Friday, March 10, 2006

And they called it...Puppy Love


This post is inspired by Wanderer's sweet pup, Bella

Some memories are forever etched into your heart.

I was 9 years old. My dad, who was battling with Leukemia at the time, was a 4th/5th grade school teacher. Not knowing he was ill and dying, I had no idea that every moment I spent with him, was leading up to final moments.

I was a lucky little girl. My dad, unlike most dads, came home early each day. He'd pull up in his Volkswagon Van, and I knew all was warm and safe with my world.

Being a school teacher, he had plenty of work to do at home. Papers needed to be graded, and I was chosen to be his "assistant".

I did not take my job lightly. I was given the all-powerful red pencil, and allowed to mark away.
Of course, I was given this task on "simple answer" assignments, but I knew I was important, nonetheless.

So the days would come and go. I'd get home from school, change into play clothes, devour milk and cookies, play Barbies, and wait for my dad to come home.

But one day, all of that was to change. My dad came home, just the same as always, but someone else was with him.

That someone else was a little beagle. My heart stopped. I couldn't believe my eyes. The only animals that had ever crossed my path were a goldfish, and a tiny little pet turtle named Sam.

My dad had been leaving his school, when he noticed this little beagle sitting by the schoolyard. He was alone and lost, and needing a place to go. So, my dad did what any gentle person would do, and brought him home to a safe, warm place.

My heart, my soul, and everything inside me was melting. This little beagle couldn't get enough of me, and I of her. She licked me and loved me like nothing I had ever before experienced.

I knew this beagle was meant to be mine.

She had no collar, so we didn't know her name. I knew that the first order of business would be to give her a name. I looked her in the eyes, and stared, searching for a clue to what that would be...and within an instant I had it!

Meatball...her name would be...Meatball!

Don't ask me why, but it just fit. Some people wait to gaze at their newborns to give them a name...they look and just know. Well, that was how it was with Meatball. For me, at the age of 9, it was as if someone had just handed me my new baby.

My dad told me we would keep Meatball over night, but if someone claimed her the next day, we would have to return her to her owner.

Now, I knew that was impossible. Meatball had come to me. It was no accident that my dad had found her. She was meant to be mine. I knew that with every fiber of my being.

She spent that night with me. We played and laughed and jumped and licked. It was an instant mutual love. I knew that Meatball would be mine forever!

The next day, my dad went off to work, with Meatball in tow. I hugged and kissed her, but had no doubt that she would be returning that afternoon.

All that day, I dreamed of Meatball. I thought about my new friend, how much fun we were going to have together, and how much we loved eachother.

I couldn't keep my eyes off the classroom clock, watching and hearing every tick tock in slow motion.

At last, the bell rang...I couldn't run home fast enough. I changed, had milk and cookies, and waited outside for the Volkswagon Van.

AT LAST!!! My dad pulled into the driveway. I was sure the whole neighborhood could hear my heart beating. I ran to his van faster than a speeding bullet.

But I noticed, something wasn't right. He slowly climbed out of the van, his head hanging low.

NO MEATBALL

How could this be? Where was she?

My dad had to gently break the news. Meatball's owners had come to claim her. She would be returning to her rightful home.

My beating heart had come to a halting stop. Meatball was forever gone. My new friend had been taken away as swiftly as she had entered my life. This was the first time I would come to understand the meaning of a broken heart.

From Meatball, I would learn about love, and loss, and moving through to the other side of grief.

I have often wondered if I knew at some deeper level that my dad was ill (even though I had not been privvy to this information).

I have often wondered if my unique and quick attachment to that sweet puppy, was something to hold onto amidst the impending chaos that would soon unfold in my life.

Perhaps that is overly analytical. But then again, maybe not. They say that children sense and know all that goes on in a home.

Maybe Meatball was there to teach me about the grief I would soon be facing.

When I think of her, memories of love and warmth come flooding back.

That furry little puppy taught me a lesson in love and loss, that I would never forget, even if it was for just a tiny moment in time.

And for that, I will forever be grateful to Meatball.

19 comments:

leili-chan said...

Meatball sounds like a good dog. I had a dog like that once. Your story is so touching. It nearly brought me to tears.

Bella's Mom said...

What special memories you have of Meatball, your story is so heartwarming. The parallels you draw are incredilby beautiful, I could feel your excitement and sadness deeply. It's amazing the impact an animal can have in our life. It's that unconditional love that sometimes pulls us through.

wanderer said...

