I have been married to Judy for a little over forty-six years.  That’s 16,844.5 days. Rounded up from 23 hours and 56 minutes per day, that’s approximately 404,268 minutes. 24,256,080 seconds, give or take. (I would keep going but my calculator won’t allow me to compute nanoseconds.)

In all of that time, I may have heard Judy utter anything that resembles any sort of naughty word once. I say “may” because I must have done something to elicit some sort of swear word somewhere along the way…

It was another dark and snoozy night...

Tuesday, September 5, 2017, 3:30 AM

One hour ago, I was deeply asleep, dreaming about my new Ryobi model RY08420A Backpack Leaf Blower with the large 2 cycle, 42cc engine for excellent clearing power, with a unique air-flow orientation and angled air nozzles, a variable speed throttle and a cruise control setting to make quick work of the toughest of clearing jobs;  and with the shoulder and back harness designed for ultimate comfort, that features a contoured back and easy strap adjustments; when I was awakened by the sounds of 1) Murphy (the dog) panting and whining and 2) Judy saying…

Judy: “Bill, do something about the damn dog!”

Bill (Me – suddenly and unexpectedly waking up): “Huh? What?”

J: “Do something about the damn dog! He got me up at 3:15 and I fed him and gave him some water and he won’t shut up!”

B (M): “Do you kiss your husband with that mouth?”

J: “Not if he doesn’t do something about the damn dog!”

 

 

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Driving home from Oakhurst after Mass…

Judy: “We could rent a motorhome to go to Utah. I’m kind of afraid to go to Utah, though.”

Bill (Me): “Why? Are you afraid you might want to move there?”

J: “No. I’m afraid to come home and get a call that Dean had a heart attack in Hawaii. Besides, if we moved to Utah, you would have to become Mormon.”

B (M): “Well, what would I have to become if we moved to Arizona?”

J: “You would have to become a ‘Free Spirited Artist’.”

B (M): “I could do that. I could be a ‘Free Spirited Artist’. I could become a Free Spirited Photographic Artist’… I could be a ‘Phartist’!”

Hahaha…

Hahaha…

Hahaha…

Hahaha…

J: “The next time somebody asks me what I have learned being married to you I’m just going to say, “I have learned not to be sipping a soda through a straw while having a conversation with him in the car,” and they will ask “Why shouldn’t you sip soda while having a conversation with Bill?” and I will answer “because I’m afraid of what will come out of his mouth.”

B (M): “No you’re not. You’re afraid that what comes out of my mouth will cause your soda to come out of your nose.”

Judging by what happened next, Judy, apparently, has yet to learn that lesson. 

This termite goes into a saloon, hops up on a stool, slaps his hand on the counter and says, “Bartender here?”.

When I returned from Vietnam, and before Judy and I got married, I told her this joke. Her response was not what I expected. She said, “I don’t get it”.

I didn’t explain it to her. In fact, I have never explained it to anyone. Ever. And I’m not going to explain it to you now. 

But one night about seven years later, at 2:30 in the morning…

Judy: “Bill, wake up!”, she said, shaking me from my sleep.

Bill (me): “What is it? Are you OK?”

J: “I’m fine.”

B (m) (a grin starting to spread across my face in the dark): “What do you want?”

J: “I got that joke.”

B (m): “Uh…What joke?”

J: “The one about the bar.”

B (m): “Oh. Well great.”

J: “I don’t think it’s funny.”

B (m): “OK. Is that all?”

J: “No. I think I’ll tell it at work tomorrow to see what they all think about it.”

B (m): “OK. Anything else?”

J: “No, that’s it. Goodnight.”

The next night Judy came home from work…

J: “I told the joke at work. They didn’t think it was funny, either.”

B (m): “Well, how did you tell it?”

J: “Just like you told me. I said, ‘This giant ant walks into a bar, sits down and asks for the bartender…”

B (m) “Delivery needs work…”

Judy: “I love you.”

Me: “I love you, too.”

Judy: “You’re wonderful.”

Me: “You’re wonderful, too.”

Judy: “I’m not perfect.”

Me: “I am.”

Judy: “Well, I tried.”

What you said: “I set the alarm for 6:00 because I have a crock pot dinner to make.”

