Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

New Baby Photos

Went up to Vermont this weekend (as detailed in my previous post) and got a good number of new photos of the niece, as well as some great shots of my sister’s dog.

Link to the actual photo gallery

Saying Goodbye To An Old Friend

We put our dog to sleep today.

This is my eulogy to a shepherd/retriever mix named Mahogany (so named for practically no reason at all, since she wasn’t mahogany colored—we literally couldn’t think of a name for her and this was the first one that was suggested by my sister after a marathon naming session that didn’t make any of us retch). She was getting on in years, had lost much of her hearing and was the second dog in a row that we owned that had Cushing’s Syndrome. But she was in our lives since I was fifteen, which is about half of my life, and she meant a lot to me.

When she was younger, she was a terror. We got her at about eight weeks, the day after Christmas of 1994, and she was adorable and fuzzy and couldn’t go the whole night without having to go out and pee. Somebody had to sleep with her in the back room of our house so that we could take her outside when she needed to. She was terribly submissive, and had a knack for peeing all over the floor when somebody new came into the house. And if somebody showed up in our driveway, she would go crazy, but not because she wanted to hurt them. It was more of a “OMIGOD THERE ARE PEOPLE THIS IS GREAT I LOVE NEW PEOPLE I WONDER IF THEY WILL PLAY WITH ME” kind of thing. Funny that nobody else but us saw it that way, though.

Since then, she was kind of a fixture in my life. I’d come back to my parents’ house for a weekend and she’d be there at the door, as excited to see me as if I had simply gone away for the day and was getting home.

Even as she got older—and her age really started to show—she would still have puppy moments. Though the fur under her chin started turning gray at the young age of two or three, she still loved to go outside and run like there was no tomorrow. And she loved playing in the snow, right up until the end. Somehow, she never really grasped the concept of how large she was. It was always funny to see a sixty-five pound dog try to climb into somebody’s lap while they sat in a recliner. And God save you if she ever climbed on a bed while you were laying on it: your face was inevitably doomed to a quite literal tongue-lashing from the dog, which would only let up once you had capitulated that she was, indeed, the winner.

My mother told me earlier this week that she was going to be put down. I’m thankful that my job affords me the ability to work from any location, because I decided quite fast that I would drive up so I could see her again and say goodbye. And this morning, at nine o’clock, we made the trip to the vet’s to put her to rest.

The entire process took only about two minutes. It’s not the first time I’d seen a family member die—no, this was in fact the third time I’d had the privilege. The vet pushed what seemed to be an absurd amount of anesthetic through a syringe, and quite soon, the pup’s breathing slowed and stopped.

She died with her eyes open. I had thought she would drift off to sleep, but I guess it happened too quickly for even that.

In a way, getting to say goodbye to my dog makes me feel a little better about not being able to say goodbye to my grandmother. The frustration of having one family member pass on so fast is tempered a little bit by the ability to show the other one how much I loved them both. It’s a small consolation, but it is one, at least.

My parents say they probably won’t get another dog for a while. The last time we had to put a dog down, it was about six months before we all decided it was time. Now that there isn’t a whole house full of kids to help take care of it, I wonder if it might not be a little while longer, if at all, before they get another. But this family has always had a dog in it, and I can’t imagine it without one in the house to help keep the cats company.

I just hope that if they do get a new one, it’s not something small. I wouldn’t want to accidentally step on it.


October 23, 1994 — February 20, 2009

You were loved and you will be missed by all—even by those who thought you were trying to eat them.


Five months is an awfully long time for me to go without any kind of update at all. There are a couple reasons for it, not the least of which is that I keep planning on updating the design of the page before I update next—not that the two are mutually exclusive. The other has simply been life interfering.

Since the biggest update has to do with what’s written directly below this one, I should get it out of the way first: My grandmother passed away on Tuesday morning. It was quite a shock to all of us, because she had been doing very well, only to aspirate on her breakfast Monday morning and go into cardiac arrest. The broken leg was healing so well that they had put a regular walking cast on it and expected that she was going to make a full recovery. She was in good spirits and was responding well in all areas. And then it all came crashing down. After a day on the ventilator, we made the decision that it was for the best if we take her off, and once we did, that was it. It’s for the best, really. It’s certainly a better situation than the alternative, with a decline from the Alzheimer’s reducing her to a person that couldn’t even recognize her own family. She went out with at least some of herself intact, which is good.

The rest of what I could say isn’t really much in comparison. Work is going great, life is pretty good (apart from the elephant in the room) and I happen to be going on vacation next week to see a friend get married in Key West. That’s going to be great: a friend and I are renting a convertible and driving down the Florida coast from Miami. I bought a brand new camera for the occasion and I plan to get a ton of good shots.

So yeah, that’s about it.

I want to kick Christmas in the bells.

Merry Christmas.

It’s 2:30 in the morning (Christmas morning, that is) and I can’t sleep. Many, many things contribute to this lack of somnolence, not the least of them being that OMG ISS CRSSMAS! followed closely by visions of me wrapping gift after gift as I was doing earlier today. Considering that I only bought a few gifts this year—yes, I was wrapping other people’s gifts—why was I wrapping?

Well. Saturday night, my 80-year-old grandmother fell and suffered a compound fracture to her right fibula and tibia. Not that she had much choice in the matter, but had she any, she couldn’t have picked a worse time to do it: she was home alone with my youngest brother, while my parents were 30 minutes away about to see a stage production of Beauty and the Beast, and my sister, my brother, my other parents and I were at my sister’s place celebrating Christmas with each other.

