Sunday, May 17, 2015

Not So Pleasant Memories

There are some experiences in life that only need to happen to you once...enough for you to break a little (if not a lot) and be changed for the rest of your life. 

When I was about five years old, my uncle (my dad's older brother who adored me) one afternoon came home and brought me a monkey for a pet. Yes, a monkey! How cool was that? Yes, even back then I thought it was pretty groovy. I was overjoyed and I immediately loved him. A few months later, I became ill. What do you know, allergies/asthma. My grandmother who never wanted me to have the monkey or any kind of pet whatsoever to begin with (because she said animals carried many diseases) took this as an opportunity to convince me that the monkey had to go. I was very sad. My uncle cheered me up by getting me a puppy instead. Boy, was he really trying to annoy my grandma! The puppy was nothing special, just a common local pup; but I loved him just the same. I remember my grandmother was furious at my uncle for what he did. But my uncle just walked-out of the house shaking his head. Haha. I prevailed and kept my pet provided it was not allowed inside the house. I would save leftover meat and rice to take out to my dog and sit with him outside. On many occasions when my grandma would be working in the market all day, I'd let my dog in to sit next to me while I watched Voltes V, Mazinger Z or Star Rangers on TV. 

A couple of years later my dog gradually lost his appetite and became lethargic. Taking him to the vet was never going to happen. This was in the 70's in the Philippines when dogs were just that, dogs. Their main purpose was to stay outside and watch out for intruders. I remember asking my grandpa what he thought was wrong with my dog. He just told me dogs generally don't live long, and that was it. One afternoon, I rushed home from school and went straight to check on my dog out back. He was just lying there on the ground, motionless. By then, he had gotten so thin, like skin and bones. He perked up some, raised his head upon hearing my voice, but he was too weak to get-up on his feet. His breathing was shallow and sparse. I picked him up and after only about half an hour his breathing became fewer and far between until it finally stopped. I knew he had died because he peed on me as soon as he had taken his final deep breath. You know how like some things as they are happening to you, you just know you will take that particular memory with you to the grave? I remember I was wearing my First Communion white dress that day. I had this black pair of Mary Jane's shoes that had a brown wax stain on the right foot. Most of all, I remember being all alone in the back weeping by the pig pen. I gently put my dog down and ran inside to tell my uncle, with tears and snot running down my face. He held my hand, wiped my face and then we buried my dog in our backyard. Later that night, my mother was upset with me because my white dress got dirty. She said I was careless and irresponsible. 

My uncle offered to get me another dog, but I refused and never had another one after that. My parents have had dogs here in the US and my sister had one. As for me, it has been one of those things that will always be a delicate subject to even approach. I've not allowed myself to get too close to another dog. My heart had been broken by stupid boys before and many things in my past have healed, but this particular wound stayed tender to the touch no matter how many years went by. Perhaps because all my life, I'd never talked about it. I never told another soul what it was like to have a friend die in your arms. Not because I didn't want to, I just didn't know how. Or perhaps I did not say anything because I knew no one would understand. So, I locked it in my vault. You know that vault of painful childhood memories many of us have? We shoved stuff in it when we didn't know how to deal with something so we can continue to be the happy and carefree children we should be. I was a child and no one took the time and talked to me about it. It was as if just because I was a kid and I only lost a dog, it was not enough to grieve about. When I was growing up, it was expected to be sad and to cry over losing a family member, but it was absurd and foolish to struggle over a death of a pet. I know now that grief is grief. It was actually harder for me to process that experience than when my great grandmother died the year before that. Hopefully, finally putting it into words will help me heal. I'd really like to own another dog someday. 

A few days ago, my brother-in-law and I brought my mom's dog, Bama to the vet. She has not been well. She is old, has bad arthritis, infections and she has a mass in her abdomen. She has been in our family for ten years and seeing her in agony gives me a painful knot in the pit of my stomach. I am seven years old all over again. 

Oh well enough of my gloom, I want to share a really pretty card created with a stamp that will retire end of this month named Pleasant Poppies. This is one of the four beautiful (and sort of complicated) cards we created in my Fancy Fold Cards Class yesterday, called Easel Card. Isn't it lovely? A gift in itself. Anyone who receives this can place it on his/her desk as a reminder of you.

Pleasant Poppies stamp set, Crisp Cantaloupe, Pistachio Pudding, Baked Brown Sugar CS.

 Well, that's all for now. Thank you for stopping by. 


  1. I hope sharing your story will help you to heal. Losing a pet is devastating. I can't imagine how hard its been all these years keeping your grief bottled up inside. I too hope that soon your heart will be ready to love another pet. There's a dog out there wanting to snuggle on the couch beside you and give back so much love. If I had heard this story while standing beside you, I would have immediately hugged you so I am sending a virtual hug. Take Care. Beautiful card!


    1. Thank you so much for you kind words, Tracy. How are you? Are we going to see each other at Convention this year?