This has been a very different kind of Christmas for many reasons. Despite this new-phase metamorphosis that has begun in my life, I was thankful to be able to spend a few consecutive weeks at the farm during the holidays. On Thursday of this past week, I was able to spend a quiet morning with a cup of coffee at the kitchen table getting the calendar up to date and was hoping to take care of some other needed administrative tasks. I was house-bound today because the “telephone guy” was coming to upgrade the router here “on the frontier”. Reliable WiFi and cell service is still a challenge in my rural area.
Two of my dogs, Blackjack and Lilly, were also enjoying a break in the action and slept sprawled out on the floor beneath my feet. I was hoping the telephone guy would be quick and efficient so I could get on with what I needed to do. He finally arrived and after some preliminary work outside in the bitter cold he came inside to finish the necessary hook-up. As he stepped into the house, he commented that he was a contractor from Georgia and it was really cold. Our temps had fallen into single digit wind chills of late. I offered him a cup of fresh hot coffee and he thankfully obliged. He also mention how he loved dogs so I left Jack and Lil out in ‘general population’ as he fussed with the wires near the phone. Both dogs greeted him and them went back to their respective napping spots.
He seemed a kind gentleman and I estimated his age to be about 15 years my senior based on his conversation. He was making small talk about his traveling, family and the people in the local town he was staying in and dogs. He is very active in the dog foster/rescue community and it provided us common ground. I stayed at the kitchen table trying to work in case he needed anything … and there was a strange guy in my house. He kept on chatting away as he stood at the counter installing the router. After a while, he turned from his work with the electronics, paused and looked down. He slowly lifted his head and proceeded to tell me in a quite conversational but meaningful way about his brother’s recent illness. As he began telling me this story, Lilly rose from her reclined position and went over to him, pressing her body into his legs. She kept nudging his hand with her little snippy nose as he recounted the sudden heart attack and the last few days of his brother’s life. The little Sheltie was so persistent, he crouched down to pet her. He continued to tell me that this was even harder because he has also lost his best friend in November. When he bent down, this little dog raised her head and pressed it as hard as she could into his chest. Encouraging him to pet and hug her as he shared this story with me.
To be honest, I was hoping for a quick install and not a morning filled with troubleshooting the new router, and small talk. Then when he started telling me the story of his recent losses, I was thinking how odd it was that this man should be sharing this personal information with me. I didn’t mind and felt honored that he felt comfortable enough to unload this burden in my kitchen. I, too, several years ago experienced a year of 5 significant losses in my life. It about “broke” me. But through the grace of the healing Spirit, I was able to find solace amidst the loss. As I watched my little dog Lilly comfort this man, I was humbled by her compassion and offering of herself as a shoulder to lean upon. I was able to put aside any other agenda I thought I had at the moment, and share with this man a few of the ways that have help me during my grief journey. Living on the other side of loss of significant people in my life has been a great teacher and I felt comfortable imparting this to this stranger. It was a good and meaningful exchange of conversation
The dialogue about his loss ended as abruptly as it had begun. He stood, and grabbed his screw driver and muttered how he needed to check something on the outside of the house.
Lilly came over to me at the table and placed her little head in my lap. “It’s been a while since we have been on an official therapy dog visit, hasn’t Lil? You just never know who is going to walk into your kitchen.” She licked my hand as if to say yes. Lilly was born a therapy dog. She is our family’s therapy dog on a regular basis, which makes up for her annoying barking and other less than exemplary behaviors. But Lill, also, attained her official Therapy Dog International certification a few years ago. I have seen her countless times do amazing things on this farm with both people and animals and at nursing home visits that she was never taught in training.
This has been a different kind of Christmas not doing a lot of the same things we usually do as we have been plagued with the horrible flu. This has also been a wonderful Christmas! So many good memories with family and great conversations. One of which happened in my kitchen with the “telephone guy”. I will always cherish the memory of the little Sheltie who had nothing better to do than to meet the need of a grieving man she didn’t know. Literally rising to the occasion to offer what she could.
When I look forward to the New Year, I want to be ready to rise to the occasion because you never know who will walk into your “kitchen”.
Happy New Year to All!