufactured through hearing the tale.

As I said, my dad was a tobacco farmer. He managed our own family farm as well as the farm of an absentee owner, and dad was gone long hours each day from well before sun up to well after sun down. He was driving out in the country to inspect some barns where the tobacco was being cured and noticed several vultures in the sky circling not far away. What made him investigate, I’ll never know, and for some reason now I’d really like to ask him—why I never did is beyond me. Most people don’t investigate whatever it is vultures are circling—know what I mean?

Anyway, he found a litter of puppies someone had just thrown out. I know, pretty bad. There were six of them from what I understand, and only one still living, but close to death. Daddy buried those other five puppies—“pretty deep”, he said—and brought THE ONE home to me.

He named the dog LUCKY.

For the next couple of years, Lucky was my constant companion. He was a smart dog, too. I had two cousins that lived not far away through the woods, and I could honestly tell that dog to go and get my cousins and sure enough---he’d head through the woods and sometime later would return with my cousins and their dog BUTCH. Lol Not joking. That dog understood every word I said.

I was eight years old,and it was just a couple of days before Christmas when my granddaddy passed away. He was a great big ole man, and I loved him dearly. I was looking at some old pics last night of me sitting next to him in his hospital bed (yep, he was kept at home when he got down sick) and me brushing his snowy white hair with my little doll brush—you know the kind, the bristles on those brushes are as soft as a feather.

Granddaddy was well known and his passing brought hoards of visitors to the farm house. It was usually very quiet, not a lot going on. But during that time, things were confusing—at least I thought so. And LUCKY must have, too.

He got hit by a car during all of the comings and goings.

I didn’t see this happen or see him afterward. They wouldn’t let me. And I no more understood LUCKY being gone than I did my granddaddy. I was seven at the time. Oh, I cried, but wasn’t quite sure why. I just knew Granny was very sad and granddaddy wasn’t there anymore. Now, neither was LUCKY.

Christmas Eve was very quiet. Granddaddy had been laid to rest the day before—just like my LUCKY. Daddy took me to see LUCKY’S grave and we had a nice little ceremony for him as well. My granny busied herself in the kitchen all day Christmas Eve. I remember Daddy telling her that she didn’t need to, but she shooed him away and kept right on working.

It was well past dark when someone knocked on the door that night. It was that nice couple that lived down the road. At the time they were in their twenties, I’m sure. Their names were Margaret and Donald. I was sitting in the floor cross-legged in front of the Christmas tree when they arrived, and I looked over my shoulder to see them.

They were grinning from ear-to-ear as they were welcomed inside the living room. I went back to looking at the Christmas tree lights. Earlier I’d had a crying bout over Lucky and wasn’t talking much to anyone. Then my grandmother told me I needed to get up and say hello properly to Margaret and Donald. Granny was a real stickler for the proper way to do things for sure. So I got up, made my curtsey and said hello.

As soon as I had, Donald brought his hand from behind his back, and in it was a tiny tiny tiny black puppy. It fit in the palm of his hand. It had little curls all over its body. And it was mine. I was so happy. And it cemented Margaret and Donald in my mind forever.

I named the dog LUCKY.

Years passed, and I had three more dogs named LUCKY. Each of the predecessors leaving this world for the next for one reason or another. And I loved all of those LUCKYS just as much as the first—but the first would always be—well, you know…

Years later when I allowed my girls to have their first puppy, I related the story of how I received my first dog. And it was then that something popped into my head and made that story come full circle. You see, Margaret and Donald still live not too far from me. Their son and my brother, who is much younger than me, were best friends. So our families have always been close.

But I realized the day that I was telling my girls all about Lucky that it was Margaret and Donald who’d accidentally hit LUCKY that night all those years ago with their car. Which is why they brought me a new puppy. They felt guilty. Shouldn’t have, of course, but they knew I was little and needed a puppy. It’s the kind of thing that people do for each other. And one of those bittersweet memories, of course.

No, I never mentioned I’d figured it out—and don’t you think it’s odd that it took me until I was—well, much older, lol, to do so(My age is a state secret, people. Homeland Security protects that secret too. lol)? I saw Margaret and Donald about a month ago on one of my trips into Wal-Greens. Hugged both of them, and we had a nice long conversation. They are on up in years now.

But I still see them as they were that Christmas Eve when I curtsied dutifully to them, and Donald held out that tiny little bundle of curls to me. Margaret had been wearing bright red lipstick. She had long blonde curls hanging down below her shoulders and a pair of barrettes holding her hair back at the temples. She was a tall woman, at least half a foot taller than Donald. His hair was blonde, too, and he was wearing a long-sleeved plaid shirt that night and a black overcoat. Their faces will forever be young and smiling to me.

Happy Holidays, everyone. Share a memory.



Anny Cook said...

Isn't it funny how some things stick out years and years later? Well, Tess, you know I'm posting Christmas memories all month on my blog so I'll not post again here. But if anyone wants "more" I figure we can never have too many memories!

Tess MacKall said...

Nope...we can never have too many memories, Anny. I stopped over at your blog and read Herald the Mouse a couple of days ago. You really should make that into a childrens' book complete with illustrations. That was definitely cute.

Hey, everyone...stop by Anny's blog and share her Christmas memories with her...

