Month: June 2013

  • Best Friends

    We adopted Bullet in the summer of 1975. I do not know if my mother had seen an ad in the newspaper, or if she and Dad had heard about available puppies through a friend. What I really remember is my younger brother, Tadpole and I, in the grass on a beautiful day, a dozen tiny puppies crawling all over us. It was wonderful.


    I also remember my mother choosing the puppy. She took her time, petting them all. We could tell by the way Mom picked Bullet up and whispered into his ear that he was probably going to be our new dog.


    Bullet’s parents lived there at the farm. His mother was a Collie who looked just like Lassie, and his father was a German Shepherd, who looked like my mother’s former dog, Fitz. Bullet looked a lot like his dad. Because he was still so small (none of the puppies were old enough to be separated from their mommy yet), with his shape and coloring, he resembled a bullet.


    In a few weeks, Bullet came home. He was a good boy, and he learned fast: Bullet was housebroken in days. He’d lie down, sit, and shake paws when asked, in less than a month. He was never on a leash; we had a large, fenced-in yard, and he was free to run around all he wanted.


    Over the next few months, Bullet grew, and while he kept his father’s German Shepherd coloring, his fur was long and soft, like his Collie-mother’s. He was a beautiful dog.


    On my eighth birthday (that September), my father came home late for dinner. I had started thinking he was going to miss my birthday (even though he wasn’t that late) when he came through the front door, singing, “Happy Birthday to you!”


    Then, his shirt moved. Curious, I stepped forward. “Daddy… what happened to your shirt?”


    “It’s your present,” he said, with that I’m Up to Something smile of his. “Couldn’t wrap it.”


    Out poked a little black kitten’s head.


    I squealed and hopped up and down. “For me? Really?”


    Dad unbuttoned his shirt a little more and held the kitten out to me. With each little “mew”, I was deeper in love.


    “Is it a boy or a girl?”


    He frowned at my mother. “It’s a little girl.”


    I heard my mother: “Oh, great.” (I did not know that females were somehow more “trouble”. I now think Mom was a little upset because spaying a female is more expensive than neutering a male, and we weren’t Rockefellers.)


    I held the little girl in my palms, a scrap of velvet, really. She meowed and purred and gave me head-butts.


    I frowned, worried. “But what if Bullet doesn’t like her?”


    My mother said, “Bullet? Not like someone? Tch! You should be worried that she won’t like him!”


    Mom walked with me into the kitchen (Bullet’s favorite room in the house). Bullet sat, but his ears were up and his tail was going ninety miles an hour. He whimpered and put his front paws up. The kitten made no sound, but sat perfectly still in my hands.


    “Just put her on the floor gently,” Mom said. I did.


    The kitten walked straight up to Bullet, who had stooped so that his chin rested on his front paws (and his tail never stopped wagging). I think we all held our breath, waiting for a growl, a hiss, a bite, a scratch…


    Instead, the little bit of velvet began licking Bullet’s nose and the side of his mouth. She purred.


    My mother and I exchanged surprised looks. My father, standing behind us, laughing, said, “Look at that poor sumbitch’s face! What is that thing, Boy? Huh?”


    We all laughed. Bullet was one bewildered dog!


    Once his face was clean to her standards, the tiny kitten nudged Bullet’s front paws apart and fell asleep between them.


    We named her Familiar (My brothers were into witches back then; a witch’s pet is a familiar, and in all the old stories, witches had black cats.).


    Her favourite family member was Bullet. There was never a cross word between them. They ate together, played together, napped together (even when she became a full-grown cat, her favourite sleeping spot was between Bullet’s front paws, his chin resting on the top of her head), and they cleaned one another.  


    When Bullet was let loose from the yard one day (I think a neighbor-friend had left the gate open.), he was struck by a car. He was lucky (and so were we!) that it wasn’t very serious; only his tail had gotten hit. He ran straight into the kitchen, a nervous wreck. Familiar was the only one he permitted near him at first. She inspected him, rubbed up against him, and cleaned him up until he was calm enough for my mother to get a better look.


    Familiar, an indoor cat, got out one night. She came back the next day. Soon, we realized she was pregnant. The night she went into labor, Bullet stayed in the kitchen, pacing nervously.


    My dad, hands on his hips, said, “Is there something you wanna tell me, Boy?”


    I had no idea why everyone thought that was funny at the time. Now, I giggle, thinking about it.


