For this year I accomplished…

I know it is a Year-End Update but here we go.

I lost my grandfather two months ago. He was the first grandfather I lost since I’ve been around. I’m still trying to figure out how to trudge through this. Between losing him and finding solid ground again, I’m a little out of sorts, to say the least.

I went back to what I sadly know as my home of origin for a few days. While it was nice to see it again, and I must say that I was hesitant to leave, it was great getting back to Texas.

I’m not as intelligent as I would like to be. I have had a lot of trial and error lessons in life. I’ve had more of those that are financially damning than I would like to admit to. I might speak English and have a Mid-western accent, but there are plenty of Rednecks that are magna cum laude and I am not. I’m not jealous of anyone for the life they lead. I just know I can freely admit my shortcomings.

This being said, I left Illinois years ago, and really, I left it on the best terms possible. Yes, friends and family were bittersweet I was out of their influence, I’d be alone. I would have my cousin to assist me with simple things while I got on my feet.

Exactly that happened. I did get on my feet. I did find a life for me here.

And now a pillar of my foundation from my childhood only exists in my memory. It sounds cliche but I can’t watch an Italian mobster film without getting teary-eyed. It’s not that my immediate family on my father’s side is all suits and ammo, it’s that we had get-togethers that make ice cream socials for hamlets and villages seem quaint by comparison. I really don’t have isolated memories of my grandfather, but more of large swaths of footage with forty people on average.

That sounds like nothing but when you seriously cram those folks into a backyard with a grill, picnic tables, lawn darts, and horseshoe pits, holy shit, I’m happy nobody got waxed on Fite Drive in Decatur. I know my hometown’s ICS does have a few hundred folks in it but I’m thinking that it was spread out and it looked like it was sparse.

So anyway, I get teary-eyed at the Godfather movies.

I also had a week of living like a tourist in San Antonio with my best friend while on vacation. If you’ve never had a friend who was like a sibling and you spent a lot of time together, you are missing what many young adults feel while in the military. I don’t think I could have done that week with many other folks in the history of man. I kept comparing it to when I brought a woman down from Illinois for an earlier vacation in 2014… Unless she’s exclusive to me and I’m partially responsible for her, I’m never doing that again.

Finally, work is seriously looking great. Not that I’m a good worker or a dedicated soul. I’m a lazy person by no stretch of the imagination. I will help you on physical labor or rouse others to get something moved, but let me say that I kinda like being in heart-attack country. If I was a fit person at 160 lbs, I would summon more responsibility and really, we have twenty year olds that orgasm when they swing a ten-pound malllet.

But work is fantastic. They know they can give me an assignment and when it’s updated later, it’s complete. Not in a stage of waiting, not in a stage of non-completion. And it’s nice to be decent enough at a vocation that I know within my specialization that the bosses needs will be met.

As the year closes, I’m getting my new home furnished in 2015. I’m setting up a vacation spot for my parents, so they don’t have to worry about anything. Just get here. Just arrive in San Antonio safely. I got this.

It’s New Years Eve. I’m listening to John Pinette’s I’m Starving, and a part of my soul is happy he made it to Heaven before me. I know he will scope out the best places to eat in the Ever After. Out of all the talent that left us this year, I will miss him the most.

Outside, I’m looking at sheets of ice on outdoor horizontal surfaces outside. I’m gonna finish my third book in 2015. It’s gonna be fun. 2014 was a character test, and it is over.

Wherever you are, I will see you soon.

Dominus Vobiscus

Must Love Dogs

When I lived in Illinois, a friend of mine who lived in Goodfield had a Schnauzer. A miniature one. Harry was brought into his home to help his family cope with the loss of their previous dog. This would have worked if they weren’t polar opposites.

Harry, who was a great dog, was in a lot of pain from sinus infections gone horribly wrong. So he decided to sleep away most days. This is fine, except Zach’s family wanted an obnoxious dog who would help them make noise in their home. A dog that would ruffle through the trash and grab any carbonated container to grab the sugar from.

Harry liked sleep.

So at the end of his stay there, the offer was made if I would take him in. Sure. I had a Schnauzer experience while learning how to drive over the road. They were good dogs if you let them run sometime in the day. Why the hell not?

Harry and I got to know each other well. After a few months, he was scheduled to get his teeth removed, as they were getting bad to where he didn’t want to have his muzzle played with. That was fine. He would have chewing teeth for his food. Plus, I had a butcher job at the moment. So he would benefit just fine.

As friends and family warmed up to him, everyone saw the package deal that we were. If a woman didn’t like dogs, or was a ‘cat-woman,’ I would put her on the Do Not Call list. Easy enough. Harry made dating life easy. He had a good sense of judgement, and became my best friend very quickly.

As everything in life, things change.

I knew I would be coming to Texas, and my dog was an older dog. My father, who is amazing with animals, period, was asked by myself to care for him while I settled down here.

My parents jumped at the chance, literally. Here was a mature dog in his sunset years who was already trained on how to walk, when to let someone know when he needed out in the yard, and he wouldn’t run off; that would mean he wouldn’t have a nice cushion by the fireplace.

I saw him off on Mother’s Day. That was a hard one for me. Harry knew something was up when he departed for their home. A few days later I spent my last night in Illinois with him laying by my side on the recliner. Until he was too warm. He had a low tolerance for letting me be uncomfortable.

And I left him in Illinois while I came to Texas. Things in his life continued to be good, even with the onset of hip dysplasia. I think that’s how you spell it. Mom and Dad took him to the vet and groomers on a regular basis, eventually removing all of his teeth because his sinus infection or whatever it was, it ruined his ability to enjoy being petted.

After he had only two teeth left, he became their most favorite dog in their forty years together. Sure, he was slow. Sure, he needed help sometimes. But he was able to communicate and train them to tend to his needs.

Like all good dog stories, this one has a tearful ending. On Valentine’s Day, my father asked me if I was sitting down. I assured him I was in bed, just getting off work.

And Dad tells me Harry passed away in the night. Congestive heart failure had caught up with him. He had a heart murmur, actually two of them I think. And for thirteen years, he lived happily as best he could. I had a chance to see him on their visit to Corpus in the week of Thanksgiving. I knew when I put him in their Nissan, I probably had just said a final farewell to him.

He was always by my side when we were around each other. Maybe he loved me that much. Maybe he just knew that he helped me through a tough time in life where I didn’t have a lot going on except having the best friends I’ve had in my 38 years. He gave me something to come home to.

When Dad is telling me this, all I could think of is angels dropping squirrels and other small game near him to watch him go. He hated small rodents. With a passion. I could only see his afterlife beginning as he had new people to entertain him until the day I join him. Between running around like a salt-and-pepper blur and eating pizza crust samples, that is.

Chase them good, Harry. Chase ’em.

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