Tippy, tippy paws, coming down the hall


I wrote this over two years ago when my precious, beautiful, wonderful golden retriever, Sammie, left me for the rainbow gate. This kinda flowed out of me. I wrote with no thought, it was just there. I NEVER write in a poetic form, but for some reason this came out somewhat poetic. I don’t know that it’s necessarily “good” writing, but it felt good to express some of my feelings.

Sammie started having seizures when she was about twelve.  Until she started these seizures, she had acted like a young puppy, always willing play.  Because of the medicine we had to give her for the seizures she lost her sure-footedness, and became very weak, and unable to jump or play.

Several times I have gone back and tried to edit this, but I still cannot.  I can barely read it because the pain is still fresh.  Fair warning, it is a tear jerker.

A word of explanation.  We have hardwood floors, and every time Sammie walked anywhere her claws made a sound that we called “tippy, tippy paws”.

TIPPY, TIPPY PAWS

No more tippy, tippy paws, as you wander down the hall, checking on us all. My ears are tuned, and I do wish to hear the sweet sound of tippy, tippy paws coming down the hall.

No more scratching at the door, to be let in, and then scratching again to be let out–to roam the house again. No more waking me in the night with the touch of a cold nose on  my hand, as you check to be certain all is well. Never again will I have to lift you onto the bed, so you can lay your head on my pillow.  No more setting you off the bed, because you had aged and you couldn’t quite jump down. No more tippy, tippy paws to rouse me from my sleep. That “tippy, tippy paws” sound told me you were walking your beat.  Tippy, tippy paws—in the night, and in my heart. My heart will always long for the sound of those tippy tippy paws.

No more wads of hair to fuss about.  No more wondering how the hair got there…and under there…and over there…heck, your hair is everywhere. I see the hair still there, and it makes me long to see you laying there…and under there…and over there…or anywhere…the sofa, the hallway, the kitchen floor, the doorway, the walkway or lounging in the sun. No more lying in the middle of the room, or tripping me as I turn around. I often said, “Excuse me”, as I tried to go around you. I’d give my soul, to have you lying there to trip me again when I walk around the bend.


No more raised eyebrows, as you listen while I talk. I said I wanted to video you, as you showed me that you heard. Now, I cannot record you, ‘cause the eyebrows are now still.  Those expressive eyebrows will never raise in question or response. Never again can I sit on the floor, to talk and to play with you—no more will you give me kisses to let me know you were hearing what I said.

No more gentle paws, scratching on my lap. Those paws that quietly said, “Popcorn would make you a good chap”. It no longer aggravates to think about sharing what is on my plate. It seems such a big mistake that I ate steak, but was cruel and made you nibble on your kibble. I laugh when I think of how you would bounce for just an ounce of my meat. You loved me, and you did not berate, when I was late to put your dinner on your plate. No more will a gentle lady, delicately take my offered treat.

No more head coming to lay upon my lap, no more interruptions as I do my work. No more tippy paws announcing you’re on your way to visit me at my desk—to ask me to have a seat on the floor and speak with you. No more tippy, tippy paws and a nudge of the nose you as you dropped the ball into my lap, picked it up, dropped it into my lap, again and again, until I looked into those eyes. Those eyes always said, “Playing ball would be much more fun than playing a piano song.”

No more balls dropping on my head while I float in the pool, no more looking up to see your eyes begging me to throw the ball yet again. No more diving in to retrieve a ball, only to have it thrown again.

I wish I had not said, “That’s enough ball, Sammie. Go lay down” quite as often as I did. I regret the sad looks you gave me each and every time I did. It would not have hurt me to throw that ball again.

No more tippy, tippy paws, to announce that a nose was soon to open a door. You opened the door so you could drop in–just to say you care. You always thought the only reason I sat on the pot was so that I could scratch your special spot.

No more will you come to me when I am sad. I cannot cry in your fur, when I feel so very bad. I thank you for each time that you came and sat by my side–for letting me hold you while I cried. I thank you for kissing my tears away every time you were by my side. You even kissed my tears away as I cried for your approaching death.  As I cry for you, I long to hear tippy, tippy paws coming down the hall, to let me know that you’re coming to my side.

