I wanted to share how Jessie ( my dog whom I adore with all my heart…) came into my life.
Coming from Chicago, I’m a city girl. My first pet was a cat named Kelani and then she went off got preggers by some randy alley cat and then we had a house full of fur balls right before I left home to “discover” myself before university. I come back home and now reality hits me… I abandoned my pets, because my mother just gave them away.
Insert sad conscious and face here.
Fast forward to me living in England and I realized that the British are pet lovers. Cat, Dogs, Rabbits, Horses… husbandry is not lost on the English. I had to learn how to integrate pets into my life. It was really hard for me. I was used to screaming obscenities at stray dogs crossing the alley from 79th and Paulina … and running for my life if he gave chase. Can anyone say “pack mentality”? After a year or so exposed to all these wonderful pets and personalities, I fell into the “love an animal like your English” zone.
My brother-in-law, had 3 dogs. They were wonderful.
Then, the girl Fizz was struck by a hit and run driver and killed instantly. It was the most awful thing. The cries of my in-laws and their children haunted me that night. Even my mother-in-law was weeping, as she had two of Fizz’s pups.
After the grieving process, my brother-in-law brought Jessie – a neutered Wire-Haired Patterdale Terrier home in hopes she would be company to the older male dog, Bud.
… They loathed each other.
Jessie is an alpha b*tch. No pun intended. Seriously. She doesn’t like male dogs without their “meat and two veg”. Bud did not have his two veg and thus Jessie considered him a b*tch too and decided she was to be top dog in their house. Bud was having none of it.
One hot day, we ventured over to the house and apparently Jessie and Bud had been fighting and postering all night long. My brother-in-law said we are going to have to put Jessie down and I said “no”. Please, I will take her. Please. Don’t you know it as soon as I said it… Jessie circled Bud and went for his jugular. It was the most ferocious thing I ever saw. Jessie is like a huggable baby doll, but when provoked she is a killer. It took my then husband, my brother-in-law and my sister-in-law to pry her jaws open and save Bud. As they turned around to chastise Jessie, I grabbed her and held her in my arms. I knew that she couldn’t stay after that and we all thought it was best she come home with me.
We left late that night and the children cried out for Jessie. I put Jessie in the back seat and she cried out for the children. That was her second home as she previously lived on a farm. That night at home, I set her water and got some dog food. I wrapped her up in a tattered red couch cover we were using and I held her like a baby. I didn’t know how to communicate to her that she was safe and I would look after her, so I just held her and hugged her. I did that everyday for 4 months.
When I left England, I brought Jessie with me.
She is my baby doll with 4 legs and I adore her.
I made a difference in Jess’ life.
However, she’s made a difference in my heart.
Love you Jessie!
Okay… a lot!
Okay… it is debatable. I can see you sitting in heaven taking score. That is okay, your one line zingers and antidotes kept me out of a lot of trouble in my latter adult years (as party goers who know me refer to as THE SECOND COMING… lol).
I can hear you sassing me now…. “Second coming of what Erica… did somebody record yo’ ass doing something you weren’t supposed to be doing”. My crass and lewd tenacity to party never boded well with my momma.
Like my mom though, I am a party girl turned momma and have given birth to a new generation of woman who is smarter and intellectually moving way faster than I ever did at that age.
Like you momma, I fret over the bills and for the life of me I put more stock in everyone else than I do myself. At almost 40 you would think I would know better, but momma honestly… I am just starting to learn to live yet again. I really did fly by the seat of my pants yet I never quite figured out how to just be here on the ground.
Yes, yes… I look like you more. Now more than ever, I have an enormously fat face and your eyes. I could be your portly twin. I cut my hair short like you towards the end… but know I have my daddy’s hair. I will leave it at that.
Sitting here at the table sipping tea… I am like you most. Reflective, regretful, mourning the lost of a marriage, worried about how my daughter sees me, contemplating what means more happiness or material success.
I am the goofy flake and mom, you were my rock. I adored you to the point I idolized you… then it hurt me to watch you not even meet your own expectations. I think that is why we fought so much. Each of us had enormously high expectations of the other, yet neither one of us wanted to admit… we were neither experts or innately skilled in being humans. We didn’t know how to love each other and just be. Other humans have mastered this necessary art form.
