Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Homemade Xmas Gift and In Memoriam

Last year about this time I talked about a Christmas gift that I was making for my family members
but of course was unable to share in fear that they might see it on my blog.
I planned to share it this month and now I do so with a heavy heart.
I will start by saying that I've received 2 phone calls this week thanking me again for the gift.
So yes, I need to share it.
Last December I called my sister and told her that I would be coming over and not to ask questions.
I said it had to with "Christmas".
When I arrived she was the only one home and I told her to "Get lost".
"What are you doing?" she asked and then added
"Don't go into Grace's room, she might be working on something that she doesn't want you to see"
I reassured her I wouldn't so she went downstairs to do laundry.
I had a little box with me and inside it was little black flatten balls of Sculpey clay that I had pierced on the top of the "circle".
I yelled "Stay down there!"  and I whispered to Hank their elderly yellow lab to come with me.
I've written about the summer trip the family took to the Lake with Hank, HERE.
So we are in the bathroom and Hank sat patiently as I slowly, softly but firmly, pressed each disc on the top of his nose.
Then I put each one carefully into a baggie and sit them in the box.
When we are done I walk to the basement door and yelled "OK! you can come up now"
My sister walked up the steps and looked at the little box in my hand. "What's in there?" she asked.
"Don't you worry about it" I told her and held up the box and said "Christmas!"
I told her good-bye and as I walked out to my car she yelled "you are weird" and I yelled back that she was too and we laughed.

Fast forward to Christmas and we are opening gifts. 
I had made little boxes out of watercolor paper and drawn ribbon and name-tags on them.

I had my family all sit together and open their boxes at the same time.
They looked at it quizzically at first.

The girls had necklaces and my sister and her husband had key-chains.

They started to comment on them and my sister asked slowly "Is it a...buck-eye?"
No one had figured it out.
"No" I said, "Feel the texture, the imprint?" and they started to run a finger across the pieces of clay.
"It's an imprint of Hank's nose!" I exclaimed.

They all burst out a collective "AAAAHHHHHH" and my sister, who doesn't cry easily, got up and ran for the bathroom
I ran after her and took a photo.

"Don't be putting me on your BLOG!" she sniffed.
and Lily ran over and hugged Hank.

Yeah, the gifts were a huge success.

So....last Wednesday I had gotten home (I work half days on Wednesday) and my sister calls to see if I'm busy.
I had lots of plans but I ask "Why?"
"Well" she says "I've just been in a car accident and this guy hit me and my car is not driveable."
Luckily she is OK, even if her car is not.
She had to wait for a tow truck and the police to finish up but she asked me to meet her at the car body/repair shop.
I rounded up the dogs and put them in the laundry room and left.
She was already there when I got there and her little VW Bug was pretty badly smashed in just behind the drivers side door.

As I drove her home, she was talking about how she she had a high deductible. (She was a a stop sign, stopped and then went and suddenly out of nowhere a car hit her. But because she had a stop sign, it was her fault)
She was irritated how whenever you get a little bit ahead, something seems to happen to take your cash.
I agreed and said how last year my tax refund went directly to cut down the tree that fell on my house and the year before it went to 4 new tires that I had to get. Then someone said to me at the time, that I was fortunate to have the money. I said that while it's irritating, you just have to think of it that way. And.....
I said, " You might not have thought of this yet but, if that car had hit you seconds earlier and in the little car, you could have died."
"Yeah", she grudgingly agreed. 
As we drove I said to her "OK, I'm going to say something to you and I'll only say it once."
"OoooooK" she replied. 
Then I told her that when the day comes that Blue is old and hurting and not living a quality life, that I might need someone to tell me that it's time to let him leave this world. I said that I would probably be mad at whoever told me this and that I might not be able to accept it but I might just need someone to say it to me anyway".
"OK" she replied.

(Now I haven't mentioned that Hank had had a stroke the week before and how my sister had called Doc in a panic at Midnight and how the next day Doc adjusted Hank and gave him a shot of something to help his brain and inflammation, then Doc had said that in a few days, time would tell.)

"So... I'm trying to say that maybe it's time to think about Hank.."
"OH NO!" she interrupted. "He's doing MUCH better."
"OK", I said. "I just wanted to say that."

