Things i have Spoken
Stories, Monologues, and Shows I Have Performed
Over the past 40 years I have written and performed many things … full length shows, shorter monologues, thought pieces. Some of these are characters. Some are simply personal stories. Many of them are here, in video form (some with better video quality than others). You are welcome to view them, and use them for home viewing and to pass around to friends and family. If you want to show these to a larger audience, that is fine. If you can afford to pay me for those larger audience viewings, great! (Just shoot me an email and I’ll give you an amount) If you can’t afford to pay me, just consider these my gift to you. All of these videos are copyrighted, so, of course, I am going to assume that you won’t try to do anything nefarious with them. Enjoy!
Full Length Shows
Dear to Me
Here are two videos that are most dear to me. Both point to my son Kappel, who was killed in 2016 in a motorcycle accident.
My eulogy for my son. I consider this to be the most important thing I’ve ever written or presented
My son’s final project from film school, in which I got to play a part
Things I have Written
I’ve written many, many scripts over the years and many, many short “thought pieces”. Here is a sampling of some of those “thought pieces”.
Did Anyone Ever Tell You?
This virtually never fails. I’ve just finished a performance. Someone approaches me. I’m expecting a compliment on my show. Nothing major. Perhaps a simple statement of gratitude: “Your performance has changed my life. I was thinking about jumping off the 14th Street Bridge, but then I saw this performance and I’ve decided to go on living”. You know … something simple like that. But NOOO! This is what usually transpires: Someone approaches me after a performance. I see the glow on their face. I think to myself, “they were profoundly touched”. Then they sidle up to me and say, “Hey Curt, did anyone ever tell you that you remind them of Robin Williams?” I smile weakly and say, “Oh, about two million times”. Almost every time I perform somewhere I have at least one person tell me that. Don’t get me wrong. I like Robin Williams. I think he has a brilliant mind and is a fine actor. In fact, Robin Williams and I were in the same repertory theatre company in California. (He was there about ten years ahead of me, and, of course, I never met him, but let’s not get too specific … it ruins a good story!) I don’t mind, at all, being compared to Robin Williams. I just wish I had a dollar for every time someone has done that. In fact … I think I’m developing a plan here … YES! THIS IS IT! If anyone reading this newsletter has ever compared me to Robin William, you must send me a dollar. Hmmm … I could get rich this way … possibly as rich as Robin Williams. Then I could dress up like a pudgy English woman and make a movie. We could call it .. but, wait, I digress.
So, the other day, after another performance, and another “did anyone ever tell you?” comment, I started thinking about the curiosity of being compared to someone famous and important. I started thinking of all the famous and important people to which I’d like to be compared. And somehow, my mind sort of drifted over in the direction of Jesus. I realized that rarely has anyone ever come up to me and said, “Hey Curt, has anyone ever told you that you remind them of Jesus?” Think of it. Wouldn’t that be a great compliment? You stop on the highway to help an old lady fix a flat tire. You’re getting back in your car after the helpful deed. The old lady says to you, “Son, has anyone ever told you that remind them a whole lot of Jesus?” Or, you’re standing in a long line at McDonalds. Some guy in line ahead of you is smoking, totally oblivious to the “No Smoking” sign. He reaches the register, orders his food and then fumbles around in his wallet, too late realizing that he’s two dollars short. The entire line behind you glares at this fellow, silently judging his idiocy and cigarette smoke. But, you simply reach in your wallet, and smiling, hand the smoking miscreant two dollars. He turns to you, blowing smoke in your face, and says, “Pal, you know what? You’re a dead ringer for Jesus.” All the other people in the line grudgingly consent to his observation.
Think of it. Wouldn’t that be a great compliment? Somehow or other, when someone sees me, they think of Jesus. It’s almost the height of audacity, isn’t it? See me – see Jesus. But, then again, maybe it’s not so far-fetched. After all, Jesus DID make the audacious promise that He … his Spirit, was going to inhabit our bodies. It’s sort of like that old movie “Invasion of Body Snatchers”. You remember that one, don’t you? An Alien Force takes over planet earth and starts inhabiting peoples’ bodies, making them do all kind of mean and nasty things. It’s a scary thought, having some alien force inhabit your body.
But … what if the Alien Force was holy and good and caused you to do right and lovely things? Well, that would be a whole other story, now wouldn’t it? In my saner moments I realize that just what Jesus … the Holy Spirit of Jesus … wants to do. He aims to take over my body and cause me to do all sorts of gracious and wonderful things … like kindly blessings an obnoxious smoker in the McDonalds line. I guess what Jesus wants from me, from us, is to simply say “Yes” when his Spirit nudges us to do some sort of off-the-wall thing, like bless instead of curse, like give instead of take, like understand instead of judge. It would be a great revolution, eh? “The Invasion of Spirit of Jesus”. In the meantime, we’ll all keep praying that we’ll say “Yes” when prompted. (And … if you so choose, you can send me that dollar anytime you want!).
