It’s funny how quickly one’s heart can be given away. Maggie has stolen mine. Those of you who follow Pat Bean’s wonderful travel blog already know all about her, but for those of you who don’t, Maggie is a small black Cocker Spaniel, and she’s been visiting me this week along with her pet, Pat Bean (why yes, I DID read 101 Dalmations). Unlike many Cockers, Maggie’s got Dignity. She’s the most self-possessed dog I know. While she likes to have her ears rubbed, she’s not a fanatic on the subject. She’s a grand old lady who knows what she wants, and who she is. She’s not a dog to fawn. When Pat and Maggie first arrived Pat assured me that Maggie was happiest napping in the motor home.
Maybe she would have been, but The Boy and I wooed her with cheeseburgers, and she did us the very great favor of accompanying us to the house and napping on a quilt in the kitchen while Pat and I worked on transforming one of her travel blogs into a book. From time to time Maggie got up and went and checked on the House Leroy, the cats, and The Boy (she liked The Boy best), checked my hand for a possible overlooked cheeseburger, then curled up on her quilt again.
There’s something about a dog sleeping on the kitchen floor. I hadn’t realized how much I missed it until Maggie made the spot right in front of the kitchen sink her own. The Magic Dog is great, but he lives only in my memory. Maggie was warm, and wiggly, and amply moustaschioed. She was here. This morning Pat and Maggie hit the road again, off on a journey that has lasted the best part of a decade now. I bought Pat an omelette for breakfast, and a couple sausage McMuffins (with egg and cheese) for Maggie. And then they drove away.
All day, it’s been very quiet around here. Maggie’s quilt lies forlorn and empty in front of the sink. Her water bowl sits in the corner. I know if I were a better housekeeper I’d have already tidied away these small reminders, but there it is. I’m not a better housekeeper. When my nephews were toddlers they left our town and moved to California with their parents. The day they left we celebrated my nephew Aaron’s second birthday. After my sister drove away in the U-Haul my brother and I cleaned the apartment, locked the door for the last time, and took the remnants of the cake back to our apartment.
The apartment felt empty, and too quiet, like my house does now. Small handprints smeared the television screen, and the cake sat on the cupboard until it petrified. Looking at it hurt, but looking at the empty place where it had been after my brother did what I should have done and threw it away hurt even more.
I’ll wash the blanket and Maggie’s water bowl soon, just like I eventually removed the He-Man action figures and small Spider Man boys’ underwear from my purse after the boys left. But not quite yet. Good-bye, Maggie. Good-bye, Pat. May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. May your tires never blow out. May you never get stuck behind an eighteen-wheeler with faulty mudflaps when it’s raining. May your radiator never boil over. May all your Park Rangers be young, wealthy, handsome and friendly. May the Les Schwab men run fast when you pull in, and may a McDonalds appear on the roadside every time you are hungry (that’s for you, Maggie). And until we meet again, may the Deity of your choice hold you in the palm of his, her, or its hand. If he, she, or it has hands. Take care, you two.