No more unconditional love—but wait! I feel your love for me, as you wait for me to again be your playmate. I pray that you’re waiting there for me, as I pass through the gates.

So many “no mores”, yet there are so many memories and lessons learned that I cannot regret. I cannot regret the love I received from you, the love you so freely gave…so much love that I cannot forget. So many memories from all the years—every memory brings a smile or tears—or fears that I failed to acknowledge all that you gave, or failed to say that you were a dear.

Tears continue to flow, and I can’t help but show that it feels as if all my tomorrows will be full of woe. I will not always be sad. In time, I will be glad for the time that we had. Although I fear my heart may break, I cannot regret (or negate) the love you brought—the lessons you taught—or the joy you had in every ball you caught–I knew you were going far away from me when the call “ball” no longer made your ears perk, and your eyes glow.

I am angry, and it makes me very mad. Why couldn’t you have passed when you were happy, not so very sad? No more graceful leaps and bounds. The thought of how your looks said, “What the hell” every time you fell (as your legs began to fail) are so hurtful. Sorrow runs deep, but memories of you I keep for all the tomorrows that I may meet.

I thank you for kissing my tears away while I wept for your upcoming death. You showed your love for us, even as you went.

Tippy, tippy paws, how the thought claws at my heart. Know I love you, and I do miss, the sound of your tippy, tippy paws, walking down the hall.


My visitor


This beautiful little guy comes to visit us regularly. He’s quite friendly, and will listen while I talk to him.  He lets me get very close, as long as I am talking to him.  I feel as if he’s a friend.

When he comes to visit, he perches on the end of a piece of bamboo in one of my gardens.  I made the mistake of moving the bamboo, and my little visitor seemed to be confused.  He would fly around in circles, as if trying to find his bamboo.  I put the bamboo back in place, and in just a few minutes he was perched there again.  He seemed happy, and I was was happy.

He doesn’t live here, but I always enjoy his visits.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…


OK, time for another rant.  I am so sick of people saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.  I respond to that with a resounding, “BS”!  I think this is something that people have made up to help them get through difficult time.  I KNOW “What doesn’t kill you makes stronger” is not true–no matter how many times Kelly Clarkson sings it.  Do people really believe that broken hearts, tragic deaths, destroyed homes make people stronger?  It just doesn’t compute to me.

As I look back through life at some of the horrible things I’ve gone through, I cannot point to ONE of them, and say it actually made me a better person, much less all of the problems making me a better person, as I am supposed to believe  Actually, most of the severe problems I have had have made me a weaker, worse person than I was before.

For starters, growing up in the United Pentecostal Church (one of the harshest, most dogmatic, legalistic, controlling churches known to man) was a huge trial and tribulation. It did not make me a stronger person, it made me a weaker person—I was afraid of everything, everyone and myself. I feared every thought and every action.  I lived in real fear that I was going to be struck dead because of unholy thoughts.  I still struggle with the fear that I was taught.  Growing up not going to movies, not watching TV, not being able to go to a football or basketball game, missing all the sock hops at school, NEVER wearing shorts or a short-sleeved shirt, not being able to listen to the radio, having to keep my hair short (in the 1970’s when long hair was the vogue) did not make me a stronger person.  Learning to say that a woman was going to hell if she had make-up on, if she had open-toed shoes on, or red shoes, pants or jewelry on did not make me a better person.  It made me a critical person that constantly struggles to overcome the bad habits I was taught.

I have had to work hard to overcome all the setbacks that the church put on me. How has living through those trials and tribulations of growing up in this church made me stronger, or a better person? Personally, I don’t think it did anything but make me a hard-judging weakling. I was taught how to judge everyone and everything, but not how to be strong enough to stand up for what myself.  Now, because of what I was taught, I have to guard against hating the ones who made me live that lifestyle. The hate that these trials brought to me does not make me a better person.

