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Recently, I’ve had two friends who have family members struggling with ALS. My friend Stefanie recently lost her mother to ALS and my friend Trish’s husband has it.
I confess, I didn’t know a thing about it until Stef’s mom was diagnosed.
I do not have the skills, knowledge and training to do anything about ALS. That’s someone else’s role to play.
What I lack in medical skill, I hope I make up for by being a supportive and loving friend to those who are going through illness or struggle of any kind.
To that end, here is my friend Trish’s husband Steve taking the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!
Steve has ALS and hopes this video will go viral. I challenge you to share it!
My father-in-law loves dogs almost as much as dogs love him. With some unseen skill, he can win over even the most bloodthirsty hound or shy pup.
He has two dogs of his own, Bullet and Ginger, a German Shepherd and Lab respectively. They roam his spacious country property and keep the house safe from the terrors of such animals as squirrels and white tailed deer.
When my mother-in-law decided she wanted a dog of her own, she choose a dog as different from her husband’s as possible. Instead of a large, active canine, she wanted a dainty lap dog to cuddle. She adopted a terrier mix who tops the scales at ten pounds and named her Darlin’.
She determined that Darlin’ would be her dog, not her husband’s. Knowing his gift for instant rapport with dogs, she refused to let him pet or talk to Darlin’ for fear the dog would abandon her in favor of him.
Because the large dogs can roam, they sometimes venture into trouble. Ginger in particular has caused some trouble with their few neighbors by bringing home shoes or other loose items that fit in her mouth. My mother-in-law likes to boast that it’s her husband’s dog who cause the trouble.
Ginger’s antics recently took a turn for the worst. My father-in-law found a dead chicken in his backyard.He sighed and disposed of it sure he’d hear from a neighbor soon.
Then a second dead chicken appeared in the yard.
Then a third.
He smoked a cigarette and waited for the phone to ring.
When the phone rang, he sighed and answered ready to apologize and make amends.
“Hey Buddy,” he said his customary genuine warmth.
“I guess you know why I’m calling,” his neighbor said.
“Yeah, I do. I found the chickens. I’m sorry and I’ll do whatever I can to make things right.”
“It was my own fault,” said his neighbor,” I left the gate open.”
“ I guess I’ll have to find a new home for Ginger so this doesn’t happen again.”
“No,” the neighbor replied, “it wasn’t Ginger.”
My father-in-law was stunned. Bullet was a gentle giant. He had never caused trouble of this sort. He couldn’t believe that this dog who was so patient with puppies and small children had harmed a living creature.
Then the real shock came.
“It was the little one,” said the neighbor.
“Darlin’,” my father-in-law gasped in disbelief.
“I replayed the footage on my security cam,” said the neighbor, “that little dog grabbed a chicken by throat. It was bigger than her! The poor things fought with her but she’s scrappy!”
My father-in-law apologized again and hung up. He could hardly wait to tell his wife about the trouble her dog had caused.
“Listen to this,” I exclaimed to my husband Brian in disbelief, “A US Airways flight had to make an emergency landing because a dog pooped on the plane.” I read the news story from my cell phone.
“An emergency landing for that,” Brian asked in amazement.
“It gets better,” I told him. “The dog was big and he pooped a lot! The crew cleaned it up but the smell lingered.”
“What sissies,” Brian said.
“That’s not the end of it though,” I told him. “Apparently the dog pooped again later. The smell was so bad people started being sick and dry heaving.”
“When the crew ran out of cleaning supplies the pilot decided the put the plane down.”
“This story is finally starting to make sense,” he said.
“Remember our last road trip,” I asked him.
We both paused and thought back. We were returning home from a visit to his parent’s in Georgia. Brian, our dog Starla and I made the three hour drive back to our home in Greenville, South Carolina.
Things were going smoothly. We’d packed everything, were making good time and hadn’t had car trouble. I was smug. Probably too smug that I’d managed to get us on the road successfully.
“Was that you,” Brian asked suddenly.
