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Sincerely and With Warm Regards,
JC Fredlund, LADC


Grandparents: The Best Gift of ALL

The snowflakes were falling, one-by-one; no two alike in their intricate shapes and sizes.  Large, billowy soft, and no doubt slippery beneath the feet, they rapidly accumulated everywhere.  Gazing out the window of our fireplace warmed living-room, we shared in a mutual sympathy for the slow moving travelers as each one continued to ever so cautiously trudge forth amid the end-of-day traffic.  The growing darkness served to intensify their already treacherous journeys.

Grandma and grandpa had arrived at our home earlier that day to once again share in the children’s excitement over the decorating of the Christmas tree.  That process had always been a very special family one.  We had nearly completed the adorning of our majestically tall tree when our attention had been diverted by the lovely, whiteness of the new fallen snow outside; a snowfall that had arrived as if just in time to enhance our Christmas spirit.

Christmas TreeWe turned our attention back to the tree and placed the large, shiny silver star atop.  As we turned on the lights and  stood back marveling at the beauty before us, the “oohs” and “aahs” of the children could be heard.  Sharing in their Christmas joy, we grown-ups exchanged glances that conveyed the joy and gratitude from deep within our hearts at being blest, once again, with sharing this heartwarming occasion.

Suddenly, amidst the silence, a tiny voice could be heard singing a familiar tune.  There sat our five year old daughter, huddled close to the tree, singing “Silent Night”.  Inspired by her Christmas spirit, we all joined-in and sang along.  It seemed as though Grandma and Grandpa especially enjoyed the nostalgia of sharing the familiar carols of their many Christmas’ in years gone-by.   Singing the carols together had become a treasured family tradition.  As I sang along, my thoughts were carried back to the many years past when we’d sung those same, beautiful Christmas Carols on Christmas Eve.

Voices tiring at last, the children asked Grandpa to again recite Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol” for them.  Smiling, he gathered both children in his outstretched arms and beside him in the overstuffed chair they now shared.  This year, I, too, sat down to listen.  I soon found myself totally captived by his uniquely appealing story-telling voice.  My gaze became fixed upon that very special man.  The silver-greying of his hair, seemed somehow more apparent than ever before as the aged ring of his voice carried a noticeable, weary tone that hadn’t seemed to penetrate my consciousness before.  Had I just never taken the time before to listen and to observe him so closely?  Could it have been the deep surge of sentiment filling my heart as the children and I were so visibly captivated by his every word?

I wondered silently as my gaze became focused upon Grandma who sat across the room, deeply engrossed in her crocheting.  She was completely unaware of my gaze having become fixed upon her hands.  Those tender, loving hands that had grown wrinkled with age and the countless years of hard work she’d toiled away at in order to bless our family with the home we all, now shared.  I noticed her tired hands endeavoring to use that familiar old crotchet hook as adeptly as she once had.  Those lovely hands that, despite the wear and tear of the years, still managed to crotchet some of the most magnificent creations I’d ever seen.  I watched silently as my heart overflowed with love for her.

Filled with a warm, deep sense of gratitude, I became fully aware of the privilege of that evening together – the privilege of having them there with us.  For once again, they were filling their irreplaceable role in that very priceless, family moment.  Realizing the endless amounts of love they have bestowed upon two generations of children at this time each year brought a tear of joy to my eye; and I was reminded of how their presence there with us, was, truly, the best gift of all.

(Copyright 2014 by JC Fredlund) Copyright 1974 – 2014 by JC Fredlund (JC Eberhart, Past Pen Name): ©JC Fredlund and JC Fredlund’s Artistry Blog, 1974 – 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to JC Fredlund and the link to http://www.JCFredlund.wordpress.com blog is included with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Man’s Best Friend

Unaware, at first, that my glance was focused upon him, he laid resting, his chin whiskers white with age.  His once mischievously sparkling eyes turned slowly up to meet mine, their expression of ever-ready enthusiasm for a lively romp together now replaced by one of weariness that comes with age.  It was as if I could read his thoughts, for his eyes conveyed an unquestionable sense of peace and contentment.

His life, having been a very full and happy one, seemed to leave him with nothing more to be desired.  It seemed that his only wish now was to be with those of us who have always loved and cared for him and that he be permitted his well-deserved periods of quiet solitude and understanding – understanding of his gradually increasing ‘grouchy moods’ when Old Father Time has so unfairly nagged at his once ‘patient to a fault’ good nature.

My sentimental thoughts were only momentarily interrupted when he arose slowly and a bit shakily to curl up in the chair, beside me.  It occurred to me that he oftentimes repeats that same gesture of affection now, seeming to prefer our quiet companionship and restfulness to his previous younger days of neverending, boundless energy.