What I heard: “I set the alarm for 6:00 because I have a cough drop in my neck.”

What you said:  “They’ll probably want me to put sheets on their bed.”

What I heard:  “Ted scroogled the feet time good.”

Me: “You know, I would rather be right here, snuggling with you, than with all of the best smelling skunks in the whole world.”

Judy: “Nice…”

Me: “Well, a guy’s gotta start somewhere…”

What you said: “Finally… some deer appreciators.”

What I heard: “Simon lives in dirt with fish haters.”

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I sit at my keyboard with reddened eyes and tear streaked cheeks, in mourning and in gratitude. 

Mourning because my nearly constant companion and best buddy over the last three years, one week and one day, Max, is gone.

Gratitude because I thank God for seeing fit to finagle  a way  bring us together in the first place.

Max was, as any of you who love dogs will understand, part of the family. He was just about the happiest dog I ever met. No matter what, he always had a joyful demeanor and the look to go along with it… (See above – He almost always looked like that when he was awake.)

Except, perhaps, when he was taking a bath…

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Or pointing at something…

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For which he was trained at an early age…

Or when he was just feeling lazy, or patiently waiting for me to acknowledge him or say “Ya wanna go for a walk outside?”

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He loved hiking in the woods…

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No matter what the weather…

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Even better if he was with a friend…

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And even if he had a frozen butt…

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He loved having fun in the snow, though he never quite got the concept of “mush!”…

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He loved hanging out with the family…

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And running in the back yard…

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He even liked Panther, though she only learned to tolerate him…

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And he had an affinity for waste baskets, though he never admitted it – even when he got caught he would give us the “who? Me?” look…

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He loved helping me work in the yard…

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He stuck by my side all day every day. While I was working in my office, he was right there beside my desk. I kept treats for him there, and every couple of hours I would ask him “You want a treat?”

Treat was one of the words he knew best… He never refused one. Even an hour before he died, he would still eat a treat, and be happy about it.

Max loved everything about life, I think. He was still a puppy at heart, though not in body. He kinda reminded me of my brother-in-law, Jeff, that way…

And kinda like me, too…

Being a “senior” dog (He was 13 when he died) when he first came to live with us, he had some arthritis in his hips. We spent thousands of hours massaging those hips, and happily so. He loved it. He would come up to us and we would scratch his head for about 15 seconds, and then he would start walking until his rear end was swung around and facing us, ready to be rubbed.

He loved our daily/nightly walks around the neighborhood… And he loved hiking with us in the back yard… And he always was a “puller”. No matter what mood he was in, once he was on a leash and walking around the neighborhood or the woods or anyplace else, he became a puppy again. He had to sniff everything that was associated with another animal, and when he wasn’t sniffing, he was dragging us along the path. 

And he would eat anything he could wrap his jaws around…

Until the last three days…

Every morning, he would be lying down outside our bedroom door, waiting for us to exit. And waiting for the magic word, “breakfast!”. Thursday, the 28th, I walked out and  announced  “breakfast time for Max!” as I proceeded down the hallway toward the doggie diner. . I fixed his breakfast and noticed that he wasn’t behind me waiting. I just figured that he would get to it when he felt like it.

Later that day I came downstairs for lunch, and I noticed that he hadn’t touched his breakfast. Alarm bells went off in my head, but I let it go.

Then, after work, I got him ready for a walk around the neighborhood. He was, as usual, excited about that and we started off. He wasn’t pulling me along. And he wasn’t sniffing. More alarm bells.

When we got back, I noticed that he had vomited in four places. 

At that point, I was really worried. When Judy got home, we talked about it and decided she would take him to the vet on Friday morning.

Judy and I stayed up with Max until 5:00 the next morning, trying to make him comfortable. At 9:30, Judy got him in to see the vet. They ran several tests and called Judy about noon. 

Long story short, Max was in critical condition with advanced liver cancer and in acute pain. We were crushed. They had him medicated with pain killers, and suggested they keep him overnight on IVs and check on him in the morning.

We talked about it and asked if we could bring him home and take care of him here, especially since no one would be there with him overnight. And we thought we could keep a better eye on him anyway.

