Thursday, August 19, 2010

Martha's Miracle

(This story starts HERE. This is the last part.)

Martha came home every year for Christmas. I tried to make the visits upbeat and fun. It was always disastrous. She would relive her miserable childhood, dragging her nieces and nephews into it. It seemed like she was determined to have everyone in tears; that’s what Christmas was to her. She arrived in dirty clothes with a suitcase full of dirty laundry for us to wash. Symbolic? Passive aggression ruled. And I was being ludicrous trying to make Christmas perfect for our kids. We would buy Martha's plane ticket, and then resent her for not being grateful enough. I came to dread her arrival.

Our father committed suicide (succeeding where Martha had failed). Martha and I got re-acquainted as adults during the horrific aftermath. We shared some very private things - each of us had thought we were alone, that it had only happened to us - and it was crazy that in this mess we finally felt like real sisters, perhaps for the first time. I noticed that Martha was different, too. Her clothes were clean and stylish. She turned down offers of wine. She said she was in AA. Here's a crime. I pooh poohed it. After a few more disastrous Christmases, we took Martha out to a nice restaurant (sound familiar?) and suggested that maybe Christmas was too emotionally charged of a time for her visit. Maybe she should come during the summers.

I didn't hear from Martha again for sixteen years.

I tried a couple of times to find her. The phone number I had was disconnected. Mail sent to her address was returned, no forwarding information known. Once I even paid $30 to do an Internet search, which only produced the last address and phone number that I already had and didn't work.

I wondered if she were alive.

In March of 2009 I was writing a blog post. A tribute to my dear friend Carolyn (Easy's mom) who had died that morning. My phone rang. Was I Patience? Yes. Did I have a sister Martha? Yes... Oh, God. The kind voice told me that Martha was in the ICU. She had advanced ovarian cancer. They had done an ileostomy. Could I speak to her? No, she's on a ventilator. Would she allow me to visit? Yes. Yes, I think that's a good idea.

That was one of Martha's angels.

During those sixteen years, Martha found a family. Through Alcoholics Anonymous. In Martha's hospital room there was a constant stream of visitors. Sometimes there was a line down the hospital hall because there wasn't enough space in her room to accommodate everyone. And I saw something I had never in my life seen in Martha's eyes: trust. I was incredulous.

She looked at her friends, right in the eye, with trust. Vulnerable, honest, loving trust. And she smiled and she laughed. What was this?

Here are some photos of Martha's Christmases after she stopped coming home.

She's looking into the camera and smiling. Really smiling. Not the grimace I was accustomed to seeing on film.

Martha managed an A.A. facility. She babysat during meetings, babysat for members. Her hospital room was wallpapered with construction paper cards made especially for her by 'her' kids. She loved kids. Of course she was the perfect elf at every annual Christmas party.

She had worked cleaning houses, doing whatever to get by. She had ridden that bike all over Toledo year round. Imagine! Once she had been the victim of a hit and run. "I was in the paper!" she told me. "Cracked my head wide open."

During her illness, her A.A. family stepped up. There were so many angels - I literally can't tell you. Angel Janet, who had made the effort to find me, took the impossible job of getting Martha health coverage. Martha's American birth certificate had been lost. In post 9/11 bureaucracy, getting a birth certificate was impossible. Janet did it. She stopped at no obstacle, even going to the US Senate! Martha's father was a U.S. born and raised citizen who worked for the State Department, and her mother was a nurse from Iowa, for the love of God!

Janet prevailed. Martha, who had been eligible for all kinds of government assistance all of her life, and who had never taken one red penny, finally got Medicaid. Thanks entirely to Janet.

Denial, in A. A. is a bad thing. Martha believed that she was going to survive this cancer. I didn't, but I also saw that denial had to be the only thing that let Martha survive her childhood. Her adulthood. All of those rude stares and averted eyes and paternal disgust? During this last year, my presence brought Martha face to face with all of those crappy memories. We talked a lot about growing up. I felt like my job was to show Martha that I cared about her, that I loved her, to listen and listen and listen, and to make her laugh.

