Read my latest post on Dogster!

Lily (on the bottom) and her daughter Lola loved to play together every day.

Lily (on the bottom) and her daughter Lola loved to play together every day.

I didn’t even know they had posted this, so I am late sharing it with you. Sorry about that.

My Dog and I Bonded Deeply After Losing Our Mothers the Same Month

This story is about me and Lola losing our moms just eight days apart. It was a hard time for both of us. The funny thing is that earlier today, I said to her, “Maybe my mom had to go away so she could take care of your mom when she got there.” That reminded me that I had written this last month and it had never run, so I looked for it again.

Please go check it out and share this post with your animal-loving friends!

Please stay inside your car when it’s running

anton yelchin

Like other Star Trek fans, I have been deeply saddened by the death of Anton Yelchin, who played the young Chekov in the rebooted movies.

Yelchin, who was only 27, was killed by his own car when it rolled down the hill of his home and crushed him against a brick mailbox pillar and a wrought iron gate.

I’ve read many stories since his death. There are the issues with recalls of the type of car he owned. Some people are even talking about his death being mysterious and saying that maybe someone was behind it, because otherwise how could he end up like that.

Let me tell you one way something like that can happen. I love my car, and I have always treated my cars like people. Maybe it’s just in my nature, but I tend to anthropomorphize things. (That means I give inanimate objects human characteristics.) I’ve done that since I was a little girl. I truly do think that many things have feelings.

I had a Chevrolet Monte Carlo CL many years ago. At that time, it was the nicest car I had owned. It was a beautiful silver-gray with a landau top. I called her Monte and I babied that car and cared for it like you would a beloved pet.

One day, I drove to a friend’s house. We were in a hurry to see each other, in a hurry to go somewhere. I parked Monte in the driveway, and leapt out in a hurry when I saw my friend on the porch waving to me. I was so excited to see her! She was supposed to be ready to go, so I didn’t shut off the car before I hopped out to run to greet her.

Most of what happened next plays in slow motion in my mind all these years later. I knew that car was in park. I double checked. But to my astonishment, as I headed toward my friend, she yelled and pointed to my beloved car, which was now rolling down the driveway and off to the side where there was a grassy hill. I shrieked and ran for Monte. My safety was not even in my head at that moment. I couldn’t let anything happen to her!

As ran as fast as I could, and bolted down the hill where my car was then rolling. The rest is a bit of a blur, but I ended up between the driver’s side door of my car and a large tree, which crunched into my door and my back. I still have the scar to prove it.

I was wedged there only momentarily before she rolled a little bit farther and I was able to get unstuck, open the door and put her in park. But that could have gone so much worse. Thankfully, I wasn’t killed. However, I did learn a valuable lesson.

Automobiles, although they can be dependable in the mechanical sense, and they can take us to freedom and away from bad things and people, they are also machines and they can malfunction. We humans do, too.

Never, ever get out of a car that is running. Please turn it off every time you have to exit. It doesn’t matter if you just have to close the garage door, you forgot to turn off the light inside the garage, you need to move that shopping cart to pull into that space or you just want to grab the mail. Don’t run into a gas station or a store or back into the house for something you forgot with your vehicle running.

If you have get out of the car, for any reason at all, turn it off. You can restart it in seconds and doing so won’t harm anything. It might even save your life.

 

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, wherever you may be

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Do you ever wish a holiday would just drop off the map?

I do, because it’s that time of year again when I’m getting emails in my inbox reminding me to buy flowers or candy or some other type of present for my mom for Mother’s Day.

Is it just me or is Mother’s Day on steroids this year? It’s everywhere I turn – in the stores, in the newspaper, on the radio, on the Internet. Maybe it’s that way every year. Maybe it just seems so in my face because I miss her so much.

I recently moved near where my dad lives, and my mom didn’t live too far from him. For many years, when I came “home” to visit, I spent time with each of them. And now, she should be here. But she isn’t.

People ask other people, and people have asked me, “What are you doing for Mother’s Day?” Well, my mom died two and a half years ago. What are you supposed to do with Mother’s Day when you’re not a mother and your mother is no more? What do you do when you’re one of the Motherless Daughters?

Unbelievably, a distant family member swooped in and stole my mother’s ashes from the place that handled her arrangements after she “graduated” from medical school. (I had to fight distant family members to even make sure her body was donated to a medical school like she wanted, but that’s another story.) I still remember my shock when the guy said, “I’m sorry, we sent her to so and so.” Of course, they never contacted me to see if that was what I wanted, but instead just assumed that person was telling the truth when he requested it behind my back.

