Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Loneliest Times

~Published in the Charleston Gazette, Sunday, November 20th, 2011~
One of our lifelong friends passed away recently, leaving a wife he was married to for more than sixty years. They had no children. Sadly, this wonderful lady is now all alone.

When this happens, friends and relatives are usually very attentive at first – sending cards; bringing food; stopping by to talk; checking to see if the survivor needs anything and phoning often. It seems that this might go on indefinitely. But, although these people mean well, they have jobs and families and obligations. Life soon beckons and they respond. Suddenly, the survivor finds herself alone—and lonely.

At some point in our lives, many of us have probably dealt with loneliness – one of life’s most painful experiences. This can be very discouraging, especially when there is no one to help us through this trying situation.

After my father died, my mother used to say that weekends were the loneliest times for her. I never understood that. It seemed to me that every day would have been about the same, as my father was retired. And even though I visited her on weekends, it wasn’t enough. She explained it like this: “That was our quality time together,” she said sweetly. “All week, I stayed busy with housework, laundry and cooking, while he worked in the yard, washed the car or piddled around the house. There’s always something to do when you own a house, you know.” I nodded.

“But come Saturday morning,” she said, “We lingered a long time over breakfast, enjoying lengthy conversations as we drank our coffee, and then we’d get cleaned up and go downtown and do a little shopping. Sometimes we just looked around, or he’d find something to do while I got my hair done. Finally, we’d go to a nice restaurant for dinner before going home. We looked forward to Saturdays. After church on Sunday, we’d have lunch and sit around for hours sipping coffee or iced tea while we read the Sunday papers. I miss all that,” she said wistfully.

My mother lived 25 years after my father died, never remarrying. And she never stopped referring to her lonely weekends.

Although it’s difficult for most of us to understand, sometimes God allows such situations because they are opportunities to bring us into a closer relationship with Him. When we’re all alone and others are unable or unwilling to help, God is the One who is always with us!

While the reality of God’s constant presence with us is a fact, unfortunately, we are not always aware of Him, especially in lonely periods. Have you sometimes wondered, if He’s with me, why can’t I sense His presence? Why do I feel so alone? At times like these, our courage weakens and it’s difficult to rely on the truth that He will never leave us or forsake us. (Heb. 13:5)

In his lifetime of walking with Christ, the apostle Paul learned that times of weakness were God’s invitation to depend on Him. When Paul was struggling with a “thorn in the flesh,” the Lord said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.”

Christians have a responsibility to visit widows and others who are lonely. It must be made clear that God is always with them. Our greatest resource for letting them know that, of course, is the Bible. Throughout its pages, the Lord tells His people that He is with them. Before Christ ascended to the Father, He promised His followers, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20)

Thus, the Holy Spirit abides within us—and we are never alone!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Is Laughter The Best Medicine

~Published in the Charleston Gazette, Sunday, October 16, 2011~

I was sitting on the sofa almost in tears over some perceived wrong done to me when I noticed my cat acting strangely. Taking a closer look, I saw that she was playing with a large rubber band that had been dropped on the floor. She’d pick it up with her teeth, throw it in the air and pounce on it just as it hit the floor, then, with first one paw and then the other; she’d bat it around a bit before starting all over again. Her antics were amusing and I laughed aloud, almost forgetting what had upset me. It’s odd that, no matter how troubled we are, we feel better – at least for a while – when we laugh.

Laughter is a wonderful sensation. There is strong evidence that it can actually improve health and help fight disease. There is also medical proof that laughter is a great workout for the lungs and heart and good for combating stress. Furthermore, laughter is contagious, so if you bring more laughter into your life, you are likely to help others around you laugh more, and realize health benefits as well.

I wondered – did Jesus laugh? If so, what made Him laugh? Research disclosed several accounts of Jesus laughing, but one story tells it best. With the permission of Rev. Sam Trumbore, I pass it on.

This story begins in one of the towns of Galilee, the area where Jesus did much of his ministry. In this town lived a boy named Ethan, about ten years old. Ethan looked much older than his age, for he had lived far beyond his years. You see, the boy was an orphan. His father had been killed by a drunken centurion and his mother had died in childbirth. He had no other family in the area and no one would take him in because his family was from Samaria and the townsfolk looked down on Samarians. Finding no help, he began living on the street.

