A Life Well Lived

This evening while watching the evening news, I noticed my neighbor pulling down her driveway and pulling up to the front of the house. She’s not precisely my neighbor. The place next to me is her second property, her little local lake house. She’s an elderly lady, and as I watched her pull down there, a feeling of somberness just washed over me. In the past, she and her husband would go there to watch sunsets over the pond in our backyard. He just recently passed away, and this was the first evening she’s been out there since his passing. It was just heavy watching her walk around the property alone.

Sunset in my backyard

They seemed to be a happy elderly couple. They’d always stop and ask me how my son was doing in Hawaii. They’d talk to Buddy, my dog, through the fence; he reminded me of Elmer Fudd in the way he dressed. He always wore a red and black flannel shirt, khaki pants, and a hunting hat like Elmer Fudd. He was 81 when he passed. She’s a long-retired schoolteacher and acts and dresses like the sweet old lady that would be a retired schoolteacher. They were pleasant to talk to and were still deeply in love after all these years together.

I hope that I get to live the long, happy life that those two have. It’d be nice if 40 years from now, my wife and I could go sit down by the pond together. Hold hands in a swing, and reminisce about the older couple next door who used to do the same thing while watching the sunset. I could exit this world in peace if I could spend my final evenings like that.

Where the Hortons would sit and watch the sunsets

So, this evening this blog post is for Mr. & Mrs. Horton for giving me an example of a life well lived.

My Pets Make Me A Better Human

When I was a child, we had family pets. We had a yellow-headed Amazonian parrot named Pepe. A German Shepard named Caesar and an old cat that took up at the house we named Mama Cat. At the age of 14, my mother passed away. My grown siblings got the animals, and I went to live with my father. There weren’t any animals at my father’s. It was all work and no play. That’s probably why he died when he was 42. So, from 14 to 35, I didn’t have any pets around. That’s kind of sad when you think about it. That all changed when I bought my house.

Molly the Cat

Back in 2012, I bought my house. At the time of purchase, I didn’t realize that a cat was coming with the house. When we went to move in, we found this little, maybe around 6th-month-old kitten, hanging around under the carport. She was very shy, and it took her a few days to warm up to us, but after a few days, she became a part of the family. My wife named her Molly. Molly has been hanging out under the carport ever since. We let her come in the house, but she’ll only hang out for a little bit, and then she’s at the door crying, wanting to go back out. Since she prefers the outside, we built her a cathouse on a table. It’s small enough for her to get in and stay warm on cool nights. The walls are insulated. On cold nights, like anything below 40, we make her come inside. She’ll protest for a bit, but then she’ll claim her spot at the foot of our bed.

Molly

Buddy the Dog

After we were here for a couple of years, when my son was about 12 or 13, he came to me wanting a dog. At first, I was like, “No!”, but my wife and him teamed up on me, so we got a dog. My son named him, Buddy. He’s a mixture of a feist and a springer spaniel. He’s a very smart dog and picks up on things quickly. He doesn’t like Canadian geese in the backyard, and his mortal enemy is a squirrel. Well, being that I was so adamantly against the dog, he and I wound up spending a lot of time bonding. That’s how it goes, you know, the father is solidly against the dog, but once the dog is there, he takes ownership of it. Buddy is my best friend after my wife. I look forward to coming home and walking through the gate to see him coming up the driveway to greet me.

Buddy
Buddy and Molly hanging out in the sun

Grace the Dog

My wife got Grace out of a terrible situation. She was chained up to a stake in the middle of someone’s yard and only had a plastic pet carrier as a house. Her owners were such terrible people that when my wife finally got them to give her to her, their only concern was keeping the chain. When we got her, she was severely malnourished, wormy, and unsocialized. We have taken up a lot of time with her getting her to be a good dog. And when I say we, I mean my wife, myself, and Buddy. She didn’t even know how to interact with other dogs. She had been chained up in that yard by herself since she was a puppy. She was a little over a year old when we got her. Buddy took up time with her. He showed her how to act and play. He showed her what to do with a ball. Now all she wants to do is catch the ball. I mean all she wants to do.

Grace

Floyd the Cat

I found Floyd in the middle of the street on my way home from work one day. She was a little kitten. She had just started walking and was maybe 6 weeks old. Cars were straddling her approaching the stoplight. I stopped in the middle of traffic, got out, and scooped her up. When I got her home, she was a dirty little cat. I washed her in the sink. I introduced her to Buddy and Grace. You could see the love in Grace’s eyes for her. She immediately took her in as her cat/puppy. Grace would put her in the crate with her and even let her nurse on her for a bit. Now Floyd is a little psycho and not a normal cat. She doesn’t like a lot of attention and will let you know it with a quick swat. The only thing she’ll let love on her and not react angrily to is Grace. If Floyd comes up and rubs on you, there is a bit of fear that comes with it, because you don’t know where this is going.

Floyd. Floyd’s a female cat, by the way
Mother and Daughter

Taking Care of Another Species

Nothing brings out your humanity more than taking care of another species. Having these pets makes me realize what I missed out on for the 20 years that I didn’t have one. I feel it makes me a better person having a bond with Buddy, Grace, Molly, and Floyd. To me, they are part of my family. They are my children that never grow up and leave the house. It makes me happy to be able to take care of them. And it makes me happy that they choose to be there for me without judgment or any of the other things that come with dealing with people.