    Familiar gave birth on February 21, 1976, in the wee hours. She had three kittens, the first being Charlie (I’ve written about him before). Next came Tiger, and then Loretta (who looked just like her mommy).


    My mother had set up a box with old towels for Familiar and her kittens. It was in the kitchen, not far from our pets’ food bowls.


    One morning, eating breakfast in the dining room (adjacent to the kitchen), I watched Familiar place Charlie into Bullet’s mouth!


    “Mom!” I screamed! “Familiar’s feeding her babies to Bullet!”


    I ran into the kitchen. There was Bullet, again with that “I have no idea what’s going on right now” look on his face, his mouth hanging open. Inside, Charlie sat like a king on his throne. Bullet deposited the kitten across the room. Then he walked back to the box, where Familiar placed the second kitten, Tiger, on his tongue. She then picked up Loretta and followed Bullet across the room.


    My mother, who had just come up from the basement (she had not heard my scream), nearly dropped the laundry basket. “What the…?”


    The dog crossed the room another time, and began nudging the box-home across the floor.


    “Oh,” my mother said, understanding. “Mama cats move their kittens, honey. It’s an instinct, to keep the babies safe.”


    Then she started laughing. “Bullet’s helping her.”


    “I thought he was going to eat the babies!”


    Mom laughed even harder. “Bullet? Never. He loves them!”


    It was true. Whenever Familiar was eating, or taking a trip to the litter box, Bullet sat by the cardboard box and watched over the trio of kittens until their mommy returned. As they grew, he was their mattress, and their pretend prey. He never seemed annoyed, even when they chased one another ON him.


    Familiar had another litter, not too long after those three were weaned, and Tiger and Loretta were placed in good homes (We kept Charlie. Mom said we kind of had to; he was the first animal my father loved that loved him back!). This time, she had five kittens.


    One, a little tiger-striped kitty, was born kind of bald on top. Immediately, I named him “Kojak”. He was very tiny, smaller than the other four. My father tried to prepare us; he told us that Kojak was not well, and may not make it.


    Kojak died in the night. We were all sad, but Familiar… She was devastated. I never want to hear that kind of crying again.


    At Familiar’s side, crying as hard as she cried, and kissing her over and over again: Bullet.


    I don’t think they were “ours” as much as they belonged to one another. They were best friends, sharing everything they had, and consoling one another when needed.


    I like to think that I learned something about friendship from Bullet and Familiar.




  • Taffy

    When I was a little Vanessa, I loved the Raggedy Ann and Andy books. I was always borrowing them from the public library, and I owned a few. They were stories that I read over and over again.


    One that I especially loved was about a taffy pull. I don’t remember much about the story, but I remember that it made me want to make candy.


    Mom said, “No way, Jose. You’ll just make a big mess.”


    Usually, my mother let us kids do whatever we wanted in the kitchen. She was cool like that. I was surprised she had said no. I guessed that making candy must be especially messy.


    She called Grandma. “Mom? How are you with making candy with your granddaughter?”


    I laughed to myself. Let the mess be made in someone else’s kitchen.


    That weekend, I went to Grandma’s. I brought my Raggedy Ann book to show her. I read the story aloud while she fixed dinner.


    “Can we have a taffy pull, Grandma?”


    She shrugged. Why not?


    I had never had taffy, and my grandmother had never made taffy before.


    “I call your cousin Irene. She knows how to make taffy, I think.” She called that evening and got a recipe from Cousin Irene (Steve’s sister).


    The next morning, Grandma and I made the biggest mess in history. It didn’t seem to matter how much we had buttered our hands; everything was sticky. We had it on our clothes, on our faces, in our hair, and all over the little kitchen.


    And the taffy tasted yucky.


    When we started to clean up, my grandmother started laughing. I was surprised; I thought for sure she’d been angry about the disaster area her beloved kitchen had become.


    “I have sugar rocks… in my eyebrows!” She howled, and I saw that she had tears streaming down her face. Sugary tears.


    “And YOU!” She pointed, still laughing and crying. “You have it on your NOSE!”


    I rubbed the tip of my nose. It was hardened there. I started laughing, too.


    “If I hug you, Vuh’-Ness-Uh, I’m afraid we need firemen to come and take us apart!”


    I was crying with laughter now, too, picturing the firemen trying to yank us apart. I reached for a tissue.


    Grandma shouted, “No!” but it was too late.  I now had tissue stuck to my face and fingers.


    This brought on even more laughter.