Ethan slept at night in a manger in exchange for carrying water for the animals to drink first thing in the morning. Each day he visited the farmers in town to see if they had any work to be done in the fields. The workday began at sunup and finished just after sundown. He was paid just enough to buy a small loaf of bread, which kept him from starving. Because he could save no money or food from day to day, he worked every day - or didn’t eat at all. Fortunately, Ethan was blessed with a sharp mind. Without it, he surely would have perished.

The town was on a road to Jerusalem, and Rabbis occasionally stopped to spend the night. Often, the townsfolk gathered to hear the Rabbi talk. Ethan enjoyed hearing them debate points of law expounding great principles and ideas. He tried to figure out the answer to a question put to the Rabbi before the Rabbi spoke. Ethan loved the stories they told to inspire people's faith that God would not forget them and someday would lift them up and send the Romans packing. This gave Ethan hope that someday he, too, might have a home, his own cow, and a small plot of land to grow vegetables when the Romans were gone.

One evening, when Ethan was returning from tilling the barley crop, he noticed a new Rabbi was in town. The crowd which gathered around him was much larger than normal and some gentiles, or non-Jews, were part of the group. Ethan asked a woman on the outer edge of the crowd who the Rabbi was and she shushed him, "Shhhh, he is Jesus of Nazareth."

Ethan pressed into the crowd so he could see and hear. As fate would have it, he pushed up against a Roman soldier. The Centurion looked down at the Samaritan boy and gave him a fast hard kick shouting, "Get away, you little scum!"

The Rabbi Jesus stopped talking, and looked around. "What scum wishes to come and sit at my feet?" he said. "Open the way for the little scum!"

The crowd became silent as they looked to see who Jesus was talking about. This was Ethan's chance. Rubbing his sore rear end, he dove into the crowd, wiggling and jiggling until he was at Jesus' feet. Jesus smiled and asked the boy to sit next to him.

This stirred up the crowd because everyone knew he was a Samaritan and that the boy was unclean (in more ways than one). The most obvious way was the sores on his skin. The local religious know-it-alls who had been debating Rabbi Jesus brought this to his attention by saying, "Rabbi, you defile yourself by sitting with this unclean child. Send him away."

All eyes were now on Rabbi Jesus to see what he would say or do next. Again the Rabbi smiled and said, "We will see if this child is really clean or unclean by asking him three questions."

The crowd murmured in curiosity. What would the Rabbi ask that would show this defiled child to be clean? The evidence, the sores on his skin, was right in front of their eyes!

Jesus asked his first question, "Boy, who are your mother and father?"

Ethan, enjoying the center of attention, replied, "Rabbi, I have no father or mother; they are both dead. No one has taken me in; I am from Samaria. So now my mother is the earth, which gives my body rest as I sleep on her at night, and my father is the sky which guides me as I walk home from the fields at night."

Noises of surprise rippled through the crowd. They didn’t realize the boy they often kicked out of their way could speak such words.

Jesus, looking straight into Ethan's eyes, asked his second question, "Boy, by what do you gain your daily bread?"

Ethan straightened up proudly, "I earn my bread by working in the fields each day. When I have no work, I only eat by the generosity of those who offer me bread in the street. If I can buy no bread and none is given to me in the street, the bread I eat is the hope that someday I shall have my own land to grow grain to make my own bread. This bread of hope sustains me until my next meal."

Jesus, without a trace of emotion, asked his third question, "Boy, what sustains your spirit?"

Ethan thought for a moment and then answered, "Since I must labor from before the sun rises till late in the evening, I have no time or money to practice the rituals and ceremonies of any religion. My spirit is often weary. What restores me is seeing the birds fly high in the sky, watching the tiny barley seeds sprouting up out of the ground reaching for the sun, enjoying the pinks and oranges and purples of a sunset, feeling the friendliness of the animals with which I sleep, and hearing the Rabbis tell of the good days to come when God will triumph over evil. Even though I am a homeless orphan, I know there is beauty and kindness and generosity in this world. This sustains my spirit."

