This month’s column begins with a plea for Patience — who happens to be a dog. You may have met her because she was in the paper not long ago as one of three animals looking for a home. So far, she has not found one, and the wait is particularly hard for her because she is blind.
She has been someone’s pet, as she is housebroken, obeys all the usual commands, and responds eagerly to affection. About 9 years old, she has been spayed, and is in perfect health, with very good hearing. Found wandering in the area of Apple Market some time ago, she presently stays at the Lodi Animal Shelter, in the front office a lot of the time.
The people at the shelter tell me she will do best as an only pet, and I can see that — she needs loving, quiet companionship. I met her when I went in to get cat licenses, and I would have brought her home right then and there if it had been at all possible. Someone out there needs Patience, as much as she needs them.
Is that person you?
Also in the front office were six sizable stacked cages holding dogs and cats, all waiting, some seeming hopeless, for some kind of loving attention in friendly and safe homes. Just owning an animal doesn’t cut it; just providing food, water and some kind of shelter isn’t enough, either. An animal has no choice; it’s up to the people it lives with to see that it gets medical care when needed and is made happy and comfortable during its lifetime. And, most importantly, loved.
I have a hard time giving up on plants in my garden, trying to nurse them along even when it’s kind of obvious they’re on their last legs. If something has to be dug up for some reason or another, I try to find some other place to plant it, and that’s not always possible. My gardener, John, tells me that it is all right for a dug-up plant to move on, to be cut up and eventually made into mulch to feed other plants. I know this, but feel sorry to do this to a plant before it dies naturally.
Something I read in a book of meditations eased my mind somewhat. The writer was in my same situation, trying to nurse plants along. “It’s important that species survive, but every individual of every species doesn’t need to survive, not every time. They have lifespans. Our task is not to make them immortal; it is to make their lives good while they are here. After that, their delight is in their return to the earth, to enable the larger survival of everything.”
I wonder if this idea might not apply to the human spirit; that when we die our spirits join in with all others gone before to enrich a spiritual realm that those who come after us can draw on. Life is, after all, so much more than just genetics and physical bodies.
I had the most delightful Christmas surprise. The amaryllis I bought to bloom for the holiday was supposed to be pink and white, according to the box. Instead, it turned out to be a sort of translucent cranberry color, absolutely gorgeous. Two tall stems, each with four blooms, blooming one after the other, so one stem is still going strong. A great gift for a gloomy month. (A gloomy after-Christmas time is why I turn on my few strings of outside white lights each night until February, in hopes that those who see them might be somewhat gladdened.)
A week or two ago in a doctor’s waiting room, a gentleman introduced himself to me and told me how much he enjoyed my column, particularly for the way I wrote and for my comments on the correct use of the English language. This eased my mind while it added to my quandary. I am always getting comments like this from middle-aged and older readers, who tell me to keep on writing. Some tell me they clip the column and send it to others who might benefit from the “English lessons.” However, I recently learned that others think these grammar/spelling lessons are boring, and they are often edited out. So, what to do? I think that I will continue to add one short paragraph on something about the English language and let it go at that. This is a personal column, after all.
Lodi’s American Legion Post is trying hard to become a source of service and a gathering place for all veterans, particularly the new, younger ones from the present wars. One of the latter, Ryan Dinkel, was featured in a recent story about the work he and others are doing in the Legion and VFW to further such projects. One reason Ryan, a Marine, joined the Lodi Legion Post, where he is on the board, was because of Bill Selling. Bill, long a stalwart Lodi Post member, helped Ryan’s father make sergeant in the Army. Small world!
I was sorry to read that Charles Schilling had died. It was my privilege to be acquainted with Dr. Schilling through a lunchtime program sponsored by the University of the Pacific School of International Studies some years ago, and meeting him later on when he sometimes served as substitute organist for St. John’s Episcopal Church here in Lodi.
So many good and special people have passed on during the last 10 years or so. I guess that’s part of getting older. This Christmas I had several cards telling me of the deaths of spouses or close relatives of friends from long ago times and places. That leaves me one fragile friend from boarding school days, one from college, one from the WAC, and one from where I lived before I came to Lodi. Over the years, cards I have sent have not been returned, but there has been no reciprocal card. Connections just seem to stop and communications are lost. Somehow, then older I get, the less it hurts, the less the sense of acute loss. Maybe it’s just acceptance of the inevitable. What helps is that one moves on, new friends come into the picture, and the focus changes. How wise the Creator is.
And, on that note, a final word: Work for God. The retirement benefits are great!
Gwin Paden has been in Lodi since 1957, doing this and that here and there in the community and the working world. This column has been in existence since 1999, one way or another.