    Once the kitchen was back to normal, and we’d each had a shower, we sat in the parlour to watch television.


    “I’m sorry,” I said.


    “Why you sorry?” Grandma asked.


    I shrugged. “It was a bad idea, the taffy.”


    “No,” she said. “I had fun. I just wish the candy tasted good.”


    I scrunched up my face a little. “Yeah. It sounded good in the book. But I don’t like it at all.”


    “And there is so much of it! What do you think we should do with it all?” Grandma asked.


    “Let’s give it to Daddy. He’ll eat anything!”


    I didn’t understand why that brought on another laugh attack, but I didn’t ask.


    I brought the paper grocery bag full of taffy home and gave it to my father. He thanked me and said, “Mm! Taffy!” Like it was the best present I could have ever given him.


    Mom told me, years later, that my father hated taffy. But he accepted the gift anyway.


    And he ate it all.


  • Hallowed Ground

    I have a few very early memories. The earliest is of a man’s face: blue eyes and a gentle smile, very short grey hair. He was no one that I knew, and this memory always seemed to come to me when I was scared (usually, when I tried to sleep – I was afraid of the dark). I did not know much about angels as a little girl, but I believed that he was mine. I loved that face that looked down at me; whenever the short clip of memory would flash behind my eyes, I would smile, feeling safe.


    One day when I was about four or five years old, I sat next to my mother on the sofa. She was going through a large box of photographs, pulling some out and stacking them on the coffee table. I snuggled up against her arm, and looked on. Every now and then, I would ask about the people in the pictures; Mom would tell me who everyone was, and where the photo was taken.


    When she fished out a black and white picture of him, I snatched it from her hand and held it against my heart. “My angel!”


    My mother pulled back from me a bit and gave me a frown. “What are you talking about?”


    I smiled, and nearly cried. I could not have expressed the feeling in words, but I think it made him more real to me.


    Mom gently retrieved the photograph and smiled at it.


    “That’s my daddy,” she said.


    “That’s my angel!” I argued. I went on to tell her how I had seen him from time to time, mostly when I was scared to sleep. How he would look down at me and smile, and I would feel better. I described him again and again, mostly talking about his blue eyes.


    She was silent at first, and then my mother whispered, “Honey… you remember him. He was your grandpa.”


    “Where is he now?” I asked.


    “He’s in heaven,” Mom replied. “He went there a little while after you were born.”


    “He’s my angel,” I said quietly. “He loves me.”


    She put an arm around me and kissed the top of my head. “Yes. He loves you.”


    “What was he like?” I asked.


    “He was a very nice man.”


    “Was he funny?” I had always had the feeling that he was.


    My mother chuckled. “Oh yeah! He knew a lot of jokes.”


    Little by little, over the years, I learned a lot about my angel, my grandfather. His father had been an alcoholic and abusive, so Grandpa ran away from home when he was a teenager. He was big and strong, and became a catcher in the trapeze act for a little circus.


    He travelled all over The States, but that ended when he went into the little Hungarian restaurant in Brooklyn and met the cook. He knew my grandmother for about five minutes when he told her, “You are going to marry me.”


    Grandma laughed him off, but he proved he was serious. He got a job in Connecticut, driving the trolley. He spoke to Grandma’s family and got their permission. They married a few months later.


    Grandma & Grandpa, at their 50th anniversary party.


    They did not have an easy life (Really, who does?). Grandma and Grandpa both worked hard to get their house up the road from the beach. They lost their first two children to the influenza within a year of one another. My grandfather later developed serious health problems that left him bedridden much of the time. My grandmother worked and took care of him. He was never bitter, and never complained about his sickness.


    Despite his lack of a formal education, Grandpa was a bright man, well read, and he loved mathematics and science. When he was bedridden, he spent time figuring out the tides and things like that.


    I remember one day, I noticed that my mother was writing notes in the margin of a book she was reading. I laughed and said, “So THAT’S where I get it from!”


    She laughed, too. “Nope. We get it from my father.” She then showed me a few of his books. There was his writing, sometimes neat and sometimes not so much, in nearly every margin.


    A few months before my mother moved up to live in the apartment next to ours (I believe it was 2005), I visited her. I told her that while I was there, I’d like to walk down to the beach.


    Mom chuckled. “You know how you used to ‘sneak’ out to walk down there?”


    I did not know she knew about that. I did not remember telling her, anyway.