Did being beaten and abused at times make me a better person? Did walking around every day wondering if today was going to be the day that I got slapped, made to put a whole can of cayenne pepper in my mouth and hold there or being beat on until I would say, “Momma, I don’t love you, cause if I loved you I wouldn’t be bad” make me a stronger, better person? NO!  It made me a weaker person, who is scared of his shadow.  If you think that getting beat on makes me a stronger person, you need to examine your heart.

Losing my two best friends at the same time in a senseless accident when I was sixteen did not make me stronger–it made me afraid to get close to anyone, because I was afraid I would lose them, and go through that pain again. I still keep most people at a distance because I do not want to ever suffer that pain again.

I’ve had people say, “Well, you can’t understand someone else’s pain until you’ve experienced it.” Yes.  Because I suffered from debilitating migraines means I can understand what someone else says when they say the pain of a migraine is terrible, but how does that make me a better person? I can understand that delivering a baby is intensely painful too, but I don’t have to go through it to feel sympathy for a woman who is having labor pains.

I’ve never had cancer or a heart attack, but I can still empathize with, and help someone who is going through cancer or a heart attack. I don’t have to experience it to know that it’s bad, they’re hurting and they need someone to rely on.

I think the belief that our trials make us stronger is another man-made justification. It’s trying to make it sound good to go through trouble. It’s an effort to give meaning to problems.  I have come to believe that problems do not have meaning.  Often bad stuff happens, and there is no meaning to the bad things.

If people really believe that going through trials make them stronger, why aren’t they praying for more trials, instead of praying for God to deliver them from the trials they are in? If they believe the trials are God’s will, why are they praying to be delivered from these trials? That’s praying against God’s will. I can just see it, a woman at the altar saying, “God, I’m learning and growing from all this arthritis in my left knee. Why don’t you give me arthritis in my right knee, both elbows, my back, neck and feet so that I can really grow and glorify you? While you’re at it, can you throw in a little gout and some cancer too?  Oh, and don’t forget to give it to my kids, and take my parents from me, in the most horrible circumstances you can! I really want to become stronger in you, so send me all that you have!” Do you see someone praying that prayer? Of course not, you’d send them to the funny farm if you heard it. However, if we’re to believe all that we’re taught about our trials making us stronger, the strong in faith should be praying for these types of things.

According to the Bible, Job was tested, and he passed the test. Do you think he really thought he was better off because he had lost all of his children? I know he didn’t curse God, but I cannot imagine that he ever said, “I’m so glad that God took all my children from me. I wish that I had had more children to give Him”. I know the story says God gave him new children, and doubled Job’s prosperity.  However, having seven new male, and three new female children did NOT ease the pain of loosing his first seven children.  I am sure (as a parent) that Job mourned those lost children the rest of his life.  Don’t you think Job would’ve been happier if he had been allowed to keep his family? Did buring seven kids really make him a better person?

As an animal lover, I know that even having every camel (and other animal) replaced two-fold did not take the place of the special relationships he probably had with certain of his animals.  I lost my beautiful golden retriever, Sammie, two years ago.  I have another wonderful golden now, but she does not replace Sammie.  I will always have a hole in my heart where Sammie was.  Presumably, Job loved his animals as well.  He always had a hole in his heart where those animals (and kids) should have been.  Don’t you think Job would have gladly stayed poor and broke, if he could have kept his children and animals?  How did Job’s trials make him a better person?

I have had a “thorn in my flesh” that I have prayed about for at least 35 years. I have done all the things the church has taught me that I should. I have prayed, I have studied to show myself approved, I have fasted (some things don’t come out but by prayer and fasting, right?). I have prayed to be delivered, I have cast out demons, I have stood in faith truly believing God was going to deliver me–but this thorn in the flesh is still there. The Bible teaches to seek, and we shall find, to knock and it shall be opened to you. After almost 35 years of knocking,  I have decided that God is not home, or He’s not going to answer the door. I don’t think it’s unreasonable after so much time to come to that conclusion. Has this struggle made me a better person? I don’t think so.