“Was what me,” I asked.
Then it hit me. The smell was like an illness that climbed through the cabin of the car.
Starla looked guilty.
“Oh gosh,” I gagged.
Brian and I contorted desperate to open the flip out windows in the back of our Honda Element. We were trapped in a car shaped like a toaster, barreling down the freeway with no exits in sight and a dog that was dropping bombs potent enough to choke an elephant.
“Don’t roll down the front windows,” I cried a moment too late. “It will draw the smell toward us!”
He frantically pressed buttons on the driver’s door handle.
“Why won’t the far back window roll down,” he gasped.
“I don’t know,” I screamed. “I guess gassy dogs weren’t in the design plan at Honda.”
He calmed himself. “We can’t turn on each other,” he said with forced composure.
“No,” I agreed. “We must stay strong.”
“Thank God! An exit,” I pointed out a ramp that was nearing at eighty miles an hour. Too slow, far too slow.
Brian kept the top-heavy SUV at speed as long as he could on the ramp slowing only when gravity forced him to brake.
We whipped into the nearest gas station. I snapped the leash on Starla’s collar and rushed her to a grassy spot. Brian aired out the Element.
“I remember,” Brian said, bringing me back to the present. He looked slightly green around the eyes.
“Imagine,” I said, “being trapped in a plane with that smell.”
“Recirculated air,” he murmured.
We looked at each other, stood and each opened a window in our apartment.
My husband Brian returned home from work and lay face down in the middle of the living room floor. The dog immediately jumped on him.
“Uhhhhmmmmpppfff,” he gasped when she landed in the small of his back. “Get off!”
I opened a beer.
“Rough day at the office, sweetie,” I asked handing him the beer.
“If only I worked in an office,” he muttered.
He doesn’t. He works in retail and sells glasses to masses of people. People who are furious that they have to spend their money on glasses instead of something they really want.
“We had a ‘problem customer,’” he groaned.
“Just one,” I asked surprised.
He rolled his eyes so hard I worried he’d sprained them.
“Yeah just one today but it was a bad one and it took me hours to sort out a computer problem with her order. The problem was caused by home office but my boss will probably yell at me for it,” he took a long pull from the beer. “I need a different job.”
He did. He’s happiest when working with machines. People present him with a bigger challenge, particularly people who are determined to be unhappy no matter what he does.
These people are also known as retail customers.
A bad economy and limited job options landed him his current job. He misses working with his hands.
Brian is at his best when a machine breaks down. He pulls it apart, finds the problem and reassembles.
When people aren’t working at their full potential you can’t take them apart and add oil.
I smiled at him. “Finding a job that’s a good fit is a little like dating.”
“How do you mean,” he asked.
“They aren’t all destined to be a marriage. Sometimes all it takes is one bad dinner and a movie to know this isn’t the job you’re going to stay with for the rest of your life.”
“I need to break up with this job,” he muttered. He thought about it for a moment. “Is it cheating if I start looking for another job?”
“I think you’re getting carried away with the metaphor,” I replied.
He climbed out of the floor and sat on the couch. The dog jumped in his lap.
Brian scratched her ears, gave me a warm smile and said, “If I can find a job that makes me as happy as you and the dog do, it will be a great job indeed.”
“One that will last a lifetime,” I agreed.
There is nothing as wonderful in marriage as having a spouse who understands you.
That’s why when I learned that Brevard, North Carolina is home to a population of white squirrels, my husband Brian fired up the car. We drove an hour and a half to look at white squirrels.
He gets me.
Sadly, it isn’t always reciprocal. When the new space simulator computer game Star Citizen was announced, I started receiving daily “updates.” Updates I apparently subscribed to eleven years ago when I signed my marriage contract.
There is no unsubscribe button in marriage.
This game receives a lot of hype in the internet community and is complete with two weekly blog updates and an ongoing reality TV type competition where designers compete to design a space ship, spacecraft or whatever. The winner of which gets the unparalleled honor of having their ship appear in the completed game.