I felt horrible about that for about a week, until a good friend came to my house for a visit. When I tearfully told him what happened, he said one of the greatest things anyone has ever said to me: “Well, think about it this way. You got all of those years with her, and all of her love and all of those memories, and all he got was a box of ash.”

An overwhelming feeling of peace immediately came over me and I haven’t been upset about the theft since, because he was right: I got all the best of my mom during all of the years we had together. He also pointed out something else to me: She isn’t gone from me.

Throughout the week after that conversation, I really thought about what he said about her not being gone and then I realized he was right. She is with me every day.

I can hear her in my voice when I get excited or silly, or when I talk to my animals. I do the same higher pitch then.

I can see her in my hand whenever I sign my name. I worked hard when I was a teen to mimic her elegant cursive, and if you looked at our signatures, you would immediately see the resemblance.

I can feel her in my smile whenever I pose for a “good” photo. (My mom was a teenage beauty queen who taught me how to smile for “good” photos.)

I can hear her in the advice I give to friends – be kind, to yourself and others; do the right thing; love everyone, always.

I guess for Mother’s Day, I will remember my mom and wish she was still here. I’ll ache about feeling like an orphan. And I’ll hug my dad a little tighter, because he’s the only parent I have left.

Do you still have your mom? If not, what do you do for Mother’s Day? If this post spoke to you, please share it.

When doves and fans cry…

prince

I will just go ahead and confess that I have been depressed for several days, and that’s why I haven’t posted something new here.

It may not make sense to some people that the death of a musician could make someone so upset.

But the death of Prince has hit me hard.

Maybe his death is hard for me because it follows some other musicians that meant a lot to me, like David Bowie and Scott Weiland.

Then again, maybe it’s because of where Prince’s music fits into my life. I was a teen when I first heard his music, and it had a huge impact on me. The film “Purple Rain” was one of which I and my like-minded friends could not get enough.

I remember my first love happened at about that time, and I clearly recall riding on the back of his motorcycle, thinking about a scene in the movie where Prince and his love were doing the same.

I swear I can smell the air and feel the wind in my hair to this day.

Every time I was on that bike that summer, the song “Take Me With You” ran through my head.

“I don’t care where we go, I don’t care what we do. I don’t care, pretty baby, just take me with you.”

First love combined with young love combined with summer love. Was there anything better?

My life now is much different from those idyllic days. Things haven’t turned out the way I hoped or thought or even imagined. But even when your life goes great, like mine has, I think no one can help sometimes being wistful for a time that was simpler and more innocent.

I don’t know that I can put into words why Prince mattered so much to me, but he did. He mattered a lot.

Because I met so many stars during my newspaper career, my dad assumes I have met everyone. I was at his house this weekend when something came on the news about Prince.

“Did you know him?” my dad asked innocently.

“No. Yes,” I said as tears fell down my face. “It’s hard to explain. I never met him, but he meant a lot to me.”

My dad looked thoughtful for a moment, and then didn’t press the issue.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “It seems like he meant a lot to a lot of people.”

Indeed.

Do you have a special Prince memory? Share it with me. And if this post speaks to you, please share it.

You can mourn someone you’ve never met

graveyard-celebrity deathsIn the past couple of years, I have mourned the loss of several people who I had never met.

Leonard Nimoy (yes, who was Spock of Star Trek but also had success in movies, television shows, in the recording studio and in the art world) died Feb. 27, 2015.

The mercurial, but nonetheless talented singer/songwriter Scott Weiland died Dec. 3, 2015. And even though his death was predicted and “expected” for years, that didn’t make it any less shocking, any less painful for me when it came. I loved Stone Temple Pilots, and I also loved all of Weiland’s side projects. I met him once and made him laugh, and I will carry that image of him forever – his head thrown back in true laughter at something I did that he called “delightful.”

The great David Bowie passed away Jan. 10. Just four days later, actor Alan Rickman died. Both men had cancer, and both were 69 when they died. In this day and age, that isn’t old. And both were vibrant and still performing amazingly well in their chosen careers.

I still recall like it was yesterday sobbing and dropping to my knees when I learned that John Lennon had been murdered on Dec. 8, 1980. I remember right where I was, who I was with, what I was wearing, how I heard the news. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. I loved him and his music so much. My teen brain couldn’t make sense of the fact that he was a peace activist and he was murdered. I still want someone to explain that one to me. And there’s the snuffing out of all of the wonderful music he was making and would have made…

When Johnny Cash died, I felt like I had lost a family member. I wept bitterly the day I found out he was gone. My dad played his records when I was a child, and I followed Cash’s music career as I grew up and moved from place to place. Never saw him in concert, never met him, but I truly loved him. Maybe this won’t make sense to some people, but he was like a father figure to me.

