Gladioli Head

Warning: This subject matter could be viewed as disturbing to some. Reading it may adversely affect your opinion of me. My husband wants you to know that.

In the span of five days my precious dog died (on my son's fifteenth birthday), I had to fly across the country to give bloggers pointers on how to be funny (hahah) and then fly home to celebrate my youngest son's birthday on the very day his other brother died.

My life? It's a bad country music song. Too bad I don't own a guitar. I'd be rich. RICH!

Grief is a funny thing. It is the same monster whether you are crying for a dead dog or a dead kid. It wears the same hat and its bite hurts much the same. Maybe it even hurts a little worse when you are crying for a dead dog and a dead son at the same time.

Here's where I'd totally write a catchy chorus with a long musical interlude if I owned that guitar.

I could totally give Taylor Swift a run for her money. Only instead of writing odes about Jake Gyllenhal and John Mayer I'd be all 'woe is me; my dog died, my son is dead and birthdays are actually harbingers of death.' The royalties will make me rich. RICH!

The day after Nixon died, my husband sat down beside me, grabbed my hand and told me we had to make a decision about what to do with my dog's remains.

"I want to bury him on top of Shale. So we can have a two for one."


"Why not? It's only fitting. And it's not like there isn't space available. Shale was kinda small. He'd never even notice."

"Well besides the fact it's creepy as hell Tanis, I'm pretty sure there are some sort of laws against that sort of thing. Mixing pets with humans and such."

"Laws are merely suggestions to be ignored."

My husband, poor sweet man that he is, noticed I was slightly insane at the moment and not to be dissuaded from the great idea of stacking my dead dog on top of my dead son at the cemetery, so he took a deep breath and paused before speaking.

"I understand all of that Tanis, but the cemetery is pretty far away and Nixon was always under foot. I don't think he'd like being that far away from you." He meant well and it was a fair point but he was trying to be logical with an unhinged crazy person. I blinked back my tears, processed what he had said and then wailed, "Oh my god. I buried my baby boy so far from me. He's probably scared and alone and WHAT HAVE I DONE?"

Well played Boo. Well played.

Eventually I calmed down long enough to think rationally for thirty seconds or so and even though my husband refused to bury Nixon right underneath the house and where our bed is, we managed to agree on a location for my dog's permanent spot of rest.

It was cold and wet and the wind was cutting through both of us, and for every scoop of dirt my husband shoveled, a tear leaked down my chin and froze to my face.

It didn't take my husband very long to dig Nixon's grave and when he was finished he looked up at me, with my arms wrapped around my body and my face covered in frozen snot and tears and he asked, "Is this okay?"

I looked at the hole and burst into a new round of hysterical sobs and shook my head no. "No! Nixon wasn't that tiny! He was bigger than that! It's bad enough we put our 37 inch tall son inside a 36 inch coffin! I can't stick my dog into a hole too small as well!"

(Side note: It was either the 36 inches for Shale or a coffin over 5 feet big. I chose snug as a bug instead of swimming in space. The point being, don't expect mothers who are grieving to make rational coffin sized choices.)

My husband already upset and grieving himself, did the one thing he knew to do with his visibly crazy wife. He picked up the shovel and he started digging.

And he dug.

And he dug.

And he dug some more.

What started as a grave about a foot and a half wide was now a grave big enough to bury me in. (Which I'm sure at one point he seriously considered.)

Eventually he looked up at me and wiped away his tears and I nodded and told him the hole was big enough. So he put the shovel down and gave me a hug and my snot stained his shoulder. Then he picked up Shale's baby blanket I had brought outside and he went to wrap up the remains of the World's Greatest Dog. Forever.

I stood there, feeling the wind slicing through me and felt crushed with grief and it was like reliving the day I buried my son.

And then my husband walked out of the garage, and in his hand was Nixon's remains gently covered up with my son's baby blanket and I had to blink a few times.

"Woah. Nixon shrunk." My husband nodded. Very gently, Boo laid the remains of my dog into the oversized hole he had dug for my dog.

Turns out? I made my husband dig what basically was a six foot hole for my dog's teeny tiny head.

As he started burying Nixon, I couldn't help it. I started to laugh. Boo stopped and looked up and I laughed and cried at the same time.

"I'm so sorry Boo. I guess we didn't need the hole so big."

Boo started to laugh at the absurdity of our life and then suddenly we were standing there, in a giant hole, with my dog's head, laughing like insane lunatics.

"He's like the very best gladioli bulb I could ever plant."

"People can ask what kind of flowers you planted and you can tell them zombie dogs!"

"No! Wait! We'll just tell people we're using him for compost and fertilizer until we can dig him up and mount him over our bed!"

"Um no. We won't tell people that. And no we aren't doing that. No dog head necklaces, no dog skull mounts, NO, NO, NO," he glowered at me. "Don't even THINK IT."


Spoil sport.

I totally want a zombie dog statue though. To put it on my husband's night table.

The Little White House Up on the Hill

It wasn't really ever my house. I only borrowed it. But my husband, he grew up in it. From his birth to the birth of his daughter, he never lived anywhere else. The little white house up on the hill was more than just his family's home; it was a part of who he is.

It was the very first place we lived in as a couple. It's the place I pretended to be a wife, learned what it meant to be a woman, it's the house where I rocked my first infant asleep when I brought her home from the hospital.