Hugs to you, girlie....

C. Zampa said...

Awww, Lucky!
Enjoyed the memory, Tess!

Cassie Exline said...

What a beautiful Christmas memory. No wonder you have a soft heart for dogs. Thanks for sharing. One of my most treasured memories at Christmas is going with my father and little brother getting a tree on my grandmother's farm. My dad chopped down the tree and drug it across the frozen creek with my baby brother riding on the tree branches.

Natalie Dae said...

Gosh, you've made me cry again! You tell such a lovely tale. It's like you're telling it to me and I'm sitting right beside you. One day, my dearest, we'll get to do just that.

Roll on next year!


Tess MacKall said...

Thanks, CZ...poor Lucky(s) was not/were not very lucky, I'm afraid, but they were all dearly loved.

Tess MacKall said...

Awww...crying again. Well, we said we'd end up crying this month. Thank you for the lovely words. When I'm sharing these memories it's as if I'm reliving them all over again. Kind of nice, but sad too. But I see everything with such clarity. year for sure, hon.

Tess MacKall said...

OH yes, love my dogs, Cassie.

And your little brother riding the tree. Oh God, that was priceless. I know you can see him sitting atop those branches right now.

It's so funny how we remember little things like that. They stick with us for sure.

Misty said...

Tess, that was a wonderful story. It's funny how things happen when we are young that we don't really realize the meaning til we are older or shall I say more mature. LOL

Tess MacKall said...

I like the way you think, Misty. lol "More mature"...hmmmm...yes, I like the sound of that. lol

May I use it from now on?

Memories are great and it's funny what you remember. My brother was telling me something the other day from our childhood and I kept looking at him like he was crazy. He finally said, "don't you remember that?" And I said..."uhhh, nope. Not my memory."

Hey, it was HIS memory. Really was. I guess we have special places where we tuck those that belong to us and us alone.

Anonymous said...

Aw, such a lovely story.

Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

in Germany

Tess MacKall said...

Thanks Val...hugs to you.

Fedora said...

Wow--that's a sweet memory, Tess! We've never had a dog ourselves, and a frog or a crawdad don't make for very cuddly companions :)

Tess MacKall said...

No,don't think a frog or crawdad would be too cuddly. Do you have a frog and a crawdad? We have a hermit crab and two beta fish. lol NO cuddles there either.

Two of my dogs just had an argument. Now they are both in bed all snuggled up together.

Madison Scott said...

Aww, Lucky. Thanks for sharing this with us, Tess.

Tess MacKall said...

Thanks for stopping by, Madison.

Fedora said...

No longer, Tess--those were a couple of the pets we *did* have a kids; not a cuddly one amongst them. My mom is horribly allergic to flea bites, and for that reason was dead set against any pets with fur. Alas ;)

Wendy A said...

That was a great sad happy memory it's funny how when your a child something like a puppy given to you can make the bad stuff not so bad when you have something else to focus on.

Tess MacKall said...

My mother wasn't big on pets in the house. But all four of my dogs are inside. And three of them are BIG dogs. I just yelled out this morning that I needed to build onto the house just so I could walk around the dogs.

One of my dogs is allergic to fleas and we have to keep him washed all the time in a special medicated soap and he takes a pill each day too.

Fedora said...

Sounds like a plan, Tess! And your poor allergic dog! Glad he's got you to take such good care of him! May he stay flea-free!

Tess MacKall said...

It does show how something as simple as another puppy to focus on took away the sadness, Wendi. As kids I guess we rebound a bit faster if given the chance.

And something else too. As a parent, I'd have to think long and hard before replacing a dog. I'd worry that I hadn't given my child long enough to mourn over the animal and to remember the responsibility,and worry that I was simply trying to replace a dog in their heart and it would only upset them.

But back in those days, it was just as simple as that. I lost my puppy and only another one would take away the pain and make me smile again. Sometimes I think time has made us all think more than we should. Sometimes we should just act.

Tami W. said...

Oh Tess. You made me cry. Shame on you young lady! How sweet of them to bring that puppy to you. It must have been so hard for you to loose your grandfather and puppy at the same time.

Hugs and love to you and all your Luckys!


Tess MacKall said...

Awww...and to all my Luckys. I have four right now. I don't name them Lucky anymore, but believe me, I've been tempted. Sure have.

It was hard losing granddaddy and Lucky at the same time. But I don't recall much of it. It was pretty fleeting. Especially with a new puppy to care for. Which, I guess, was entirely the point of getting a new one.

Thanks for stopping by, hon.

Regina Carlysle said...

So sad that I'm late stopping by, Tess, but your story was so heart-warming that, hey, I'm just happy to be here. It's funny the little kindnesses we remember and that Margaret and Donald made amends to a sad little girl is so very touching. We also had a "lucky'...a kitten my husband found abandoned behind our dry cleaners. She was near death, skinny and needed someone to love her. She became my son's constant companion. I've never known of a CAT who would follow a child around like our lucky did. We were all heartbroken when she passed.

Lisa Alexander Griffin said...

Wonderful story, Tess. Touched my heart. *hugs*

Zina said...

My best memories are of Christmas at Grannie and Pop's there was always sweets to eat and gifts to open under the tree and deer out in the field to watch, and cousins to play with.