Just because some have been able to cope with their trials in no way means that all people can or even should.  We all have different strengths and weaknesses, and why do we think that everyone has the strength to withstand “trials” because a few people have the strength.  All the suicides in the cemeteries prove that not everyone has the strength to withstand all that is thrown at them.

People often say, “Well, I don’t like dealing with people who have never had any pain in their life.”  If you get behind the facade that these “pain-free” people put out for the world to see, there’s pain in their lives. I constantly hear how trials make you become a more compassionate, understanding and useful person. That sounds nice, but I find that most people just become scarred from their trials, and they don’t become better. Becoming better sounds nice, but I don’t really see it in people’s lives.

My biggest struggle is “we must learn to get through it with peace”. I don’t get through my struggles with peace. They scar me, torment me and hurt. Is this a flaw in my character?

I have had questions about “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” most of my life, but I was too much of a hypocrite to voice them, or I was too scared of God, the church and my family and friends to voice them. I am just now learning how to be honest with myself, and with others. I think if most people are honest, they will admit they have had many of these same questions, and were too afraid to admit it also.

My faith has changed, grown and evolved through the years. I do NOT blindly accept what anyone tells me.  I don’t blindly accept what a deity “says”.   If it doesn’t make sense, I try to figure out why it doesn’t make sense. I believe I have a brain, and am expected to use it. It is one of the talents that has been given to me, and the Bible tells me that God will require those talents of me.

Everything that was put into the universe is orderly.  Once you see the pattern–from the smallest atom to the biggest galaxy–there is order, logic and sense. The orbits of the planets make sense. If something absolutely does not make sense, it means I do not have enough information to make sense out of it, and I go searching for the information that I need to make sense of it.  “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” doesn’t make sense when you look at it logically.  No matter how I look at it, I cannot find the logic in “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.  It just doesn’t make sense.

My inability to blindly accept “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” had led me to question God on many levels. The Bible teaches that if I seek I shall find.  If I knock, He will answer. When I seek and I don’t find, when I knock He doesn’t answer, I think I have the right to ask Him why He didn’t answer. If I promise you I will make you a lemon meringue pie if you bring me a pie pan, and you bring me the pan, and I don’t make you the pie, you feel that it is ok to ask me why I didn’t make the pie. I think God should be held to the same standard. If He promises if I do “X”, He will do “Y”, and He doesn’t do it, I have the right to ask Him why He didn’t do it. That’s only fair, and follows the teachings of the Bible.  The Bible says, “Let your yeas be yeas, and your nays be nays”.  I don’t think it’s right for Him to hold us to one standard, and Himself to another.  If our yeas need to be yeas, then His yeas need to be yeas.  I think that’s just and fair. Religious people often say maybe there’s something else that He wants me to do.  That’s fine, but why doesn’t He man up and tell me if He wanted me to do something else, instead of leaving me in limbo?  Or, is it just possible that God is a man’s creation to try to help give meaning to life, just as “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a creation that tried to put meaning when there is no meaning?

What in the world was he thinking?


I know I tend to take things personally, but sometimes I just don’t understand people!  They mystify me!  How can people do some of the stupid things they do?  I just don’t get it!

Now, you’re probably asking what would make me get so upset.  Well, I am extremely upset with my great-great-great-grandfather, Jesse Skipper.  He was so stupid!  In June of 1862 he decided to enlist in the Confederate Army.  I’m not upset that he wanted to fight.  What irks me to no end is the fact that he left his wife and FIVE children (under the age of eight) to go fight.  What kind of irresponsible idiot leaves a woman to deal with a farm and five children, especially when she has no family around to provide emotional and physical support?  My 20th-century sensibilities won’t allow me to understand how he could have done this.

I am sure Jesse thought he was doing the right thing.  I can understand why he thought the war was right.  He was trying to make the world a better place for his children.  I believe he listened to the fire breathers, and somehow they convinced him that he was fighting for a better world.  They told him that the Federal government had no right to decide how the south should live.  In theory, this sounds plausible.

