Zany copy editor and writer with more than 25 years’ experience in everything from advertising to petting zoos! Am I meticulous? Heck, I get on my own nerves sometimes, that’s how much attention I pay to details. "I am not making this up" – Dave Barry

Living in High Springs has brought me joy and happiness I never knew I could experience. There are people here who love me and care about me. I have a beautiful home, a job others would give anything to have, a new hobby (photography), and no more of the traffic and rudeness of Tampa Bay. Sounds idyllic, I know. And it is – most of the time. But something is missing. I am not all here, not able to get organized or even function some days.

It’s because I am still in pain – physical and emotional – and lost without Barbara, who left this earth 7/14. I should be better now. I shouldn’t think about her every day, right? I should be able to talk about her without feeling my eyes fill with tears.

Someone suggest that I write about it, and maybe doing so will help.

Some people tell me to get therapy; this has gone on too long.Other people tell me that what I feel is normal. I’ve learned that the amount/length of grief can be tied to the number of years you had with your dog and the type of relationship the two of you had. Well,  I had Barbara for 12 glorious years. Ours was a deep and unique relationship. I cried when I saw her for the first time. I fell in love immediately. I cried when I saw her for the last time. I didn’t know if I could live without her.

We were together nearly all the time because I work from home. We had routines. We said our prayers before meals. I sang a special song when it was walk time. If I was going to leave the room for a few minutes, I just said, “Mama be right back,” and she’d plop down and wait for me. She knew the difference between going for a ride with me and those times she had to stay at home and wait. When that happened, I always said, “Keep the house.” She knew she’d get a few treats before I left, and she waited patiently for my return – usually with something special for her. I’d say, “Do you wanna go fwimmin’?” (our special word), and she’d run to the cabinet where I stored her beach towels. My, how she loved the water. She’d pouce in, swim and show pure joy, and even put her head underwater. Probably looking for squirrels or lizards.

Ptsd, depression, anxiety took me places no one should go. Barbara could sense that. She KNEW when I was getting ready to zone out or take to bed. She’d press herself against me to reassure me that she was there. She’s put her big ol’ paw right in the center of my forehead, for dog-style reiki, when tension headaches took over. She’d disappear for a few minutes and come back with a toy or something from the laundry hamper – trying to make me smile, and it worked.

In 2009-10, I had horrible problems, then surgery, due to frozen shoulder. My precious dog stayed right beside me for at least six months when I was in too much pain to move. She was by my side when I had to sleep in a recliner. Then when I could move back to my bed she very gently got up beside me. One night when I was really hurting, that sensitive dog moved up the bed slowly until she could nestle her nose in my neck and make little “I’m here, Mama. Sorry you hurt” snuffling sounds into my neck. Tears ran down my face – not from pain, but from the love of my constant companion. Finally, she decided it might be okay to leave me alone so she went to the living room and stretched out on the sofa. If she thought I’d turned a corner, then it must have been true. The next day, we took a slow, short walk. She was so patient with me because I’d lost all the strength in my legs and my balance was off. She didn’t pull on her leash, but rather walked at my side (I know she wanted to go faster and further). We kept at it, and soon were up to our regular walks and adventures.

My wonderful dog stopped people in their tracks when we took walks. Everyone wanted to be close to Barbara. She had a beautiful, shiny coat from twice-daily brushings. Her teeth stayed white because of the special product I sprinkled in her food every day. She ate well, and while I hate to cook for myself, I loved to cook for Barbara. And she sure did enjoy her coconut water. She was always happy, wagging her tail, and smiling that special Golden Retriever smile.

I used to take her in the car when I went to the neighborhood convenience store. I’d get some sort of snack, and always a cheese stick for Barbara.Left the a/c on. I didn’t pay attention to it until after she’d passed. I went to the conv. store, and the clerk asked about Barbara. Said she hadn’t seen her in a few weeks. It broke my heart to tell her what had happened. She started crying and had to leave to go to the back room to cry it out. Everybody loved Barbara.

Everyone loved her, except for those who don’t like dogs, don’t understand how they become part of souls, and don’t understand how much we love them – no matter how goofy they are. Barbara’s goofiness saved me from some scary times of depression more than I can count.

One day, someone tried to break into my house. Barbara barked and growled in such a scary way (never heard it before; never heard it again) when the man pounded on my door and window. He ran away, but my neighbors got robbed. Later, when the Sheriff came to take statements, he looked me in the eye and said, “You need to know that your dog saved your life. That man would have, without a doubt, killed me.” How did she know on that one day that the pounding on the door was foe, not friend? Don’t believe it when people say Goldens are not good watchdogs.

She had what I termed GRAttitude – Golden Retriever Attitude. Always smiling, always happy and ready for fun, and always glad to be by my side. God. Please God. I miss that. Even when she was near death, she fought to keep that special attitude.

Then came the day. She and I knew it was the end of the road. I feel the agony today as if it happened yesterday. She tried so hard to be happy, even on that day. I snuggled with her on a blanket in the vet’s office. Our wonderful vet who, along with B’s specialists, tried everything possible to save her. As she passed from this world to the next, I spoke to her and reminded her of all the fun we’d had – and told her that there are probably slow squirrels in heaven for her to catch.

And then it was over. I walked out of the office with her green collar in my hand, and cried millions of tears. That night, I begged God to give me a sign to let me know she was happy there in heaven. And then a miracle happened. I opened my eyes and saw a hazy images of my pupper there, right beside me, smiling. I could touch her, though not physically. I could sense her happiness. Spiritually, I held her close and whispered in her ears. I petted her, cried, and thanked God for letting me know she was okay. It was only about five minutes, but it was what I needed.