    If she saw my surprised look, she didn’t show it. “Before he got really sick, Grandpa did that. Just about every morning. In the summer, anyway. He liked to climb that old rock wall and watch the sun come up.”


    I was speechless.


    She grinned. “I used to go with him, sometimes. You know that flat rock on top?”


    I nodded.


    “We would sit there. Quiet. Peaceful. Just watching.”


    I couldn’t say anything, and didn’t know what to say, anyway.


    I watched my mother’s eyes. She was far away for a minute. She returned with a smile. “It was so beautiful.”


    I nodded again.


    She gave my shoulder a playful shove. “You know what I mean.”


    I swallowed. “I do.”


    That beach would never be the same for me. Whenever I went again, I would go over to where the rock wall used to be, where I used to go to watch the sunrise, and I would think, an angel was here.

  • The Tenor


    The waitresses who came back to the kitchen were swooning: The Tenor had brought his entourage into the little Hungarian restaurant, and he was quite handsome. They giggled and argued over who was responsible for his table.


    Elizabeth rolled her eyes at the young girls (not much younger than her) and settled the friendly squabble: Each server would get an opportunity to bring something to the special party. The ladies fled the kitchen and Elizabeth went back to her stove.


    A while later, one of the waitresses brought back empty plates, and a message for Elizabeth: “The Tenor wants to compliment your food in person.”


    But before the girl could finish her sentence, The Tenor pushed through the kitchen door.


    Elizabeth never let a guest into her kitchen. It was a rule; if a guest wanted to see the chef, she came out into the dining room. It irked her that this man had not waited for her at his table.


    He apologized and kissed both of her cheeks quickly. Her anger disappeared when he said, “I could not wait to tell you how delicious my dinner was!”


    Elizabeth smiled and blushed. Now she could see why her wait staff had all gone weak at the knees. It wasn’t his appearance (though he was nice to look at) as much as his charm. Italian men, she thought. Always so smooth.


    He loved to cook, he told her. He loved Hungarian food, and hers was the best he had ever eaten. Could he have her recipe for stuffed cabbage?


    Elizabeth shook her head with a smile. Sorry.


    The Tenor laughed. He negotiated: He would trade his mother’s recipe for sauce and a song for Elizabeth’s stuffed cabbage recipe.


    The cook nudged The Tenor back into the dining room, where he sang La Donna E Mobile, to everyone’s delight.


    After service, everyone went home except for Elizabeth and The Tenor. They spent the rest of the evening in the kitchen, making Italian spaghetti sauce, and Hungarian stuffed cabbage.  


    And that is how my grandmother met Enrico Caruso.

  • But I Don’t Want to Go!


    I learned to read very early (I was three), because I wanted to keep the stories read to me to myself. I bugged my father until he agreed to teach me. Then, I wanted to learn to write, because I wanted to put all of the stories that were in my head down on paper. Bugged my father again.


    I was never published, never submitted anything to any place, because I was too chicken. I did not think that anyone would read what I wrote and like it. (I never thought that anyone would like me, even when I knew I had a close circle of friends; I always wondered at how they could like me – I’m nobody special.)


    All of that changed in the spring and summer of 2008. 


    I didn’t have a lot of money. My mother, now living in the apartment next door, was suffering with Dementia. My husband, Ken and I were paying for everything. I left my job for a few months and then went back part-time, because I could not care for Mom and help pay the bills. I was deep in the Black Pit of Depression, feeling like I was failing as a daughter, and a wife. I could not have children; Project Baby (shots, probing, miserable months of our life) had ended in failure. 


    One evening, my husband sat at our old desk, in front of our computer, chuckling. I asked him what was so amusing.


    “Come here,” Ken said. “You should see this.”


    It was a blog called It was all about a big orange cat named Jeff, and, well… all of the things he killed. We read together.


    “The Sam should have his own web page,” I said. Ken agreed.


    I did NOT want to go back to Blogger; I’d had a page there a couple of years before, where I just ranted about personal things (It didn’t matter how personal; virtually no one read it.). I’d taken it down and didn’t want to go back. Besides, I wanted a site where The Sam would be seen. Otherwise, what was the point?


    Back then, my home page was this thing called “All Faves”. It had links to all kinds of sites, categorized. I scrolled down to “blogs” and saw Blogger, BlogSpot etc. Boring! Then I saw this colorful little logo: Xanga. I clicked on it. I ended up reading a few posts, and enjoying myself. I especially liked that people commented; sometimes it was funny, and other times, I felt like I was eavesdropping on private conversations.