I don’t know if Jesse believed in slavery.  I’m reasonably certain he had no slaves, but that could have just been because he didn’t have enough money to buy a slave.

I’m assuming Jesse was a religious man also.  I feel that most people who believe in the absolute rightness of any given situation often believe they’re right because they believe their idea is divinely inspired.  They believe it is their God-given right because a minister has taught them it’s their right.

Whatever Jesse’s thoughts were, I cannot see how he justified leaving his wife to deal with a farm and five children.  That seems so irresponsible to me.

Whatever his thoughts were, these thoughts and ideas led to his death…Jesse joined the Army on June 14th, and some time in August he died.  I believe he died of measles, but I have no proof of that.  I do know that his unit was stationed at Camp Nelson, Arkansas and that there was a horrible outbreak of measles.  Most of the research I’ve done has said of the 10,000 men that were stationed at Camp Nelson that fall, about 1,500 of them died from measles and other diseases.  More men died of diseases than died from wounds suffered during the war.

Now I feel like an idiot.  After judging Jesse so harshly, I stopped ranting and did some research.  I have a new opinion of Jesse.

The year that Jesse went into the army, there was a horrible drought in Arkansas.  It was so bad that the army turned cavalry units into infantry, because there wasn’t enough grass and grain to keep the horses.  The army sent the horses home.  Since the drought was this bad, I’m sure Jesse’s crops had failed also.  There was a civil war going on, so work was hard to come by, and he lived far away from any town where he might have picked up some work.  I feel he went into the army more as a way to support his wife and children than he did out of some conviction that it was OK to leave a family at home to fend for themselves while he went and fought..

I will never know for certain why Jesse chose to go into the army, but these are my opinions.  However, after finding out about the drought, I felt guilty because I had judged Jesse so harshly.  I walked outside, looked into the stars and said, “Jesse, I’m sorry I judged you.  Please forgive me, and know I understand your actions.”  I can leave Jesse in peace now, and hope he is in peace.

This little rant has helped me realize, again, that I should be more careful about how I judge people.  I cannot know all the circumstances in their lives, so I need to be more careful about what standards I hold them to.

A fascination…


I remember the first time I saw a picture of stephanotis.  I was about twelve years old, and just beginning to learn something about floral design.  I was completely captivated by the beauty and delicacy of the stephanotis.  I quickly found out that stephanotis was very expensive, and that it takes a lot of skill and patience to be able to work with it.  I longed for a day when I would be a designer competent enough to work with it.  Because of the high cost of the delicate blooms (about $1.50 per small bloom), I knew that the shop owner would not trust me with the stephanotis until I had became a very skilled designer.

I was completely enthralled when someone finally ordered a bridal bouquet that had stephanotis in it, and I was deemed to be competent to make the bouquet!  From that time on, I was hooked.  No matter how much work was involved in using it, I was always excited to be able to use it.  Thirty-five years later, I am still fascinated by stephanotis.

Last year, I found that stephanotis would grow outside here in California.  I bought a plant that was about three feet tall, and planted it by the gate that I go in and out of to get to my car.  The plant quickly took root, and started growing.  This year, it is producing hundreds of blooms, and I often stop to admire the tender blossoms as I go in and out.  The fragrance of the stephanotis often stops me.  It has a soft, delicate, yet somewhat spicy scent that I cannot resist.  I stop and breathe deeply when I go through the gate, and feel almost decadent to have such a glorious mass of beauty and fragrance to enjoy whenever I want to.  Somehow, it almost feels like I’m embarrassingly rich to be able to enjoy such an extravagant abundance of flowers, especially when I know my fellow floral designers are paying outrageous prices to be able to enjoy a few blossoms.

Even though it sounds cliche, having such beauty around me helps me remember that there are good things out there for everyone to enjoy.  The rich don’t always have the monopoly on things of beauty.  We just have to take time to enjoy what’s around us.