What a wonderful post! Glad Bella could inspire that.

You know, its never too late to get a new Meatball! Talk it over with Mr. Cruisin, you never know...

Wendy said...

How touching. The memories are so vivid, it seems, that Meatball never really left you.

Irina Tsukerman said...

An incredibly moving story... I know, if you get another little puppy, it won't be the same... but perhaps, it shouldn't be.

cruisin-mom said...

Leili-chan: Welcome! Thanks, I'm so glad the story touched you.

Bella's Mom: Welcome! I'm so glad you read the story that your sweet Bella inspired. Thank you for your kind comments. I'm glad Bella was there to give you that unconditional love you were needing.

Wanderer: This story has been nagging at me a long time, but when I saw your post about Bella yesterday, I just knew I had to write it. Thanks for the inspiration. We actually do have a dog (and a bird from hell, I've written about!)that we are crazy about.

Wendy: You are absolutely right...she stayed tucked in my heart all these years.

Irina: True, you can never replace a puppy like that, but there's always room to love another in a new and different way.

Ezzie said...

(sniff) Some sad news about meatball...

cruisin-mom said...

Ezzie: hahaha! Meatball became Gefilte fish!!! that's too funny.

Ezzie said...

:) I happened to see Yitzchak had written that, and couldn't help it...

Stacey said...

I just read Robert's post about the wedding and now this sweet, sad one about meatball and your father. I am not supposed to be crying on Purim!! :)

cruisin-mom said...

Stacey: hopefully they were "good" tears!

Sweettooth120 said...

Once again, you have touched our heart and soul with your beautiful and moving words and memories.

cruisin-mom said...

S.T.: thanks, that means alot to me. This one really does come from deep within my heart and soul.

torontopearl said...

Your story is indeed heart-wrenching and touching for it represents the older mind thinking back on the young mind...a young mind that was feeling at the time...feeling love and eventually loss in a big way.

I used to watch and love THE WALTONS, with the off-screen narration, especially at the end of the show. I can easily picture John-Boy (or Earl Hammer) doing the voice-over for your narrative below:

"From Meatball, I would learn about love, and loss, and moving through to the other side of grief.

I have often wondered if I knew at some deeper level that my dad was ill (even though I had not been privvy to this information).

I have often wondered if my unique and quick attachment to that sweet puppy, was something to hold onto amidst the impending chaos that would soon unfold in my life.

Perhaps that is overly analytical. But then again, maybe not. They say that children sense and know all that goes on in a home.

Maybe Meatball was there to teach me about the grief I would soon be facing.

When I think of her, memories of love and warmth come flooding back.

That furry little puppy taught me a lesson in love and loss, that I would never forget, even if it was for just a tiny moment in time.

And for that, I will forever be grateful to Meatball."

cruisin-mom said...

Pearl...okay, I'll fess up...I loved the Walton's too. The Wonder Years had a voice over too, that I loved. Both those shows would reduce me to tears (not tough to do with me).
That is a huge compliment to me....thank you.

mr_g said...

That was really touching, and so relatable. Thanks for sharing that story!

cruisin-mom said...

Thanks for coming here and reading it Mr. G. I enjoyed reading your blog too. (especially the post about Allen Sherman)

Anonymous said...

I very recently lost my angel, Harper, only 5 years old, but everyone thought he was just a pup. He was a red- turned apricot- teacup poodle with the cutest little baby doll face, real mellow with just the sweetest personality. he really was my best friend. the epitomy of that love can be realized when I say that he sensed my tears before they even ran down my cheek. he would wake out of his nest - completely under the covers, mind you - to come out and lick that very last tear of mommy's until I'd give him a little smile. it's funny- our pets are people - they can possess more personality in their tiny little bodies than most humans. my angel was loved by everyone he met.- taken too soon - the pain too fresh. my house is empty. i was never one to seek out chat places, but hearing others who understand, it's nice. it's funny, too, because a lot of times, we'd call our little "h" by the name of little "meatball" too, so I instantly related to this. God bless all those who open your hearts and loving homes to those deserving creatures who only want to give love. They were put here for a reason - to give us unconditional love, and may we all live our lives more like those innocent little gifts from heaven.

cruisin-mom said...

Elizabeth, thanks for stopping by. I had a teacup poodle when I was young, too. I'm sorry you lost your little Harper so soon, it sounds like he brought a lot of love and joy into your life.