They were wonderful. As long as he had no IVs inserted, we could bring him home. We picked him up at about 5:00 in the afternoon, along with several doses of the pain killer and an empathetic conversation with a wonderful nurse and doctor. But we knew that we would bring him back the next morning, and he would not be returning home with us again…

We wanted to make sure that his last night would be as comfortable and filled up with as many of his favorite things as we could… And it tore us up inside… He was in pain, his breathing was extremely labored and he couldn’t get or keep anything down.

We took him for his last walk around the neighborhood – it was slow and tough on Judy and me, but he enjoyed it…

Coming down our driveway, Max starts out on his last romp around the neighborhood.. His typically happy self..

Coming down our driveway, Max starts out on his last romp around the neighborhood.. His typically happy self..

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Last night, Judy and I both slept next to Max’s bed, in front of the fireplace. Not so much sleep, actually. We spent the night being with him, petting his head and stroking his back, talking to him, telling him what a good dog he is and how much we love him and going outside with him when he needed to go outside. And trying to get pain killers down his throat. We would pet him until he fell asleep, and his breathing became somewhat easier, and then wait for him to wake up again and start over.

The next morning at about 7:30, I took him for his last walk around the back yard. I cried most of the way…

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Then he rested in the piano room…

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And played ‘hide and seek’ under the piano…

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It was time to go…

We arrived at the vet hospital and met the nurse on the back side of the building. Eventually, we got into the room, where they had laid out a fluffy, soft blanket on the floor. Max knew what to do with that, so he got comfortable. I laid down on the floor close beside him, put my arm around him, facing him, each of us looking into each others eyes. Judy on the other side of him on a short chair, caressing his back while I stroked his head and neck area, speaking to him just above a whisper when I wasn’t choking up.

The nurse came into the room to flush out the catheter on his leg and make sure it was open. She asked if we would like a few more minutes. I said, “no. but if you can arrange it, we would like to have a few more years.” The nurse began to tear up and left to get the doctor…

After a few minutes, the doctor came in and re-explained what was going to happen.

She said, “I know that making this decision was the hardest thing you’ve ever done.”

“No,” I managed to get out, “This is the second hardest thing I have ever done. The hardest thing I’ve ever done is to observe the reason I did the second hardest.”

She paused a moment with a thoughtful look on her face…

Finally, she nodded her head in agreement and said, “Are you ready?”

Judy and I both answered, “Yes,” and I started talking to Max again while she retrieved the needle..

Both of us stroking Max’s now shaking body, I spoke into his ear, repeating the words he had come to know over the past three years. “You are such a good doggy, Max. What a good boy. You”re my best buddy and my best friend, Max. I love you, Max.”

One difference this time… I ended withI Love You, Max… Goodbye, Max…”

He stopped shaking. He stopped his labored breathing. He went limp. Judy and I both broke down…

It was exactly 10:00 AM…

Sometimes “goodbye” is the toughest love of all…

We had previously agreed to talk about something else on the way home, just so we could get home in one piece. I couldn’t help myself and started to say something about the events of the past three days when Judy interrupted me with “How about them Bears, huh?”

That got us home. As we walked into the house, I almost yelled out my, now, customary “Helloooooo Max!” but caught myself.

It didn’t matter – we both fell apart anyway. We wrapped each other in a consoling hug and regained our composure. Then we started gathering Max’s beds, toys and other things… More crying and consoling…

This has gone on the entire day. We are still very emotional about it. I am a wimp, but I think that in this case I can afford to be.

There is a sign in Max’s feeding room, above his full food bowl. Judy reached for it and I stopped her. I wanted to keep it there…

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It’s still there…

Thank you, Lord, for bringing Max into our lives. Thank you for the joy he brought us.

Thank you for the laughter, the games of ‘fetch the duck’ and ‘keep away’ and a thousand other moments of fun and games.

Thank you for the buddy to take on a hike, always ready to hop into the car and take off for adventures unknown.

Thank you for allowing us into Max’s life – to give him a place and a family by whom to be loved, and to make his “golden” years a time of joy and security…

And thank you for the pain and grief we are feeling now – because from that we know that love exists…

I have often pondered, over the past three years, one week and one day, the fact that “God” spelled in reverse is “dog”. If God is love, and I believe He is, then can it be said that “Love is dog”?