Sunset


I have always loved watching sunsets. There is a beauty in sunsets that really touches my emotions.   Recently, I’ve been thinking about how short life is, and how quickly my personal sunset is coming.  I know I probably have many years, but I don’t have as many as I would like.  Barring an extraordinarily long life, I’m WAY past my halfway point.

Thinking about my halfway point reminds me of how much there is still I want to do with my life.  There are places I want to see, things I want to do and relationships that need to be restored. I live in an area that has TONS of things to do, and I wind up sitting at this computer and doing nothing.  I don’t go to the beach, or to the mountains or the museums.  I just talk about it.  I don’t like going places by myself, so I wind up staying home, since I know no one to take with me.  I desire to make friends, and yet I do nothing.  I find an excuse (and I know they’re excuses, even as I think them)…work, lack of energy and money, I’m tired, I don’t know where to go to make friends…I fear facing my life alone, and yet I’m too scared to do anything to keep myself from facing life alone.  Boy, I am a ton of contradictions!

I have letters started to people who I want to mend fences with, and I do not finish them.   I just let the problems with the relationships stay where they are, and just keep going in the same ol’ way.  I probably need to fix my old relationships before I try to make more new relationships, and yet I set and do nothing.  Before I fix my relationship with others, I need to finally fix my relationship with myself.  I have never been on real good terms with me, and I need to learn how to deal with me before I learn to deal with others…boy, what a challenge learning to live with myself has been.  I truly am much better than I have ever been in the past, but the more strides I make in a relationship with myself, the more I see that needs healing, fixed and restored.

Although I have the desire to do many things, I can’t seem to find the motivation.  How do I inspire myself to get off my stool of do nothing, and start myself on the path of doing something?    How do I overcome my tendency to procrastinate until the last minute?  Procrastination is my biggest weakness.  I can always find an excuse to put my adventures off.

How do I overcome fear?  I know fear keeps me from doing so much!  I fear what others will think.  I fear failure.  I fear that I do not have the ability to do what needs to be done.  I want to learn how to go from the negative emotion of fear to the positive emotions of joy, peace and happiness–and yet I let fear keep me from going into the happier places.  I think I fear the transient nature of happiness…and instead of fearing it, I should be enjoying happiness whenever it presents itself.

Reading this, it sounds like I still have problems with depression.  I’m not talking about he type of depression that makes you want to give up on life.  It’s not the overwhelming desire to stop living.  I’m talking about the type of depression that robs you of your energy.  They type that just casts a big cloud over everything, and makes me feel like it’s a rainy day.  This depression steals all joy.

I have always struggled with depression, but I have made some great strides.  It no longer controls me like it used to, but it still influences me in some ways.  I haven’t overcame depression as much as I would like to think I have.  I have made great strides, but I am not the victor in the battle with depression.  I don’t think a person who is not depressed would let life pass them by like I do…yet, I do not know how to fully overcome depression.  It is an insidious emotion that seems to dig deeper, and deeper.  The harder I fight, the stronger it seems to grow.

Why do I let the depression control me?  I know I have great talents that I need to develop.  I know that I have a caring, loving heart that I need to share.  I have a good personality that most people seem to enjoy.

I am going to set myself a task of doing at least one thing every day that might help lift my spirits.  I will pick up the camera and take a picture, or I will stop to admire and smell the stephanotis that blooms by my back gate.  I will let the dogs’ love penetrate my heart.  I will go the beach and watch the sun set, while listening to the gulls’ cry and feeling the wind blow in my face.   I will enjoy the feel of the sand on my bare feet.

I have to overcome this depression, and get on with my life.  I don’t want to be one of those who are wishing they had done more while their personal sun sets.  I want to be the one who enjoyed the day.  I’ve wasted a big portion of the life I’ve been given.  I wasted it by not enjoying the small moments of the day, and by hoping for big moments.  I think there is a peace that passes understanding in the people who have learned how to enjoy the small moments, and just let the big moments take care of themselves.  It’s time to get motivated, and make the most of what lies ahead.  When my personal sunset arrives, I want to be lying on the beach and enjoying what nature has provided me.