Everyone was silent. Then Jesus began to laugh. He laughed so hard his whole body shook. This wasn't the ordinary kind of laugh when someone slips on a banana peel, or when someone says something foolish. It was a kind of laughter that makes you feel all warm inside. It was the kind of laughter that, when you heard it, you couldn't help but laugh as well. Soon the whole crowd was falling over in laughter. When everyone quieted down, Jesus smiled at the boy and said, "Everyone here thought you were unclean, but the beauty of your words shows a heart of great purity; it is what comes out of our mouth that reveals us, not our outer appearance."

From that day forward, the boy found favor in that community. He was taken in by the man and wife who owned the stable in which he slept and eventually inherited their land, as the couple was childless. He never forgot the kindness of Rabbi Jesus and told this story many times, hoping it would be told many years to come. You may pass it on as well.

Strange as it may seem, after Ethan met Rabbi Jesus, his sores disappeared. If you asked me why, I'd have to shrug my shoulders and say I don't know. What I do know is that magical things happen when a child is given love, attention and respect.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It All Started In A One-Room Schoolhouse

On the way to meet family members for dinner this evening, my husband and I were talking about our childhoods as we’ve done many times before, but this time, he asked a question. He wanted to know why I graduated from high school younger than most people do. So I told him the whole story:

When I was only five years old, I lived in a small coal mining community with my parents. I had several friends to play with and we had a lot of fun in the summertime. My yard was the largest one in the neighborhood, so all the kids liked to play there. My daddy made a swing by tying rope to a sturdy limb of a large apple tree. My friends and I loved pushing each other on the swing. We played other games, too. At dusk, we’d play hide‘n seek or kick the can and catch lightening bugs until our mothers called us to come in and get our baths. The sounds of happy children at play echoed throughout the community every day from mid-morning until dark.

But one September morning, my summer fun came to a screeching halt!  School started.  Since I was younger than all my playmates, I was left with no one to play with until after three o’clock in the afternoon. That made for a long day.  I was bored and lonely. I whined a lot and my mother didn’t have enough imagination to keep me occupied. I missed my friends!

One cool fall morning, I sat on my back porch munching on a bunch of grapes and looking longingly toward the one-room schoolhouse that sat on a large tract of land just behind our house. I felt very drawn to it. Without saying a word to my mother, I got up, ran to the corner of my yard, climbed the fence and kept running until I was at the schoolhouse. Lucky for me, the old-fashioned building had long windows. If I stood on my tiptoes and stretched really tall, I could barely see inside the classroom. Holding onto the window ledge, I peered in, watched the teacher pacing back and forth while talking to the class, then watched as she turned and wrote on the blackboard. Finally, a girl named Alice saw me. When she pointed toward me and said something, the other kids looked, too, and the whole class laughed.  I turned around and ran all the way home.

But the next morning, I waited until my mother was busy, ran out to the corner, climbed the fence, ran to the school, stood on my tiptoes, stretched really tall and looked in the schoolhouse window again.  This time, the teacher, Miss Elkins, saw me. Watching her walk toward the window scared me, but I didn’t move. She said, “Hi Peggy. Would you like to come inside?” When I shook my head up and down, she said, “Go ask your mother if it’s okay. If she says it is, come back and I’ll let you in the front door.”

Running as fast as I could run until I reached the back porch, I opened the screen door and yelled, “Mother, can I go to school?” She said, “Now, we’ve already talked about this. You know you’re not old enough to go to school.” Breathless, I said, “But Miss Elkins asked me to come.” Mother looked at me disbelieving and said, “Why would she do that?”
“She saw me looking in the window; can I go, please?” I said.
Without another word, Mother took me to the wash basin, washed my hands and face, combed my hair, and led me to the bedroom where she put a clean dress on me, clean socks and my best shoes. Then she ran her hands through her hair, removed her apron and took me by the hand. We walked through the back gate and around the path over to the schoolhouse. She knocked on the door.

When Miss Elkins opened the door, Mother told her that she was there to see if she really had invited me to sit in on her class. Miss Elkins said, “Yes. She’s welcome. If she’s going to look in the windows anyway, it would be better if we let her sit here with the other children. Perhaps she’ll get tired or bored after a few days and not want to come anymore.”