Today, I still miss her. She was more than a “Dog” to me. She was a friend to joke with, travel with, take naps with, and go on lizard hunts with. She loved it when I sang to her. She loved everything about me. She was always with me, always by my side. She is now, and forever, in my heart.

I am lost without her. I would like to honor her by getting another dog but two things in my life prevent it. Most important is that the person I love doesn’t like dogs and especially doesn’t like the way MY dogs behave. So the saddest thing is that I’ve had to choose between a dog (which would help w/my PTSD, and my psychiatrist agrees) and the person most loved in my life.

I pet every dog I see when I’m out in public. I miss that special connection, the trust. I miss Barbara. I will feel this way for a long time, I think.

She’s shown here wearing her Easter bandana and her beautiful smile.2006-01-11 15.37.34

IMG_1433

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Psalm 19:1″

Beautiful views from my porch this Easter Week remind me of a song by the artist known in my time as Cat Stevens.

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the One Light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God’s recreation of the new day.

Yesterday, I set out. A left turn here, a right turn a few miles later, then a U-turn to take a dirt road. I found abandoned/invisible communities, energetic streams, eccentricities. If you click the link below, you SHOULD find yourself at Google’s version of the photos I took as I meandered, with no idea where I was. I love those days. Imagine setting out with no destination, not even a plan to turn onto a road until you see it. Thus was my day.

Let me know if the link works, and if you have a minute, let me know what you think about a one-day trip along a dirt road.

https://plus.google.com/u/0/107423373563189064334/stories/b3a46c52-75c2-3ff3-8ec1-bbace75db7eb14b80dd9206?cfem=1

New Genre?

Being new to this part of the state, I don’t know if the rain we’ve had is normal or more than normal. It doesn’t bother me, anyway, since the weather is not the boss of me. I do, though, like to get out often to drive the back roads and photograph  secret spots here and yon. It’s a great way to get my imagine headed towards writing. This is a hobby best practiced when the sky is blue, but lately, the sky has not favored this wandering photographer. And so, to see our cloudy days through different eyes, I decided to play up the gloom. I’m now taking rainy-day pictures and categorizing them as Southern Goth. Here are some examples. Expect more as I hone my craft. Stories to follow.Sit a Spell (2) IMG_20150103_160008509_HDR 101_9128 Frowning Church (2) The Sad ChurchIMG_20150103_141856130

Please Help Braxton

Pete and I had a beautiful boy, Daniel, in 1987. Like Braxton, Daniel was born with a chromosome imbalance. Unlike Braxton, Daniel did not live. My heart aches for this family because I know what it’s like to hear those words. At this time of year, I always think of Daniel – yes, even 27 years later. If you can, make a donation to help this family make their boy’s life better. If you do, please consider donating in memory of Daniel Marek Mallory. If you’re not able to make a cash donation, please pray for Braxton and his family. I know about Braxton through a good friend from “home” (New Smyrna Beach). Peace to all. Jeannine

Last night, in my first volunteer assignment for our lovely Hospice, I helped at the group’s annual Renewal event. It was a time for people to remember those they’ve lost. We opened with a prayer and introduction, and then the hospice grief counselor sang “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”  Next, attendees had an opportunity to say a few words about their loved ones, if they felt like talking (some didn’t). Then they lit a small candle and placed an ornament on the tree in memory of their loved one/s.

Then Brian lit four special candles.

1. For grief, which we all experience, even if we’ve been fortunate and have not yet lost                       someone dear.

2. For courage, which we need to keep going after a loss.

3. For memory, which will never leave us; those we love will always be with us.

4. For love, which does not fail. “Three things will last forever — faith, hope, and love — and the             greatest of these is love.”  1 Corinthians 13:13

We sang again, then stood, and held hands to form a never-ending circle, while Brian said another prayer.  Hug all around after that, followed by some refreshments.

I was there as a volunteer, so no one knew I was also there because I lost a loved one this year, and I miss her more than ever during this, my first Christmas in High Springs. I think about her all the time, especially on days like today – the air is crisp, the temperature is in the 40’s, and there are all sorts of places to explore and “sniff.” She loved the cold weather.

This morning, I’d planned to do my Christmas cards. I went to the drawer where I’d stored them for the move. They are sweet little cards, but I cannot send them because the image makes me cry. It’s a painting Christmas 2005 2 (2)of all types of dogs and puppies, dancing around a snowman. The littlest things just bring me to my knees with missing her.

I guess what I want to say is that if you know someone who has lost a human or “animal” loved one, please don’t be afraid to talk about it. Don’t think, “Well, maybe she’s not thinking about that right now,” or “I don’t want to bring it up; it will just upset her.” Trust me; we’re all thinking about it right now, and maybe we’d like to know that you care. Maybe we’d like a hug or just a few words so we know you recognize what we’re going through.

I lost my son 27 years ago, and my dad passed in 1994. I still think about them. And I still think about my sweet, precious Barbara, whose joyous spirit and unconditional love embodied what we need to remember at this time of year.

Remembering Daniel

In the fall of 1987, Pete and I had a son, Daniel. He was with us for five days. Christmas that year was tough, and I wanted to remember him – but not be maudlin about it Well, that year, Hallmark introduced a new ornament, “Mary’s Christmas Angels.” Now that I think about it, I realize Pete and I each had a grandmother named Mary. Hmmm. So every year now, for 27 years, I’ve purchased the next angel in the series. I love these sweet ornaments. They remind me that there are always angels among us. I have a special angel, and he’s on my mind today. Sleep in Heavenly Peace.

2014 Angel

photo from Hallmark.com

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