Back aboardBy LOTTIE BOGGAN,
I check my watch — 4:20 and almost time for my afternoon dog walk with Roo Roo.
Before I put my raincoat on, and command Roo to a sit position so I can hook her up, I open a scrapbook of my Sun articles, and turn to one written three years ago today.
January 17, 2016
My dog, June Cleaver, comes to my side. I rub her head. “There are a few things that time hasn’t changed yet. You’re a little old lady but still ready for your walk.”
I look at my watch. It’s 4:25 in the afternoon.
“I’m almost ready, June Cleaver.”
On my desk I see the Northminster Church program for today’s service. I pick it up and read,
“I thank you God for this most amazing day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.” E.E. Cummings
“This is a special day,” I said to June.
Back to today —January 17, 2019.
I write a few words across the bottom of an 8 x 10 picture, fold, then put it in my pocket and tighten the belt on my raincoat.
“It’s time, but make no bones about it, I don’t feel too spiffy,” I say as I hook Roo Roo to her leash. I had made this trek with my old lady dog June Cleaver for several years, but she’s gone now, she’s in doggie heaven.
It’s an ugly day outside, spitting rain and windy, winter has set in. I don’t see leaping greenly tree spirits or a dreamy blue sky.
Earlier this morning, wild child and I had already hoofed it for almost thirty minutes around the Jackson Country Club. Come afternoon though, we always do a slow, short stroll. And of course, the little fellow, bandy-legged Petey Poo, my other dog, waits at the house while Roo Roo and I have our twice daily adventures.
As Roo and I walk out the door, the dog’s tail is a russet whiplash of excitement, the creamy white tip on the end could have been a melting snowball. She’s happy but my heart is heavy this afternoon. Grief can be a lonely walk.
After a few minutes I check the time on my cell phone, 4:33.
I yank Roo Roo to a stop, raise my hand, and give her the Stay signal.
I’ve carefully timed our solitary walk this afternoon for several reasons, so I quietly turn back the clock.
Like watching a slow motion movie in my head I go back to January 17, 1957. It was cold outside, the sky was the pale blue of an old person’s filmy eyes but inside my family’s home on 736 Eagle Avenue, bright blue and orange flames from the gas fireplace lick and spiral upward keeping the crowd in the living room warm. My wedding day.
Memories are beautiful and sad as familiar faces move through my mind and I think of sweet stories filled with people I’ll remember all my life.
I quietly carry them close to my heart, martyrdom is not a badge I pin on my jacket.
Out of the 22 people at our wedding, only eight are still alive. I lift our wedding photo from my raincoat pocket. For a moment the dear man was close beside me. “Willard. You’ll never turn into a photograph,” I whisper. I feel a burn of tears as I carefully smooth the picture, and read the words I wrote a short while ago, just before I left the house this afternoon.
Do you take this man to be your husband?
“I do,” I say.
One ear cocked, the other flat against her head, Roo Roo yanked the leash and did her jerky ballet.
Almost falling to my knees, I’ve been snatched back to real time.
The dog heard, not “Do,” but a “Go!” command.
When I slide the picture back into my raincoat I hear a slight ripping sound and cram my hand into my pocket. Something sharp and metal has split the picture.
“Oh my.” It was the room key from last year’s Danube River Cruise.
Her tail whirling like a windmill Roo Roo, and I dogtrot home, me trying to keep up with the ‘my way or the highway’ dog. Back at the house, because of bad weather I close Roo Roo in the laundry room, and Petey Poo in the back bathroom.
I take the key and picture out of my pocket and realize, I had never disembarked from a Viking Jarl riverboat cruise.
Turning on my computer, Bessie Maude, I opened it to a document ,Viking Jarl. “I think it’s time to climb back aboard ship.”
I typed in a title, “The Cowboys Need Some Help,” and began writing, “Before she could say ‘no’ the Hungarian cowboy had escorted the Mississippi lady onto the field.”