I was going to write about dogs today because I love to write about dogs. I was doing it for an elderly woman named Mona who passed away a few years ago from pneumonia.
She was a cool lady. And a dog fanatic. She always used to say, “One day, when we all get to Heaven, we’re gonna be surprised at how many dogs are running around.”
When Mona’s kids inherited her house, they started leaving the back porch light on. It glowed all hours of the day. I asked why.
They said, “Mom always kept the light on in case any stray dogs needed a place to sleep at night.”
So when I sat down this morning to start writing this, I was going to tell you about a man in Northern California who rescued a stray dog during the coronavirus pandemic. All he did was put food on the porch and a dog showed up.
And you know how dogs are. Word spread on the canine Western Union telegraph. The next day he had three more strays. A few days later he had six more. Today, 12 strays all live on his farm. Somehow he feeds them all and has not filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Mona would have liked that story. But I never really got around writing about that guy because I got sidetracked doing research. Which happens a lot to us mediocre writers. We don’t have the skill nor the experience to avoid being sidetracked.
Don’t get me wrong, being mediocre isn’t all bad. In fact, it’s a lot of fun once you get into the spirit of it. One of the great things about not being a “great” is that you’re allowed to stink sometimes. And it’s totally okay because, hey, you’ve already set the bar pretty low.
It’s sort of like when a 4-year-old paints your portrait. You don’t expect perfection from him. The best you can hope for is that he doesn’t have an accident in his pants before he finishes drawing your Furry Eyebrows of Death.
On the other hand, if you commission an oil portrait from an art college graduate, and your painting ends up looks like a mug shot for Uncle Fester, you’ll be disappointed.
See what I mean about getting sidetracked?
I can’t even remember what I was talking about now.
Anyway, my research for the story about stray dogs led me to a story about a middle-aged woman who was adopted as a baby. For most of her adult life, she had no interest in finding her biological mother, but when she hit 50 years old, she decided to locate the woman.
She tracked down her birth mother and found her living in a rundown Texas RV park.
The mother told her daughter that when she’d given birth, she’d been homeless. She wanted her baby to grow up without hunger, so she gave her up for adoption.
The daughter eventually brought her elderly mother home to live with her. She cared for her until she passed and said it was the greatest privilege of her life.
So there I was, crying all over the place because there is so much about life makes me cry sometimes. Which led me to start researching items on my bucket list.
Do you know what’s on the top of my bucket list? Well, if you’re still reading this and you haven’t started having boredom-induced seizures on the floor, I will tell you. My top bucket-list item is baseball parks.
There are 30 Major League parks in the U.S., and I want to visit them all before I take up the harp. I can’t think of a better way to see the splendor of America. Fenway Park, for instance, is the oldest Major League field in the U.S. The old Boston field first opened its gates in 1912. I want to see that.
I once met a guy who visited all the parks in one year. He had been diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease, doctors said it would kill him. So he and his wife decided to buy a motorhome and see American baseball at its finest before he died.
After spending an entire summer on the road, his illness had disappeared. The doctors cannot explain it.
I just love stories like that. Maybe I like them because sometimes I find myself wondering what it’s all about. I don’t want to get philosophical here, but I think “it” is a lot bigger than we think it is. What do I mean by “it?” I don’t know. Life, maybe.
Whatever you want to call it, I think some folks try to measure life the wrong way. Some measure life in years, others use dollars. But what if we are looking at it wrong?
After all, you have to have the right tool to measure something before you know how great it is. You wouldn’t want to measure Pikes Peak using teaspoons. And you can’t clock a cheetah with a bathroom scale.
What if the best tool anyone could ever use to measure their own life with is a heart? And what if that warm squishy feeling you get in your heart after you’ve done something truly good is what “it” is all about?
I don’t know. But whatever you do, don’t listen to me. I’m so sidetracked right now that I can’t even remember my own name. Either way, the one thing I’m certain about is this:
We’re going to be surprised when we get to Heaven and see all those dogs running around.
Leave a light on for me, Mona.