Martha's denial was working. She got to go home. Against all odds, all medical prediction, after 4 + months of hospitals and nursing homes. Her A.A. angels gutted her little rental house. It reeked of cat and cigarette. They tore out carpeting, they scrubbed and painted. Martha got to buy new furniture. (In a freak series of events, Martha found a tiny inheritance she should have gotten decades ago. Now, to get medicaid and SSI, she couldn't have it. Her A.A. angel took her shopping.) "I've never had new furniture," she giggled to me on the phone. "I have good taste, everyone says!"

And now comes Angel Cindi.

Cindi had a medical background. She needed a place to stay. Martha needed a caretaker. She could not be alone. Martha had three tubes draining bodily fluids. She required so much care. And she could be difficult. Being cared for - and perhaps my re-entry into her life - made her revert to some of those old passive aggressive ways. Oh, Cindi! But they talked it out. Only the nurses reading this, or those of you who have cared for a terminally ill person can know the amount of work Cindi did.

Two and a half weeks before Martha died, she was asked to lead a men's A.A. meeting. Martha was so far beyond thrilled: she was deeply touched, she was honored. I asked Cindi on the phone if Martha were strong enough. "She's going to do it," said Cindi. "She's determined."

Here are the photos from that night. (Martha's face is swollen from the steroids that went with her chemo.)

Martha's miracle. The baby deprived of human touch. The Martha who couldn't stand to be hugged. Oh she had a family. Look at her.

During my first visit in the hospital. Martha broke into tears. "I had no idea that so many people cared about me," she cried. "I had no idea."

Cindi, Janet and I were with Martha when she died. I have a picture of Cindi giving Martha a kiss on her forehead that last night. I agonized whether to include that photograph. I decided not to. Martha is in a soft, flannel nightgown. She has oxygen in her nose. She is close enough to death that her eyes appear unseeing. She's lying in her bed, on her side, Cindi leaning over and kissing her gently. The remarkable thing is that you can see Martha puckering her lips - kissing back. Leaning in. Accepting and giving back. Martha, who couldn't.

The next week I returned to Toledo for her service. Janet had helped her arrange everything with that little inheritance she needed to spend. It was held at the facility Martha used to manage. Cindi had set up photographs. Martha's elf costume, her key necklace. There were 200 chairs. Full. People standing. I got the opportunity to thank Martha's real family. And they thanked Martha. How many of them had been helped to find their sobriety. If Martha could get to every meeting riding her bike in Toledo in February, they knew she wasn't going to hear any excuse from them!

If Martha could do it. She was an inspiration. She made a difference in their lives. She was loved and respected.

This was the picture I took of Martha for Obama's healthcare reform website. She was so proud that her story made it. She had worked every day of her life, and never had a nickel's worth of health insurance.

She had the most peaceful death. She had fought it mightily, and in the end she embraced her death with all that courage and infinite grace. Yet another A.A. angel prayed with her. When I arrived, Martha gave me a big smile, focused her eyes back in this world for a moment and held up her arms.

It was an enormous gift.

Martha was the bravest person I know.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Martha part 3 (of 4, I think)

(This is continued from HERE.)

I want to thank you for your kind comments. I have woken up every morning since Martha died in the end of March and I’ve said, “I’ll write Martha’s story today.” It is very difficult. I do not want to betray her privacy, I don’t want to be maudlin. I want to honor a Very Brave Soul. President Obama was at one point searching for stories of people without health insurance, and Martha encouraged me to tell hers, and then was thrilled when it appeared on the government’s website. I think she would be pleased with this telling, and I’m writing it in that vein.