Perhaps that is what hurt us the most… though I am relieved that we finally gave into loving each other for who we were… four weeks before your death, because those four weeks replaced a lifetime of soul crushing pain and all the shed tears. (Yes mom, like you I am a crybaby. I cry at the drop of a hat. More now that I dropped the proverbial load.)
So here I sit… loving you, as though you were sitting here with me having a cup of tea.
It has been so hard being on this planet without you, but I am doing my best with what I have… and you showed me that sometimes you make your way with nothing in your pockets but just with love and kindness in your heart.
You get the most credit for making me fabulous, you made me strong and I am so glad in the end you approved of me because it mattered more than you will ever know.
If you were here, I would jokingly say… Happy Holidays old broad. Only to solicit a scowl and perhaps an eye roll.
I love you immensely, Momma. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Dear Ballard Catchings,
I am thankful that you were my father and I hope that you are resting in peace.
Though our life together was tumultuous and we spent many years apart, I loved you and I loved what you did for me as a father. You taught me everything I know, even though you didn’t finish the 9th grade. You fled Jackson, Mississippi and never looked back.
You taught me that excellence was my right as a human being and that being Black did not exclude me from exuding excellence in everything I do. You taught me how to count by playing poker, spades and go-fish… I went on to graduate university with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting. You taught me about social studies by making me read the Sunday paper with you. You told me to see the world, to date – I have been to London, Paris, Ireland, Belgium, and Amsterdam… and I plan to see much more of the world until my last breath. Even though you never left America, you taught me that being global was the way of the future and that I needed to know more about the world in order to be at the top of my game. You taught me about music. Sitting in the car listening to Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington on your 8-track you forced me to learn all my instruments through closing my eyes and listening to jazz for hours upon end in the summer time when I went to work with you. I became a DJ at the age of 27 and a damn good one at that.
You taught me about racism and how it was the cancer of the world. Even though your mother had been raped by the white farmer in which held your family as indenture servants and she died giving birth to his baby, you taught me that racism was a cancer on the world and it cheated people out of true friendships in life. You taught me to be open to all ethnicities, all nationalities and to be a good person. You taught me that there are really only two people: Good People and Bad People. You told me that I may find a long, great and wonderful lasting friendship in a white, Asian or another ethnic person and to accept that friendship because at our core we are all human. You taught me that being color blind is ignorance and accepting a person for all that they are is the way forward to having the world recognize my own greatness and making the world a better place. I want you to know I have friends of all races, all political preferences, from many different countries.
I want you to know your grand-daughter is both an American citizen and a citizen of the British Empire; she is both African-American and European-British, she speaks English, Mandarin and Spanish.
She is your legacy – she is the beautiful fruit of all the love and wisdom you put into me.
Most of all daddy, I want you to know that it was you that sowed the seed of greatness in me from as long as I could remember and though our life as father and child was marred with a long separation, it was that love, dedication and effort you put into me from an early age that set me on the path to “fabulousness”.
I am thankful that you were my dad.
I love you!
This month of November we are going to focus on “being THANKFUL” and loving our “FAMILY”. In the era of clarity, we do not truly celebrate Thanksgiving as a meeting between the pilgrims and the Indians. As we know they meeting of those two communities was less than amicable. For years now, in my family our tradition is focusing on THANKSGIVING AND THANKS-BLESSINGS FOR OUR FAMILY. So for the month of November, we are going to be “thankful” for all the little things in life, we are going to celebrate life and family. We hope this months theme will help bring some “thanks” or bring you closer to your friends and family. Adieu!
I love talking to my friends on the telephone. It’s like having a little piece of home (Chicago) in my living room, or kitchen or back porch. You can hear the laughter, the funny looks when you say something grotesquely inappropriate and the smiles. A chatty phone call where you catch up, dish or just talk about the doldrums of the day. Friends are the family we get to pick and through out my life, I’ve made choices that were spectacular.
Go hug a friend and feel happy!
It is wonderful. Water. I am actually blogging from the beach. Being here has made me feel whole and alive. Maybe because I am a Pisces… Or maybe I just need to be healed. I am here at the sea and I feel overcome with hope and happiness. It has also made me realize I have been missing out on living … I have been existing in a large vacuum for too long. There is a great element of God and spirituality in the water… And I welcome the chance to be renewed.
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