But I didn’t get tired or bored. I loved going to school! I was up early every morning, ready and out the door just as if I were as old as the other kids. There was just one little hitch. I had been very slow giving up my baby bottle. Since I was the only child my mother could ever have, she had been indulgent by letting me have it “only” when I was very tired... with chocolate milk in it.  So every day, at recess, I’d run as fast as I could to the corner of my back yard where my mother would be waiting with my bottle of chocolate milk. I’d turn that thing up, guzzle the sweet liquid until the bottle was dry, hand it to Mother and run straight back to school. If other kids laughed - and they probably did - I didn’t care. It was “my security” and nobody could take it away from me until I was ready!

I finished that year of school and was promoted to the second grade right along with my seven-year old friends.  I had barely turned six.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Listen To Your Heart

This was published in the Charleston Gazette-Mail on Sunday, August 14, 2011~

The summer of 2011 is slipping through our fingers and I’m feeling a little wistful.  Nothing makes time pass more quickly than another birthday. The older we get, the faster the hands on the clock seem to turn.  And we watch helplessly as each new year vanishes like a stone in deep water.

It’s been such a short time since school was dismissed for the summer. Already, every store is advertising and displaying “Back to School” clothing and supplies. Once the kids are back in school, can the holidays be far behind?  I wonder why the seasons are so rushed. 

It seems we no sooner begin to enjoy one time of year until another begins. As children, it seemed we had all the time in the world.  The long days of summer were enjoyable, but when it was time to go back to school, most of us were excited and ready for the change.  It seemed that Christmas would never get here, but now, one holiday blends into the next – the seasons merge – years hurry by and the first thing we know, we’re spending our days looking back on the past or rushing toward tomorrow’s task instead living in the moment.

This feels wrong.  We should take more time to enjoy our lives—to stop and smell the roses.  Otherwise, we get caught up in the current and never know what true joy is.  If we do not decide what to do with our days, it is decided for us.  If we do not take control of the time God gives us, the days fly by and the years become a blur. Our hearts fill with the things of the world, or as Paul calls them: "the lust of the flesh and eyes and the pride of life." (1 John 2:15-17)  Yet, our heart truly does know what is most important. We just need to listen.

·         The heart knows that we must have a personal relationship with our Lord.  Having a personal relationship with God means we should include Him in our daily lives. We should pray to Him, read His word, and meditate in an effort to get to know Him better.

·        The heart knows that prayer and praise should be part of our daily life. When we’re suffering, we’re told to go before the Lord in prayer. When things are going well and we are filled with joy, we’re told to sing praise, which is another important part of prayer. Too often we think of prayer as a time of asking God for favors or a time of serious contemplation.  But another aspect of prayer is joyful worship for all that He has done for us. If we learn to sing praise during the good times, then when trouble comes, it will be easier to have faith when we go to God in prayer.

·        The heart knows that we must treat others with love. Philippians 2:3-4 says, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”

·        The heart knows that we must transform and renew our mind. Romans 12:2 says, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will."

·        The heart knows it is important to share our faith. Matthew 5:14-16 says, "You are the light of the world. Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven."

·         Last but not least, the heart knows that we must live for something big – something that will count for eternity.  There is nothing bigger, or greater than God’s work!  Live for God’s Work! Live for God’s glory!  Many people are living only for their own glory. What a waste! There is nothing bigger, nothing greater than God’s glory!

It is not the fact that time passes so quickly, but how we spend it that is truly important.  Time is a gift from God.  Invest it wisely.

And by all means, listen to your heart!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

There Was Always Music

~Published in the Charleston Gazette - Sunday, August 9, 2009~

“God Gave Us Music That We Might Pray Without Words”. This heartwarming sentiment exists on a beautiful cross-stitched piece, framed and given to me by my daughter.

From the wall of my dining room, the affirmation reminds me daily of the importance of music in my life. If my house could talk, I’m sure it would say that there have been many joyful times within these walls, much laughter – and many tearful, heartbreaking times – but no matter what, there was music. There was always music!

At one time, twenty young people came to my home weekly for piano lessons. The lessons, each thirty minutes long, started immediately after school every afternoon and lasted until  This was no easy task for me as I had a family to cook dinner for and my own children’s needs to consider. However, in retrospect, it was well worth the minor inconvenience. Music in general and these students, in particular, have given me many wonderful memories.

