Meadow, a Senagal parrot, lived here for a short while. She was too wild or we were too inept at bird ownership. Luckily, we found her a new home. Did you know parrots can live as long as humans? I like to think Meadow is still alive somewhere, hopefully happier.
Jessi was our first family dog, a yellow lab. She was sweet and smart and loyal. Aren’t all labs? Her fur was so soft. I loved petting Jessi. She got sick and our vet, Bob, put her to sleep in our living room. Bob carried her to his car, but not before we each lay down and nuzzled with Jess, saying our tearful goodbyes.
Piper was a mouse, Steph’s roommate for a few months. Although it drove our eldest daughter, Helen, bananas, Steph would let Piper out and play with her in her bedroom. This was fine until Piper escaped. When Helen found out she jumped on top of her bed and began screaming until we found Piper. Mice don’t live long, so one day we had to wrap her up and put her in a metal box. We intended to bury her, but never did. That box is still somewhere on our property.
We’re not that good at burials. Jessi’s ashes are in a box on the coffee table next to me. We planned on going to the top of Turkey Mountain, our local hiking spot, and letting her ashes go up there. But here they still are, by my side, as I peck away on my iPad. Do I have trouble letting go?
It’s almost 4am in New York. Apparently, a lot of us 60 year old men are up at this time. Mostly, I read. I just finished a Stephen King novel (Elevated) about a man who loses 2-3 pounds per day, but always looks the same. At the end (spoiler alert) he floats into the sky and ignites some fireworks he brought with him for his grand exit.
When I woke up at 3, I lit a fire. Outside my warm home, it’s blowing hard and there’s an inch of fresh snow on the ground. Patton, Helen’s Australian Shepard, is by my side as he always has been since Helen and he came to live with us 14 months ago. Beth says Patton will miss me terribly. A tear is coming to my eye because it’s mutual. I love him.
Bradley, our 13 year old lab-terrier mix, is coming with us. I need to acclimate him to the camper so that he’s not too terribly frightened by the new environment. He’s a traveling dog, though, always excited by a new adventure. I suppose we will all be scared and excited. And Bradley, knowing him, will snuggle next to us when he needs some tenderness (or we do).
It’s not just a house. It’s a home. It’s been a place the Bierkos have shared with family, friends and our animal companions. Meadow’s screech, Jessi’s fur balls , Bradley’s scratches on the wood floor and Piper’s bones are here. So, too, are the memories of the family that lived in these rooms before us.
Bless this home, oh God. Thank you for keeping us safe in it. May it be so for the families (and their companions) that come after us.