Today, you would have a hard time convincing me otherwise…

Max going back up our driveway alone, ahead of us, after our last walk together around the neighborhood...We Love You, Max... Goodbye, Max...

Max going back up our driveway alone, ahead of us, after our last walk together around the neighborhood…
We Love You, Max… Goodbye, Max…

*If there is an ad below, I didn’t put it there… It’s a WordPress thing.

Hello again, gentle reader… Once again, it’s time for another Max Inspired sonnet, officially inspired by Max…

I launch…

Max: A Dog’s Life

By
The Very William H. Kammerer, Jr., Esquire (not)

.

I spend my life barking at flies

And I wonder why

And so does the fly

.

I pass my day staring at cats

I think about that

And so does the cat

.

I often dream of chasing down cows

And I wonder how

And so does the cow

.

I truly enjoy hunting down deer

I’ll catch them, I fear

And so does the deer

.

I often succeed at sniffing out toads

when I’m on the road

And so is the toad

.

But most of all…

.

I LOVE to watch Master picking up poop

For he has no scoop

Nor does the poop

The End…

Thank you for listening…

My wife, Judy, is currently enrolled in medical school. Yes, medical school. At the University of Edinburgh School of Medicine in Scotland. Sounds impressive, huh? 

Well, actually, it is. She’s not studying to be a doctor, but to earn a certificate in Translational Medicine. One of the most impressive parts of this is that, normally, only Medical Doctors are accepted into that program. And not many of them, either.

Don’t ask me how she got accepted into the program – I have no idea. But I do know that this isn’t the first time she has mannaged to get into a highly specialized and prestigious program. A few years ago, she earned a Fellowship at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Bioinformatics. In that program, there are only about 30 students accepted from around the world per year.  She is a Course Fellow in that program. (No, she is not coarse, and she most definitely is not a fellow, so don’t ask again…)

While motoring Northward last weekend with Judy, our son Steven and his girlfriend Amanda, I brought up the fact that “Mom is in medical school”.

Steve, while not unaccustomed to his mother being in some course of study or other, was somewhat intrigued by the fact that she was now in medical school.

“Really? Mom, are you going to be a doctor?”

“Well, no, Steve. I’m actually in a certificate program in Translational Medicine at the University of Edinburgh.”

“In Scotland?”

“Yes. In Scotland.”

“So, what’s translational medicine?”

At this point, Judy launched into a very detailed and informative description of Translational Medicine. And while the following is not word for word what she actually said (I borrowed it from wikipedia), it sounds remarkably like Judy’s monolog – it covers the same stuff.

Only she said a whole lot more and she went on for about 15 minutes


“It is the process which leads from evidence based medicine to sustainable solutions for public health problems. It aims to improve the health and longevity of the world’s populations and depends on developing broad-based teams of scientists and scholars who are able to focus their efforts to link basic scientific discoveries with the arena of clinical investigation, and translating the results of clinical trials into changes in clinical practice, informed by evidence from the social and political sciences. It has several phases:

“It investigates and translates non-clinical research results into clinical applications and tests their safety and efficacy in a Phase 1 clinical trial.The concept arose from research into pharmacotherapy and formed the initial basis for evidence-based practice and clinical guidelines, now incorporated into Translational Medicine. In the case of drug discovery and development, translational research typically refers to the translation of non-human research finding, from the laboratory and from animal studies, intotherapies for patients. This is often called “bench to bedside”. pharmaceutical companies and contract research organisations have a translational medicine division to facilitate the interaction between basic research and clinical medicine to design and conduct clinical trials….”

As I mentioned above, this kind of talk went on for about 15 minutes. I don’t know if anybody in the car, other than Judy, understood a word she said, but it sure sounded impressive. 

At this point, she took a breath. And that’s when Steve asked a pertinent question.

“So, will you get to carry a gun?”

I immediately pulled over to the far right lane because the tears were blurring my vision and it was getting hard to see well enough to drive safely…

Meanwhile Judy, completely unable to process what had just happened, sat in stunned silence for the next 22.3 miles, wondering what it was that she said that would cause everybody to laugh so long and hard…

And my stomach still hurts…

The setup:

This morning at about 4:45 I was lying in bed trying my best not to be awake when it occurred to me that I needed to visit the bathroom. So, stealthily so as not to disturb Judy from her slumber, I slithered from the bed and skulked my way to the bathroom.