I pulled up to her house and she walked up to the front door and turned and waved.
Her face formed a tight smile but I could see sadness and tell that she didn't want to cry.
I came home and let my dogs out and started a load of laundry and set down to the computer when my phone rang.
It was my sister.
I couldn't understand a word she trying to say, she was sobbing so hard.
I told her to take a breathe and talk slowly, that I couldn't understand her.
I heard her gulp and say, "I let the dogs outside and they did their business and came in and I gave them both their treats.
Then they went into the living room and laid down on their beds in front of the fireplace."
She stopped for moment and said
"I was on the phone with Lily and I glanced over at the dogs and noticed that Hank looked to be in a weird position"
Then she walked over and looked at him closer and told Lily she had to hang up but for her to come home RIGHT NOW.
She sobbed to me "He's GONE!"

What followed afterwards was so many tears and a very heartbroken family.
Later, much later they have all come to realize that at least he has home, in front of a fire sleeping next to his buddy.
And at least my sister was in the house and had just been with him and knew that he had his treat and that his last moments were peaceful.
Another awful sad story that I'm sharing.
I've promised before to try not to write posts like this but...
I feel that if I didn't share this, the passing of a wonderful very loved dog that I would somehow be disrespectful of his memory.
Hank was one of those good dogs that never did a thing wrong. He was just the perfect dog.
I know that people have different beliefs but I believe he is now with my perfect dog, my Golden Retriever, my Maddie.
She passed almost 10 years ago and my heart still hurts to think about her.

I hope not to have any more stories like this for a very long time.
But I also wanted to remind everyone that sometimes a gift made from the heart,
a gift that doesn't cost very much,
can mean more than anything trendy thing you can buy.


Pamela Smallcomb said...

Hank looks like he was the best dog ever. We had a dog like him, a sweet girl named Halley. I still miss her. She raised our kids.
Your gift was so sweet, and I know it means the world to all of them.
And I really do hope for no more sad stories from any of us, for a very long time. xox

Anonymous said...

But You know what, this is sad but still not since he was at home and with his buddy.

How many dogs get that chance when the day comes? You know as well as I that this was a blessing really. Still it isn't easy. I dread the day when I have to take that decission again.

Take care!

An Urban Cottage said...

My sincere and heartfelt condolences to you and your family. It's such a hard thing to deal with. If there's any silver lining it's that fact that he went quietly at home. It's such a heart-wrenching thing deciding when the time is right and, although it doesn't make the pain go away, they were spared that horrible part of it. I will give extra hugs to my babies tonight just thinking about it.

Nita Stacy said...

Ok, this made me cry and cry. I was crying when you told what the gifts were. Oh...what a wonderful gift and how they truly must cherish them now. I'd give anything to have an imprint of Newmans' nose. Anything...that was a wonderful wonderful gift. I am so sad to hear of Hank's passing but lucky they and he were for him to die at home in front of the fire on a normal day. I'd too give anything for that also. I can't even drive by my vet without thinking much I hate it that Newman died there alone. Hank was a beautiful dog. What a kind face he had. I do hope you've made yourself an imprint of Blue's nose. That was a great great idea. Truly great.

Cynthia Myers said...

yes, after imprinting Hank's nose I came home and did Blue's too.

GunnyMom said...

What a wonderful story. I am so glad that she was at home with him and shared his last moments. What a nice memory the imprints must bring to his family. I have had to put down 3 wonderful dogs over the years due to cancer and it was so hard and broke my heart. Hank was at home and with his family which is a blessing. Thanks for sharing. This imprint is a wonderful idea. Merry Christmas....

leslie said...

thanks for the warning, c, but you know i had to read it.

heartbreaking. but what a lovely gift, and what a lovely way for hank to go...

Jan said...

I've read this post about 3 times now. I find it to be a lovely loving post. That is the best last gift our dogs can give us, to pass peacefully away at home in old age. I've had a lot of dogs but only one passed peacefully away at home with me kneeling beside him, petting him and telling him to go ahead, I'll be behind him soon (or not so soon!). Now I think I might have to make some sculpey nose tags!
P.S. glad your sister wasn't hurt in the car accident!