Somehow Martha did survive her childhood. My memory of her early adulthood is muddled. I married at nineteen, our mother died when I was twenty, I had my son when I was twenty-two, and I divorced at twenty-four. Martha had gone away to college, and had been back living at home with our parents. (She went to a local Community College and then to Southern Illinois University – small world – where our mother’s first cousin was a dean. I think she lived with Cousin Jimmy and his wife. She completed all the requirements for graduation, but never turned in her thesis. Finished it, but never turned it in.) My first husband, JB, and I moved to Toledo, Ohio, to go to college where his father’s family lived.

JB was great with Martha. He made her laugh and laughed with her. One time, back home before we moved, I decided that I could teach Marth to drive. She had taken three different Driver’s Ed courses each ending in failure and our parents had long since given up, but I was sure I could do it. We were in our deathly little ancient Renault, driving in the country. About every two seconds I would ‘help’ a bit with the steering. Martha took a hairpin turn a hair too fast. She stomped on the gas pedal instead of the brake, and then she yanked the steering wheel this way and that, all the while accelerating like a pig headed for slop.

I clutched at the see-sawing steering wheel and shrieked, “Brake! Brake!” as we left the road and careened into a neighbor’s wheat field, gaining speed like Superman-faster-than-a-speeding-bullet. The sound of the wheat against the little car’s tin floor was deafening. But from the back seat, JB was laughing his fool head off and he started shouting, “Yeee haawwwwwwww! Ride ‘em cowgirl!” By some kindness of the Lord we didn’t flip and made it back on to the road proper. That was the end of Martha’s driving lessons, but thanks to JB we were laughing and having fun, instead of wallowing in humiliation yet again.

When our mother became terminally ill, Martha moved to Toledo and stayed with us. Well. I don’t think I was very kind to her during this time. I was nineteen, and I was pretty sure that whole marriage thing wasn’t the best decision I’d made. Oh I’ll skip the excuses. Basically, I think I acted out daddy’s part pretty well. I am ashamed as I try to remember.

Martha got jobs at Big Boy/Bob Evans type restaurants waiting tables. (She joked about being little Martha working at Big Boy.) Amazing. She loved it. Eventually she would drop one tray too many and get fired. She rode her bike everywhere. When JB and I moved back East, Martha stayed. She loved Toledo. She found a cute little inexpensive furnished apartment and she was happy, I think.

When my son was a baby, Martha got burned. Her shirt caught on fire when she was cooking at home. I came out to see her – I flew with the baby – while she was in the burn unit. She needed extensive grafting for burns on her arms and chest. She ended up being transferred to a hospital in Baltimore and then back home to our father’s house. I think that whole time was a nightmare for her. I think our father really tried; I believe he had promised our mother on her deathbed that he would try. Martha was so angry. Daddy was drinking heavily. What a mess. As soon as she was physically able Martha got herself back to Toledo ASAP.

Thank God.

I will finish this tomorrow. HERE

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

More Martha

(This story begins HERE)

I cannot imagine how Martha survived her childhood. Honestly. I can't.

This photograph was taken in Germany, before there was me. On the back of it, written in my mother's hand are these words:
I like this. They're howling & each has a hand on one object.
They're looking at Jim to see who will win.

Two years after Martha's birth came our middle sister. (I am leaving her out of this story as much as possible out of respect for her privacy.) And four years after that, back in the States, came me. There were six years between Martha and me.

I am three or four; Martha a tiny nine or ten.

Because of her early isolation from human touch in the incubator, Martha couldn't stand to be hugged or kissed. It is not within my capabilities to fathom the constant state of frustration which was Martha's world. She was highly intelligent. Her two younger sisters were athletes; captains of their teams at school, first chosen for neighborhood games of dodge ball and team tag. Martha would be last picked and first out. There were requisite piano lessons and dance class. Imagine. Your sister, six years younger than you could play Beethoven; your fumbling attempt at Chopsticks was a mess.

And that constant, simmering angry undercurrent of disgust from your own father.

