Monday, June 27, 2011

Remembering Mom!

It was one of those rare June days, the humidity was low. The temperature was around 80 but no higher. The sky was a deep blue dotted with puffy white clouds. He was in the park but didn't have a blanket but what the hell he thought I'll just lay on the grass which looked like it was clean and had the clean fresh smell of a newly mowed lawn. As he lay on his back looking up to the sky he marveled how the clouds took on forms like big mountains or rivers and then were dispersed by the gently blown winds. As he was looking at one cloud change its formation he could swear it was the likeness of his mother who had passed from this world some five years ago. The cloud became his mother's face smiling down on him. He closed his eyes and suddenly he was deep in reveries. He was only sixteen and he wanted to stay home on this Sunday to try out for the local team called The Imperials. He had a good shot of making the team since the Saturday he was at the try-out and they told him to come back the next day. Mom however wasn't going to let him stay home while the family was going to visit his fathers family who lived in the Bronx. She was emphasizing that by not going he would be disrespectful to his father. He didn't believe this for a moment. He knew that she didn't trust him to stay out of trouble while they were away, in the Bronx, maybe about 15 miles from home. But she knew her son. He visited the family and never played for The Imperials, but he was sure he could have.

The scene shifted in his mind's eye and he was in the hospital just two weeks after he had both feet and legs operated on. He was supposed to go home with plaster casts to wear for many months. He was looking forward to his Mother's spaghetti and meatballs because nothing he had in the hospital could compare to his mom's cooking especially her gravy (sauce to you non-NY-Italians). It was not to be. He had appendicitis and had to be taken to Roosevelt Hospital by ambulance and wasn't to come home for another week. He burst into tears and his Mom tried to comfort him and her softness in voice and body was a great comfort but not as much as a plate of her spaghetti and meatballs would have been.

Then the scene shifted to when he was four years old and they were in Asbury Park for a week because his Dad had a special assignment to re-finish a big Hotel's furniture. Asbury Park was a very rich play-land back in the day, right near the water, a board-walk and a great machine that blew bubbles around a glass enclosure, bubbles of all different colors. One Sunday as the family was strolling on the board-walk he asked if he could run ahead to look at the great bubble machine. He got the OK and away he went. It was very crowded but he paid no attention to the crowed until he noticed that his Mom and Dad were nowhere to be seen. He became frightened and started to cry. An elderly gentleman approached him and asked what was wrong and he asked the man if he saw his Mom and Dad. The guy said he did and pointed in a direction that he started to follow after a few steps his Mother and Father ran up and Mom grabbed him to her bosom. The elderly guy was nowhere to be seen. When he grew up he used to tease her by saying she tried to lose him. He was sure there were times when she might have felt that way as he was growing up but in the end he was her child and she was the protective mother hen always.

He remembered as she got older and his father got sicker she would nurse him saying she couldn't bring anyone in because it was her duty to nurse him. She wouldn't admit it but it was more than duty, it was love. We all know how these old-timers are, were. She was a neat freak probably because she grew up in the bleakness of New York's grimy street and poverty where she heard the deriding chants of "greasy Guinea" more than once. She had to be cleaner than clean. While her husband was getting sicker her house was getting to big to keep up so he got her a house-keeper called Amanda. The peculiar thing was that after Amanda came, once a week, Mom was very tired and her body was aching. He talked to Amanda and found out that she had very little to do since the house was sparkling when she arrived. He asked Mom about this and she explained she stayed up the night before Amanda was to come and cleaned the house including washing and waxing the floors since she didn't want Amanda to think she was a slob. He told Amanda not to come anymore, it wasn't her fault it was because Mom was Mrs. Clean and it would be easier on her to just do it herself at her leisure.

He rolled over and his face was in the ground. Apparently he dozed off. He got up and brushed the grass from his clothes but he knew he had to put new ones on since the freshly mowed grass left him with green stains. As he left the park he looked up and saw the cloud that still had Mom's face on it and it had a broad smile on it.      

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Maybe You Don't Know It BUT You've come a long way Lady!

