It’s been two months since my sweet Ruthie the Weinerful passed away. I wanted to share with you the beautiful package I received from The Pet Loss Center with Ruthie’s remains. I can’t say enough wonderful things about the Fort Worth Animal Emergency Hospital. They were so kind and loving during her care and worked with The Pet Loss Center to honor our memory of her.
Tucked inside a lavender gossamer-like drawstring bag was a cherry wood box with Ruthie’s name inscribed on a brass plaque, a lock of her hair (grey and all), a print of her nose, a floral infused heart for planting, and a cast of her paw print. I love how you can see all the crevices of her paw.
Interesting note: If you’ve ever owned a Dachshund or been around one — you know that their paws smell like Cheetos. I have no idea why, but it’s a distinctive smell that only Doxie owners know about!
Tucked inside all of this packaging was a lovely booklet with grief support materials, poems and this touching note that came from Ruthie to me …
“I loved and adored you. I shared in your joys and sympathized with you in your sadness. While I was part of your world, you were my whole world, and cherished every minute with you. Every minute was a pure gift, full of love. Our time together in this journey seems like it only just began.
I’d try to have you understand that it’s okay to cry over me and to never forget me or the beautiful life we shared together, a mere chapter in your entire life story. Thank you for letting me into your world. Celebrate me and let me forever live in the memories that are locked into your heart, so that we can always be together. Always know that when you go, this journey takes me, too.”
It’s funny how things can change in an instant. About three weeks ago I was looking through my Twitter feed and an author that I follow, Gretchen Rubin, posted a question on her feed — “When was the last time you cried in front of someone?” I thought to myself that I had not done this in a very long time. Was it when I lost someone? I am not afraid to cry and find it therapeutic to release my tears. But life has been so good to me lately that I hadn’t needed tears.
Remember my birthday post from August 29? I started the day so grateful and excited to begin a new year of life, excited for what was in store me in the next 365 days. I had no idea that as the hours eased into August 30, I would say good-bye to my beloved Ruthie.
In 2007, Miss Bee began asking for a puppy. I was extremely experienced in the cat department, but dogs were a foreign entity. In high school when I asked for a dog, my parents sent me to the pound and I came home with a mutt we named Lexie. But, about 24 hours later Lexie decided he liked my dad better and I got busy with my teenage life and that was the end of my dog business. Lexie lived until he was about 20 and had a nice, long life as Daddy’s dog.
With Miss Bee’s request, I got busy researching the best breeds. At the same time a co-worker’s Dachshund just had delivered three puppies. I had read that Dachshunds were a great breed for families, didn’t necessarily need (or enjoy) walking, didn’t shed and were low maintenance. So, the week of Thanksgiving we gifted Miss Bee with Ruthie. My parents were living with us at the time and she was the perfect addition to our family. During the day when we were at work and school, my parents babysat Ruthie. Each keeping the other company. I took her to puppy school at PetSmart and she earned the Miss Congeniality award among her classmates. I took her for walks, taught her to sit and stay. Mr. Bee taught Ruthie to roll over. She was very snuggly, lap dog extraordinaire and a great companion.
Along the way, Ruthie and our cat Wilson became fast friends. We would find them spooning in the sunshine and sometimes find Ruthie on top of Wilson chewing on his ears. Wilson’s cries of protest told us he didn’t mind the attention much.
Late one summer, Daddy kept commenting about how fast Ruthie was when she would run to fetch a toy and thought he should enter her into the rodeo. I decided a better option was to enter her in the Weiner Races at an OktoberFest taking place in a community near Fort Worth. For several months, we practiced in the backyard having her run from one side of the yard to the other. I was convinced with the proper coaching we would come in 1st place and return home with a giant trophy. It was an unseasonably hot day in October and she was in the last race of the day. When the gun went off, Ruthie sat down looked around at how lame everyone looked and walked over to me and came in last. Needless to say we never entered her into another race.