I gently petted his soft fur, and as he slowly drifted to sleep, my thoughts wandered back to those days long ago . . . . .

We had decided that our three-year-old son might enjoy a pet of his own to love and help care for.  So we had traveled to a kennel where we found numerous dogs of all sizes, shapes and colors.  They all began jumping up anxiously against the fences that held them inside their orphanage-like home.  It was as if they were each competing with the others for our attention.  They seemed to know why we’d come and each appeared to be desperately hoping that we would choose him or her.  We petted many little wet noses and soft paws as they groped out to touch us.

Suddenly, our attention was caught by a little black dog (a Schipperke) who was huddled alone in a corner at the far end of a kennel.  He wasn’t sharing in the other’s enthusiastic attempts at performing for us.  Moving closer we could see that his coat lacked the bright sheen of those of the other dogs, but, instead, appeared to be dull and snarled.

Noticing our concern, the kennel owner explained that he’d been a sort of misfit since his birth and that even at six months of age the other dos had refused to accept  him.  It was evident to us that he’d given up hope of ever gaining the acceptence of the other dogs.  With the hope that we might win his trust, we decided to adopt the lonely little outcast huddled there in silent solitude.

Realizing that he’s never before had any real contact with humans, we expected that it would take time to win his trust and love.  To our delight we were to discover just one of the many wonders of the nature of “man’s best friend.”  He seemed almost immediately to sense our desire to give him a whole new kind of homelife – one filled with love and trust.

In return, he assumed his role as an affectionate pet, court jester and trustworthy watchdog.  We marveled again and again at his amazing transformation from daytime loving, energetic playmate into our nocturnal sharp-eared watchdog whose ferocious sounding bark would have frightened away even the most brave of nightly intruders.

As time passed we watched his puppyhood with all of it’s playful antics, evolve into a more mature personality.  However, he never really outgrew many of his puppy characteristics: his knack for becoming stranded in snowdrifts (because of his small size); his shaking like a leaf with fear during thunderstorms and his refusal to eat or drink when it became necessary to board him if we vacationed without him.  Like many dogs, he’s never outgrown his dislike of baths.  He never fails to saturate all of us by briskly shaking off the excess moisture afterward before making his ritualistic ‘mad dash’ down the stairs and out the back door to seek refuge inside our fenced-in yard.

Then, of course, there were his reigning days of the reincarnated ‘Don Juan’ syndrome.  After careful consideration we had a long talk with our neighborhood veterinarian whose strong recommendation was that we’d best put an end to his seemingly incurable roving ways.  Upon following his advice we discovered that the very minor surgery involved served to domesticate our pet even more and saved the neighborhood female dog owners numerous headaches.

There was, of course, the time just before his surgery that he disappeared from our yard.  We were beside ourselves with worry and sadness.  Three days later as I watched out the front window, I saw a small black dog who looked exactly like Skipper!  I found out who the people were that lived in that house and I made a phone call to them.  The dad explained to me that they’d had the dog for a few days now and his children had fallen in love with him.  The man at the other end of the line was not anxious to consider parting with the dog.  So, in desperation, I asked him to put the phone to the dog’s ear.  There was a silence at the other end of the line.  Needless to say, I could only imagine how crazy the man must have thought me to be.  So, I said, “If the dog doesn’t respond to my voice, he’s yours.  But! If he does respond, you’ll have to admit that he belongs to me!  “Okay . . . ” I heard the man say at the other end of the line.  I shouted loudly, “Skipper!  Hey Skipper!  Come here Skipper!”  The dog responded by barking up a storm.  The man returned the handset to his ear and in a defeated sounding voice tone, said, “Well, I guess I can’t deny that he sure knows you!”  Within minutes I was across the street rescuing our precious dog.

Looking down at him now, so many years later, I found myself wondering whether there is any being who is so loyal, loving and trusting.  I realized that he had, indeed, become one of the family right from that first day seven years ago.   It wasn’t difficult just then to fully understand why his kind has, for centuries, been labeled “Man’s Best Friend.”  For whatever trials or tribulations are set before him, he repeatedly gives his master his love without question . . . without expecting anything in return.

Once again, my reminiscing was interrupted as I felt him nuzzle closer.  As I reached down to pet him gently, he raised his head with chin whiskers white as snow and his eyes looked up at me as if to say, “You’ve always understood.”

(Copyright 2014 by JC Fredlund) Copyright 1974 – 2014 by JC Fredlund (JC Eberhart, Past Pen Name): ©JC Fredlund and JC Fredlund’s Artistry Blog, 1974 – 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to JC Fredlund and the link to http://www.JCFredlund.wordpress.com blog is included with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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