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As Long as We Remember...

October 1, 2006

A Walk Through The Shadows

Tom McLaughlin

I set out every morning to walk my dog My-Ya (however you spell it). This excursion lasts about 45 minutes while I stroll a path along the back bays of Ocean City.

The fall season has brought migrating birds and I have become bound and determined to remember and identify the species. My memory for names has been below the SAT English score of a person who has been living in the jungle since day one speaking some rare Malay dialect.

The big birds were easy, or so I thought. Herons are blue egrets and are white. Then there are the Great and Snowy Egrets and the Great and Little Blue Herons; except the immature Blue Heron is white except for a smudge of blue. I have no clue what a smudge is. Then the egrets get confusing with the snowy having a black bill while yellow colors the Great. Add this to the problem of my being color blind. I have stuck with the big-little distinction for now.

I was afraid when I saw the Michael Steele ads on television. They are good, soooo good. The "I like puppies" comments will resound and people will vote for him only because he loves dogs, which, in this political climate, might be the best reason to vote for a candidate. I think he may be the first to run on a puppy platform and there will be a great demand for Boston Terriers. Republicans will be readily identifiable because they will be walking this breed, releasing them from the pit bulls usually associated with the political party.

Years ago, in my twenties, okay, many, many, many years ago, I bought my brother a Golden Retriever before they became popular. Most people, except for hunters, were not aware of the breed and their reaction to this golden, huge paws, liquid eyes, clumsy puppy was short of magnificent. People would stop and crowds would back up along the boardwalk just to pet and cuddle. My brother just recently told me how much that dog meant to him in his adolescent and teen years.

Now fast forward many years; okay many, many, many years. I purchased a puppy for Mom and Dad as all of us walk through the valley of death. Mom has since transfigured, and I am still on that journey with Dad.

I really wanted a greyhound from the track because I had one in Middletown and they are such couch potatoes; but I remembered they like to lean against one's leg, totally not good for frail elderly parents.

Dad and the puppy, now a year old plus a few months, sometimes sit in the recliner or the rocking chair on the front deck and talk. I am now getting a bit scared because he is now talking to her and she is not around. It says in that Psalm, "thy rod and thy staff" comfort me. I would like to think My Ya is that rod and staff and the egrets and herons will lift his soul skyward.

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