Dachshunds were bred to hunt for badgers. They would dig snout first into badger dens and pull them out with clenched teeth. They are extremely oriented to scent. This proved to be comical and irritating. She got into everything despite our best efforts to “Ruthie-proof” the house. She loved getting into the litter box. We had a baby gate permanently installed to the entrance of the laundry room just so she could not gain access, but try as we might, if someone (Miss Bee) left the gate open, it was an all-you- can-eat buffet to the cat box. The suspect always denied this when she was questioned despite physical evidence.
She’s managed to eat a box of birdseed from Mother’s closet which produced very “seedy” poop that we could not seem to decipher until Mother came to me one day with an empty box of finch seed wondering if that could be what was the matter…Thanksgiving turkey carcass, chocolate, Easter candy and grass, foil, a red foreign substance in her poop which $100 vet bill later yielded a diagnosis of a red, foam clown nose, an entire package of wintergreen gum that netted Miss Bee $20 when I dared her to smell it to see if Ruthie’s poop smelled minty (it did.) We had to quiz every guest who entered our house “do you have gum, mints, granola, or any kind of food product in your purse?” Kind of like they do with your bags at the airport. If you brought edible gifts for us and sat them by the Christmas tree, I never got to eat them and if you never received a thank you note from me that is why. I am sure they would have been delicious.
This is Ruthie’s face, literally, after she ate an entire sheet cake from my favorite bakery and I asked her if it was good.
At the same time she was irritating, she was a faithful companion. She always wanted to be where we were. She loved sleeping in the sun behind Daddy’s chair when he would sit in the study listening to his books on tape. She loved to sit in Mother’s lap in her rocking chair while she read. Ruthie loved to snuggle under the covers with me while I took naps and this was especially nice during the winter months because she was the size and temperature of an Easter ham.
In 2013 after Mother passed away I had a momentary lapse of reasoning and adopted Hazel from PetSmart. Ruthie reluctantly went along with it and they got along famously swapping bones, toys and snuggles. I am so glad we have Hazel to help mend our broken hearts both when Mother passed away and now.
As I sat in the animal hospital in the early morning hours after my birthday, holding Ruthie the last moments of her life, all these memories came flooding by. The most bittersweet part of this is that it ended a chapter in our family. Ruthie and my parents came to live with us in 2007. A package deal. Mother and Daddy are gone and now it was time to send my weinerful Ruthie on to meet them. I could totally see my parents at the of the rainbow bridge with arms open waiting for her to run to them, ears flapping. As I leaned in, whispering into her ear as she floated off to heaven I said, “Run like the wind my girl. Grandmother and Papa are there waiting on the other side and you can eat all the treats your heart desires.”
Ruthie lived life with gusto and never looked back or regretted a thing. Who knew that a 13-pound Weiner dog could teach us so much about living the best life possible.
Today is my birthday! I look forward to this day every year. You’d think most people do, too. But the other day I overheard a woman tell her friend, “Ugh, today is my birthday. And my husband celebrated with a dinner party with friends. I wish my birthday would go away!” I was so sad to hear this!
Of course, my favorite parts of my birthday have changed over the years with maturity. When I was little it was all about the kind of party Mother would plan, the cake we would serve and the presents. I remember about a month before my birthday, Mother would take me to the Hallmark card store to select our theme and then we would take the napkin to the Cake Boutique to order my cake so that it matched the napkin design perfectly! It was always so fun to go with Mother to pick up the cake on the day of my party.
Since I was born in the summer before school started, the guests at my party were by bestest friends and family. One year we all piled into our motorhome and Daddy drove us to Spaghetti Warehouse for dinner, then we had cake and Cokes on the way home. The cake was a big motorhome with all our faces hanging out of the windows. Another year, while I was at my bestie’s house playing, Mother transformed the living room into an Italian restaurant She had set up tables with red and white checkered cloths, wine bottles with wax melting down the necks, and Dean Martin on the HiFi. When we got home, everyone yelled surprise!
My mother worked so hard making me feel special. Every year she would tell me the story of the day I was born. And, every year, I acted like I had never heard it before. I knew this was important to her to share this with me. It’s what I missed most the first birthday I celebrated without her with me anyone.
