After the kids moved out I continued to nag Jimmy for a dog. My empty nest and I didn't want a dog now but it gave me leverage for things I did want. Over time I perfected the guilt trip. Not having a dog even got me a trip to Paris one summer.
I had genuinely yearned for a puppy when Jackie and Doug were little and Jimmy's lame excuse was allergies. Both kids inherited his 'I'm ruining everything' gene. I was out numbered.
In the early '80's our only choice for a non-allergic dog was the non-dog, the Poodle. Poodle people claim their darlings are misunderstood because of poofie haircuts and glitzy grooming but that's like saying Queen Elizabeth would be pretty if she took off that stupid crown and put down her pocketbook once in a while.
Comedian Rita Rudner agrees: "I wonder if other dogs think poodles are a member of a weird religious cult."
If Tony, my non-allergic Yorkie and Maltese combo, had been invented then he may have joined our young family and might have been still alive when Jimmy died. He would have kept the bed warm. That wasn't meant to be. Tony, as Edith Wharton said of her dog is "A heartbeat at my feet. " He came into my life in August 2007, almost a year and a half later.
The first year fog had evaporated, the seasons had changed twice and I was beginning to understand that this was my life. Jimmy wasn't coming home. I began to prepare for the rest of my life.
I didn't know it then but it was exactly the right time to meet my Morkie. I, too, was evolving into a new breed. "Poor Widow Me" was shaky, but I was beginning to lose the "Poor" and starting to plan. I had a future to attend to.
Fixing up the backyard was on my list of "things I felt strange doing without Jimmy and yet happy I could do what I wanted." That list got longer the next year, but that's another blog.
My landscaper Old Mike gave me Tony. Old Mike had known Jimmy years before and he was one of the guys who watched my back now, was part of my posse. Women alone need a brother, a brother-in-law, some man to stand beside her to let a car salesman know she's not going to pay the sticker price. I learned this quickly.
Old Mike was in his 70's. I sensed a 'around her I feel guilty to be alive so I'll throw in a free bed of tulips' feeling.' Would it be wrong to play 'the widow card' and ask him to plant roses as well?
The truth is I did resent him and his age spots. I resented him right up until that day in my kitchen when he brought up, "I have a dog who needs a home."
From that moment on Old Mike's liver spots made him look like a lovable Dalmatian.
To be continued...