Thursday, November 20, 2008

Remembering Gifts

Maria was my smallest whippet. Diminutive only in physical mass, her presence was luminous and cosmic. And, as I've mentioned, brassy.

She came from a "show kennel" before I knew better. One of too many puppies from too many litters, Maria did not know how to enjoy lap time. If you put her on your lap she would stiffen like an ice sculpture and try to drip off. Until her last two years. Something switched in her brain, and though she would grunt when you lifted her, she would soon relax.

But she was a cuddler from the get go. On the couch, in bed, under my blanket.
And she was a gift giver.

The following is an excerpt from a chapter in my first book, Mama Pajama Tells A Story, titled The Gifts.

After a particularly long, harrowing day at work, my husband and I fell into bed, exhausted. As we turned to each other in the dark, we were each struck by the thought that something was terribly wrong with the other.
There was a smell. A very bad smell.
OK, there had been plenty of garlic in the pasta, but this odor went way beyond garlic breath.
First we thought the other had suddenly developed a gross deficiency in his/her personal hygiene. Then we thought the other must have a terrible infection somewhere awful.
I sat up and turned on the light.
"Bill," I said.
"Patience!" he said.
"I don't have any infected, unhygienic anything," we both said.
I jumped out of bed and peeled back the sheets. Nothing. I lifted the pillows, and

there was our little gift: a putrefied slimy long-dead baby bird.
Maria had snuck it in from the yard and buried it under the pillow. Just for us!
After we changed the sheets and took a shower just for good measure, Bill and I laughed ourselves to sleep.
Years later, we still check under the pillows before getting in bed.

She shared with us the gift of being a world champion squeaky toy squeaker. She could squeak a squeaker three times a second nonstop for the entire time it took to fix dinner. I loved it. Drove poor Bill crazy. And, if the mood struck, which it usually did, she could de-stuff a stuffie faster than I could say, "Maria, what are you doing, it's too quiet, where...?"

Many a time our yard appeared to be a Colorado January, when in fact it was Kentucky August. Stuffie 'snow' everywhere.

She was the most efficient self-coverer. She could wrap herself in a blanket so effectively, that you could peer in a crate, or pass by a couch, or sit on your bed, and not realize there was a little whippet tucked in. In her dotage, she gifted me with the privilege of covering her.

"Arf." Translated: Servant!
[Patience continues with what she was doing.]
"Arf." Translated: I said, Servant!
"Coming, Maria."
"Arf. Arf." Now.
"I'm coming!"
"Arf. Arf. Arf." A little whippet could freeze to death, let's get a move on.
"There you go, all covered up, snug as can be."
[thirty seconds pass]
"Arf." Not quite comfy enough. I moved. You are allowed to try again.

She would start barking at me for her diner, which is served at five, at three. And if I said, "MARIA!" in exasperation, she would look stricken for two seconds, and then realize my error, and wag that tail, and bounce off her front feet as she redoubled her barking efforts.

I could prompt, "Maria, what does a cheerleader say?"
And if we were alone, she would say, "Rah, rah, rah," clear as a bell.
If I were showing off for company, she would say, "Arf, arf, arf, arf, wooooooooo!" and get the whole pack howling.
Giving me the gift of humility, of course.
If she were here, she'd be barking at me to get off my duff and walk the dogs, so I will, and I'll maybe reminisce a bit more, later.

hug your hounds


  1. Oh Patience, I was so sad to read your earlier post about Maria. You, Bill and the rest of the waggle must be devastated. Despite this, it's lovely to see that in this post you've managed to build on that great skill of yours - writing a piece that's both deeply sad, yet tinged with humour and joy.

    Love to you all, G, P & T xxx

  2. I'm so sorry your Maria is gone. That story that you told & your poem in the last post has my Mommy in tears. Maria was lucky to have you as a Mommy.
    Hugs & Snugs
    Eduardo the Snuggle Puggle

  3. Grammie says, "Moco, I am so lucky that you found your way to me. I think that you have rescued me, not the other way around."

  4. Patience, Bill and Waggle.

    We enjoyed the post today, though muzzer leaked quietly while she read it to us. You see, we live with a mouthy female too, one who wants the world to run on her clock, who loves to snuggle under covers and in between people, who spends lap time poised on her tiny toes so that she doesn't miss anything, and who also brings unexpected gifts to "surprise!" us all. We love her, in spite of, or perhaps because she is so unlike the rest of us.

    Our terrier and human hearts are hurting for all of you.


  5. woof's all, its good to remember the great times with them...lacy use to sleep between me and hubby, lol we even kept a pillow in the middle for her head. or she would sleep at the top of my head on all my pillow..its the little things u remember..

    b safe and ur all still in my thoughts..

  6. You have us smiling through tears, Patience!
    Maria was one special girl and her memory will live on forever!

    Love ya lots,
    Maggie and Mitch

  7. Thanks for the memories,Maria! (still crying,though!)

  8. Maria is a very special girl and will always be remembered.


  9. Sighhhhhhhhhhh. You have the gift of poetry and the blessing of your whippets.

  10. It's a good job you can speak to each other or you might have had a dead bird under the pillow all night!!

  11. We'll be back to read more reminiscenses (sp?). We laughed and cried at this one.


    Jake and Just Harry

  12. We're so privilaged to have heard those rah-rah-rahs. And to have almost sat on a totally covered up Maria on the comfy chair. We will miss our special friend, The Mouth of the South. with tears, smiles, hugs and love to all, D & M

  13. "...she could de-stuff a stuffie faster.."

    So that's where Nearly'a ability to de-stuff all of his toys comes from. And, he's pretty good a getting under the cover too!!

  14. Ahhhh....we have just read this post and the last....It is a litle hard for the three of us to type as we 3 are very leaky at the moment...... a wonderfull tribute for a dear and wonderfull friend....PL2 and A+A

  15. Maria,

    You will never be forgotten. What a doll!!

    Rest in peace, my dear.

    Love and Koobuss Kisses,

  16. Patience,

    Wonderful job describing Maria to us. We feel as though we knew her forever. And what fun she was!

    Our thoughts are with you at this difficult time. It is so hard to lose a best friend. We send our deepest condolences.

    Love and Koobuss Kisses,
    Koobie's Family

  17. Thank you for sharing some of your favorite memories of Maria with us.


  18. What a wonderful post. We laughed a lot which is a gift to us!

  19. What a great post. So sorry to hear about Maria. {{Hugs}} to the rest of the waggle and to you.


  20. It is wonderful how Maria lives on in your stories. And the dead baby bird story made us all chuckle (and some of us got a stern 'but don't ever try it!' look). (Whippets--hug your peoples.)

    wally t.

  21. So sorry about Maria. One thing is for sure: she lived well.

  22. hi, we got here thru Graham.
    sorry to hear about your loss.
    but its great to know you guys shared so many happy & lovely moments together.

    and tis is a nice post you've written.

    u take care, we'll drop by more often =D

  23. Oh God, we were so occupied with our own problems lately that we didn't even know until now! I am so so incredibly sorry about your loss!! I will hug my hound super hard tonight, I promise.


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