    I decided to make up an account. What the heck? It’s free. I picked the name, “Samspeeps” because it was supposed to be written by Ken and me, and that is who we are, Sam’s Peeps (Anyone who thinks they own a cat has that a**-backwards.).


    Ken contributed in the beginning, mostly ideas and photographs (His pictures always come out better than mine!), but I did the writing, telling the story about how we adopted our kitty, The Sam (or how he adopted us).


    Soon after I began this blog, things changed. My mother’s dementia worsened, and so did my depression. I had read in a book somewhere that, “Self-expression is the archenemy of depression,” and so, I started writing my little memory-stories.


    The first time I clicked that “save changes” (or was it, “submit”?) button, I was in tears, scared, scared, scared:


    This is crap! No one in his/her right mind is going to even read through the whole story, let alone like it. Just give it up. You are no writer.


    I clicked anyway. F it. Nobody here knows me. What does it matter?  


    I read a few entries from people on (I think it was) the front page, and some of the new people (Does anyone else remember a feature that let you greet new Xangans? I forget what it was called, but I liked it.). Then, I shut down my computer and went about doing other things.


    When I came back to Xanga that night, I had “friend invites”… and a couple of comments!


    I was afraid to look at the comments. My cursor hovered over the link for a few minutes. Finally, I thought, well, Geez Louise, just look already! 


    “OH MY GOD!” I shrieked, alone. “Someone likes what I wrote!”


    I kept going. I wrote about my parents, mostly – old stories and the latest going on with my mother in the apartment next door. More invites came. More people talked to me, not just about the writing, but what the writing was about. I read their posts, too, and got to know them.


    There were a few people that I began to feel very close to, especially after my mother’s hospitalization, and then her death. People I had never met before reached out to me, shared their own stories of grief, gave me cyber-hugs, and made me feel a little less alone in the world.


    Ken appreciated those people, and Xanga too; so much so, he gave me a great Christmas present that year: LIFETIME PREMIUM! I was thrilled!


    I wanted to give these folks a little more of me, and my story. I wrote about my mother’s Cousin Steve, Grandma, my brothers, my Auntie V, Uncle Kid, old loves, and of course, my Sam and Mikey (Those same people were there for me when Mikey, a/k/a “Ma Petite Fleur”, died in 2010, just a few months after we moved from Connecticut to Wisconsin.).


    My life has changed a bunch since 2008. There have been a few things that have kept me from posting as often as I used to, and man-oh-man, did I miss my Xangan friends!


    I’ve been trying to “come back” steadily for a few months now. Until recently, it’s been difficult. Now I have plenty of time and privacy (I am sick, on Family Leave, so I am always home, and we have our own place now.).


    However, I don’t have any money. My leave is unpaid, and Ken’s hours are such that we are having trouble paying the rent and keeping the electricity on. Until I am well and back at work, I cannot see how I will be able to maintain my Xanga account. Yes, I know it amounts to only four dollars per month, and it is worth even more than that to me. However, I have less than one dollar in my checking account, and no one knows when I will be feeling good enough to return to work.


    I’ve begun using my WordPress account (I originally opened it up a year ago, but never really used it until a week or two ago),, and I like it, but it just isn’t the same. It isn’t Xanga.


    I do not think that Xanga will be closing down, and that makes me very happy. I’m hopeful that the changes they implement will make this an even greater place. I hope I get to see it for myself!


    I will continue writing no matter what happens (with Xanga, with me), no matter where I go (WordPress, or just my notebook). But I don’t want to go!

  • Fitz: A Love Story

    For some reason, I had it stuck in my head that it was the summer just before I was born (1967). My oldest brother says it was 1965. I found a photograph of Fitz that had the date set on it as August of 1963. I’m just going to tell the story; it doesn’t matter “when”. Love is love, and doesn’t care about such things. Why should I?


    Brother Number 3, The Professor, had a birthday coming up. He wanted a dog. He and Mom went to a kennel to pick one out.


    I loved to hear my mother tell this story:


    “All of the dogs were barking, whining, running back and forth in the kennel… you know, trying to get our attention. ‘Pick me! Pick me!’ All of them but one: The German Shepherd at the back looked like he couldn’t care less if we chose him. Well, German Shepherds were always my favourite, so I was curious.


    “The man there said that he didn’t think that the dog would be right for a family. He had been a police dog; they didn’t want to keep him because he was jumping eight-foot fences, and he was not obedient. He snapped at someone. They said he was a bad dog.”