Handwriting, attempts at sewing, cooking, playing jacks, staying in the lines while coloring, on and on and on Martha couldn't do as well. Her disability wasn't recognized as a challenge with which she needed help. It wasn't recognized as a disability. She was called careless. It was her fault. I remember one time when Martha lost her balance. She tried to break her fall by grabbing something. It's instinct. Unfortunately what she grabbed was the corner of the tablecloth. The dining room table was set with the fine china for some fancy dinner. Crash. Martha was already mortified. My father stalked into the room, fuming. Anger was visibly leaching from his every pore. He hissed at Martha. She was getting up from the floor, already in tears and he hissed at her: What is the matter with you? You ruin everything!

In this picture, I am ten. Martha is fifteen and a half. Meaning that this was shortly after her suicide attempt. I vaguely remember this day. Martha had howled that she didn't want to be in a family photo. By this time she hated having her picture taken. (I look like a FREAK, she'd wail.) You can see my mother's grasp of Martha's wrist. (My mother was five feet tall.) I keep pointing out how physically small Martha was, don't I? People stared at her. Always. Polite people would then quickly avert their eyes. (Which was worse do you suppose? Kids staring at you, pointing? Or polite persons not making eye contact?)

Okay. Enough. My father was not a monster. He was a flawed, unhappy soul. I believe he was terribly lonely. And an alcoholic. Not ever falling down drunk. Just mean after his first martini, and meaner yet after his second and third. But my mother ...

Martha and I talked about our mother during Martha's last year of life. We had vastly different experiences; we had two different moms. To me, my mother was an angel, a saint. I wouldn't have been the least bit surprised if one day she developed stigmata, and we weren't even Catholic! She was my constant champion. My font of unconditional love. She made me feel as though I were her favorite, but I thought - even as a child - that she made each of us feel like that. She took all of our father's bilious venom. She just folded her hands on her lap, looked down, and took it. And then later she would have us singing songs while we did the dishes.

But from Martha's perspective, her mother wasn't there for her. She never stood up for Martha when she was being belittled. Was Martha so short because she was belittled into actuality? Well? Martha told me this story last summer. (I had heard this story from my mother when she - Mummy - was dying of cancer; how she regretted it.) Shortly after Martha's attempted suicide, her mother told her to dress up. That mummy and daddy were taking Martha - only Martha - out to a fancy restaurant for dinner. Martha was thrilled!!! Nothing like this had ever happened and she thought that maybe her cry for help had been heard. She got dressed without a fight and even put some mascara on, which of course ended up partly on her cheek.

The three of them headed out. I actually remember being a little jealous. Only they didn't go to a restaurant. They didn't go out for dinner at all. They took Martha to a psychiatrist. Oh God. I'm sure my mother hadn't wanted a scene, knowing that Martha would have refused. She was desperate to get help for her daughter and she probably had to threaten my father with divorce to get him to go.

When Martha told me this story she was bald from chemo. She cried hot angry tears, still feeling as betrayed as she had forty-six years before. But she started to laugh while she cried. "And they wondered why I had trust issues! Gee! Do you think?"

Somehow Martha did survive all of this. I shake my head as I type. How? How did she? The very good news is that before Martha died, she got to feel loved. Genuinely. To her very great surprise. She got to be the center of a giant, loving family who held her up and helped her out and took kind, loving care of her. She never married. She never had kids, though she was surrounded by kids who adored her. And the little girl who hated to be hugged was hugged and hugged and hugged. And she even hugged back, at the end she even hugged back.

I'll tell you all about this very real miracle tomorrow. Martha's story is continued HERE.

thank you for listening, and for being so kind

Sunday, August 15, 2010

shoulda woulda coulda

I'm going to try to write a little bit about my late sister, Martha. Everyday I say I'm going to write. Everyday I don't. Because I need to tell Martha's story.

I can't do it justice here, but I'll share a little bit.

