Friday, October 5, 2012

A Good Day!

The boat arrived at 9:45 AM.  It was a beautiful 22 footed that resembled the old Chris Craft boats that were seen often on the lake during the 1950’s.  The young man on the dock helped us load the golf bags onto the boat while Paul and I got settled for the ten minute ride from our condominium to the golf course on the opposite shore.  The air was a little crisp as the bright morning sun shone down on us. 

It was our first, full day of this golfing vacation that we had been planning for quite some time.  More than a year ago, one of my closest friends, Paul, had called to tell me that he and his wife, Mary, wanted to thank me for watching their house and dogs on frequent occasions by giving me a week at a time-share on Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho.  It was also a week to celebrate the fact that my supervised release would be over and I would be a “relatively” free person.

As the boat pulled up to the dock, a tall, slender Asian girl tied up the lines and took our golf clubs.  She introduced herself as Lauren and told us that she would be our caddy for the day.  She was a beautiful young woman that we would find out was from South Korea and had been adopted with her brother by a judge in Spokane when she was six months old.  She was a recent college graduate and was spending her second summer as a caddy at the resort golf course.

Paul shared a story while were playing the round that became our mantra over the course of the week.  When his grandson, Ryan, started Kindergarten he went to their home after school one day.  Ryan was full of smile and excited when ran into the kitchen.  Mary leaned down and asked her grandson how his day at school went.  With a beaming face he said, “Nana, we got ice cream.  It was a GOOD day!”  So as we meandered our way across the golf course for the next five hours, Paul would look over at me and say “It’s a good day!”

For the next six days we travelled from golf course to golf course in the Idaho panhandle.  At night, we would drive the 25 miles into CDA to enjoy a Blizzard from the local Dairy Queen.  Paul took me to one of his favorite restaurants in a run-down dive on a siding road called The Wolf Lodge Inn.  From the outside it looks like a place you would quickly pass by and not think twice.  But the steak they served on the inside was one of the best I’ve ever eaten at a restaurant.  On Sunday, I was there with Paul when he hit his first ever “hole-in-one”.  It was a good day.

From the outset, Paul wanted this to be my week.  He said he was just along for the ride (and to pay the bills).  After playing on a course that I often played as a college student with my roommate, we took a short drive to Newport where I had a chance to see Mom and Dad’s grave marker.  I hadn’t been there since we buried them more than a year ago and no one in the family had had a chance to see the beautiful marker that my younger brother Geoff had ordered for their burial plot. 

The week in CDA gave me an opportunity to reflect on my life.  I had just completed what I would describe as the most traumatic eight years of my life.  It has been filled with far too many difficult days.  Days that I wasn’t always sure I would make it through.  It had been filled with much loss.  But as I peeled back all of the negatives of those eight years, I was reminded of many positives as well.  The re-establishment of genuine relationships with my sister and brothers.  The involvement in a church that has fully embraced and accepted me.  A wonderful friendship with my ex-wife.  The friendship and support of a wonderful who is a friend and co-worker.  The day I met Paul.  It was a good day!

Photos by Mark and Paul

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The New Roommate

I really didn’t know what to expect. This had all been set up by my brother, Frank’s wife Clare. I had been over to their home for dinner about a month earlier and she asked me to consider it. I shared a few reservations with her through a couple of text messages and hadn’t heard any more about it. That is until about a week ago. And then on Friday, the day arrived.

I got home and left a message with Clare that I was there and I was ready to meet my new roommate whenever they wanted. They were in the middle of dinner and said they would be over in a little while. I enjoyed a light meal and sat in the recliner overlooking the bay reading until I heard the door bell ring.

When I opened the door, my brother was standing there with a little fur-ball in his arms. Clare introduced me to Suzie, a two-year old Terrier (mix) that belonged to her daughter, Mary and her husband, Adam. She took one look at me and started growling, followed by a few sharp barks. Frank put her down and she ran across the room and hid behind one of the large chairs, barking…and then running over behind another to continue her chorus of canine yelps.

Over the course of the next hour and a half, Suzie was coaxed to become more comfortable with me through the use of toys and treats. She was held so I could try to pet her…always to the response of growls and barks. It was obvious that there was no bonding occurring on the part of Suzie. As the time passed, it was finally time for everyone to leave. I was left with numerous words of encouragement and as Mary and Adam gave their little puppy one last set of loves and hugs before they left for a three month trip to Africa, the door closed behind them and I was left alone with my new roommate.

Suzie immediately ran back across the room and continued with her barking and growling. I one of the soft chewy treats they had left to try to coax her into coming closer. She wasn’t buying it. Suzie continued her little dance behind the chair, always keeping it between me and her. I finally decided to give her some space and went into the bedroom to read. I would occasionally hear her bark and growl, and when I’d go check on her, she’d be laying on the couch but immediately jump down and hide behind a chair and growl and bark.

This little “dance” continued for about an hour and a half. I went out to check on her at about 10:30 PM, and was again greeted with the growls and barks. I knew I had to get the leash on her so I could put her out to go to the bathroom so I “herded” her toward the bedroom. As I closed the door, she jumped up on the bed and sat perched on the top of my pillow…staring and barking at me. As I approached, she jumped off the bed and went into the master bath. With the door closed and the two of us in about 10 square feet, I grabbed her and clipped the leash to her collar. When I opened the door back into the bedroom she used all 15 feet of the lead on the leash and ran under the bed where she anchored herself with her feet planted firmly into the carpet.

After about five minutes, I finally got enough leverage to pull her out and took her outside for a short walk and a chance to go to the bathroom. No more barking or fighting against me. She didn’t take care of business but simply explored the back yard a little. We went back into the house and when I let her off the leash, she once again ran to the living room and hid behind the recliner.

I went back to the bedroom and resigned myself to the fact that I was going to spend a sleepless night with Suzie barking and growling all night. I got her crate ready with food, water and her blanket and set it up in the room. I went back to the living room and she stayed on the couch when I approached. As I reached down to pick her up, I was greeted with growls, but she allowed me to take her into my arms. I took her to the bedroom and put her on the bed. She stayed there for a moment and looked at me and then walked around the bed exploring it. When I reached to pet her, she let me. I laid back down and read some more and she stayed on the end of the bed, watching me. I finally decided to see if she would stay on the bed so I got her blanket out of her crate and set it on the bed beside me. After a few minutes, she walked up and laid down and curled up. I got back into bed and spent the new few minutes softly petting her and simply loving her. No more growls. No more running away.

When she woke me in the morning with licks on my face and ears to let me know it was time for me to take her out for a walk, it was apparent that I had somehow passed the test. Suzie had a new roommate…and it was me.

Photos by Mark