A little red-haired girl named Malinda came to me for lessons only two weeks before a recital was planned. The programs were already printed and the other students had been practicing their pieces for a month. When I told Malinda that the recital would be soon, she was excited. I explained to her that if she wanted to be in it, she’d have to memorize a song in short order. Undaunted by the time limit, she made it clear that she definitely wanted to participate.

So I set about to find a musical piece that she could learn quickly. The one I chose was short and used only two or three fingers, but this precocious little carrot-top gave it as much consideration as if it were a famous three-part concerto; and if she was nervous, it didn’t show. When I introduced her at the recital and announced that she’d had only a few lessons, but wanted to play in the recital anyway, she beamed. After a flawless performance, she received rousing applause. Next to her parents, I was the proudest person in the room. 

Some of the twenty are still involved in music - many years later. One young lady is presently living and attending school in England. I'm told she loves to play so much that, since it would have been difficult for her to take her piano with her, she rented one there. I like to think I helped instill in her the love and importance of music. Another former student plays regularly at her church, and does a beautiful job. Yet another, with whom I've stayed in contact, declares to this day that I, and learning to play the piano, had a very positive influence on her life, giving her confidence she lacked before. All of this is “music” to my ears!
What a dreary world it would be without music! What if there were no birdsong? Try to imagine a wedding without the Wedding March, a graduation without Pomp and Circumstance, a ballgame without the National Anthem, or a church service without the singing of hymns.

Whether we are humming as we do our daily chores—praying without words, as my beautiful cross-stitched piece suggests—or singing at full volume in church, music definitely has a positive effect on our lives.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Pruning Creates More Beauty

Published in the Charleston Gazette~Mail Sunday, June 5, 2011

Shortly after a tree service had severely pruned a large tree in our yard, leaving it looking like a giant multi-tined fork reaching straight for the sky, our young granddaughter came for a visit and was devastated.  She asked, “Why did you ruin that beautiful tree?”

The tree had become too tall, was misshapen and large limbs were starting to drop during strong winds and thunderstorms. We felt it was time to either remove it altogether or prune it and hope for a healthier tree next season. Trusting the advice of the tree man, we decided to prune.  It would be worth tolerating its rather odd looking shape for the rest of this season knowing the end result would be a safer, better looking tree next spring.

But trying to explain to my granddaughter that pruning is good for the tree was futile. To her, it made no sense to make something that is already beautiful, ugly on purpose so it will be beautiful again later.  To help her understand, I accessed the Internet, found pertinent information and, together, we took a crash course on the benefits of pruning trees and shrubs. Here are some things we learned:

“Pruning should be a regular part of all tree and shrub maintenance programs. Proper pruning involves the selective removal of plant parts, which reshapes the tree, allowing sunlight to get to all fruit-bearing branches.  The size and quality of the fruit will be increased and new fruit is more likely to develop.  Over time, the tree becomes stronger, more attractive and is no longer a danger to property as it may have been before.”

After our little session, my granddaughter felt better and vowed she would be watching the tree to see if it actually does start to become more attractive and healthier as a result of pruning.

Problem solved.

It would have been impossible to guide my granddaughter through this learning experience about pruning without remembering John 15:1, in which Jesus tells His disciples, “I am the true vine and my Father is the Vinedresser. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit, He prunes.”

In his book, Secrets of the Vine, Bruce Wilkinson explains, “Our Father, the Vinedresser is guided by the same principles as the expert pruner. To make room for the kind of abundance He created us for, He must first cut away parts of our lives that drain precious time and energy from what’s truly important.  God asks you to let go of things that keep you from His kingdom purposes and your ultimate good.  He cuts off every branch that bears no fruit.  Every branch that does bear fruit, He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.  (John 15:2)  If your life consistently bears no fruit, God will intervene to discipline you.”

Perhaps just as important as being disciplined and pruned is what Jesus says in Verse 5: “I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me, you can do nothing.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”

Abide means to remain; to stay closely connected.  When we spend time with our Lord, we are strengthened and refreshed to do His work.  Abiding helps us to sense God’s leading; we learn to recognize His still small voice.

Jesus goes on to say, “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; then gathered and thrown into the fire, and burned.”

