Today would have been my mother’s 86th birthday. Interestingly enough, it would have also have been my father-in-law’s 90th birthday. I suspect my husband and I were destined to be together, for many reasons, but also including the fact that our parents shared a birthday.
My cousin and I coined the term “grief nap” when my husband and I returned to Oklahoma last week to bury my mother. The stress and financial worry plus the long car ride and my husband’s fragile health exhausted us. We took a few “grief naps” that allowed us to rest with our dogs, while Anne (wonder woman, saviour of the universe, doyenne of Awesome!, Mother of Wolfhounds)(okay, the last one is the obligatory GoT reference) actually worked at her real job. 🙂
I took the liberty of adapting the term to include “grief bacon”. For the last couple of days, we’ve revisited some of the breakfast haunts mother liked with our service dog, Pudge. Pudge was, in many ways, mother’s corgi. He liked to hang out with her and had a bed in her room that he dragged beneath her walker so he’d know when she was getting up somewhere. Pudge went, in his service harness, to see her when she was hospitalized in the various facilities. He visited her at Spring Valley, Kindred, and Del Mar. He did this on numerous occasions, and last year, after she had left the hospitals for a time, went with us to various breakfast restaurants to sit outside in the sunshine and enjoy the bacon. The petting from strangers was a boon. He’s a cute corgi after all.
The last time I brought Pudge to see mom, she wanted me to take him out into the hallway to visit with the other patients. As she was distancing herself from life, she still wanted others to enjoy his giving and sweet spirit, and the comfort just petting him brings to those in a nursing home.
Pudge is blind. He sees with his heart and his ears. Right now, he’s grieving too. He does not want to be left alone, and even though he is virtually toothless, he chewed a hole in his transport carrier. He’s houdinied his way out of his kennel before, and dug a hole so completely he ruined the carpet and the carpet pad in our bedroom. Not a loss. I don’t care for the carpet and its old. But, he took it right down to the concrete. He hates being confined to a cage, so mother always looked after him.
We took our dogs with us to Oklahoma. The day of the funeral, we could not find a suitable place to board the animals, so we brought them with us to the cemetery. Normally, the dogs bark their heads off if anyone approaches the car. (A quick note: we are responsible pet owners. The windows were down, they had water, and it was raining anyway so the heat in the car was not unbearable for an animal. I find it stupid that I have to defend this decision in advance but there is always someone out there that has an issue with leaving any dog in a car. Conversely, there are those that have an issue with my dog’s wearing service harnesses even at out door restaurants that serve pet owners on a patio. Since this is a battle I cannot win, all I have to say is….) Anyway, they bark, hysterically.
During the ceremony, they did not. In fact, no one attending knew they were there until I said something about it. One of the funeral directors approached the car with a basket of flowers and they just watched him set it down beside the rear of the vehicle.
I think they knew exactly what was going on. Dogs grieve, just as humans do. I suspect they understood. They didn’t even bark at the bagpiper and I was sure that the shrill sound of “Amazing Grace” would set them off. I suspect Odin, (who is mostly deaf) watched and relayed what was happening to the other, shorter dogs, whose hearing is most acute. They, no doubt, heard every word, and knew this was their grandma.
Since we got home, Pudge does not want to be left. So, he’s been making the rounds to doctor’s offices with us…and to the breakfast places we all visited as a family. We order extra bacon for Pudge, and to bring home for the dogs because this has been stressful for all of us. Pudge has been the perfect service dog too. He sits at my feet, curls up, and falls asleep. He ignores the doctor, the people in the waiting room, the crying/curious children, and the plants that would otherwise be good to pee on. He’s been a perfect gentleman. He always has been, really. He loved his grandma, just as all the dogs did…Odin, whom she called, Odindearie, and Daisy who tried to boss her around but liked climbing onto her bed best of all just to cuddle.
So, I give them grief bacon. Not too much, but enough. They loved her very much as did we all.