Why do celebrity deaths affect us so much? I think there are many reasons. But, mostly, I think it’s that these people gave us themselves and their time, and therefore we spent time “with” them. I knew everything about Lennon, and as a teenage girl I had spent hours and hours talking with friends about him and listening to his music.

Bowie made me feel like being an outsider, a misfit, wasn’t so bad. It was fine to not be like everyone else. In fact, it was cool to be whoever I was, whoever I wanted to be, and I could change and change again and still be cool. I could just be me. And that was all right.

Cash spoke out for the downtrodden, the broken, the wayward people. I felt his music deeply, and felt like he was talking to me in some of the things he said.

As Spock, Nimoy taught me many lessons when I was a child and as I grew up. I also loved his music. And later his art. He seemed a noble person to me.

Rickman made me laugh, and cry. His quality roles are too numerous to list here, and I may have loved him for the ones that were not as famous as others. I wonder if he would find it funny that the first thing I thought when I learned he was dead, while I hadn’t even wrapped my head around Bowie’s death, was, “By Grabthar’s Hammer…” And then I laughed. I think he might have approved.

The bottom line is this: Let people criticize us “commoners” when we mourn the passings of the famous. Love is love, no matter where it is found. Go ahead and love, and mourn, however deeply you need to.

If something in this post speaks to you, please share it with your friends or on social media.

If animals don’t go to heaven, no one should

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I still recall the day many years ago that my mom called me, sobbing, because her pastor had announced in church that animals don’t have a soul and, therefore, they don’t go to heaven.

My mom was the most animal-loving person I have ever known. We owned a pet and fish store when I was a preteen and she later became a conservation officer assistant who saved hundreds of wild animals. In my growing-up years, we had all varieties of animals in our home. They included a pig, owls, ferrets, foxes, coyotes, possums, badgers, snakes, lizards of all types (including a Gila monster), parrots and a monkey. We also had many dogs and cats.

After I became an adult with a place to live where I could have a pet, I got my own assortment of pets. First, it was a fish tank, and then a cat. And then there was a larger fish tank, and then a dog. And then some rats (which are wonderful pets). I’ve had two cats. I’m now on my fifth dog. I loved each and every one of my animals as much as my mom loved each of hers. I think some things are imprinted on you when you’re young.

There is a famous writing called “The Rainbow Bridge,” which comforts many animal people when they read it. If you’re not familiar with it, it talks about our animals going to a place to wait for us to join them.

I could delve here into Bible verses about animals and how much God loves them, but people who love animals already know that, Bible verses or not. So, you can look those up on your own if you want to read them.

Do animals have a soul? I don’t know the answer to that. But I do know that they are wonderful beings that give us their all. They forgive far beyond what any human ever has, and they love us unconditionally. And they deserve our love and respect in return.

The death of my first German shepherd wounded me far deeper than any death ever had, including those of people I had been close to. I remember sobbing and asking a friend of mine why dogs only live 10 or so years, instead of 50 or 60. At that time, I could’ve lived my whole life with Pasha and been completely happy to do so. This wise friend replied, “Think about all the animals we kill every year because no one loves them. People can’t even keep a five- or 10-year commitment. Think about how many more animals would die because people would not give them a lifetime.”

I remember when Pasha was getting old, I swore I would never have another dog after her. And then, I had to come home to a home with no dog. And it turns out that isn’t who I am. I am a girl with a dog. Twenty-nine days after Pasha’s death, I rescued my second shepherd. And 28 days after Ellie’s death four years later, I rescued another shepherd. When Sarah died just five years later, I rescued two shepherds, a mother/daughter pair, Lily and Lola, just 26 days after Sarah’s passing. Sadly, Lily died just four months and 11 days after she came to live with me. (But that is a story for another time.)

Losing each of my animals has been incredibly painful. But at some point, I realized that if any of them had not left, I would not have been able to be there for the others. And with that realization has come some kind of acceptance about the brevity of animals’ lives, although I still wonder why they have to go so soon.

I believe I will see all of my animals again. I’ll have a huge fish tank, a half-dozen rats, two cats and a small stable of German shepherds. My mom, who passed away herself two years ago, now likely has the largest assortment of pets anyone has ever had in heaven. One definition of heaven is this: “a place or state of supreme happiness.” If animals don’t go there with us, I don’t know that I want to go there myself.

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