I live in a rural community and access to my place is along a 5 km stretch of dirt road. On a regular basis an elderly man is walking his German Shepard along the road.
The first day I saw him was some 5 years ago and I stopped and introduced myself. Seamus and his dog Magic, have ever since been friends. Though we live about 4km apart, his walk along the stretch of road means that virtually every day there is a wave, a horn, or a road-side chat. Come rain, hail, beating sun, frost, wind or dust (and my road sure does get dusty in the warmer months), Seamus and Magic go walking the same route (almost 10 kms).
Then two years ago Seamus disappeared for weeks and this turned into months. We were worried and made enquiries and found out he had bowel cancer and was going through treatment. Magic no longer got the daily walks and instead travelled in the back of his car to the hospital every day. We sent cards and flowers and messages, many times. We missed him. We worried about him.
Luckily, Seamus is a fighter and made it through. When he reappeared on our road walking Magic, we jumped out of the car to give him hugs and kisses.
Unfortunately within months he disappeared again, however he was not ill this time. Instead his wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer and only had 8 weeks to live. Her passing was a severe shock and it was several months before we saw Seamus and Magic again. He had been with his wife for over 50 years and the loss had a significant impact on him.
That was over a year ago.
Since that point our regular conversations, chats and exchanges since that time are well loved. My new puppies (now 5 months old) were quickly introduced to Seamus and Magic. He has kept up to date on the adventures of my children, my challenges with my small goat herd, etc. And he let’s me know about his world, his challenges and adventures. It is a casual friendship — with both of us knowing where we live but no exchange of phone numbers or even last names.
Then last Monday morning – driving down the road taking my kids to school, I passed Seamus on the road. I looked for Magic, but she was not there.
I called out the window “Where is Magic?” and Seamus put his head down, kept walking and did not answer. I pulled over, jumped out of the car and approached him with the same question.
Seamus would not answer my question, instead saying he did not want to talk about it and would rather keep walking. He was out of communication.
I stopped him and questioned him further until I found out that Magic had passed away unexpectedly, just two days earlier. Seamus was severely struck with grief and loss — telling me that since he lost his wife, his precious dog had been a virtual shadow and close companion, and without her he has lost everything.
He cried. And I stood holding him tightly right there on the road as he sobbed. I had him tell me what happened, over and over until he felt he had communicated it well.
Then he said he had decided that it is the wrong thing to love — as it just results in loss.
I replied that one should never make decisions when sad or angry — and Magic had been blessed to have such a loving owner and we could not have deprived her of that.
“The solution”, I said, ” is to love more — not less”. “You need a new puppy to bless with that love!”
He did not agree.
I hugged him again – long and hard. A good solid communication.
He wanted to keep walking and I told him to keep looking out at trees and the sky and the mountains and the fields. I told him I would see him tomorrow and will hug him every day until he feels OK.
The next day I saw him again, pulled over and again gave him a long hug. I got him to tell me how he was doing and how it was going. He told me, with a grimace, and then continued his walk.
The next day I stopped again. I gave him a smile and said “Here is your daily hug!”. He smiled this time, which was a nice change, and then said that he had told his son that morning that the daily hugs and communication had really helped to cheer him up and make him feel better. He had been reflecting on my comments about love and was going to call the dog breeder that he had gotten Magic from 5 years ago.
As a further opportunity to talk I invited him to my place for dinner on Saturday night and he said he would see if he was available.
I was interstate for the next 2 days and did not see Seamus on the road, but Saturday arrived and Seamus showed up at my house with the good news that he had gone to see the dog breeder that he got Magic from 5 years earlier, and she had told him that due to her own health condition she was no longer going to be breeding or selling dogs. She had an 18 month German Shepard female that needed a home and she was 1/2 sister to Magic. There was no cost and the dog was beautiful.
Seamus drank wine with us, enjoyed a nice meal and then sat on the verandah and talked for hours. We laughed and played with my dogs (and goats). He told us about his concern about his memory, which he has been having trouble with (he is 79 years old). We talked about Self Analysis processes and how he can use them to improve his recall – of all his senses – and he took a book home with him to try out.
Seamus said he could not believe how it was just a week since he lost his precious Magic, and he could not believe that he now had a new dog, a new challenge, a new friend to love. He was happy and no longer keyed in, restimulated or stuck in loss/grief.
We now have phone numbers, email addresses and we will be inviting him and his new dog over again in the near future.
It was my pleasure to help Seamus.
I look forward to seeing him walk his new dog “Fury” on my road in weeks and months to come.