I still love the cake every year — white with white frosting (my work birthday buddy got me exactly what I wanted this year!), but what I love most about celebrating my birthday now that I am in my 50’s, is looking back on how much I have grown as a person. Grateful that God gave me another year to try and “get it right” in His eyes. To strive to be a good wife, mother, sister, aunt, and friend. To work on myself physically and emotionally. To continue to find a balance of playing hard but also to take time to rest (I still LOVE my naps). To take care of my body so I am around another year to enjoy life. I have so benefited from working with a personal trainer this year. She has helped me to challenge myself to do things I never thought I could do. Isn’t that what life is all about? To step outside of ourselves and make things possible regardless of the doubt, pain or uncertainty. I have learned from hardships over the years that life is too short to wait for what you think you deserve. As the saying goes — “Life is not a dress rehearsal.”
Thank you to each of you for taking the time everyday to read my blog. I sincerely appreciate it when you say to me, “I love reading your blog!” It means the world. And, I look forward to August 29 next year to say the same thing. God willing. Be sure to eat a slice of cake for me today!
I feel for all you mama’s out there sending your babies off to Kindergarten and college this week. My sweet Miss Bee is starting her last, first day of high school. I am mentally preparing myself for this time next year. I have been thinking a lot of how I am going to feel when that time comes. So, while my thoughts are fresh and I am not sobbing into my Starbucks Americano with cream and one raw sugar staring into a bag of pastry…I thought I would share with you what I learned when Miss Bee went to Kindergarten.
You’d have to fight your battles without me.
The day Miss Bee started Kindergarten I took the day off preparing for a tearful goodbye. I am glad I did. The minute I dropped her off at the entrance of her classroom door, my heart burst. I skipped the Muffins with Mom in the library and stayed in my bed all day, sobbing off and on. Mr. Bee would come and check on me and just as I had pulled myself together, he’d come into the room and I would look at the clock and cry, “She’s eating lunch right now in the Cafeteria!” But, not that articulate – it was something more of a howl.
I had so many feels that day — pride that she was happy and excited and not scared to leave me. Fear, but not because I was worried about leaving her, more because I knew this was the beginning of her innocence sloughing away little by little. I could no longer keep her in my safe cocoon of happiness and “it’s okay” moments. I knew from now on, she would have to fight her battles with bullies and meanies on her own in my absence. I am so blessed she had Mrs. Southard as her wing woman. I couldn’t have picked a better Kindergarten teacher if I had tried.
I realized I actually liked hanging out with my child!
I think the one thing most Mothers would say after doing their raising of children is that if they could go back and do it all over again they wouldn’t take life so seriously. I spent so much time making sure her childhood would be perfect, memorable and comforting, that I actually forgot I genuinely liked spending time with her. Miss Bee is fun, full of life and helps me to really see things I don’t take the time to notice. Once she started school I knew those rare one-on-one fun times of long days together would be missed. School, friends and activities would soon replace the extra time in her life that would have been filled by me.
I’m sorry for the school pictures…
I am sorry I made you wear what I wanted you to wear for school pictures. You were right. The bows were crazy. I should have just let you wear the Ariel costumes you spent time in. Who cares? Those school pictures are awful anyway.
Buying a school lunch is okay.
Just give them the $2 everyday and let them eat spaghetti with Velveeta sauce and “steak” fingers (steak is loosely used here) with powdered mashed potatoes. They’ll burn it off at recess and nothing I could make, even dinosaur shaped PB&J could top going through the line and getting a “Hey, Hon” from the cafeteria ladies.
Yes, you can buy a new ruler even though we have twelve at home just like it.
This was Miss Bee’s last year to go school supply shopping. We were in Target and she said she was going to get her supplies. It was the first time we didn’t shop together. I stayed in the Keurig aisle fantasizing about pumpkin spice latte cups when she came back, dumped her stuff into the cart and that was it. No ceremony, no display of her selections. Her bag of stuff has sat in the corner of her room all summer. The ruler battle has been a legend in all families since the dawn of time. Every year a ruler would be on the supply list and I would tell her “you have twelve at home just like it, put it back. I’m not paying .89 for another ruler.” I say to my older self now, so what? Just buy another one. Who cares. I guarantee that one day you will wish for the drawer full of rulers when you want to measure something and you can’t find a tape measure. Or JoAnna Gaines will come up with some cute way to use rulers and I will wish I had all of them. And, I am sorry that one year I made you buy RoseArt brand crayons instead of Crayola to save money. She still hasn’t let me forget that. You were right. RoseArt sucks.
