It Was During WW II

I remember walking nine blocks home to check the mail and then nine blocks back. Looking for a letter from Forrest and unwilling to wait until classes were over.  Rain, snow, sunshine.  No matter the weather.  I wrote to him almost every day and lived for his replies, which didn’t come nearly that often.  Mail came twice a day back then and postage was five cents,  a penny for a postcard.

I walked down Benton, turned right on Central, past the library, the courthouse, Hamby’s restaurant where the aroma of fresh baked homemade rolls and fruit pies kept diners coming, turned right, past wooden houses with blue and yellow stars in the windows indicating family members who were serving the country or who had died in the service of the country, turned left at Main, past  St. Joseph Catholic Church on the corner of Main and Scott, past the school, more frame houses with stars and a church on the corner of Main and Scott, then my home. second house from the corner–609 West Scott.

I was seventeen and a freshman at Drury College   Forrest was my boy friend of five months who later became my husband.

The war ended while Forrest was on a boat being deployed to England.  By then, I had left Drury and entered nursing school at St. John’s Hospital.  I turned down a plebe Christmas –a week at West Point– with someone I’d met at Drury, Jack Wagner, to be there when Forrest returned from the service.  My grandmother had paid for a mouton lamb coat for the occasion and I was set to leave when I learned Forrest would be home.

After three years, we married and had four sons.

Forrest and three of our sons, Scott, John and Ken have died–Scott and Ken of suicide and John of colon cancer.  Forrest died of kidney failure.

Chris and I remain.

 

A Crack in the Heart

For some time now, Jenny has been on the decline.  She refuses her food more often and sometimes throws up.  She sleeps longer and deeper.  She is losing her sight and her hearing.  She gets diarrhea and has nocturnal accidents.  When she’s awake, she barks at everyone and everything invading her space.  Lately, she’s been limping.

Worried that her pancreatitis and kidney failure are worsening, I called Dr. Black who made a house call. She found that Jenny now weighs only 8.9 lbs (a loss of over a pound since her last visit}.  And her kidney blood levels are rising.

Remembering losses of other furry companions, and wanting time to prepare myself, I asked Dr. Black if Jenny was nearing the end of her illnesses.  I was stunned to learn that I probably have only about six more months to enjoy her company.

Funny, how the revelation I will soon lose my best friend changes my experience of her.  Now I live in the moment, holding her, stroking her, enjoying our closeness

Tonight, as the long day fades into night, I watch TV from my bed as Jenny lays her head on my lap and sleeps.  I gently stroke her back, letting her warmth soak into the mattress and my heart..