Just read somewhere that the average married woman in Ben Franklin's time had thirteen children. Back then I would guess you ladies had little else to do than to satisfy husbands, give birth, feed the brood and keep the house and clothes clean. I would also guess you didn't have a long life span. I think your legal status was chattel, legal property. Things hadn't changed much when my Grandmother came into this world in 1875. She had to submit to an arranged marriage, yes even the poor were doing things like that, in 1889. She had thirteen births (nothing seemed to change in a couple of hundred years) her last being in 1914 which everybody labeled a "change of life" baby. My Mother was born in 1908 and by then winds of change was in the air. Mom was a rebel and insisted her first date with my Dad would not have a chaperon. They were to have a walk in a park where they just happened to meet her sisters and their family and her mother (her father was dead). I know this doesn't sound like a breakthrough for women's rights but it was a start. Mom got married in 1929 and the ensuing depression and the fact that I almost killed her in her pregnancy kept her brood to two children. She lived to 97 and I am sure having only two children contributed to her long life. She  was a modern young lady. She learned Crochet Beading, a skill not in use today but was in great demand back in the day. She ran a shop for a while. The pressure of having to do all the womanly chores of housekeeping, cooking etc. was still hers not to mention the fact that my Dad really didn't like the idea of her working in an environment that was run and owned by two good looking American fellows. So for a while she did homework. I remember sitting under the outstretched material as she worked her needles and lifted the beads onto the outline. I'd pick up the beads that dropped to the floor which was covered by a sheet.

My Dad was an immigrant to this country from Italy in 1920. He was 19 years old then and got married some  nine years later. He came from a family of some 15 or so children, I never could get an exact figure. His Mom and Dad died while WW II was going on in the mid forties. I never met them but I saw pictures and they were two very short people, my Grandfather a real shoemaker and she baked bread for the nuns. She must of been some woman. Including my father five children immigrated, three boys and two girls. It wasn't easy being a young lady in Italy in those days. My Aunt Tessie told me that one day after church at her door she stopped to say hello to a boy she knew and one of her older brothers saw her and slapped her in the face drawing blood from her lip and ordered her to go into the house, which she did without a word because she had no standing and she DID talk to a boy unaccompanied. She married an Italian immigrant by the way of Argentina whose name was Anthony, we called him Uncle Tony. What else? The other girl was my Aunt Julia who married my Uncle Mike, an iceman who didn't work much. Aunt Tessie was a seamstress. Aunt Julia became Sonia Heine's personal seamstress. Uncle Tony was always a hard worker and he was a tailor but Uncle Mike seemed to be an unemployed iceman. The women, my Mother included, let all the Italian men think they were the boss but the women really ran the whole family making decisions when to buy clothes, running the household budget and ruling over the children. The women had to defer to the men. Why? Because that's the way it was. These women were paving the way for women's rights without demonstrating or burning bras. Little by little they were staking their claim that they had as much right to happiness as the men had and they were hell bent on making sure they were not going to be the servants the way their mother's were. The men did not give up their position easily but over the years they just let it happen. On some fronts the men held their ground. My Mom and Dad had two or three fights a year. When they retired for the night my Mom would ask my Father if he was going to sleep in their bed and without answering he'd just pull the covers over him and go to sleep. She then would sleep on the couch in the Parlor until she realized he had a peaceful sleep while she just fumed. The later years saw them both go to sleep in their bed facing away from each other. My Father wasn't going to give up one of his last rights which was the RIGHT to sleep in HIS bed. My Mother ate her pride for the benefit of a good night's sleep.

Today the young women never even think about what their ancestors had to do so that they can enjoy their lives almost as much as young men, there is still some way to go but not much. I know the Carry Nations and the bra burners have all the headlines but the quiet workers for women's rights, their Great-Grandmothers and Great-Great-Grandmothers did just as much but it wasn't as showy, it couldn't be since they were in close proximity to those who figured keeping women under their protective fingers was their God given right. However, it should be noted that even today there are those who think the road to hell came when we gave them their right to vote. But if the truth be known it would definitely show that a lot of our greatness as a nation can be attributed to the fact that for every great man there was a great woman who allowed him to be great. The women have finally stepped out from the shadows to become leaders in partnership with men. This is the way it should be and we are a much stronger nation because of it. Yes, it is true, even if you don't know it you've come a long way lady!