After a successful mission there, I decided that I was ready for a glass of Carnation Instant Breakfast and I made my way to the kitchen.

While I mixed up my early morning pre-breakfast, by the light of the refrigerator, I looked out the window over the sink and discovered that it had snowed during the night – the first snow of the year. I thought that was kind of neat, so I went to the breakfast nook to get a better look through the larger windows.

Immagine my surprise when I discovered that, while standing at the window, my right foot was partially submerged in a puddle of cold liquid…

Thinking water must have leaked in through the window, I felt around the sill and frame for more moisture. There was none.

This was, both, a very good sign (because it meant that there was nothing wrong with the construction and installation of the windows) and a very bad sign (because the only other possible sources of the liquid I could think of were me, Judy and Max).

I knew it wasn’t me, and I was cautiously hopeful that it wasn’t Judy. That left only Max.

The chagrin I was experiencing was exacerbated by the fact that the sink and everything necessary to clean up the mess is located about 20 feet from where I was standing with my drippy foot. Not only that, but there is a glass dinette set and a granite island that are positioned between where I was and where I wanted to be.

As I had not the slightest desire to track the biologically induced liquid across the entire kitchen floor, it was required that I hop on one foot from point “A” to point”B” and back again, all the while negotiating the necessary course corrections around the previously mentioned impediments.

And, because I had closed the refrigerator door after constructing my breakfast drink, I had to do all this in the dark. 

After I did the cleanup job, both on the floor and my right foot, I went back to bed.

Judy had, somehow, woken up and asked me if everything was OK…

“Everything is fine. I just went to get something to drink,” I replied. “Except that the dog peed on the kitchen floor.”

“The dog?”

“Yes. I figure the only other possibilities were you and me, and I knew it wasn’t me. Plus, I assumed that it wasn’t you because you would have cleaned up after yourself.”

“But you said ‘the dog’.”

“Yes. The dog.”

“You have never referred to Max as ‘the dog’ before.”

“He has never peed on the kitchen floor before.”

“So if he pees on the kitchen floor, you call him ‘the dog’, but any other time he is ‘Max.”

“Yes….…………And let that be a lesson to you.”

As it happens, this warning appears to have been sufficient to keep Judy from peeing on the kitchen floor because it’s been about 15 hours and it’s still dry.

And this is a very good thing because I don’t want to have to call her anything other than ‘Judy’ or ‘Honey’ or ‘Sweetie’ or some other term of endearment. 

I’m fairly certain that we both like it that way…

Well, a RARE experience here for y’all – something relatively serious (or at least heart felt) from me (On this blog site, anyway)- really…

A couple of days ago I started installing my replacement recording studio equipment (you may remember that the house burned down last year, and took about everything with it). I still haven’t finished, but I wanted to test what I had figured out up to that point. Basically, I got the microphones and monitors working. I haven’t figured out GarageBand, yet, but I was able to test using Photo Booth. 

Judy and I had planned to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary back in July with our family and some friends, but I ended up pretty nearly dying in the hospital for a few weeks, beginning on our anniversary – plans messed up.

Here we are in November, and I’m just about almost nearly back to normal and Judy baked the cake she had planned on baking for the event, last week, and we had our own celebration. As it happened, that was a couple of days before I picked up a guitar for just about the first time in just about forever and got up the energy to set this thing up, so I decided to test it with one of her favorite songs from John Denver..

Happy Anniversary, Judy…

Fingers still recovering… 🙂

What she said: “You have to read Megan’s reply.”

What I heard:  “I’ve been inebriated for five.”

The setup – 

Judy, our son Billy, Lacey his wife and I took Max and Monk on a hike in Yosemite, today. It was a great time with lots of snow and mud, but, alas, it came time to get back home and give Max a bath… 

Now, Judy likes to know exactly how long it takes to get from point A to point B when we go somewhere, especially when it’s somewhere we may return to in the future, so back in the car after the hike, she asked what time it was… 

“What time is it?”

“3:57.”

“I’ve got three minutes before 4:00.”

“I stand corrected.”

“My watch is always more accurate than your car clock.”