August - the Dog Daze of Summer...too hot to cook, too hot to clean, too hot to trot.
The brain and my senses are dulled by the weight of the humidity and sometimes senseless acts by humanity.
Good thing Bella knows how to color. She keeps me on my toes as we take our daily walks - or what I call our "meet and greets".
The best part of being a dog owner is that you meet others who love animals and almost always acknowledge your pet with a smile, "beautiful day" or dog comment. Sometimes they even stop and tell you their story. I never really know what prompts them to stop and start a conversation with us, but Bella and I graciously listen and learn the lesson(s) that we somehow need to hear from that person who needs to talk.
A few years back we met a man on our daily walk who was busy going about his day but wished to share a pet and hug with Bella. He also shared his story. His wife was and is very ill and maybe, just maybe, he needed the comfort of all our ears that day. Either way, it was a hear-warming story.
*His parents were immigrants who were proud to call themselves "Americans".
*He was orphaned as a pre-teen.
*His much older sister and her husband took him in. The husband was physically and verbally abusive to him and this soft spoken man stated that he had no use, then or now for his brother-in-law. No anger or hate in his voice, just matter-of-factly.
*He became an emancipated young adult and joined the military at 16 years old.
*He served in Vietnam at 16.5 yrs old when others were in high school, dating, driving cars and drinking milkshakes at the drive-ins. Left the service when he was 21.
*He was determined to make a better life for himself and not become the victim of his loss or abuse.
* He married. Has 2 daughters of whom he is extremely proud of and now a granddaughter who is the apple of his eye.
*Built his own business and did very well for himself and in all our conversations has never really spoken of his financial success and good fortune, but because of the area and the housing in that area, I know this to be true.
*He says it is his "duty" to give back to the military from which he took so much from.
"The military opened their doors to a homeless boy and then became my family and raised me to become the man I am today," is how he so eloquently states it.
*He volunteers 2x a week for the USO at one of the largest airports in the nation, he counsels young military men who are struggling and he gives them his undivided attention during their stay at the nearby military base. He also volunteers at a naval museum close to his home.
*He does this with a very ill wife and no regrets about his life choices. Most of all, he speaks quietly with a profound joy that shines in his eyes..
Everytime we see him, he smiles. Stops to chat. Pets Bella Boo and wishes us a kind day.
So today, after a weekend of angst and sorrow caused by inconsiderateness, I saw him, we spoke of the day ahead, the warm sun and we both reflected on what was truly important in life and then we went on our way. Only this time, I forgave myself and those who continue to hurt me and found an inner peace for being so lucky to have stopped and listened to this man's story.
I am truly blessed.
"Hope I grow up to be like him, yeah ... I wanna be like him..." (Cats in the Cradle)
Make your day count... sing, dance, play, paint...whatever it takes to keep your spirit "full" on a hot summer's day that drains you.
Laura Anne and Bella Boo