I have one sister who is two and a half years older than me. She is a very caring person who has a very big heart! I always thought that she could be an artist. She has the natural abilities that you just don’t see. She is left handed and she can draw so well! She made a cartoon book for my son one time that simply looked professional! She illustrated the book that I wrote in 1997 and she has been there through the ups and downs in my life. She was very close to my late daughter Rebecca and it hurt her very much when she died.
Pictured on left: Her Secret Agent sketch we used in the book!
My sister and I have a lot of memories of our parents.. Sometimes we will talk about the time when this or that happened and what we thought. We will talk about how mom or dad reacted or what they did that was really meaningful. Mom and dad died in 1997 about three weeks apart. It was cancer that took them, first dad and mom three weeks later. My sister is single and was the caretaker for my dad during his sickness. She was an employee at the hospital and got him the best cancer doctor she knew. Mom and her were almost like sisters. There was such a love there and they got along so well. Her and mom were always together. Where you would see one, you would see both! After 1997 with both of them gone my sister had a very hard time finding her footing. She struggled in adjusting to life without her best friend and a dad that she loved dearly.
Living alone and struggling for a year she decided to get a dog. There was a West Highland Terrier in the paper that she was interested in. It turned out the owner was a gal that she worked with years ago. The news wasn’t good however. “I have someone coming out who is ninety percent sure she wants him,” the lady said. My sister told her “call that lady back and tell her the dog is sold, I am one hundred percent sure I want him and I’ll be right over there!” My sister can be very persuasive. On her way she made a quick stop at the store and ran through on a mission, grabbing a dog cage and dog food and other assorted dog items. She was excited as she prepared for a new member of her family. Someone who would be there when she returned and cared that she came home. She made the purchase, named him Teddy (because he perked up at the sound of the name), and brought him home.
My first impression of Teddy quite honestly was that he was wild. He was so excited to see people he was playfully jumping up on us. Typical of a young puppy he had an accident on a visit to our house on the living room carpet that made nobody very happy. We could see though that Teddy brought my sister happiness and gave her the company and friendship she was missing. She was far less depressed as she now had something to occupy her thoughts and her energies.
In the years to follow Teddy was joined in the household by Yvonne. Yvonne was also a West Highland Terrier who needed a home. Yvonne was a former show dog for the people who owned the Grand Hotel, and she seemed to walk around with that show dog image. She was always tame, never got extra excited, and was very obedient. Yvonne was five years old when my sister got her. Teddy was not happy at first that Yvonne was around. He was not used to having competition and now she was there too. As time went on the two became very close. They enjoyed each others company and companionship. A few years later Yvonne was suffering from an incurable disease and had to be put down. Teddy did not eat for a week in his grieving. Of course my sister was very hurt by Yvonne’s death. She sent for two girl West Highland puppies three months later from Minnesota to fill the gap that Yvonne left, to give companionship to her precious Teddy, and to possibly breed some more West Highland Terrier dogs. She named them Lexi (Alexandra) and Libby (Elizabeth) both queen names, the latter named after my mom. For the last few years it has been my sister and the three dogs.
In January of last year my sister was attempting to start an exercise program. She was going at a brisk walking pace when her friend thought it would be better to speed the treadmill machine up even faster. As she struggled to keep up my sister distinctly felt something happen in her chest. She quickly got off of the machine but the damage was done. The next day she had a scheduled appointment to have the doctor check on her blood pressure. Luckily the doctor decided to do a chest x-ray also and he discovered the damage. She had suffered a dissected aortic aneurysm plus bilateral carotid arteries. She was admitted to the local hospital and a decision was made to helicopter her to the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor where they were more specialized. She had a friend who she had take care of her dogs for her. The friend would come over and feed them and make sure their water was fresh. I stopped over one day while she was there and Teddy looked me in the eye with a tilted head. I could tell he was questioning in his own way where my sister was and what was going on? I wish I could have explained to him and had him understand exactly what was happening. I could tell how much he was concerned.
That tilted head quizzical look…I wished I was able to communicate where his master was
When my sister finally got to come home three weeks later Teddy at first was mad. Somehow though he began to understand that my sister was really sick and changed his demeanor to caring. I’m sure the other dogs cared also, but it was Teddy who seemed to care the most! My sister was given blood pressure pills and if she got off of schedule Teddy could sense it. He instinctively realized that taking those pills was helping her get better and would nudge her purse with his nose when she forgot. Teddy has always been alert to when my sister was sick and acted as her care giver, much like my sister did with my dad. He hung around closely when he sensed she was not feeling well to offer anything that he could give to help.
Sometimes on the road of life we struggle due to circumstances to find our footing. Maybe like my sisters situation someone that was very special in our life has been taken away. We pray to God for help and he answers our prayer. Sometimes he keeps friends in our life who help us bridge gaps of days gone by and now. These friends can make us feel younger and inspired because they know us like a book, and we know them! We remember our good times together and we remember where we were and where we are. We are grateful to these friendships that last a lifetime and fill the space of continuity in our lives.
There are times that God answers our prayers in a different way . The prayer may be a simple cry for help, but God knows what is needed. He knows that sometimes a replacement is necessary. Something or someone who won’t take the memories away, but will add to our memories and occupy our time. Maybe he creates a situation in our life where someone else learns to understand us. God is not limited in his ways to answer our prayers, after all, he created the whole universe! Just as my sister uses different tools in her art work, God uses different tools too! Sometimes he brings friends, other people, or even events into our lives that fill the gap we are missing. Other times he uses other means from his creation, such as a dog like Teddy!
Last week when I returned from the gym there was a message on the phone. It was my sister and she was hysterical. It seems that she was sitting in her favorite chair with her favorite dog Teddy in her lap as she often did. She talked to Teddy and he seemed to know exactly what she was feeling. In this case she was very tired. Teddy was a good guard dog and always barked when someone seemed to be out of place. Teddy went out the dog door in the back while my sister fell asleep. Apparently someone was wandering around outside the fence. The last thing she remembered was Teddy giving out a bark of warning. A while later there was a knock on her door from her neighbor saying one of her dogs was apparently laying in the back yard. My sister discovered his dead body and his loss was like she had lost a son.
The thing that is missing when visitors come to her house now is Teddy in the window. He was always the first to peek through the curtains and bark to let her know someone was there. I’m sure that when my sister gets to heaven Teddy will be recreated to be with her. She will be welcomed by my parents and our loved ones that have passed. As for now she can remember the good little dog she had in Teddy. The name “Teddy” it turns out means God’s gift. A gift that God called to bridge a gap and fill the void, whose mission is now complete.