Martha was born in Germany. My father was a Secretariat in the Navy during the Reconstruction after World War Two, and then he worked for the State Department. My mother was a nurse. When Martha was born, my mother knew something was wrong. My mother was 23, in a country where she didn't speak the language, away from her Des Moines, Iowa family. Martha was her first baby. Her husband was busy drinking with the Russians. (His job was to translate, which apparently translated into imbibing copious amounts of Vodka.) He was also having an office affair. We read in his papers after his death, that while our mother was in the hospital in Germany with her baby who was not doing well, our father was frolicking with 'his one true love'.

Really? I feel bad for both of them. (I believe my father did end up loving my mother, or at least respecting her. He provided tireless end-of-life care for her, before there was hospice. She died of colon cancer when she was 51 years old. In her own bed.)

But something wasn't right with Martha. The doctors in Germany put her in an incubator, and she was not allowed to be held or cuddled for six weeks. Nowadays we know the horrible effects of depriving a baby of physical contact. My mother knew in her gut, but had no power to do anything. Martha was a beautiful baby with a head full of curls and our mother's blue eyes. In every other way she resembled our father. And her head was a little too large for her body.

In the photo Martha is around twelve, and I am six. Can you see that I am already nearly as big as she? When she was all done growing she was about 4' 8". In heels. She couldn't bear to be touched or hugged. She had a slight case of Cerebral Palsy; just enough to make her clumsy. She couldn't do a jumping jack, but she appeared normal. She spilled things and tripped and fell all the time. She was extremely intelligent.

My father was embarrassed by her. Appalled. He saw his oldest daughter as his personal imperfection. When Martha was an adult and his other two daughters had (perfect) babies of their own, he made this stunning statement. "The one thing the Nazis had right was the notion of euthanizing imperfect babies at birth."

Martha was in the kitchen when he said that, and I prayed she hadn't heard. Which was silly of me. He had humiliated Martha her entire life - he specialized in humiliation, I mean he was so good at it. How could she have possibly not known how he felt?

When she was fifteen she tried to hang herself. That bought her some psychiatric care, but can you imagine in those days? Everything was Freudian and no doubt the shrink was trying to convince her that she wanted to do away with our mother so she could have our father to herself. Now that would be One Scary Thought if you were Martha. "Um, no thanks, REALLY. No. Thanks."

There were some fun times. I had a loose tooth and was too chicken to slam the door hard enough, once the string was attached to my tooth and the doorknob. "I know!" said Martha. She disappeared and returned shortly with Blackie, our schizoid cat. (Stripey was the calm one. And you wonder why I name my dogs things like Giacomino and Mama Pajama.) Martha tied the other end of the string to Blackie's tail and stomped her foot and said, "BOO!" Poor Blackie was gone for three days and we never did find my tooth.

I'm working tomorrow, so I'll write more on Tuesday. I think it's all going to come out now. It may even need to be more than some blog posts.
... Martha's story is continued HERE

thank you

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ol' Poke 'n Stick lives up to his (good) name

Poor Mama Pajama can't get a break.

Yesterday I had to take her to the wonderful vet. Wonderful in my opinion, anyway.
So the servant takes me in the van, all by myself, and I think we're going someplace fun. Like maybe to chase bunnies or kill squirrels or something. No. Where does she go? Of all the places, the idiot turns into Ol' Poke 'n Stick's House of Horrors. I expressed my extreme disappointment by refusing to get out of the van. "Hello, idiot servant??? Wrong, wrong, wrong. Leave this place immediately!" No. She doesn't get it and acts all happy like I'm at an Outback Steakhouse and in her stupid voice says, "Blah blah blah feel better blah blah blah I'm sorry blah blah blah biscuits." So I get out of the van because I am a good dog. And she did have biscuits.

Mama Pajama's eye has been teary ever since she got sick seven years ago, but I noticed that she was squinting it as though it was sore, and the third eyelid was covering more than normal. I got out my handy dandy nurse's penlight and saw a chunk gouged out from her cornea. Oh good LORD!