Friday, June 17, 2011

The New Pin Cushions, The Obamas

Is it just me or have you experienced this also? Pundits, Political Junkies, Internet Buzz and just plain people like you and me never just criticize President Obama for his policies without getting personal in a venomous manner with him or his family? After the election I figured some of this stuff, which to me anyway, seems like real hate, would go away, instead it intensified.I thought to myself it may be because he's black yet some of my friends say that isn't so. Do they protest too much? I wonder. Many insist on sending some of this Internet tripe that suggests he really wasn't a good student and somehow he bought his way through school while he was planning to subvert the American economy when he would be elected President which he somehow knew even then. By the way according to some of this newest "stuff" he knew it when he was a pot smoking no-gooder. Huh? I couldn't help but respond to one. I never mentioned the word black yet the response I received was I don't accept Obama as President because of his policies not because he is black. Huh? Who said anything about Obama being black? By the way he is also white I believe the term is multi-racial.

When the then Sen. Obama burst on the national scene he first was attacked for being a racially motivated Black Christian something like a Black Panther. When this personal attack failed he was then charged with being a Muslim, which having a name like Barack made it easy to do. You can't be both but that didn't stop his detractors they just continued to circulate this "stuff". Then came the Birthers. He wasn't a natural born U. S. citizen. All the way up to Trump and Hannity and that ilk. Finally he produces the birth certificate and the whispers still charge that it might not be so along with the question, "Why did he spend millions to hide it?", which question never proves he spent anything to hide anything. All this says he is not like us (us being good solid Americans). His economic policies are planned to lead us into a socialistic state or so goes the charges implying he is purposely undermining America's free capitalism system so he can destroy us (notice he isn't one of "us").

On top of all this he is trying to supplant our rule of law with Muslim law. You mean you haven't heard that charge? As if any one person could do that? The charge claims conspiracy which begs the question; Who are the people he is conspiring with? Everything is hidden and mysterious! His detractors haven't stopped at attacking him personally they have attacked Michele in very degrading ways. You mean you haven't seen those pictures circulating on the Internet? If you do see them tell me they are not bigoted portrayals of black people. What makes it so shameful is Michele Obama is very attractive and gracious doing much good for our children and even our retail outlets by wearing clothes bought at the Gap and the like which sell out at a decent price. Quietly going about doing good on all levels.

Let us examine how this Obama fellow is hurting us good Americans. He came on the scene with the economy in free fall. While it is not where it should be we are not in a depression. Mitt Romney said let the U. S. Auto makers go into bankruptcy. Obama got them out of a failing situation so that the American auto industry is doing fine right now saving tens of thousands of jobs. After three Presidents failed, Osama Bin Laden was finally put out of his misery (and ours) due to President Obama's decision. Now for the dreaded Obama care. I personally know people who have benefited by it, one who gets medicine previously denied his family because they reached their quota, many recent College graduates who were able to stay on their parents insurance and another whose insurance limited in-patient mental hospital stay which under the present law can't be differentiated from medical in-hospital stay. These cases would have left people to fend for themselves many without any heath insurance for their needs. I got to admit this Obama guy is really trying to subvert the American way.

So far he is fighting the Republican platform of putting Medicare on a voucher system, cutting basic social programs while increasing tax breaks for the most wealthy. Okay, If that is what you want then go ahead and defend the plan. But do it on a policy basis NOT A PERSONAL VENDETTA! Oh and by the way the free market everyone always references is not there. Adam Smith's, Lassie Fare and invisible hand just isn't there anymore. When the Capitalist had free reign we had child labor, fifteen hour days and dangerous working conditions which led to rise of unions, child labor laws and all sorts of regulations like regulating inter-state dealings. So Okay I support your right to want all the Republicans have to offer. God Bless, it's all yours.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Words Do Make A Difference

He was waiting to pick his wife up as she returned from work on the commuter train. He wasn't exactly feeling good about himself these days. His body was letting him know he was in the middle fifties. His job had let him know that when they "down sized", a nice word for firing, him citing many excuses but really because he got too old with too many perks so it was easier to give him a package and ship him off. While they let him get early retirement he was too young just to let it go at that besides they needed the income since the pension and his wife's salary wasn't enough to support the family.  Trying to find work only left him feeling worse about himself as he continued to hear he was either under-qualified or over-qualified. Thirty-five years ago he turned down a low minor league offer from the Brooklyn Dodgers. Back in the day they paid practically nothing to those in the low minors so he figured he could do better outside of Baseball. He probably did since it was not easy to get to the big leagues and he did okay in business. His first job had him playing for the department team in the company league. As he reflected on all this he began to doubt the fact that he used to be a pretty good ballplayer, in fact he had doubts that he was any good at anything.

