Day Twenty-Eight, Sunday
Sunday. Spend the afternoon at Sunnyside. Still can’t believe how much I enjoy those gals, Gertrude and Marie. I almost missed them, by not going. Wonder how much else in life I miss by not even trying, figuring it would be too hard or too uncomfortable or too much work. Or I am afraid.
These thoughts floated in her mind as she washed up the dishes and clipped a scraggly sunflower. She fluffed up the arrangement, admiring it. Sunflowers. She never got tired of them. Her favorite flower. Other gals could have their bouquet of roses. She would take sunflowers any day.
At Sunnyside, Morgan told Marie about the hike yesterday, about Jimmy insisting it was the ocean. Marie laughed, listening, but she seemed distracted. “What’s wrong?” Morgan asked her.
“I am tired, discouraged. Here, day after day, I sit in the chair, I lie in the bed, I walk twenty-one steps to the dining room and sit at the table. Morgan, you have no idea how much I enjoy you coming. Without you, here, to tell me about life out there, I would feel lost. Useless.”
“Useless,” repeated Morgan. “That is how I have felt, as if all I used to do, what was my world, who I used to be, is gone, lost. What do I do now? I take care of my house, my plants, but shouldn’t there be more than that?”
Marie said, “When you have a house full of little ones, your days are full. You are busy. When they get older, your days get emptier and you have to find a new measure of value. The connections you make, not just being busy, that is what is important. Now, I have a different challenge to find worth. Seems to be part of growing oIder. I guess we both, in our own ways, find it hard to feel useful.”
Morgan shared her idea from yesterday, of the two-sided coin, the vastness and the smallness. How the perspective made such a difference. “ Marie, you have a large heart. You do connect with those around you. And that is what matters. You still have so much to share, so much love to give. You have given me more than you can know. My little, narrow world has become much bigger, and that is because of you, and Gertrude, too. Don’t be discouraged. Your life is valuable, to me, and others. You are still useful.”
“And Morgan, I can say the same for you. You are valuable, too, to me.”
Out of the corner of her eye, Morgan saw a gal walk by in the hall with a big Golden Retriever. She told Marie, “There is a dog out in the hall.”
“Oh yes, she brings her dog in to visit us. The dog is Brandy. She lets us pet her, talk to her. I can’t see her wag her tail, but I can feel it in her body, her sides wagging back and forth.”
“Really? I wouldn’t think the health department would allow dogs in a place like this.”
“They are certified, or something, part of an organization that goes to visit at homes, hospitals, schools, even jails, I think.”
“Interesting. Maybe I’ll get a chance to meet her.”
“Meet who?” said the gal as she walked in with Brandy.
“Meet Brandy. Marie was just telling me about her.”
Brandy did wag her whole body. The red vest she wore said, “Pets As Partners.” She greeted Morgan, then walked over to Marie. She put her chin on Marie’s knee, looking up at her with big brown eyes. Marie stroked her head, talking softly to her.
“Marie said you go to other places, too, to visit. Brandy must like to get out and go places.”
“Yes. She has been trained, knows how to behave, what to expect, what to do. She is a good girl.” Brandy wagged her tail. “Dogs make an easy connection with people. They seem to have an innate understanding of just how much attention each person needs.”
“Connection. Marie and I were just talking about that. What kind of training did she have?” asked Morgan.
“Basic obedience, polite behavior, good manners, simple stuff. Health certifications. Some of the dogs become much more advanced to be service dogs, do specific tasks. I just wanted to go visiting with Brandy, so we just did the basic stuff. We go to reminder classes once in awhile with other dogs in the group.”
Morgan said, “I am getting a puppy tomorrow, a lab. What would it take to train her, like Brandy?”
“Bring her to our next meeting. They are starting a new series of training classes on Monday evenings, they start the fifth of November. The first one is just information, getting to know what is expected, meeting some of the others. Here. I have a card, you can call that number to reserve a spot. How old is the puppy?”
“Five months, I think.”
“That is perfect. And labs are good dogs. They love to socialize. Happy dogs. Then you could bring her along when you visit.”
“That sounds really good. I wouldn’t have to leave her at home. It would give us both something to do, something more to think about. I like that idea. I had no idea this was possible, it is amazing.”
“Call the office tomorrow. They will set you up. Maybe I’ll see you there. I am Sandy, by the way.”