Thursday, May 5, 2016


If you've been visiting Thursday's Child for a while, you may recognize the following post which appeared a year ago. When Mother's Day shows up on my calendar, I think about my mom and my mom-in-law, both long departed, and I give thanks for them. Whether it's your first time of reading or a repeat, I hope you enjoy it.

What Goes Around . . .

             I never put much stock in reincarnation. Fooled around with the notion when I was in high school—made uneducated guesses about what I was “in my former life.” Always flattering, naturally. Princess in England. Avant garde writer in 1920s Paris. Celebrated musician/painter/sculptor in a civilized country like Italy, or Austria.
            The truth was never to be found; hard to “prove” what you once were, if indeed you once were. But—I secretly suspected my former life was less than exemplary, exciting, or celebrated. A boulder, perhaps. Or a stump. When I managed to convince myself I’d been a mammal, I could picture myself as a rabbit. You know, running like a scared rabbit? That was me.
            Recently I’ve had another look at reincarnation. It came about like this:
            In 2007 my daughter came to live with me, bringing her cat and dog. When she moved away in 2009 to go to graduate school, she took the cat. The cat was smaller, easier to handle on a plane, and would more likely adapt to Arizona’s desert climate.
            The dog stayed with me.
            During those two years we were a household of four, the dog, whose name is Joy, became attached to me. Well, who wouldn’t? I was the source of all that makes dog life wonderful: Walks! Food! Treats! Games! Snuggles on the sofa! We bonded well.
            Daughter and cat departed. Joy and I took up a life a deux. Then came the revelations.
            While I hunch over the keyboard and write, Joy sits in the hall and looks at me. I speak to her, smile at her, pet her if she comes by. This is repeated many times if I stay too long at the computer. I’ve explained that writing is work. I’m choosing words, making sentences, trying to follow a more-or-less logical thread to make a point. I’m working.
            Clearly, in the canine lexicon, writing does not equal work.
            By accident I discovered that when I set up the sewing machine in the living room (where the TV lives and I can listen to old movies while I sew), Joy approves. She lies in a chair directly in my sight—which means I’m directly in her sight. She likes to watch me work.
            Sewing is approved. So is cutting out pieces for a quilt. And ironing fabrics or table linens (or shirts when I get ambitious and want to look pressed). Running the sweeper is not quite at the top of the list, but it is work. Putting up the Christmas tree. Taking down the Christmas tree. Cooking.
            This scenario seemed quite familiar. Couldn’t think why. Then one day, when I had the Joy Seal of Approval for working, the light bulb over my head clicked on. Aha! I thought. Who does Joy remind me of? My mother!
            “Put that book away and come dry dishes.”
            “Why aren’t you dusting? You’re supposed to be dusting the living room.”
            “You’re daydreaming again. Stop daydreaming and do something worthwhile.” (Like dusting, I suppose.)
            Yes, Joy is on the same wavelength as my mother when she was young.
            Once I made that connection, I began to look for other characteristics. And I found them.
            Besides Work Is Good, there’s The Look.
            When I’m about to leave the house and can’t take the dog (grocery store, library, lunching out), Joy stands in the living room, four-footed—rooted—spine straight, head up, chin forward, eyes never wavering from mine. Why aren’t you taking me? Or maybe, What do you think you’re doing?
            That’s The Look.
            I tell her where I’m going, who I’ll be with, and about when I’ll be back. And I slink out the door.
            I took to calling Joy by my mother’s name—Doris Jenkins. A silly joke at first, but lately I’ve been uneasy.
            Doris Jenkins, my mother, wasn’t just a slave driver. Wasn’t only a nosy parker.
            Doris Jenkins, like my dog Joy, loved me with all her heart.
            Whenever I experience the unconditional love of my dog, I am reminded: love was part and parcel of my mother’s life. She died too young, of a now treatable disease, but she loved as long as she lived. She loved people. All people. All ages. All kinds and colors. She would have been a wonderful worker for volunteer organizations that help folks in trouble. She’d seen trouble all her life and knew how it felt to be down and out. She knew the meaning of compassion.
            Joy, a dog who came in out of the cold one autumn day, had been living rough. When she allowed herself to love my daughter and accept food and help, she turned into a dog who gave love, and now gives me love from her heart.
            Reincarnation? It doesn’t matter, really, does it? So long as the love keeps going around.
Sadly, Joy is no longer with us. At 17 1/2 years of age, she went to a well-deserved rest. But the love she had and gave lives on. May you be so blessed.