I had one of those days we’ve all had at one time or another to! Do I sound like a 5-year-old or what?
It began while my wife and our younger son and I were visiting her parents in Vancouver, Canada. My in-laws. They make tragic-comedies about in-laws. In-laws are the go-to choice in any tight spot for every comedian. We’re a mixed race/mixed religious couple. Do I stand a chance? Are we in a recession? Are teenagers fun? Do cows make milk?
So, before I get in more trouble with my wife, I’ll leave out any details about staying and visiting my wonderful in-laws. Fortunately, my wife and my in-laws don’t read my writing or listen to my radio show, so I’m probably relatively safe. Nonetheless, I’m moving on to the meat of my story.
This “bad day” began at 2:00 a.m. That is not a typo – TWO A.M.! My older son called. While we were in Vancouver, he stayed home and was looking after the house and our three dogs. He’d found our oldest dog dead, having evidently drowned in our pool. Scared, feeling guilty, not sure of what to do, we calmed him down and told him to pull her out and leave her on the deck. She was in the shallow end of the pool, literally on the first step as you enter the pool.
My wife and I have since speculated that Tache, our 15-year-old rescued pointer mix, may have chosen to take her own life, on her terms. There was no evidence of foul play and while she was a bit weak and a bit senile, it is hard to believe she couldn’t have gotten out of the first step of the pool.
The next day I booked a flight home and my son picked me up at the airport. By then, we’d instructed him to bring Tache’s body into the house and place her in the guest bathroom and close the door. My son was clearly shaken up, but also clearly had shown his cojones by his mature behavior at the start of this sad incident.
I went into the guest bathroom and took a look at Tache’s wet body. She was peaceful, though it was certainly not a pretty site. I had decided I wanted to bury her on our property and began cleaning her up a bit and cleaning up the bathroom.
After I did a little of that work, I closed the bathroom door and went to look for something to wrap her up in. When I got back, the door was locked. This had happened once before as something was evidently wrong with the inside lock. But it had been a long time and the timing of this second gaffe couldn’t have been worse.
I tried everything I could think of to jimmy open the door. Nada. Called a locksmith who arrived 45 minutes later and even he, at first, couldn’t get the door open. Don’t worry, I warned him what he’d find when he did get it open. Finally, he succeeded and I paid him the $95 house call, and proceeded to wrap up my darling Tache and ready her for burial.
Between her body being wet and the heavy canvas I used to wrap her up, lifting and carrying her to the hillside behind our house was not easy. I knew exactly where I wanted to bury her and that I would plant a tree on that spot in honor of her memory.
I placed her wrapped body next to the spot I had in mind and began to dig. It was hot. The dirt was hard, but I slowly made progress. The sweat was dripping off my brow, which I wiped just as a yellow jacket chose to sting me on my finger. I saw the little beast as he was biting me and shook it loose. I continued to dig.
Stupidly, I was wearing flip-flops so I quickly developed a painful blister on the side of my foot. My bitten finger was aching just when I hit the cement like dirt about one foot into my digging efforts. I’d dug about a 4X2 foot rectangular that was now stopped cold at just a foot deep. Below this level was the kind of hard pack that inspired concrete makers. That was the end of my grave digging.
I called our vet and dropped Tache’s body off for him to do a quick look-over autopsy and for them to take care of cremation. He called later to say there appeared nothing else other than drowning as the cause of death and he, too, suspected it was her act of nature and choice.
That night my son and I went out to our favorite pizza joint. We reminisced about the many joyful years Tache was with us. I reassured him that it was unquestionably not his fault and we heartily ate our favorite pizza.
It was a day in which I wish I’d not gotten out of bed. But, my job as dad left me little choice as to what to do. I did my job. That’s what you do once you’ve chosen to be a parent.