Out of nowhere it seems this guy came up to him and asked if he was Sam Last. He said  he was. The guy said you probably don't recognize me but I'm Tommy Ryan we worked at OTC some years ago. Sam didn't want to seem rude but he had to admit he didn't remember the guy. Tommy then proceeded to tell him that they had played ball together at OTC. They gabbed a bit and then Tommy said I have to tell you the way you played always stayed with me. I could've swore that if given the chance you could've made it. Tommy went on, "You weren't the fastest guy but anything hit your way you ran and got. There weren't many balls hit over your head or that dropped in front of you.".  The train came in the guys shook hands and the wives were picked up and driven home. Sam and Tommy never met again but that chance meeting restored Sam's confidence. He thought I was good, at least someone else besides me thought so.

With restored confidence this chance meeting restored, Sam lifted himself out of the doldrums and carved new career which got him through the financial and mental doldrums that can come to a middle aged man who felt his life was coming to a quicker ending that he wasn't prepared to accept. The fact was that whenever he felt beaten down he recalled the chance meeting and Tommy Ryan's words which always let him get up off the floor and somehow win the battle. Even now some twenty years later he still draws on Tommy's words to restore confidence in himself. Maybe he couldn't play ball anymore but he could use that experience of accomplishment and the athletic mindset to channel adversity in a winning situation. Maybe Tommy was his Guardian Angel in disguise ready to lift him up when he was down. Whatever!


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Music,Dogs,Cats and Other Animals

Some would say it is easy to predict where some of us will end up in life by looking at the environment, examining the gene pool and if there is no calamity it is easy to predict with at least 75 % accuracy what this child or that child will become. I say all you have to do is observe how they act around animals and you can predict with greater accuracy where that child will be when he or she becomes a man or woman.

I knew three guys who all shared the same gene pool and environment and turned out so different from one another that many would swear they were not related. They all worked for the Psychology department at the University they were attending. The oldest guy got the job first. They had to clean the labs that housed the animals that were being used for experiments. There were some small Apes or Monkeys that had all sorts of electrodes attached to them. There were other small animals like hamsters and white rats. They didn't have to inter-act with the animals but they did each on a different level.

The oldest guy couldn't look at the caged simians without wanting to cry. The poor chimps were being mutilated just so the students could become Clinical Psychologists which he thought was grossly unfair. But he couldn't do anything about it. He cleaned and left to get on with his life which really had nothing to do with the University life. He was just going to keep his parents off his back as he pursued his dream of becoming a rock personality. This was more suited to his style, long hair with flashes of red and blond and shaggy jeans and torn tee shirts. He had pets at home but never got too close. Then one day he was told to take this certain white rat outside and break his neck as the Lab. had no more use of him. He took him outside and when that rat looked at him he couldn't bring himself to do it. He didn't want to lose his job and he couldn't set him free because the rat would die in the wild of Queens. So he did what he had to do, he brought him home. His father was adamant that in no way would he have a rat in his home, he had enough of them at the office. But by cajoling, begging and handing his father a sales pitch he got him to approve with the caveat that he couldn't let the rat loose or it would get into the walls and things like that. After a while when the son would come into the room with the rat curled around his cowboy hat the father grew to really like him, he would say that rats are really nice people and if we didn't spread garbage they wouldn't be sick and bite at us. The rat finally died and had a decent burial. The son got married and the dreams of becoming a rock personality never really died but responsibilities kind of smothered those dreams. His household is full of animals including some turtles that get lost occasionally but always re-appear. He still dresses like a hippie. He went from job to job until he settled on one. Eventually he became a very successful sales manager in the construction industry where he could keep his style of dress and have a staff of some two-hundred and fifty guys. Sort of like a pack animal with him being the Alpha dog still selling the notion that he is only thinking of you like when he convinced his father to house that really nice White Rat.

The middle guy came to the Psychology Lab. next and he immediately noticed the hooked up simians. When he would clean up he'd talk to them in a soothing voice letting them know he felt badly for them and that he wanted to make their lives better, if he could. After a while when he would enter they would rush to the front of the cage and turn around so he could groom them, pick the fleas off the fur. After a while they insisted that he give them his arms so they could groom him, even if he didn't have fleas. There was real rapport between him and the chimps. He had no unrealistic dreams about being a sports star or a musician, no he wanted to succeed in Psychology, get married and have a nice life. So with a goal in mind he proceeded towards that purpose. Today he is well respected in the community that deals with compromised children. In effect he is still grooming the simians only they are human. He is happily married, and in effect is still grooming and loving the woman in his life.