    My mother convinced the man to let her take the dog out of his kennel for a few minutes, just to see “how he’d be”. The man put a leash on him and handed it to my mother. The dog came out and sat at my mom’s feet and looked up at her, tail wagging faster. She offered him her hand, keeping The Professor behind her for the time being. The dog sniffed it and then licked it.


    “… And he looked up into my eyes, and it was like we both knew we were supposed to be together. He was not a bad dog; he just didn’t want to be a police dog.”



    He was my mother’s best friend. She took Fitz everywhere. Mom never had to use a leash; he always walked at her right side. He never ran off, and he never jumped our fence (which was a lot shorter than the fences he had supposedly jumped when he was a cop).


    When my mother visited her parents at the house by the beach, Fitz would run past Grandma, straight to the back of the house, to Grandpa’s room. My mother’s dad was bedridden most of the time then, and it made him happy that this big dog was so glad to see him. Fitz would carefully climb up onto the bed next to Grandpa and snuggle, pretty much the whole visit. Afterward, Mom and Fitz would go down to the beach to play fetch. Usually, they’d stop at Rawley’s on the way home for hot dogs and French fries.


    Fitz was a big part of the family. He enjoyed all of the birthday parties, and loved a cookout. He was also a guard dog – always watching out for my brothers, and when I came along, Fitz wouldn’t leave me alone, and would only let certain people near me.




    “Certain people” did not include my father. No one knows why Fitz disliked Dad (My father loved animals, but they didn’t always return his feelings.). The only time that dog approached my father in a friendly manner was when Dad was grilling in the back yard.



    I was very young when it happened, but I remember the day Fitz had to be put down (He had severe arthritis in his back and was in a lot of pain.). It was the first time I remember seeing my mother cry. I was too young to understand; I just knew that her heart hurt, and it made me hurt, too.


    The next day, my father brought a puppy home; I guess he thought it would cheer Mom up. My mother, furious (How could he think that my Fitz could ever be replaced? she used to say.), ordered Dad to take the little dog back. She wouldn’t be able to open her heart to another dog for a very long time.


    A couple of years before my mother became ill, she put together photo albums for each of her kids’ birthdays. I went over to visit her (I was living with Ken by then) when she was putting together an album of Fitz’s pictures. The Fitz book was the biggest!



    I laughed. “You have more pictures of that dog than all of us kids put together!”


    “Well,” Mom said, “He liked to pose for the camera!” (It’s true; my brothers and I hate cameras. Fitz loved having his picture taken.)


    We flipped through the album together. She retold the story of how they met. She became teary-eyed. I touched the back of her hand.


    “We don’t have to look through these now, if it makes you sad,” I said.


    “No,” she sniffed. “I’m okay. I just miss him. He was such a good dog.”


    In August of 2008, my mother was in the hospital. I had been bringing her books and reading to her, but Mom was having trouble concentrating on the words. One day, I found the Fitz photo album and brought it to her. Maybe pictures would be better than words.


    It was so good to see her smile. That last week, her Dementia let her have her memories back. As soon as she saw the book in my hands, she reached out for it. “Fitz!”


    I pulled up a chair and positioned her tray table so she could see the pictures without a problem (By then, Mom weighed less than ninety pounds and was very weak.). We flipped through the book slowly, her fingertips touching just about every photograph. Once again, she told me about the man at the kennel all those years ago, the man who cautioned her against adopting “the bad dog.”


    “He was a good dog,” she said. “Best dog I ever knew.”


    She looked like she was going to cry, but then a smile came to my mother’s face.


    “I’m going to see him soon.”


    She gave my hand a little squeeze. “I’ve missed him so much! It’s going to feel so good to play with him again.”


    I thought I would cry, but she saved me: “Geez, I hope he and your father have made up, or there’s going to be a problem!”


    We laughed.


    “Your poor father,” she said.


    I looked up at her, not understanding.


    She shrugged. “Well, I’d have to pick Fitz…”


    We laughed some more.


    Sometimes, when I am sad and missing Mom, I picture her with her beloved Fitz, playing together at the beach, eating Rawley’s dogs-n-fries and maybe some watermelon for dessert. I imagine her with Grandpa, taking long walks, Fitz between them.


    Then I think of Mom with Fitz and my father, and I burst out laughing.


    For Dad’s sake, I hope he and Fitz have settled their differences…