So, that’s my two cents. If you want more inspiration click here for a beautifully written letter by a mom to her new kindergartener that I have pinned to my “Feeding my Soul” Pinterest board. Here’s an excerpt…
“And while my heart is beating a thousand times a minute as I write this, I also know that you are ultimately God’s creation. You are called to His purpose and if I keep you right next to me, sheltering you from the world, you will not be learning the lessons He has for you. And, I will not stifle that process. So, I will let go. I will watch you walk into your classroom, and I will act as excited as you are. I will jump up and down with you as you pick out your school supplies and I will celebrate this new beginning. But, I won’t be far…even in those pre-teen years when you want to push me away, I won’t be far. And, through this process, I will rely on God to bring us closer together and closer to Him. Cause, who knows? There might be a few lessons I’m about to learn myself.”
I’ve been seeing images on Pinterest and Instagram lately that bring a smile to my face. Here’s just a few things to share…
Cats. I love cats. It does not matter where I am in the world, if I see a kitty cat, I must be its friend. My love affair with cats goes back to my early years when I lived on Meadowbrook Drive. I came home with this book from grade school — Orange Oliver: The kitten who wore glasses. I told my mother I wanted an orange kitten. She told Daddy. Daddy went to work the next day and gave his employee $20 and told him “I don’t care how long it takes today, but you go out and find Melissa an orange kitten.” That night, Daddy came home with an orange kitten. I named him….Oliver. The only problem with living on Meadowbrook Drive is that no one followed the speed limit and once the kitty cats stepped off the curb, I never saw them again. So, throughout my life I have collected quite the repertoire of feline fans. I still have a thing for orange…
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. It doesn’t have to be a lavish spread, although this tablescape I saw on Instagram this morning would not disappoint. My go-to menu would be homemade granola, ripe fruit, a warm scone or muffin, oatmeal and piping hot French press coffee all served on beautiful china.
Lazy days by the pool. Since we put a pool in last summer, it has totally changed me. I love to sit outside and just look at it. I enjoy sitting on the patio sipping coffee and bird watching. I can’t wait to start a new book after dinner as the sun it setting. It’s just so quiet and peaceful. I find I do most of my thinking outdoors.
I remember Mother wearing a swim cap. I always thought she looked so chic.
“Keep smiling, because life is a beautiful thing and there is so much to smile about.” Marilyn Monroe
This week Mr. Bee and I celebrated 20 years of bliss. I thought it might be fun for you to know the story of how we met. It’s my version and someday soon I will let Mr. Bee give you his.
I was newly divorced and relocated back to my hometown of Fort Worth. It was the summer and I offered to help my sister set up her classroom for the first day of school. I met all her friends for lunch, in particular her friend Mandy, which will be the critical part of the story here.
Summer went, and fall arrived. Around October Mr. Bee was helping a friend work on his car (he’s very handy like that) and mentioned that his access to females suitable for dating was pretty slim, did his wife Mandy know of anyone? Mandy asks Sister Bee if I would be interested in meeting her husband’s friend. Sister Bee, with my permission, gives Mandy my name and phone number. Radio silence.
We are now into winter. It’s cold. Mr. Bee later said he sat on my number because his dad had surgery for an aneurysm, but I think it was because he didn’t want to do the whole Christmas gift exchange for a girl he just met.
Mr. Bee called. I was dating someone, and didn’t call him back. He called again. I didn’t call him back. Meanwhile, back to helping Alan with his car, Mr.Bee mentioned that he wasn’t having much luck getting me to call him back. This was reported back to my sister who promptly told me I was being rude and to call the guy back. That she and Mandy went to a lot of trouble to make a love connection and I was being inconsiderate. I always do what my sister tells me to do.
