“Meanderings” by Jim Peters

Frequent contributor Jim Peters sent along the following:

My dog is teaching me how to die. Not in the immediate future, of course, but when it naturally happens. She has been an incredibly great dog, named Frances Cabot Lowell (not Francis, like the father of modern Lowell, she is after all, a girl). and she has lived a healthy fifteen years, which is old for her breed – a Golden Retriever. We call her “Cabot.” She was the answer for our daughter’s wish at age seven for a dog for her birthday. In “dog years” she is 105. She is not giving up the ghost easily, in fact, it is just the opposite. She is wagging her tail, holding her head up, and tries to stand up but needs help at that point. She has insisted on going to the bathroom in the backyard, walking to the neighbor’s yard in order to catch some sun, and lifting her head up when you call her name.

We have been cajoled, impressed upon, and pressured to put her away at the vet’s. But that would be the ultimate cruelty. It is not up to us to determine the date she is supposed to go. Right now she seems happy being in her own home. It is bad enough that she is dying, it would be the ultimate in cruelty for us to determine that she is no longer understanding being petted, or given ice on her tongue, or given small bites to eat. It is our decision that she should be able to live until the last minute and we believe that she understands that.

So, what is she teaching me. That you live life until the end. That the right to die is not a doctor’s perogative.. That anything that lives will die the way God wants it to, and that indeed God is the final arbiter of our time on this planet. She is fighting everyday for another day here, and every morning that she, or any of us, wakes up, is a blessing. I have repeatedly stated my belief that doctors should not participate in abortions (except in the case of rape or incest), and that they definitely should not be taking the lives of our weakest members of society. Euthenasia is not kind, and is the opposite of every innate sense that we have.

So here is to Frances Cabot Lowell, the Golden Retriever. Thank you for the many years of fun, fetch, and companionship. Thank you for wanting to stay with us every morning, even when you are 105 years old. Thank you for swimming after me to get on the boat in the Merrimack River. She followed me because I left her on the grounds of the Lowell Motor Boat Club, and she wanted to be with me (she did not know I was going back to get her when I got the boat). Thank me for the dinners you stealthily absconded with knowing full well that you would be in trouble. Thank you for not taking it too personally when I removed you from our bed in the beginning. Thank you for the fleas, getting rid of the squirrels, and introducing me to kisses across the face. Finally, thank you for not giving up to death easily. You are an inspiration to me. And that is the most important lesson that can be taught. I had no idea that not wanting to die was a matter of choice. Many people have learned this lesson from their parents when their parents passed away. I got to learn it from my dog. That is the kindest thing. Right now, she just keeps breathiing.

How did Scott Brown ever get Raymond Flynn to endorse him? Unlike his statement that he is a Democrat, Flynn was always to the right of the party, and I remember that his greatest message in the beginning of his “fifty years” was a nonstop attack on busing to further equal opportunities in education. My brother-in-law was against racist attacks on busing. So were most Democrats in Massachusetts. So Raymond Flynn was not a Democrat, in my opinion, but just a person who used the Democratic Party to get elected Mayor of Boston. He is right when he says that politics has not changed. He is the perfect example of it. But politics by people of distinction do not necessarily seem to be distasteful. There are alot of people who do a wonderful job running for office. Elizabeth Warren seems driven by a desire to represent the people. While I disagree with her on some issues, I find I agree with her on most of them.

So that is what I am meandering on. Maybe I see to much in my dog’s impending death. But if Marley can become a movie star, Cabot deserves mention. She never tore apart a room, like Marley did. She never ate a couch, in fact she would not get on the couch except when my son’s dog came to visit. Then it became territorial. Maybe Ray Flynn’s bolting towards the Republican Party should not bother me, but I remember how he got elected, and I find his politics to be distasteful. Maybe it is as big a catch as Scott Brown seems to think, but Boston politics are not the politics of the Commonwealth. Elizabeth Warren still has to fight hard for every vote, but she can pull it off if she does not take time off. I wish her the best of luck.

One Response to “Meanderings” by Jim Peters

  1. Steve says:

    Yes, I believe you can learn a lot from dogs, and I was reminded of the inscription that Lord Byron wrote for one he called his truest friend, a Newfoundland named Boatswain. Here are the opening lines:

    Near this spot
    Are deposited the Remains of one
    Who possessed Beauty without Vanity,
    Strength without Insolence,
    Courage without Ferocity,
    And all the Virtues of Man without his Vices.