Peggy was in Dallas with her father who was in hospice care. Mike had finished the tenth grade and was in Katy with me.
We had a wonderful old dog named Tater who had just been put to sleep a couple of weeks before. Tater, like all of our pets, was a rescue. I got her as a puppy after someone abandoned her at the firehouse. A fireman friend of mine called me and asked if I would take her.
Mike was only five weeks old at the time, so I didn’t ask Peggy. I went and got the puppy from the firehouse. And then I slept with her in the kitchen for a week so her crying wouldn’t wake up the baby.
Tater lived to be sixteen, and Mike knew her for literally his entire life. The boy needed a new dog.
Mike and I went and started looking at rescue dogs. When we found one we thought was cute we would text a picture of the dog to Peggy. While she was sitting with her dying father. Who thought it was hilarious that we were sending dog pictures to Peggy while she sat with him.
Twelve years ago we got a two-year old rescue dog named Alice. I changed the name to Allie — and Peggy was spared a lifetime of “to the moon” references. Three years later we discovered that Allie was severely diabetic. The vet told us that dogs with diabetes do not live more than about two years after they are diagnosed.
Peggy gave her insulin shots — more insulin that human diabetics take — twice a day. And they developed a special bond. So special that Peggy forgave Mike and me for sending her pictures of Allie while she was sitting with her dying father. Who thought it was hilarious.
Allie beat that two-year prognosis by more than nine years. We had to put her down this morning after she had a stroke and lost the use of her hind legs. I am so glad that I was home to be with her and to make the decision with Peggy. But it hurts.
She loved her Mama and she loved her cats and we will miss her every day. Sleep well, my good girl.
When Peggy and I were dating we spent most of our time apart since we went to different colleges. There was a John Waite song that came out during this time called “Missing You.” Even though that song was really about a break-up, I think about it a lot when Peggy and I are not together. Every time I think of you, I always catch my breath…
I have been back in San Antonio for a couple of weeks after a trip home extended by a hurricane. I will be going back to Baton Rouge this weekend for the football game and just to spend time with Peggy. It has been a while since we have been apart this much, and I really don’t like it. When she got her first job after college we both traveled quite a bit for work, and then her next job had her traveling about thirty-five weeks a year. It was bad enough that when the doctor asked us if we had any idea when Mike was conceived we were able to give her an exact date — it was the only night we had spent together that month. One benefit, she didn’t have any trouble giving us a due date.
When I am in San Antonio I live with my brother and his wife. The three of us also work together, so it is pretty convenient. I get to hang out with their two dogs, one of whom loves to come visit me upstairs. But I don’t get to see Peggy.
I chose this for us. With the birth of a grandchild I really couldn’t see moving Peggy away from the kids. I don’t mind the driving back and forth, and we really love our life in Baton Rouge. Good church, great friends, grandbaby, LSU, new tiger — there is so much there to enjoy.
But I would be lying if I said it isn’t hard. Peggy and I have been together for almost thirty-seven years. It was one thing to be apart when we were dating. It was even almost OK when we were first working in our careers. But, the “empty nest” is meant to be enjoyed together.
Tonight in Baton Rouge she had dinner with Mike, Caitie and the baby. They sent me this picture:
When Peggy and I bought the house in Baton Rouge, it had everything we wanted — three bedrooms, three baths, completely renovated, huge master closet, brick floor in the kitchen, covered parking. It checked all of the boxes except one.
We are outside people. Ten months out of the year you will find us sitting outside on the porch most evenings. The Baton Rouge house did not have a back porch, so the first thing we did upon moving into the house is add a covered back porch.
It’s a beautiful thing. There was a small half-moon concrete slab outside the back door, so we extended the paving to fill the gap between the two “wings” of the house and added pavers on top of the concrete. The slope of the roof didn’t allow us to just continue the roof line onto the porch covering, so we had to come up with a different plan. I called someone that was recommended by a friend, and we went and saw a sample of his work. It is a “floating” cover that is attached to the sides of the house. So the awning doesn’t disrupt the view, and so water doesn’t run off the front, it is inverted to be higher in the front and lower in the back. The rain (which is fairly common in south Louisiana) runs back toward the house and into the high capacity gutters. It is a really innovative design and it works like a charm.
During football season we put the television outside to watch the games. The two ceiling fans keep it from getting too hot and also help with the mosquitoes during certain times of the year. As it gets cooler we turn on the gas fire pit and enjoy the flames. We spend at least part of every evening out there.
This weekend we will do our home tailgating on the porch waiting for the LSU game to start. Tonight we fixed dinner and ate it out on the porch. It isn’t cool enough for the fire pit — though that doesn’t necessarily stop Peggy — but the fireflies are out in force. It is one of the many things that makes me love living here.
We’ll go out tomorrow for our Friday night date, and I bet we’ll end up back out on the porch. It’s just what we do.
The appearance and subsequent damage from Hurricane Harvey has given me an unexpected amount of time at home. Much of Houston is under water, so driving back to San Antonio right now is probably not the best idea.
We lived in the Houston area in 2001 when Tropical Storm Allison came and sat over Houston for three days. The flooding from Harvey looks worse. And since it kept bouncing back out into the Gulf and coming ashore again, it destroyed things from Corpus Christi to Lake Charles.
I have my computer here so I can work, but this also creates unexpected time with my new granddaughter. And, frankly, my new cat. And the new tiger at LSU (yes, I have been back to see him again).
We went to New Orleans yesterday to visit the baby. It was fun. She’s a genius and is eating, sleeping and pooping like a champ. You know, all the stuff a three-day-old baby has to master.
I hate that our friends in Houston are suffering, but I am going to take advantage of the opportunity that it presents. The whole lemons/lemonade thing.
I will stay here through the Labor Day weekend and then head back to San Antonio. It is good to have extended time at home.