It’s January by now. I call Mr. Bee. I am still dating the same guy (although by this time I was finding him annoying), but offered to meet with Mr. Bee as a networking opportunity for him to meet maybe one of my friends. He picks me up on January 3 (see, it was after NYE so no party for him to worry about taking me to). I open the door. Since he says it wasn’t a “date” he didn’t bother dressing up. He looked like a lumberjack — jeans, a red flannel shirt, and hiking boots. I, on the other hand, had just arrived home from work. I was wearing a suit and rain coat and my three cats were standing next to me at the front door.
We get into his pristine Volvo and he turns on the classical radio. Snooze alert. This guy is either boring or a serial killer because there is absolutely no trash in the car. I wanted to go to Uncle Julio’s for a swirl. He said it was too loud and wanted to hear me talk so we went to The Original for Mexican food. I thought this means he’s either got hearing loss, he’s cheap, or both.
During dinner, I found myself thinking about my grocery list as he droned on about scuba diving. I gave him my life story and I am sure he thought I was delightful. The night came to an end. He took me back to my house, asked if we could see each other again, and I said yes (I didn’t mean it). We shook hands, said our goodbyes and he drove off. I realized I forgot to give him the gate code to exit the neighborhood. As I was walking toward the gate, he realized he couldn’t get out, started to back the car up to drive back to my house, didn’t see me and almost ran me over. Great, he can’t see either I thought.
He called me a few days later and I agreed to meet him for lunch. This time he showed up all shiny and clean in a suit because he was meeting me during his lunch hour. Hmmm.
Sister asked how things were going. I said they were okay. He’s nice.
Next meet up — still networking here — coffee at Starbucks. He was 20 minutes late and I was getting more steamed than my coffee. He finally arrives, apologizes profusely saying he got caught on the phone with a client. We laugh and linger over coffee. I forgive him for being late.
Sister asked how things were going. I said, you know he’s really nice.
Next scene — Kimbell Art Museum for dinner. We tour the exhibit, chat about art, enjoyed dinner. On the way to the car, I made a comment and he didn’t hear me (again with the hearing). He leaned down, put his hand on the small of my back and asked me again what I said. Suddenly, I was all warm and fuzzy inside.
Sister asked me how things were going. I said, I really like him. Alot. I think at this point she was probably cashing in her tickets thinking she’d scored big finding him.
From there, I dumped the weirdo and Mr. Bee and I never looked back. Since we both had been married before, and loved the idea of marriage but just didn’t marry the people right for us, we knew we wanted to be together forever. He asked my parents that fall for their blessing, and the next May we married. We toasted Sister Bee and Mandy at our wedding reception, and as far as I know they retired from matchmaking since their first go at it was a success.
Twenty years later we’ve loved each other through miscarriages, the death of our baby boy John, the birth of our beloved miracle child Miss Bee, the loss of Mr. Bee’s parents, sold our house so we could have my parents live with us, the death of my parents, and my brother’s suicide. We loved being married so much, we’ve renewed our vows twice — once after Miss Bee was born. We put her stroller between us and held our hands over her while we refreshed the vows we had said a few years previously. Then, we renewed our vows again as a new family with my mother and Miss Bee by our side after Daddy passed away.
It’s been the best 20 years of my life. It’s not always been easy, but it has not been hard. I think that’s when you know you are with the right person. There really aren’t any secrets to our success other than we work at keeping the lines of communication open, we apologize when we are wrong, we speak to each other with respect and most importantly, we’ve always made God present in our family. And he makes me laugh. Alot.
Here’s to another 20 years. As his dad said at our wedding reception, “May all your landings be smooth and your lights always green.” Amen.
Yesterday I posted this photo of my siblings in honor of National Sibling Day. Taken on the front porch of the home I grew up – 4617 Meadowbrook Drive. Fifteen, twelve and eleven years old when I came along, I learned some important things from each of them.