The youngest guy entered the Lab. and saw animals that were compromised badly. He had a goal to succeed, win. Winning meant succeeding. Although he was sympathetic to the needs of the animals they might stand in the way of achieving his goal if he let their plight get to him. So he became the aggressor, the one in charge. When he entered the Lab. the chimps would jump up and down and scream. They wouldn't shut up until he rattled their cages. If they could they would have ripped his hide out but they never got the chance. He was in charge. He was the boss. He was the winner. He played sports and tended bar as he worked his way through the Graduate Degrees. Today he is a very successful Professional man but if the truth be known he would still prefer being the bar-tender who was in the Hampton's in the summer and Ski Country in the winter. However this couldn't support his loves which include Golf and of course his wife and children.

So keep the music playing in your lives. Follow your dreams and always be nice to the animals around you!


Friday, June 3, 2011

Dogs and Other Animals In My Life

My brother really was the one who wanted a dog or cat or bird or anything. I really didn't care as long as I didn't have to take care of it. One day he came home with a cat in his arms claiming it followed him home. My mother made him return it to the rightful owner. He brought home turtles that we kept in our backyard. They would disappear for months on end and suddenly appear again never seeming to be in a hurry to go anywhere. Once my brother found a bird with a damaged wing. My mother got a cage and my brother nursed him back to life. Finally the bird was well and had to be let free. The night before the cage would be opened  my brother gave the bird a cold shower. The next morning the bird was found at the bottom of the cage, stone cold dead. I guess that is what is called killing with kindness.

For me the experience with animals was when my Uncle brought home a puppy, a mutt, who had golden hair so we called her Goldie. My Mom was from the City, Manhattan, and really knew nothing about animals. She used to let Goldie out by herself and she became known to all the neighbors and garbage men. Little did my Mom know that she became known, in the biblical sense, to all the male dogs and so she became pregnant early on in her life. This changed my Mother's attitude about the handling of Goldie and so it began with me and my brother walking her on a leash. In those days most dog owners in the neighborhood couldn't afford the Vet. for spaying so it was enforced birth control while the bitch was in heat. Goldie gave birth to a litter, I don't know 7 or so, on Christmas Eve. She was the perfect mother allowing people to view her offspring but growling if a non-member of the household got too close. They would gather at her teats and feed lustily. This was good, for awhile but like all mothers when they started to teethe and the teats became sore she pushed them away almost saying that they were getting big enough to fend for themselves. When they were given away she showed appropriate sadness but like most mothers she also showed relief that things were getting back to normal. She finally had to be put to sleep around 10 years old. Back then a call to the ASPCA and the dog catcher's truck came. Looking back this was cruel because even though Goldie was ill she needed someone from the family for the last goodbye. But back then we didn't think that way, even the church used to say Dogs had no souls. Maybe they still say that but we know that isn't true. Don't we?

The next dog that came into my life was an Alaskan Husky that one of my Uncles gave us. Since my brother and I weren't available for morning walks my Mother had to take this dog. One day they came to a corner where my mother wanted to cross the street and go straight ahead, the dog wanted to go left up the block. There was a tug of war and when my Mother became overly aggressive trying to show who was boss the Alaskan Husky bared his teeth and growled. They went left and walked as long as he wanted to. The dog found himself on some farm shortly thereafter or at least that is what Mom told us.

A little while later another Uncle brought home a pup who looked just like our first Goldie and as she grew she was an exact double. By now my Mom had a little savvy and more money so this Goldie got spayed and never knew the bliss of Mother-hood. Mom also let her out in the back yard and my brother and I walked her and cleaned up the yard. The turtles were still appearing and disappearing. This Goldie was a little rougher than the first one. Give her a bone and she'd go in back of the oil burner and growl ferociously at anyone who came into the house. What was hers was DEFINITELY hers. I tried to break her of this habit by hitting her with the top of my baseball bat until my mother made me stop. Didn't break her. We moved from The Hill in 1954 and left Goldie for the new owners, our cousins, who said they wanted her. Goldie was in the house with the painters for a week. My cousins changed their minds and we took Goldie with us to our new Port Washington house. She was in a car turning up our block and she saw us from afar and created quite a fuss so they had to let her out and she ran up to us whimpering and and licking us, she was really happy. We got the idea she was maltreated by the painters and was miserable for a week. She was now happy but nervous and she bit my cousin Angela one day for no apparent reason and then showed appropriate sadness in face and body language. Angela forgave her and life went on. In our new surroundings our cousins lived next door with my Aunt Anna (we called her Aunt Thannna). Everyone got up around 6 AM. Every morning my Mom would let Goldie out in the back and she would walk to my cousin's door and give a short bark and go in where my Aunt and cousin would give her some treats and talk to her. Then around 8 or so when my cousin would go to work she'd let her out back where she would go to our house give a low bark and go in until the evening where the ritual would repeat itself. This Goldie had a special liking for me because when we lived on The Hill and she was young she seemed to have something wrong with her mouth or throat and my Mom sent me to the Vet with her to check it out. Before we got there I stopped and tried to look in her mouth but she growled because she didn't trust me. I talked to her soothingly and asked her to please open her mouth. She did and upon inspecting I saw a piece if bone stuck between her teeth which I gingerly removed. She was out of pain. We didn't have to go to the Vets. and she seemingly never forgot this bond between us. After a decade or so this Goldie fell very ill and the Dog-catcher's truck came and she too left without one of us to comfort her. We just didn't know any better. There were no more dogs for my Mother's house as I finally entered the Army, got married and had a home of my own.

My wife and I had 7 children in the first nine years of our marriage and our house was too small for a dog that my kids were asking for. I promised them a dog if and when we moved to a bigger house. a confluence of occurrences happened in 1974. My neighbor's dog had pups and we moved. The day we moved was the day the next Goldie was brought to our door. We named this dog Goldie even though she was more brown than gold. He mother was a full breed German Shepard but whoever jumped over the fence and became her father must have been a runt because she was the runt of the litter, but as we found out, the best of the litter. Goldie was really my kids dog, when she was a pup she was like our 8th. child. She was very inquisitive. My oldest son had brought home a turtle from Oakland Lake and Goldie was determined to find out what was under the shell. One night when the house was full of people we let Goldie out back and when she came in she had blood all over her mouth. She acted like she did something wrong. We found the turtle. He was still alive and was brought back to the Lake hopefully to recover and live a long life. Goldie never did find out what was under that shell. One day as I was leaving for work I noticed the garage door ajar and the light on. I checked to see what was up and low and behold there was a dog with 3 and 1/2 legs looking at me  with an expression that said "OOPS my cover is blown.". I went back in the house screaming and yelling because my oldest son had sneaked this dog into our house. I left with the ultimatum that that dog better be gone when I come home tonight. By the time I got to Flushing I felt like an ogre, called home and said the dog could stay until we find him a home. We placed ads and in three weeks or so we had someone who showed up with her daughter. By this time the little mongrel had wormed his way into my heart. The little girl and the mother wanted him. I pointed out his half back leg and he looked like he travelled with a pack of wild dogs. Nothing that I said mattered , they still wanted him and I had to admit I couldn't let him go, even Goldie looked happy. This began the era of Goldie and Henry (his name). When I referred to them many people thought I had an old Jewish couple staying with me, and believe me sometimes they acted like an old couple. She was the domineering one but at times he'd try to get a little amorous and she'd nip him. She didn't seem to mind when they would lie on the floor close to each other but don't try anything.  Someone we knew had to get rid of a Myna bird and we had him for 8 months. This bird would drive Goldie and Henry up a wall by calling their name and they'd come to the cage and stare at the bird. When they would leave she'd say "Why don't you stay awhile.", which would drive them crazy. We didn't have air conditioning then and the August heat killed the bird, who by the way really disliked my oldest son. Goldie and Henry seemed relieved that no-one was calling their names and asking them to stay awhile. Henry was getting older and weaker. He'd go out in the coldest weather and stay in the backyard. One day one son drove him to the Vets. while one son held him in his arms in the back seat. Henry died in his arms fully evacuating all over my son. What a way to go Henry! At least we didn't have to "put you to sleep". Years later Goldie was getting older and very ill. She was about 16 and had been to the Vets around Thanksgiving and it didn't look good. One night she was jumping all over the place like the young Goldie.  Very early the next morning we were awakened by high pitched yelps. Goldie couldn't walk. Two sons came with me to the Vets. This time I stayed with her as they injected her. He eyes were pleading with me to help her and I did the only way I knew how. Soon she was gone and our house had no more pets. That is until Benny came.

