Tag Archives: memories

Remembering Ruby

Ruby 8 weeks old

Ruby at 8 weeks old.

Yesterday was a very sad day: my sister Kathleen had to say goodbye to her sweet girl Ruby.

Ruby was 15 years old and she, like many of us, had certainly slowed down.  Her hearing and eyesight were diminished and she was no longer getting out for walks.

With stuffed puppy

I have some great memories of Ruby.  She was an adorable puppy, full of personality.  From the very beginning, she thought she was a big dog.  I think maybe that was her Indian name: Runs with Big Dogs.

Once she chased after a coyote and another time she ran right up the trail at a horse!

Ruby with her first little octupus

Kathleen couldn’t resist dressing her up for special occasions.

Santa Pup

Wiener Dog

I think, at best, Ruby tolerated it.

Kathleen and I take a walk every Saturday.  They used to be longer hikes. Ruby loved chasing a tennis ball, but we learned not to bring a ball or we couldn’t make progress on the trail.  In fact, we didn’t even say “ball” around her.  But sometimes she would find one anyway.  Her sense of smell must have been pretty good because there were times she would plunge off the side of the trail, seeking an unseen ball and after a time, her head would pop up with a tennis ball clenched triumphantly in her teeth.

Sometimes she would nudge a ball off a trail just to amuse herself and chase it down the incline, through poison oak and underbrush.

Muddy Dawg

In 2003 Kathleen entered Ruby in the Doxie Derby dachshund races held at UC Davis every year.  I wish I had pictures from the event but they haven’t been unearthed.  Some dogs wander off the course or stop, or turn the wrong way.  But Ruby ran like an Olympian!  Her ears were flapping and all four feet were a blur – at one point she was flying with nothing touching the ground.  She won a preliminary heat and we were delighted.

Happy Dance

Here she is doing a happy dance.

When Kathleen brought home a Siamese kitten, Xander adopted Ruby as his second mother, curling up with her and sucking on her fur.  Ruby tolerated that for only so long.

Ruby and Xander

Rem was a big Ruby fan and even did a stint of weekly dog-sitting.  When Ruby was little, Kathleen worked in a dog-friendly office and for 7 years they went to the office together.  But later, Ruby stayed home and various friends and family members helped Kathleen by taking Ruby out for little walks.

Sometimes Rem would take Ruby with him out for coffee or a stroll.  This is on the waterfront in Sausalito.

In Sausalito

Here are some pictures of her from our Saturday hikes.

In the creek

Posing on a rock

More than likely her Mama was holding a treat and calling her name to hold her attention long enough for me to snap the picture.

On more recent hikes Ruby would ride for part of the way in a puppy pack adapted by our sister Sarah.  Ariel is carrying her in the  pack here.

Ruby in the backpack

Ruby celebrated 15 birthdays.  Here she is on her tenth.

10th Birthday

Two weeks ago, Ruby suffered a blood clot in her front right leg and she could no longer use the leg, which meant she couldn’t walk.  A younger dog may have been able to adapt but especially in a short-legged, long bodied breed like a dachshund, it really wasn’t possible.

Kathleen made the terribly difficult but very brave decision to keep her beloved girl from more suffering.  Ruby was going downhill and was no longer eating.  In the morning we had a last walk, with Ruby in a stroller, and Molly keeping company.  In the afternoon, visits and petting in the sunshine on the front porch with friends who loved her.  Xander lay next to her, purring, while Ruby was on Kathleen’s lap.  A wonderfully kind and understanding vet came to Kathleen’s home to take care of things, and Ruby died in Kathleen’s arms.

I had plans for the evening, an outdoor symphony concert by the lagoon at the Marin Center with my mom. Unfortunately, I had to leave shortly after the vet, with tears drying on my cheeks. I was tired and didn’t really feel like going out but I’m glad I did.  It kept my mind off the sadness of the afternoon and it was beautiful sitting outdoors watching the sun go down, birds swooping around, seemingly in time to the music.

The concert finale included a glorious fireworks show and I had an image of Ruby racing along, her ears flapping and all four legs working beautifully, a blur of motion as she flew, and the fireworks seemed to be a fitting response to her arrival in heaven.

R.I.P. Ruby Red Faw

April 25, 1999 – September 13, 2014

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Thinking About My Dad

Daddy Red Turtleneck

Saturday, May 24 will be two years from the day my dad died.  I’ve  been thinking about him.  The other day I saw something that made me smile and I immediately thought of telling  him about it.  A vendor at the Farmer’s Market was munching contentedly; a carrot in one hand, a bottle of hot sauce in the other. I imagined telling my dad the story and knew he’d think it was funny but in less time then it takes to read this sentence, I remembered he was gone.  With an ache in my chest, I knew I couldn’t tell him about it.

I haven’t been going to his grave as often as I did the first year after he died.  It’s been a few months at least, and it’s been on my mind to get down there.

This weekend I had the opportunity.  Rem and I were house-sitting for my mom and on Sunday morning, he needed an early-morning ride to the ferry.  He was heading into San Francisco to take photos at the annual Bay to Breakers footrace.  After dropping him off at 5:40 a.m., Molly and I went down to Fernwood.