In the waiting room, Mama Pajama was very brave. She panted, but she didn't shake, and she wagged when she saw Gail, the office manager.
We go into the House of Horrors. Of course we do. There are a million other places in the world we could be but no, my special servant comes here. That nice Gail who has never been involved in the torture and who often has Kind Words and Very Good Treats bowed down to me and I rewarded her with a wag of my little tail. She is deserving.

It wasn't long until we were called back to our exam room.
Oh let's not. Really. Please?

I was really thinking that she had caught a tail in her eye, or maybe a poke from a branch in the yard and we would get some antibiotic drops and off we'd go. The tech put some numbing drops in both of Mama Pajama's eyes.
Okay, you are a Good Human! Oh my eye suddenly feels wonderful. I love you!

Doc came in.
Hello, Ol' Poke 'n Stick. Hey here's a thought: why don't you POKE and STICK the idiot servant today????

He put his moongoggles on and examined Mama Pajama's eyes. "Have you heard of an indolent ulcer?" he asked. [Warning: there are graphic photos on that site of exactly what Mama Pajama endured yesterday.]

Those goggles make your eyes look HUGE, did you know that? Kindly let go of my sweet little nose. It's a good thing you have such a kind and noble heart so I put up with your foolishness.

Doc scraped away the outer layer of Mama Pajama's cornea with a sterile Q-tip, and then scratched the surface with a needle. I got a little faint. (Yes I'm a Registered Nurse, but that's Mama Pajama.)
You're really lucky that I don't hold a grudge.

He then drew some blood from her jugular vein.
Of course he did. Why do you think his name is OL' POKE 'n STICK!!!

He spun the blood and made drops from her own plasma.
If you're going to put my plasma back in me why didn't we just leave it there in the first place?

So now she gets four different drops twice a day. And an anti-inflammatory pain killer by mouth.
Each torture session is accompanied by some rather tasty cheese. I have trained the servant well. Granted, in a perfect world there would be cheese without the torture, but oh she's a Human after all and you know how they ARE.

The good news is that this morning, Mama Pajama was her happy, wagging self. Her eye didn't seem to be bothering her much at all, and she enjoyed her walk as much as ever. The bad news is that she has to go back in two weeks and have it all done again.
Say what? SAY WHAT???? Human for sale, Cheap! Free to good home. Any home. Oh for goodness sakes.

hug your hounds

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hey, great comment!!!

I just found this new comment from my best friend, 'Anonymous':

Anonymous said...

Amiable fill someone in on and this enter helped me alot in my college assignement. Say thank you you seeking your information.

So I know this was spam. But if you are going to try to spam in a language unfamiliar to you, shouldn't you run it through a spell check? There needs to be a whole lot more college "assignements"!

It made me giggle so I thought I'd share!


Monday, August 9, 2010

On a Roll

I've discovered something profound, and I'll share it with you. It's a secret, so use your best judgement to whom you divulge it.

If you actually enter your beautiful whippets in shows, sometimes they will win! And if you never enter or go to a show, they won't.

Yes! You heard it here!!!

Over the last two years, I barely went to any dog shows. This was not very fair to Swede William's breeder (in Sweden) who gave me her pick male puppy thinking he would actually get shown. Nor was it fair to Swede William and Lindy Loo who love to show more than anything except exterminating Evil City Squirrellies. Maybe even more than that.

After moving to Paducah, I had a little adjusting to do. Dog showing back home meant an hour's drive, two at the most, stopping at Dunkin' Donuts on the way (for luck, just for luck, not for the cranberry orange muffin and Boston cream - not creme- donut) with my best friends. Laughing and talking. Taking the whole waggle along. Singing Paul Simon songs for more luck. ("Mama Pajama rolled out of bed and she ran to the police station. When the papa found out he began to shout and that started the investigation.") Laughing and talking more. Being home by lunch.

Around here, it means driving 2.5 to 6 hours each way and staying in a hotel (ick). It's too hot for the rest of the waggle to hang out in the van so they have to stay home. Oh, hey, that's not so much fun. And then with the recession and blah blah blah.

I wasn't going to many dog shows. At all.

