A True Love Story
My dad had passed away in January and all I could think of was the enormous grief my mother must be feeling. Due to suffering numerous strokes and being paralyzed on her right side, she lived in a local nursing home unable to communicate very well. One of the few phrases she could say was, “I love you.” Now I was left with trying to say those words to her in a way she could tangibly feel them in spite of my dad’s absence.
My parents had been married nearly sixty years. Although critically ill himself with lung, heart, and kidney disease, my father visited my mom regularly. Every day they met in Lola’s Diner (a nice romantic café in the nursing home) for lunch. Many times, Dad, who sported a heavy oxygen tank, would bring Mom flowers, candy, or fruit. His love for her was deep and undying even with his last breath.
Now, with this sudden tragedy and unbearable loss in her life, I could only imagine the emptiness that filled my mom’s heart. I prayed, “God, show me how I can give my mom the love and healing she needs during this time.”
Our entire family, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren threw her a big party and visited her regularly. Her moods were normal for a grieving wife. She’d smile, then cry, and sob some more. Although she battled with short term memory loss, I knew forgetting my dad and the love he had given her all those years would be impossible.
Besides, I didn’t want her to forget him; I wanted to make her grief bearable so she could enjoy her life and cling to all the good memories. Losing my son two years earlier, I completely understood how agonizing and devastating the loss of a close family member can be. So I continued to love her, visit her and pray for her.
Valentine’s Day was coming. I wanted to do something special for Mom. Our church was having a person dress up in a purple gorilla suit and deliver balloons, candy, and flowers to people in the area to raise funds for their children’s program. I thought, how perfect! I not only had them visit my mother, but also my sister who was battling cancer. I was there when they arrived, first with Mother to see the smile on her face was heavenly, then with my sister, also a Kodak moment.
But God did something even bigger than I was expecting. That same week while I was reading the paper, I glanced through the pets section. I’d wanted a Yorkshire Terrier pup for as long as I could remember. As I skimmed through the ads I saw it—Yorkie Pups For Sale. My heart pounded with excitement as I dialed the number. Not because I wanted a puppy so badly, but I thought about the love this little puppy could bring to my hurting mother. I hardly waited for the lady to answer the phone.
“Do you still have your Yorkie’s,” I asked.
“Yes, we still have one left,” the breeder said. “He’s about 10 weeks old.”
My pulse raced and my heart danced in my chest, while I took down her address. I was like a child on Christmas morning, yet afraid to tell my husband, John. We already had two dogs, and I knew he’d be against the idea, since we’d had a Yorkie before, the pup turned out to be a psycho so we had to get rid of him.
John listened impatiently as I explained, “The lady said he’s really calm and loving. And he’s a Teacup Yorkie, so he’ll be small enough for Mom to hold in her arms, even when he’s full grown.”
There was a bit of silence. The look on John’s face was pretty much what I expected. For several minutes he seemed to be deep in thought. I stopped breathing, waiting for his answer. God, please let him say yes.
“Okay,” he finally agreed, “we’ll take a look at it. But if I fall in love with this one, we’re not getting rid of it no matter how it acts.”
I gave him a huge hug and kiss. “Thank you, Honey! It’s a deal!”
When we arrived a little while later, we were met at the door with lots of barking. John gave me that I told you so kind of look, but I ignored him and stepped in. The puppy was in the women’s arms, calm and quiet, while the mamma and papa dogs were still going stark raving mad. She handed him to me. His whole body fit into the palm of my hand and just melted. He weighed just two pounds and most of that was his soft shiny coat made of black and tan fuzzy fur.
John stood close the door, while I went into the living room, sat on the floor and played with the puppy. The little rascal, full of energy, darted through the house, stopped to bite at his mother’s face playfully, then charged back to me like a whirlwind. Then he snuggled up in my arms again and kissed my fingers with his smooth silky tongue. The other two dogs were still barking crazily, but all I could see was this precious bundle of love in my arms.
“We’ll take him,” I said.
John looked stunned. We had discussed on the way over that we did not want a dog that barked constantly.
“Don’t worry,” I said on the way home. “I can train him not to bark.”
On the way home, I asked John to stop at the nursing home. I laid the pup in my mom’s lap. Her face lit right up like she had won the lottery. She had the biggest brightest smile I had ever seen. She cuddled and held him with her good hand, while he gave her lots of kisses.
That’s when I decided to name him “Lover”.
Lover did help my mom through her time of grief. His visits always got her smiling, laughing, and sometimes crying happy tears of joy. Although I could not bring my father back, or the many special things he did for mom, I could give her love in a unique way and minister a healing that no person could ever give, through Lover, a dog that God knew we needed, to make this love story complete.
Today Lover is a Certified Pet Therapy Dog with Love On A Leash, he’s an AKC Canine Good Citizen, and a Registered Service Dog. He also helps teach other dogs the ropes of obedience and pet therapy and is the new Mascot for the P.A.W.S. for Healing program to show kids, teens, and adults how they can stay safe, excel, and avoid dangerous situations and relationships. www.dogspawsforhealing.com