The floors, they were old and crooked by the time I was in charge of cleaning them. The linoleum stained and yellowing, perpetually dirty. Green shag rug added a certain charm to the old farmhouse. Handmade kitchen cupboards were stained by time and grease and rust lined the porcelain sink and the tub.

At the top of the shag-covered stairs, there was a stray bullet hole from a rogue hunter's rifle. Every time I passed by it I was tempted to trace the circular outline with my fingertips and I'd shudder with the weight of my own mortality.

The little white house up on the hill, with it's sloped ceilings and the wooden beam. Underneath the big bay window there was a hole in the wall where my husband accidentally put the forks of the tractor bucket through the house. In the ceiling in the living room there was a patch mark from when he was a teenager and was showing off how high he could jump. He put his head through the dry wall.

My daughter had her first accident there, tossed down the stairs one night when she was three weeks old. Her father, weary from lack of sleep, carrying her up to her crib, stepped on the tomcat that laid strewn out on the step. The cat screamed, Boo swore, and the baby was flying. Time suddenly froze. I couldn't get to her quick enough. She landed with a soft thud on the carpeted floor, no worse for wear but her two parents frightened enough for a lifetime. That was the first time I spent the night in the hospital because of my child. It was not to be my last.

When I got home the next day the cat was once again sprawled on the same stair with no remorse.

Wedding plans and baby names were discussed. Dreams deliberated, promises made. A new family was birthed, once again, within the walls of the tiny white house up on the hill.

She wasn't my house, not really, although at one point I desperately wanted her to be. I only borrowed her for a short while. But it was in that heartbeat of time my dreams came true. I had Boo and a family, and I became a thread in the tapestry of history of the little white house up on the hill.

Eventually my husband and I had to push our dreams aside and we left to chase new ones, but there was always a softness in our hearts for the house my husband grew up in, the house that helped create our family.

Time is a cruel mistress and like people, the small white house up on the hill grew frail and decrepit. Her bones creaked under the weight of old memories and weakened wood. Time stops for no one, for no house.

With every pinch of the claw, the dreams of so many were laid to rest. The letting go was loud and rough and violent.

In the end, there was nothing left but dust and dirty cheeks marred with an odd tearstain. The small white house on the hill; ashes, a photograph to fade, a memory of time forgotten.

I won't forget. And I know my mother-in-law won't either. Thank you for sharing the little white house up on the hill with me.

I Blame The Testicles

He looks like a sweet kid, right?

I thought so too, until Thursday.

Turns out if you poke my gentle giant enough, he'll poke back.


Who knew?

Apparently my man-child finally figured out size matters. Especially when you are his size.

Middle school hell finally caught up with Frac and he found himself tussling with another boy*.  Both kids ended up getting suspended from school for a day and in the end there were two momma bears wringing their hands over what to do with their stubborn juvenile sons.

And since my husband was off starting a new job and unavailable for guidance and/or growling, I was navigating these uncharted waters solo style.

For the very first time ever while parenting my son, I felt like I was out of my element. I just have a terrible time seeing the world through the lens of teenaged boy since you know; I've never been one.

Those testicles, they are tricky things.

I needed to drive the message home to my son that I loved him and supported him no matter what. Even when I didn't necessarily agree with the choice he made.

But I also didn't want to be the mom who high fives her teenage son and say 'if you're going to fight, you darn well better win' while raising his arm victoriously like the refs do in the boxing ring.

Even if I may have wanted to, just a tiny bit.

(Cue the theme music from Rocky.)

The thing was, I was less concerned with the whole boy on boy whooping he engaged in and more concerned with the fact my son lost control of his temper. Even if, from all accounts heard, he had reason too.

I blame the testicles.

So I needed to come up with a punishment that said, 'Hey son, I stand behind you no matter what, but the next time you decide to engage in teenaged tom foolery I'm going to be here to remind you why your testicles are often wrong.'

It's just easier to blame the testicles I tell ya.

I've since refined the art of creative teenaged boy punishment over the past weekend. Punishment which included but was not limited to, how to swim the sea of feminine products including purchasing his very first box of tampons, how to navigate Sephora to find the perfect lip gloss, why kitten heels are a fashion necessity for me and how to flirt with the Apple store dude to get your phone fixed for free.

Then there was the pedicure he learned how to give (using my hairy toes of course), the trip to the local fabric store, his lesson on why I prefer real wool yarn as opposed to the acrylics, and the four hours he lost when I made him watch multiple episodes of The Secret Circle with his sister as his eyes started to bleed.

I finished it off by making him wash the insides and outsides of ALL my kitchen cupboards as well as hand wash everything inside them (whether it needed to be washed or not.)
My biggest regret? I never got the chance to take him to the local retirement home to play Bingo with the retirees.

This morning as Frac was getting ready to head back to school I asked him what he had learned this weekend.

He thought for a second and then he replied, "I learned you really want me to think before I act, no matter what. I learned that you think it's okay for me to stand up for myself but to not do it in anger because I've lost control of my temper."

I looked at him; impressed he paid attention to me this entire weekend.

"Is that it?" I asked him.

He furrowed his brow and then grinned, "Oh ya! I've learned that if I spill jam in the fridge I should wipe it off while it's fresh because that's stuff is nasty hard to get off once it's hardened."

I was waiting for him to promise this would never happen again, but heck, that jam lesson was important to learn too.


*I know the other boy involved in this mess and I'm hoping both boys will work out their issues and become friends in the future.

**And thanks to each and everyone of you who helped brainstorm creative punishments with me over on Facebook. Frac may not thank you but I sure do. Wink.