These frequent updates give Brian much to be thrilled about.
“They’re going to have to eliminate some people that I think they really don’t want to eliminate,” he updated me on the graphic designer competition over coffee Tuesday morning.
“I think in the end they’ll find ways to incorporate several of the competitors even though they said there would be only one winner,” he chatted happily.
“Great,” I murmured. I picked up my cell phone and checked Facebook.
“I mean some of those guys are really good,” I’m sure his eyes were lit up like a kid’s at Christmas but I didn’t look away from the latest Grumpy Cat caption.
“I’m pulling for at least four of them,” he said as he followed me to the shower.
I turned on the water and climbed in.
Twenty minutes later, when I emerged he was still talking.
“That’s nice, Honey,” I replied even less interested in his space game than I was at breakfast.
He stared at me blankly.
“I said did you take the dog out for a walk yet,” he repeated.
There is nothing as wonderful in marriage as having a spouse who understands you – or at least fakes it well.
Last Monday afternoon I dragged myself to the grocery store to procure the weekly meals. Buying groceries has never been a favorite chore but because I like eating and I haven’t figured out how to get the cat to go in my place, I reluctantly submitted to the task.
To shake things up, I decided to try a store across town where I had never before shopped. When I arrived, I was surprised to find an armed security guard at the entrance.
The store was large and crowded to be sure but I saw no one who made me think the store needed an armed guard.
Shoppers jostled one another and scrambled for the last can of green beans, a little old lady on a power scooter held up traffic on aisle five for fifteen minutes and the registers were temporarily shut down when a five-year-old escaped from his mother and pulled a plug. All very routine for a grocery store.
I waded into the fray and used my cart as a shield and once as a battering ram when a rolling rack laden with cans of SpaghettiOs blocked the fish counter.
When I arrived at checkout, every lane was full. I found the shortest lane and got ready to wait.
The man in front of me provided ample distraction from boredom.
He was clad from head to foot in black leather. His scraggly brown hair and beard looked as though they hadn’t been washed since the Cola Wars. Music laced with cursing and drug references blared from his cell phone. A pair of brass knuckles hung from his belt. I struggled not to gape. He was a sight.
I was beginning to understand the armed guard.
The man in front of me turned around and stared.
I forced a smile.
He shot a greasy gaze over the items in my cart. I could only hope that my choice of balanced, healthy foods gave the impression of fitness rather than meekness. I was betting on the bananas.
He stared. One eye twitched.
Don’t show fear, I thought. I quailed anyway. I’ve seen my share of “interesting” people but this man made a rabid Bigfoot look cuddly.
“Would you like to go before me ma’am,” he asked politely.
“Thank you,” I replied surprised.
To put it succinctly, it was not the conversation I anticipated.
He stepped back with a smile and allowed me to take his place.
Well, I said to myself in my best imitation of my mother, that’s what you get for judging people.
Suddenly, a woman standing in front of a pyramid of cans shrieked, “The ad says creamed corn is $0.89 per can! The sign says it’s $0.92 per can! I will not be ripped off! I will not be ripped off!”
The armed dashed toward her.
Jayne Martin made me do it. Yes, if she jumped off a bridge I would too. That’s because my pal Jayne from injaynesworld is an amazing writer and I have a habit of imitating the work of people I admire.
(Hemingway would probably disagree but he’s dead so let’s not worry about what he thinks.)
Jayne issued a challenge to write a piece of Hint Fiction. I accepted, a couple of days late but who’s counting?
Hint Fiction is a very short complete story that hints at a larger story. You can read her examples here and see links to other participants stories.
You can read my offering below:
“What’s for dinner,” he asked.
“Stir fry,” I replied with a contented smile.
“Hey,” he said suddenly, “have you seen the dog?”
Now that you think I would cook my dog remember, Jayne Martin made me do it!No dogs were harmed in the writing of this post and Starla is completely fine. No, really! See: