Today is Sunday, the 25TH day of October. It’s round 11 in the late morning time. I’ve been up for hours. King Campbell and I were out before the Sun was up. I’d awakened earlier in the wee hours of somewhere between 2 and 3, and gone to the bathroom more asleep than awake. I found I was shivering and near chilled to the bone by the time I crawled back under the covers only minutes after leaving, and for what reason I really didn’t know. I decided, as I snuggled closer to Campbell, who had come in to the bed with me sometime in the night, and drifted back to the comfort of sleep that it must be the sickness I’d been battling against all week coming back for another round. We’d not awakened again until sometime between 6:30 and 7.
I’d made my way round the kitchen. My bare feet making soft pattering sounds on the cleanly swept floor as I walked. Campbell was bumbling sleepily behind me. Slowly wagging his tale in sleepy lazy circles, and nudging me with his nose, saying, “Come on Mom! Can’t ya see I’m starvin’? I laughed and scratched the big brute behind his ears, and marveled that I could do it when he raised his head up with absolutely no effort at all.
“Bubba, everyone’s right, you’re a humongous dog. The Seeing Eye simply under estimated how big you’d get. Yeah, Yeah, you’re a bit over weight, we’ll get that off the rest of the way, but you’re also a massive big guy, and I think you’re perfect.”
I ran my fingers along his massive head. I never ceased being amazed at how large and rugged the shape of his head truly was. I’d heard someone describe him once as “Beautiful and Rugged” How Correct they were!
He wagged behind me making the sleepy snuffing sounds I loved so much during these early morning times. As I filled the coffee pot with fresh grounds and water, and set it to perk he began to sniff the floor hopefully for crumbs while I filled both his and Bob Cat’s bowls. It was then that I realized that Bob Cat was not under foot.
“Wow! I must be half asleep!” I exclaimed to Campbell. I had him sit and rest, and after sitting his bowl in its place released him with an enthusiastic, “OK! Good Boy! Eat!” Only then did he get up and go quickly to his food. I had worked long winter hours training he and Rocky Dog both to obey that simple routine, and could only hope his new family would continue it when I’d adopted him out. Now as I went to let Bob Cat in, I smiled at the awesome memories, and shivered involuntarily as I also thought momentarily of the horror that had befallen us before those good times had been allowed to be.
I felt a bit strange at that moment, there in the living room as I reached for the door. I simply still couldn’t wrap my mind around how memories could do that. Overlap on to one another that way. One moment I’d been thinking of the fun evenings I’d had with Rocky and Campbell sitting obediently in front of me like little students in a school. Waiting happily to see what I’d ask them to do next. All either of them wanted was to learn, love, and make me, their mother, teacher, handler, and source of all they could ever need happy. That made them equal. Although, they were different in many ways. Both of them filled certain needs in my life. When I’d first taken Rocky after Donnie was gone, I never had imagined I’d give him up. Just as I’d never imagined the circumstances that had caused me to end up with him in the first place could’ve ever been but they were.
But, how was it that memory could come so close to the terrifying ones that had brought Rocky and then Campbell in to my life? How was it that the two were so different, one so wonderful and filled with happiness and love, and the other so filled with horror and fear?
I opened the door, and Bob Cat was not there. The breeze cool and scented with the morning mist came flowing in and with it a chilling sound that made me shiver all over again. It was the sound of cats yowling off in the distance. I could see them in my imagination, sitting just a few feet apart from one another yowling the call of battle! I knew if I did not stop that quickly a fight would surely ensue. I did not want that so early in the day, and so although it was not quite sunrise I yelled, “Bob Cat! Stop! That! And Get Home! This! Instant!” A moment later he came roaring through the door at top speed! His paws thundering as he passed.
The memories that had caused my disturbance were gone, and I laughed at the big cat as he settled himself on the table by the hall way to wait for me. I reached for him as I started passed but he was too quick. He jumped off the table and ran hell bent for the kitchen and was in his place on the counter taking his first happy bites as I came in. I laughed at the game of it, and stroked his smooth thick fur. He was so big and beautiful. How awesome it still was to me to see how he’d thrived after Donnie had gone from our lives.
There it was again. The realization that so much had happened in the short amount of time that he had been gone.
I was stunned for a moment at the thought of it all. Campbell had come home with me in April of 2011. Donnie was gone by the end of winter a couple of years later, but not one thing that had happened to me before or sense could’ve happened just the way it had if one thing had been different.
So many things became clear to me at that moment I was momentarily stilled by it. I stood in the quiet of the morning, in the kitchen with Campbell standing expectantly in the hall waiting to go out, petting my beautiful cat in the home everyone had expected me to lose and I was whole and alive and getting well. I was so happy at that moment I couldn’t even process it.
As I walked Campbell through the moist crisp air a little later I listened to the sounds of the neighborhood I had grown to love waking around me. I breathed deeply of the early morning mist and as I stood under the big tree in our front yard with its one large branch twisted off by a summer storm years ago, my mind drifts back and soon I am lost in thoughts of long ago. After a while Campbell seemed to have enough sniffing and let me know with a nudge of his nose that he was ready to go in. As we made our way through the door a few minutes later I felt alive and whole. My blood flowed warmly through my arms and legs, and I could hear my heartbeat strong and steady pulsing within. I stood in my warm softly lit kitchen a few minutes later with Campbell lying just outside the door in the hall, and Bob Cat still nibbling at his food, I stirred creamer in to my hot strong coffee.
I sighed with contentment as I took those first life giving sips, and laughed softly as I thought of my friend Phyllis who has inspired me in so many ways saying, “I don’t see how on earth you go out and walk round like that so early in the morning without your coffee?” “Well,” I think now, “I like it I guess, and maybe it isn’t for everyone. Maybe that’s why The Seeing Eye puts out so many different kinds of dogs, employs so many different kinds of instructors, and why their matching process is bar none the best ever!”
She and her dog Ethan had had established a nice healthy pattern that worked for them both, and they were thriving in one another’s care and love. He guided her perfectly for her needs, and she met without fail every one of his. I could honestly say that though the two of us disagreed on some things, and at times she thought me a bit too, “Rigid.” We also know the very life’s value of our dogs, and are truly happy without words to express that we have them.
Now it is near 11-PM in The Campbell Kingdom. The entire family both up top and down is asleep but me. I am as usual in my usual place, my desk, writing of the day’s events. Today turned out to be a fine day indeed. First I enjoyed a pretty interesting chat with Phyllis, and while we had coffee, and she smoked her cigs, we caught up on events from one another’s neighborhoods, and got ready for the day ahead. Somehow these morning chats we had always seemed to in one way or another teach me something more times than not, and Phyllis seemed happy to do it. Thing is, she doesn’t know she’s doing it.
Simple as that.
After we’d hung up, I spent some time writing. Then I figured I’d eat, and so made lunch. I read some of a book as I waited, and then read more while I ate. I loved reading books, and reading them via audio meant I could do other things too. Finally afternoon was here, and Old Man Bob a dear friend of mine stopped by. He had some beer, and we sat together swapping stories, drinking a bit, and listening to the race on the radio.
It was a neat afternoon to be sure.
In the evening I enjoyed a visit with my grand nieces, and then a great long chat with my sweetie pie special friend Bobby. Once we hung up it was finally time to get on the computer and finish writing what I’d started earlier in the day. So, here I am! Back again, and outside the neighborhood is sleeping, the crickets, what’s left of them are chirping, and for now at least all is well here in The Campbell Kingdom. None of us knows however, what tomorrow could hold, so come back again to see what happens next.