I think the round of phone calls from brother-to-mother-to-sister, followed by all of us (save my other parents) zooming in the nearest automobile to the house must have been no longer than fifteen minutes. We almost beat the ambulance to the house. Which is nothing, considering that my parents managed to make the 30+ minute drive from wherever they were to the hospital before the ambulance got there. Now that was some fast driving.

Long story short (too late), she’s got a bad break in her right leg just above the ankle. She’s badly osteoporotic and has Alzheimer’s, so any serious trauma invites with it some deeper potential problems. So far, not many of them have really surfaced, but the long-term effects are complete unknowns at this point and can only be looked at as possibilities. Unfortunately, one of those possibilities that needs to be kept open is that of amputation. But I’m going to try not to think about that and instead will stay positive.

So it’s been a busy few days. A trip to the emergency room (my first ambulance ride and damn, I didn’t even get to be tied to the stretcher), a trip up to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center the next day to see her, two trips to church (once for mass last night, once for Christmas Mass tonight), and almost a complete afternoon and evening of wrapping gifts to make up for the fact that my parents couldn’t do it. And we haven’t even reached Christmas morning yet.

So if you want to ask me “Do you hear what I hear?” then what I’d better be hearing is the sound of Christmas writhing in pain from getting royally knocked in the jewels. It has not been very kind to me or my family this year.

Growing Up and Getting Older

I was up in Vermont a few weeks ago, visiting my parents, and while I was there, my mother asked me if I would hook up the new surround receiver they’d bought, which is always fun for me because it means I get to tell my parents what to do (they don’t seem to understand why I put so much importance on the right usage of sound equipment, I think). This meant a trip to the electronics store for appropriate cabling, so once I took an inventory of what was needed, we took a Saturday morning trip to the nearest Best Buy. Unfortunately, Best Buy didn’t happen to have any cables of the appropriate length (and on top of that, the cables they did have were unbelievably expensive), so we decided to forgo the cables for cheaper alternatives to be found at Radio Shack. But while we were there, I decided to head over to the video games to see if they maybe had a display for Guitar Hero III, which had not yet been released. They didn’t, which stunk, but I was surprised to turn around from the game display to see my mother standing next to a stack of Nintendo Wiis with what can only be described as a look of delight in her eyes.

She looked at my stepfather and breathed, “They have them in stock.”

The thought that my mother would be interested in buying a video game system sent me practically into overload. Parents aren’t supposed to be this childlike, right? Truth be told, though, it was a pretty adorable sight. Almost as adorable as the later sight of my mother standing in front of a television with a wiimote in her hand, flailing her arms in the air while throwing a virtual bowling ball down the lane.

But I digress.

When we got to the checkout line, the woman at the checkout looked over the various pieces and asked us if this was a Christmas purchase. “No,” I said. “This is an impulse purchase.” I then remarked that my idea of an impulse purchase wasn’t something like this, though; my idea of an impulse buy is more like a new shirt at Target and wasn’t usually on par with a video game system.

Then I thought about what I’d said and realized something. “You know,” I said, “I must be getting older. My idea of an impulse buy used to be something like ‘Hey, look, a new CD.’ Now, I’ll walk into a store and go, ‘Ooh… boxers.’ ”

It was a joke that my friends thought was funny when I got back home, but I came to another realization today: I’m sitting in my living room right now and watching the Food Network. Before that? Golf.

When did I become old?

I used to watch cartoons on Saturday. Later, I might watch a bunch of movies over the weekend. Lately, though, I’ve found myself aligning my TV interests with interests from other areas of my life. I never once thought I’d get a kick out of cooking shows, but I found that the more interested I became in cooking good food, the more interesting these programs became. The same with golf: I used to think that golf was a great game to play, but not so much to watch. Isn’t it strange how our tastes change?

I listen to NPR, I read nonfiction books, and while I still love to bust out a game like Guitar Hero and heavy metal, I find it interesting that my idea of a fun night with friends usually involves some kind of food I’ve cooked rather than a six-pack of beer.

Then again, there’s no reason we can’t do both.

Ahh, the holidays.

Spent the last several days up in Vermont with my family and am now home after enjoying the spoils of yet another successful holiday feast. Much cajoling was had, and I believe that after all was said and done, several gallons of wines of differing types were consumed.

Now that’s my kind of holiday.

Most of my time after getting home was spent tinkering on my computers (new extra large hard drive means that I have to clone some drives and move one to another machine for more space there too) and setting up the new surround speaker set I bought on the way home with some Christmas money (thanks, Dad!), spent, of course, in the not so glorious solitude to which I have become accustomed.

I just came to the realization, though, that as much as I liked getting home to my own place, I really enjoyed being with my family. I made the remark to my sister this past Saturday, after leaving my grandmother’s farm, that too many people dread spending time with their families at the holidays. I’m glad that I don’t. Every time I see my family—extra large, of course, thanks to our proper Catholic upbringing—I have a fantastic time. Every time. I love spending time with my family, holidays or otherwise, and only spending time with my closest friends can even come near that.

I guess that’s a pretty rare thing. Most times, I don’t really think about it, but the holidays always bring out the sentimentalist in me.

Next up: Where am I spending New Year’s? Come on, people, I need invitations to megaparties! I’ll drive anywhere as long as I’m given a place to crash at the end of the night—although, I suppose, I could always stay up all night and drive back without any sleep. But most of all, I need a set of female lips to kiss at midnight. Are the requirements clear? Good then. Chop chop!

Return top