The point Jesus is making is this: If you are not abiding, you wither and die and become of no spiritual use. But if you draw close to Him and remain there, nothing can hold you back from attaining the most abundant life possible.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Rejoice And Be Glad

Published in the Charleston Gazette-Mail today, March 6, 2011

It’s a dreary day—the kind that makes some of us feel less than cheerful. On a day like this, I find myself turning on every light in the house – even the window candles – and playing the liveliest music I can find at very high volume. Today, I am reminded of an incident from many years ago when I sold real estate.

Perhaps it would be more honest to say, I attempted to sell real estate.  Selling was never my strong point. I was more than slightly likely to say to a prospective buyer, “You wouldn’t want to look at a house on Main Street, would you?” A lady once asked me on the phone, “What does the house look like on the outside?” I answered, “It’s fine if you like bright green.” Needless to say, she didn’t wish to inspect the house, and I never heard from her again. My Broker told me I wasn’t “hungry enough” to sell real estate. He wasn’t trying to insult me; he was just wise enough to know the truth when he saw it.

Sorry, I digress.

One misty March morning, it was as gloomy as it is today when I arrived at the office for a meeting. When I walked through the door, our secretary, a sweet Christian lady, greeted me cheerfully. “Good morning, Peggy!  How are you?” Her lilting voice almost irritated me. I answered, “What’s good about this morning? It’s dark and depressing and I’d rather have stayed in bed all day!”

My sharp reply didn’t dampen this lady’s spirits for one minute. You see, her Godliness was apparent!  She lived it twenty-four hours a day! Her whole face lit up with a smile as she softly said, “Peggy, this is the day the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!” (Psalm 118:24)

Looking back, I’m sure she must have relished the chance to set my thinking straight. And she did just that. I apologized right away and ever after that, I’d enter the office with a smile on my face, even if it had to be forced, and say in as cheerful a voice as I could muster, “Good morning! How are you today?”

Funny thing though: after a while, it wasn’t pretense anymore. I actually began to enjoy mornings, no matter what the weather. I started to see and feel things I had not been aware of before. I noticed that there’s nothing like the smell of an early morning rain in springtime; I had forgotten what it was like to step outside and be met with the sweet fragrance of fresh cut grass glistening with dew; I felt genuine excitement when I awakened to hear birds singing outside my window – very early, before dawn. I had never noticed the intensity of their twittering before.  It was like an early morning concert.  Driving to work, I passed an entire field of dandelions – not the most beautiful flower by far – but it was easy to appreciate the cheerfulness of a meadow turned bright yellow by this iconic spring flower.

As seasons changed, I became newly acquainted with the early morning sights and sounds of each that I had either forgotten or been too busy to notice.  I felt as if I had been sleep-walking all of my life.  Thankfully, my friend in the real estate office was able to awaken me by reminding me that each day God makes for us is special and worthy of our time and attention.

Since any one of these days could be our last, let us remember to rejoice and be glad in each of them!


Monday, February 14, 2011

Make Life a Little Sweeter

O let me shed a little light
On someone else's path I pray;
I'd like to be a messenger
Of happiness today!

It may be just a phone call,
A smile, or a prayer,
Or long neglected letter
Would lift the edge of care.

I want to spread some happiness
In what I say or do,
Make life a little sweeter
For someone else! Don't you?

                    ~Alice Hansche Mortenson

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Remembering Sadie

While looking for an old picture, I came across a letter that I had received from a friend telling me how sorry she was to hear that my little Yorkie had died. Memories of Sadie came flooding back.

She was already six years old when we brought her home. I had just lost a Yorkie that I loved and was sure I’d die if I didn’t have another right away! The breeder we always dealt with didn’t have any puppies but told me that she would have before long and I could get one as soon as they were ready to leave their mother. I didn’t want to wait that long, but agreed to do it since there seemed to be no alternative.

However, I had seen Sadie at the breeder’s house and fell in love with her cute actions. She seemed to be showing off for us. Mrs. Davis saw this and, after thinking it over for a day or two, called and asked if I’d like to take Sadie. I was thrilled!

From the time we walked in the front door with her, Sadie was “at home.” We put her food and water dishes down and she claimed them right away. She had been at the Davis home for six years, but it seemed she never looked back. We accepted her that easily, too. She was a member of the family from day one!