From Sister Bee, I learned how to tie my shoes, count and do my multiplication tables. She was always my biggest cheerleader, still is, offering encouraging words. She was the most excited that I was on the way, and I feel like I received a double dose of love from her as a sister and a surrogate mother.
From my older brother, Jimbo, I learned to be comfortable quietly listening to music and reading. His room was upstairs on the end of the house nestled up in the trees. He would come and get me out of my bed at night and I would sleep in his bed while he studied. I think he just liked having me nearby. When Mother would do the final bed check before going to sleep herself, she’d find me in his bed and return me to my crib for the night. He read me the story of the Velveteen Rabbit and gave me a bunny after I lost my first tooth telling me how brave I was. I learned tenderness and gentleness from him. And his laugh was like no one else.
Then, there’s the younger brother. He’s always been a ball of fire. He pretended he wasn’t that interested in me and I think sometimes used me as a way to get out of doing chores. However, he was the only one who took action when I came in from the backyard one night looking like the character “Carrie” with blood dripping down my face from an accident I had on the swing. As my parents sat there looking at each other bewildered as to why I was covered in blood, brother was yelling, “come on people, get the first aid kit!” I learned from him loyalty, strength and courage. He can make me laugh like no one else. When we are together it’s comfortable like a warm blanket. (note: when I texted him this photo yesterday his reply — “what a stinky poo poo pants little brat, but I love you anyway.”)
The way they interacted with me just unfolded naturally. I don’t ever remember Mother asking them to spend time with me, they just genuinely wanted to. I grew up knowing I was loved and for that I am thankful. As my mother said, “the first few years of your life, your feet never touched the ground.”
First paying job: I can’t remember which happened first, but the two jobs I remember were working at the Ice Cream Palace at Six Flags Over Texas. I worked at the cash register ringing up customers. I hated it, because I can’t make change that fast. It was intense. And the uniforms we had to wear were horrid. So I quit, telling HR something dumb like my dad got a transfer to California and they didn’t tell us until that morning we were leaving town. Sketchy.
Or, it could have been the Shrimp Bucket. It was “the” place to eat for seafood. Casual, but a fun place to go on a date. I was the hostess. I liked my job, but it annoyed me that when I called the name to be seated, “Jones party” I’d get no response. Crickets. I’d have to go find them and I’d go up to tell them their table was ready and they’d go back to drinking and finally saunter over to their table. Annoying.
Southern Food Loves: I can’t tell you the last time I had any of these foods, because they are not on my healthy list, but if I am tired and want comfort food — here’s my dream dinner….chicken fried steak with cream gravy, corn and mashed potatoes (mixed together), yeast rolls with butter and honey, iced tea, and a slice of chocolate ice box pie. If chicken fried steak isn’t available then I’d substitute it with fried chicken.
Growing Up My Parents Had a Farm: It was in Cleburne, Texas. We had cows, pigs, goats and horses — not all at one time. It was such a fun place to go away to for the weekends and holidays. Daddy had a business in town, so the farm was mostly a weekend getaway place. Every Easter we’d dye eggs and have some serious egg hunts outside. We spent all our Thanksgivings at the farm, too. I spent many a sweaty summer four-wheeling on the open acres, driving the Willys Jeep (always in first gear because I had no idea how to drive a stick shift), picking wildflowers or fishing. Mother picked plums and mustang grapes and would make jams. Many a pet was laid to rest under the massive oak tree. My parents never really modernized the farmhouse, but it felt homey and comfortable, and Mother managed to cook some fantastic meals in that kitchen. It would be the perfect Chip and JoAnna flip today. It was a great place to grow up.
Something I’m bad at: Reading owner’s manuals. I hyperventilate especially if there’s a diagram with numbers and a small tool included. I have no patience for reading instructions and I always hand the job over to Mr. Bee who happens to be very handy. So, it’s a win-win.
Phobia: I am really afraid of lightening. Most fears are irrational, so this is redundant, but I have a significant irrational fear of being struck by lightening. If I am out for a walk and I hear thunder, it’s all I can do to sprint home and with each stroke of thunder I am convinced I am going to go down in flames. By the time I reach cover, I am seriously in a dither.