Well, we're going to dog shows again! Lee and Dee are kind enough to go with me. It is so much nicer to be able to abuse good friends by asking them to hold the Screaming Meemees ringside. (Whichever dog isn't in the ring, wants to be. They're a bit vocal - one could say shrill - in their complaints! When Lee and Dee don't go, I have to ask Random Ringside Persons.) We call ourselves The Golden Girls.

The dogs have done great! Yesterday, Lindy Loo was Best of Breed and Swede William was Best of Opposite. What a kick! I hadn't been in the Group ring since Lindy Loo's daddy won a Group 4 under Kent Delaney. This particular show was only one hour away, oh Glory.

I didn't take Sam I Am along on Saturday, fearing the heat. Bill said that after I left, he walked the dogs. (He's a Good Man.) After that, he was upstairs in his study, writing in his journal. He thought the Tornado Siren was going off. Turned out it was Sammy, downstairs by himself, head thrown back and howling his sorrow at being left home. So I took him on Sunday. We showed at 8 AM and I tarped the van until it looked like a big tin-foil wrapped Oscar Meyer Weiner! He did fine.

William! Wait for me!!!
You can't take dog shows too seriously. You can be serious in your devotion to your dogs, but you have to remember that every show reflects just one person's opinion. Sometimes the dogs I show win. More often, I congratulate someone else on their win. And I am genuinely happy for them. I was stuck with this feeling though that these dogs might not finish their championships.

WELL DUH!!!! It wasn't that there was anything wrong with the dogs, no! You have to show to win! Hello???? You can't win if you don't go! Your dogs can't finish their championships if they aren't ever entered.

Fifty-six years old and I figured that out all by myself. Ha!

hug your hounds

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Blah Blah blog

Lordy I am hopeless. I just can't write to save my soul. I'm just going to blah blah blog what's been going on.

Lee and Dee were supposed to get a Swede William / Lindy Loo puppy. Actually they were supposed to get two Swede William / Lindy Loo puppies. Only Lindy Loo was in season while my sister was dying and I was driving back and forth to Toledo, Ohio, and Lindly Loo's season was short and she told Swede William if he got that THING anywhere near her Special Place, she would bite off his right front leg.

At the elbow.

Completely. And his name from that day on would be Stumpy.

So there weren't any Swede William / Lindy Loo puppies. "That's okay," said Lee and Dee. "We'll wait."

Only then their last sweet German Shepherd passed away from old age cancer and they didn't have a dog at all. That is not an acceptable way to live, as we all know, so I set about finding them a whippet.

Long story short, some good people had a litter of pups. I always loved the people and I loved their dogs. And this particular litter, well the mom's great grandmom was the mom of my very first whippet, Gracious. And the dad's grandpop is Sammy's grandpop!!! How amazing is that!!!!

Angie and Robin let Mia come home to Lee and Dee's house which is two blocks from ours. But the night that Mia came home, Swede William and Lindy Loo started hacking. And snorking. They got some respiratory bug at a show (I guess). So Mia couldn't come to my house and I couldn't take any whippets to see her. Ended up five of my eight got sick. I am ONE BIG MESS when my dogs are sick. ONE BIG HUGE MESS. They're on doxycycline and cough medicine and I feel like typhoid (gack cough) Patience. The vet said that my house will be safe after the last dog hasn't coughed for a week, and that the individual dogs are safe from being contagious after they haven't coughed for a week.

Lindy Loo and Swede William haven't coughed since Sunday, so they're safe Saturday. (Really they only snorked once when they got up Saturday morning, but I'm being careful.) Sammy hasn't coughed once today, and neither have Easy or Luciano.

It's been hellish.

But I did shower and put on shoes that haven't been worn and clean clothes and sneak over to see her a couple times. I'll get to show her and do agility with her and I cannot WAIT til she has a little Swede William / Lindy Loo best buddy to snuggle with.

Until then, Lee and Dee are doing a fine job!

hug your puppies!