Benny was found by my youngest son in a warehouse out on Long Island. He was seemingly a nice mild mannered dog. Had a brownish color sort of like the 3rd. Goldie. Unfortunately we found out later he had some mental problems. If it was a real nice sunny day he liked to lie in the sun outside and if you weren't looking he'd jump the fence and wander away. One time we got a call from someone 2 or 3 miles away who found him wandering just enjoying life. The other big problem was he could sense if a storm, big or little, was on the way and this would drive him into a frenzy. We found this out one day when we were away from the house, my son upon returning found a screen ripped, a window out and Benny running all over the place seemingly shouting "The Sky Is Falling!". At night he'd insist on keeping someone awake with him as he awaited instant doom. One night as I was deep asleep a foul odor caused me to open my eyes and I was staring into the mouth of Benny imploring me to get up and await the impending doom. We tried everything but nothing worked. Then one winter's night during a snow storm Benny seemed to have trouble with his eye. We took him to Vet. specialists and the like and he had a tumor. My son accompanied Benny for his farewell since my experience with Goldie was still haunting me.

The last dog I had a close relationship with was a Border Collie mix which we named Jessie, actually Jessica but we called her Jessie. One day my Daughter who was working at Stern's comes home with this big black and white dog who was foaming at the mouth so much I thought of Rabies.  Apparently someone had her but couldn't afford to keep her, and a cat I might add, and left them tied up in the parking lot. My Daughter had her checked out by the Vet. and Jessie came to spend some 16 or so years with us. Jessie was my Daughter's dog but she got married and couldn't take her with her and to tell the truth by then I would have been lost without Jessie. Jessie was with me when I got downsized and we used to take long early morning walks. I could tell Jess anything and she'd listen. She was a great listener. Then in the 1990's my Mom suffered a stroke and came to live with us for seven years. My wife suffered a heart attack and began her Alzheimer's journey. My back went out on me so violently that I almost need an operation. When the times seemed the roughest I'd wake early before sunrise and Jessie and I would lay on the floor in the Living Room and I could see out of one window to a tree on the corner and I talk to Jessie. My head would rest on her and she wouldn't move unless she wanted to kiss me then she'd lie down again and let my head rest on her as I told her of my troubles. Jessie liked to chase squirrels. One day she caught one but didn't know what to do with it so she let it go. My Mother had a great Aide that came for years whose name was Sophie. She was African American and extremely heavy but she loved us and we loved her. But Jessie loved her most of all. Whenever she'd come into the house Jessie would stand by her and Yowl with her head pointed up to her, singing to Sophie telling her how happy she was to see her. Jessie back legs were starting to go on her. The Vets. couldn't help her. I took her to a Chiropractor who was a forerunner in Chiropractic treatment of animals. Jessie wasn't too happy with this and it didn't help but at least we tried. Finally Jess had to go to the Vets. She evacuated in my car and it took weeks before I could get the odor out. She was embarrassed by this even though I assured her it was OK. The next day when I went to see her The Vet. told me it would be best to put her out of her misery. With the vision of Goldie 3 in my mind I said I wanted to be present. When Jessie saw me she was happy. I would take her home, for sure. I would rescue her. They carried her onto the table and injected her and the Vet., his nurse and I cried as Jessie slipped into the here-after.

I was blessed to have these animals in my life because they taught me how to love and how to die while enjoying life. The first Goldie made me realize that unless you want the results it is sure to bring don't let the young whose hormones are raging, out on their own without proper supervision, and even then who knows what will happen. But it is no-body's fault if the human condition is like those we call animals. Goldie two taught me never to abandon anyone especially those who are most vulnerable. My experience with Jessie and Goldie three gave me the strength to deal with the crisis I faced with my brother, mom and wife, knowing that sometime the right decisions that have to be made are not always the easy ones. The crazy Myna bird showed how a sense of humor is always great to have. All together, the dogs, birds and the turtles showed me that life is precious and in sharing the experience we all benefit. I would venture to guess the biggest lesson I have derived is if you are going to accept the responsibility to care then it can't be done half-way. My loving pets let me be me with no facade always ready to love because they trusted me, and I let them be who they were because I trusted them.