Sadie was six pounds of cute, bouncy, yappy Yorkie!  And it was obvious she thought she ruled the house – her attitude conveying that to get into our house, you had to get by her first. She definitely would not tolerate anyone who wore a hat or gloves. The yaps became vicious toward those who dared.

Since I fed her, brushed her and did most everything for her, she soon chose me as her “person.” Every time I sat down, she was there almost before I was, waiting until I got comfortable and then cuddling just as close as she possibly could. We watched TV together, took naps together and she wore her little body out following me all over the house on a busy day. When I had to leave the house without her, I was told that she very unhappily watched out the window the whole time I was gone – sometimes for hours.

We had eleven happy years with Sadie. During that time, my daughter got married and moved to Michigan – eight hours away. My husband and I took a trip to visit them about twice a year and of course, Sadie came along. We’d put a pillow between us in the front seat and she’d curl up on it and sleep a good part of the way – at least until we stopped at Rax for a roast beef sandwich.

She seemed to know the minute we pulled into the parking lot. She’d sit up,  look out the window and whine excitedly while my husband went inside and came back with the good smelling food. Oh, she just couldn’t wait for hers! I couldn’t get it unwrapped fast enough to suit her. Then she’d eat the yummy roast beef as fast as she could and as much of it as her little tummy would hold. Sometimes I feared she’d overdo and get sick... but she never did. When she’d finally stop eating, I’d give her a drink of water and take her for a short walk on her leash.

Once all that business was taken care of, we’d be on our way again. Sadie would settle down once more on her pillow and sleep the rest of the way.

We made many trips during the time our daughter lived away and my husband and I were getting a little tired of roast beef so, on one trip, we stopped for hamburgers. That didn’t work! When my husband came back to the car with burgers, Sadie sniffed the air, circled around a couple of times on her pillow and plopped down. She seemed to be saying, “No thank you!” I begged and pleaded with her, putting the warm burger right under her nose, but she just turned away and didn’t eat a bite... nor would she take a drink of water. That was the last time we tried that.

I’d like to say we lived happily ever after with Sadie, but that wouldn’t be true or realistic. Strange things started to happen when she was around fifteen. We’d hear a thump-thump-thump and go to investigate and find that Sadie had fallen down the stairs. After we knew she was okay, we’d laugh and accuse her of getting clumsy in her old age. Then one morning, she and I were sleeping in and I heard a thud and a small yelp. Checking to see what it was, I found that Sadie had fallen off the bed. She wasn’t hurt but a little dazed, I think.

After that happened a few more times, Sadie decided that she’d sleep on the floor beside the bed. I eventually gave her a special bed of her own at the foot of ours.

A visit to the Vet one fall afternoon, told us what the problem was. She had cataracts that were so advanced that the doctor thought, considering her age, it would be dangerous to operate. Sadie was almost blind. But she adapted just as blind people do. We soon noticed that she took a certain route from the family room to her food and water dishes in the kitchen. It was always the same. She had it figured out perfectly. If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought she was counting her steps.

I took Sadie almost everywhere I went. If I went to the grocery store, I’d leave the car running so the air conditioning would stay on for her. I’m not sure, with the car running, that she ever realized I was gone. Our family couldn’t help but chuckle a little.

She lived quite a while, but her overall health was deteriorating. Another trip to the Vet, at seventeen years old, revealed that she had liver disease. The doctor told me in his most serious voice. “You have a decision to make.” I said, “Oh no!  How long does she have?” He said, “I wouldn’t wait too long. When the time comes, it will be painful.”

I cried all the way home. But, unfortunately, I did wait too long. I just couldn’t bear to let her go, nor could I make the decision to put her down. So, as a result of my selfishness, late one night, Sadie curled up on my lap – a place she loved to be – and started whining... intermittently at first, but it soon  became steadily worse until she sounded like a screaming woman! It was a horrible thing to watch! I finally called the emergency animal hospital and was told to bring her right away. I did, but she went into convulsions on the way and died on my lap. I’ll never get over it. I called myself stupid and worse for months – no, years!

I haven’t had a dog since. Losing them is too painful. I can’t go through it again! I did adopt a cat that was destined for euthanasia. I promise, when her time comes, I will do whatever is necessary to spare her the misery that my beautiful little Sadie had to endure because of my selfishness. And I’ll do it before it’s too late!