This post is a eulogy of sorts for two very important friends who came into my children’s lives at a time when they needed them most.
Fresca was a lab-shepard-husky mix. I first met her at a school bazaar in a box with her litter-mates. She was the only one who had the Lab look and I knew instantly that she was what I was looking for. My son Ben, then 13 or 14, was struggling. School was hard – life was hard. He was one unhappy kid. We’d discussed what might help Ben and had considered a pet but it wasn’t until I met Fresca that I knew I had found Ben’s therapeutic pal. But Fresca was more than just therapy, more than just a pet. She was Ben’s constant loyal companion, confidante and protector and when Ben married Laura, when daughter Kelsey was born, Fresca steadfastly protected them all. In the past months Fresca – now age 14 – was showing her age. No longer that frisky puppy who engaged with Ben in barking contests, Fresca under the bed and Ben on top of it, Fresca was losing her hearing and it was obvious she was suffering from the aches and pains of old age. She had become the regal matriarch, tolerating Kelsey’s playful advances but having patience for little more. And then one sunny spring morning walking with Laura and Kelsey, Fresca walked onto the railroad tracks adjacent to their house. Despite Laura’s coaxing, despite the tracks’ vibrations which she must have felt, she refused to budge and yes, Laura and Kelsey watched in horror as Fresca lost her life to a passing train. She was old and perhaps ready to choose the time and circumstances of her passing. I know, it sounds ludicrous just saying it. But I have seen this before – animals and even humans who seem to have decided it was their time to go. Fresca served her master well. She was loving and loyal and she came to Ben at a time when he needed exactly what she had to offer. What greater purpose can one serve?
Alexander Graham – Alex or Allie to his closest friends – was the companion of another lonely teen, my daughter Amelia. He came to us via Grandma’s garage. I would have chosen his timid sibling but Amelia saw and loved Alex’s devil-may-care attitude right from the start. When Alex moved in Fresca adopted him as her son, even allowing him to latch on and massage her nipple with his tiny tongue and paws even though she had nothing but comfort to offer. It wasn’t long before Alex took his rightful place as king of the household. Known as the kamikaze kitty and later the evil gato de la muerte, he often curled up on the dresser waiting for some unsuspecting human to pass by. At just the right moment his lighting fast paw would fly out, raking the intruder’s arm…..just to be sure he or she knew who was boss. When new pets made their appearance he was the quintessential Garfield who ruled his domain with a bored yet tolerant attitude. He was a loyal feline to Amelia, she being the only human he truly loved and trusted. He was her friend and protector, softly purring his affection only for her. This week, we had to say goodbye to Allie. Amelia was too distraught to be there and worried that he would feel betrayed – abandoned – so I stood by his side and held him, petting and reassuring him until he was gone. At 13, holding her very own kitten, Amelia envisioned the long life they would have together. It wasn’t to be, but Alex gave her a wonderful 7 years – seven years that would have been bleak and lonely without his reassuring purr. Alex, Garfield had nothing on you…you were the best.