Thursday, August 05, 2010

My original plan for this post was to tell you about my dog, Mr. Stoopid McStoopington. Oh. Sorry. I meant Riley.

Riley has broken out of the backyard three times in the last 24 hours, and thank goodness for me that those kids were visiting actually, because I could not have fixed the problem myself. I have a big huge open hill behind my house that is full of weeds (note that little pile in the photo above---that is from one hind quarter, so multiply that times 4 legs, then multiply again for each time he has gone AWOL). The kids helped me to catch him, and they also have helped set up a temporary block in the fence. I could not easily have done that myself. The fence is up on a steep hillside above a retaining wall.

So that was my original plan. To tell you about the dog, and make it funny, because well...chasing a dog around a hillside at 11:30pm in a quite neighborhood is humorous in its own little way...

...but instead, I have a downer.

The neighbor that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, has passed.

a candle today for Frank

His name was Frank. He moved into the neighborhood just a couple of months after I did. In fact, he bought one of the houses I had looked at. We met because he would walk his dog Layla in the mornings, and Riley would go bezerko every time they passed. I finally just invited them in, and so for awhile there, Frank and Riley would come in for a visit. We'd let the dogs run around in my yard, and Frank and I would talk over coffee.

He was a neat guy, and we always had plenty to talk about. He was in his late 50's, we enjoyed a lot of the same music. He knew a lot about gardening and food. In fact, he used to have a garden in Berkeley that was one of the early suppliers for Chez Pannise. He would sometimes give me a hand picking fruit I couldn't reach. He also had a daughter that was born with a disability, and she uses a wheelchair. She has always been a very active person in general, and when she was a kid, Frank often hooked her up with groups that had activities for people with disabilities. He had been a great informational resource for me for as a result. Plus he also inherently knew how to laugh at my stories about life as a gimp. He totally got it.

I hadn't seen as much of Frank in the past year. When I'm bump into him, he'd tell me that he hadn't been feeling all that well, and had also been having insomnia, so he'd been walking the dog at some seriously irregular hours. I still saw him every couple of weeks or so. The day after MyFavoriteKid and I returned from our trip to Seattle, there was a big sign taped to his house that said, "Welcome Home Frank! We Love You!". His son and ex-wife were in the front yard (she lives nearby and she and Frank still get along well), and she told me what had happened. While we were gone, he went to the emergency room with stomach problems. They found a blockage in his intestines, and when they went it to remove it, they found cancer. EVERYWHERE.

They told him he had about a month.
Hospice came immediately.
It was less than a month.
He died yesterday (my dad's birthday, so that will stick with me).

I did get to see him before he went. TheMostImportantGuy and I brought him the last of the peaches from the tree. And I know it's cliche to say that I know he is in a better place, but he is. I am sure of it.

I got the news because a flyer had been taped to the bulletin board at the community mailboxes. I went to the house and his son was the only one there...and the dog, Layla. Layla very slowly and very quietly (which is unusual for her) came up to me, sat down on my only foot...and looked up at me very sadly. I cried, she was so sad. Frank's son said she was there when Frank took his last breaths, and she totally knew what was happening. She put her front paws on him.

I am just completely bummed.
More for myself than for Frank, which may sound shitty...but this feeling is in line with my buddhist/spiritual belief system, and I can't help but say it. I have a hunch he is suffering about this far less than than the people he left behind. I believe much of grief has to do with our own loss. And I belief he is now suffering much less. Physically, and in every other way.

The thought that flashed through my mind as I left Frank's house today was:

One Less Friend.

Off to dance class.


katkoe said...

*hugs* sweetie.

Gwen said...

Yeah, that's always been my instinct. And with my grandmother's death, I know we've been grieving our loss.

Oh, the dog, the sad sad dog. Who probably gets it better than all of us. But so sad.

TheMIG said...

Sighhhhhhhhhhh. Heavy sighhhh.

Mouse said...

*hugs* sorry to hear about your neighbor.. though I'm glad that you were able to catch the dogdogdog.

Margaret in Ontario said...

Not one less, though it may feel like that right now. He's still there; just not here. And you just gave him more friends somehow, by writing this--now I know Frank, in some small way, and it's good. Thank you.

Something that always occurs to me sooner or later when someone dies, but that I forget every time in between, so it always seems like an amazing thing (and really, it is) is this: Now he knows what happens. He *knows*. How wonderful is that!

Hugs to you.

Lorena said...

*hugs*, dear.

not supergirl said...

Oh so sorry to hear about Frank's departure. It sounds like he's leaves a lovely legacy to be so missed.

~Donna~ said...

Sorry he's gone, sniff.


The Bon said...


Dani said...

When my BF's nan (the only grandparent he ever knew, and like a third parent really since he'd lived with or next door to her his entire childhood) passed away from a very quick spreading cancer earlier this year, my man-of-few-words-generally-and-very-English-in-his-stoicism said this:
"Of course I'm sad. But I thought about how horrible it was when we saw her last week...and then I kept thinking of all the nice memories I have of Nan, and I realized that I'm sad for *me*, and for Helen (his only sibling), and for Mum. But not for Nan."

True, no?

(formerly) no-blog-rachel said...

Sweetie I'm so sorry.

Gretchen said...

Ahh, it is your loss, for sure. Arms round. But, I'm thinking you make friends pretty easily - you did in Seattle! Maybe Frank was just making room (wow - you know I mean that in a nice, supportive way - right?). It will pass, know that you're supported by all your other friends...

AllyB said...

I am sorry to hear of your friend's passing.