The sky was just growing light.  A thin, grey comforter of fog was draped along the upper slopes of Mt. Tam.  Molly was delighted to be out of the car and went up the path ahead of me.

The hillside is covered with rattlesnake grass, wildflowers and eucalyptus trees.  Oh, and some poison oak too.

Hillside Fernwod

It is only as I got closer that the stone marker was visible.

Papa's Tree

Papa's Stone

Roses for Papa

I laid some flowers and cried some tears.  I told him that Caitlin was graduating at Chico and that was where Mom was.  I talked about how sick Beau has been but that we’re so relieved he’s improving.  I sang two songs and watched some hawks circling up high above the trees.

As I walked carefully back across the hillside to the path, I searched for feathers but didn’t see any.

Molly was full of energy and I had plenty of time to wander around the cemetery, something I kept thinking about doing and never taking the time in my many visits down there.  Molly romped ahead, sniffing around and happy as could be.  I was thinking about my dad and how much I miss him.  I thought about how many lives were represented by the stones around me.

One message caught my eye and made me smile.

It all comes out in the wash and a little chocolate never hurts

Comes Out in the Wash

I think I would have liked this woman!

The positive attitude that came up with those words lifted my spirits and made me try to re-frame my sadness. I focused on all the wonderful years I lived with my dad in my life instead of the last three; the year of struggling with cancer and the two years since he died.

It made me think that although these gravestones represented loss and grief they also represented peoples lives.  Many stones have a name and two dates and little else, yet whole lives are lived in the space between those two dates.

As I followed a trail, I found a section of older graves and stones that were cracked and broken.  Some gravestones only show one date or a very short span of days.  Others list the age of the deceased and many lived short lives.  The oldest year I noted was 1907.

1907

On their website, Fernwood states the cemetery has existed since the late 1800’s.  Again, instead of thinking of all of those people dying, I walked around and thought of all those people living.

I saw this fragment of stone that just showed a single date.  I don’t know if Valentine’s Day was remembered as the birthday of a loved one, or the date someone lost a loved one.

February 14

Walking around, exploring the cemetery, was very peaceful.  I looked through the trees at the view of Richardson Bay.

View from Fernwood hillside

Looking down the hill I see the pyramid skylight on the Fernwood Funeral Home, reminding me of the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Pyramid Skylight

Some things I had glimpsed while driving past and now I had I time for a closer look.

Like the Buddha statue in a tree.

Buddha in a Tree

A rustic gate open to a path curving around the hillside.

rustic gate

A beautifully carved wooden Buddha sits atop a rough base created from a tree stump. In spite of missing a finger, he was very serene.

IMG_0178

Little talismans have been left in his hands: a bit of shell, a rhinestone rabbit  with a wreath of rhinestone flowers, and a sweet little green clay cat. with a pink neck scarf.

Rabbit & Cat

Dia de los Muertos figures dangle on a cord around his neck, holding a dried orchid in place.

Face of Buddha

Day of the Dead figures

Molly and I have had a nice hike and I was in much better emotional shape than when we’d arrived.

Time has softened the blow of losing my dad.  The grief and sadness aren’t gone but they aren’t here all the time either.

Our family will be gathering to celebrate my brother Beau’s birthday on Sunday.  I imagine there will be lots of good food and laughter. We’ll probably share stories about Papa, and catch up with each others lives.  If we think of something that he would have found funny, I believe it will honor his memory if we share it and enjoy a good laugh.

Dad 50th Anniversary

Here is a link to the post I wrote last year at this time.  That post includes links to other posts written about my dad.

Thank you for your visit.

 

 

 

 

 

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Our Advent Calendar

Rem and I used to pick up a Chocolate Advent Calendar every year and take turns opening the little door and getting out the chocolate.  We would get them at Cost Plus and at Trader Joe’s (TJ’s actually does taste like chocolate).  They’re kind of fun but nothing really special.

One year at Safeway I found this cute Advent box!  It was on sale and came with hard candy to hide behind the little doors and some letters spelling out “NOEL” and a few little trees. The first year we went through the month taking turns getting a piece of hard candy or a letter.  But the next year I had a better idea: why didn’t we write little notes for each other?

We write on slips of paper and mention favorite memories of the past year or things we love about the other person.  Each year we take turns with the odd and even numbers and we are sometimes just getting them written and behind the door a day at a time.  The practice has become one of our most cherished Christmas traditions and the sweet little notes are much better than the small, foil-wrapped chocolates.

Another fun way to count the days to Christmas is with simple activities.  Here is a fantastic list of ideas to choose from.  I was inspired to cut out my first paper snowflake in years.

I’ve seen plenty of wonderful, handcrafted calendars.  How about a clothesline of ribbon or string with numbered envelopes or cute (upcycled) baby socks that are outgrown?  If you start saving toilet paper rolls early you can make this, or this or this  for next year. Search for “Advent Calendar DIY” and you will find loads of cute and clever variations on this theme.

If you like the idea but think it’s too late for this year – go ahead and  wait until the weekend.  You can start it a little late and still enjoy counting down the days until Christmas.  You might start a tradition.

Thanks for the visit!

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