Frozen. And Thawed
I keep this old grainy photo in a cheap plastic frame on the window sill at my kitchen sink. I see it, probably twenty times a day, while I wash dishes or fill a glass with water or find myself puttering around in the kitchen. The photo is of my son Kappel and I. He was probably ten years old at the time. If he was ten, I was forty-four. We are running into the surf at my In-Law’s beach condo in Florida. The photo is (obviously) not posed. It was taken by my wife Tish, long before our phones came equipped with cameras. Kap and I had no idea we were being photographed. We were just carrying on, no doubt excited, headed into the Gulf to begin an afternoon of body surfing. We both loved to body surf, even in the puny waves of the pan-handle of Florida. In the photo it’s clear that I’m intent to get into the Ocean. Kap, looking to his right, toward me, looks as if he is saying “this is great, Dad!”
I love this photo. It’s one of my all-time favorites. Here is why: this photo froze a moment. An unplanned, unrehearsed moment. I don’t remember this specific day with my boy at the beach. But, frankly, that doesn’t matter. When I look at this photo it reminds me of the unplanned, spontaneous joy I so often had, being his Dad. And, even more importantly, it reminds me that none of those moments should ever be taken for granted.
As an actor, I’m well aware of the importance, when performing a scene, of “living in the moment,” of being present to what is happening all around me. When I’m able to do that, it keeps me grounded, and helps whatever scene I’m performing come alive.
And, as a husband, and a Dad who has said good-bye to the one who took this photo and to the one who romped with me in the waves, I’m becoming more and more aware of the importance of treasuring all that is immediately before me, so that whatever moment I am living in, may be fully alive in me.
And there is much that is immediately before me: a daughter and son-in-law, two grand-daughters who I love dearly, neighbors and friends, old and new, who surround me with love, and give me an opportunity, every day, to respond to the moments of our shared lives with immediacy.
And … if someone were to “freeze” one of those moments with a photo, I pray that it will, in me, be forever “thawed” with joy.
I DO Believe this
I’m six years old. I lose a tooth. I leave it in an envelope by my bed. In the middle of the night, a kindly, benevolent Fairy takes my tooth, and, in its’ place, leaves a shiny quarter. It’s a nice idea. I believed it, then.
I’m eight years old. It’s Spring time. The leaves are just coming on the trees. I go to bed on a Saturday night, with anticipation. I awaken Sunday morning, excited to discover that in the middle of the night a large bunny, who walks upright, has left, just for me, a basket full of chocolates. It’s a nice idea. And, I believed it, then.
I’m ten years old. It’s Winter. And, I have heard, ever since I can remember that a fat man, with a white beard, will leave me presents under a wilting evergreen tree in my living room. I’ve been careful to banish any doubts of the Fat Man’s existence, because I really want those presents. I walk down the stairs on a cold December morning to discover, piled in the living room, a mountain of delights. It’s a nice idea. And, I surely believed it, then.
Fairies. Bunnies. Fat bearded men. I believed in them, once, these fantastic, heroic figures. I loved their fantastic, hopeful stories, when I was a boy.
I am now an old man. I still love these boyhood stories. But I don’t believe them anymore. At some point, they became just … too hard to believe, and too good to be true. So … I suppose, now that I am no longer a boy, the question should be, “what do I believe?”
The temptation, of course, now that the fantastic fables have faded from my childhood … the temptation is to assume that any fantastic story must simply be only a sweet fable.
I have not given in to that temptation. I believe that the stories of my boyhood, the great fables, all point to the One True Story. A story in which the Hero is real, and lives a real life. The Hero doesn’t come to dispense quarters, or chocolates, or presents, but hope, and forgiveness and purpose. The Hero, in this story, which is almost too good to be true … the Hero comes, in a very real way, to rescue, and then inhabit his people, to give them power to live, in a real world, with joy.
I believe this story, which, truth be told, is not always easy to believe. I believe it because the Hero, in a very real and tangible way … the Hero has come to me.
So … now that I am no longer a boy, this is what I believe:
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, died, and was buried;
I believe that on the third day he rose again.
And he ascended into heaven.
I believe that he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
And that he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The holy Christian Church.
I believe in the communion of saints,
And the forgiveness of my sins.
I believe in the resurrection of my body
And in the life everlasting.
I believe this Fantastic Story. I believed it when I was child. I believe it still.
We found her on Little Choga Road, in the middle of nowhere in the mountains of North Carolina. It was pouring rain, and forty degrees out. She looked like a drowned kitty … well … she WAS a drowned kitty. It took us about an hour to coax her up to my truck. We’d get close to her, then she would hiss and snarl and dart away. If it had been up to me I would have left her out there to hiss and snarl at somebody else’s truck. But my daughter and wife would have none of it. Eventually they caught her and wrapped her in a coat and brought her home, where the two of them ganged up on her to give her a warm bath. (Ever try to give a bath to a cat? Yikes!) We named her Little Choga, after the road where we rescued her. The next day my wife drove her to the vet, where she (the cat, not my wife) received about eighty five dollars worth of shots and vaccinations and pills. This cat has been showered with love, and affection and food, and pills and about everything else that you’d think a drowned mountain kitty would crave. This is a much loved kitty.
Here’s the problem. She seems scared to death of us, and so, for the last two weeks, she’s been camped out under our bed. She won’t come out. Every once in awhile I’ll force her out, and hold her for a few minutes. But, as soon as I put her down, she’s back under that bed. I wish I could speak cat. I’d tell her, in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS, “You stupid cat! Don’t you get it?! We went to a whole lot of hassle to rescue you. We’re on your side! We have no plans to do you any harm! We’re not going to cook you! We’re not going to feed you to our dog! We’re not going to turn you into violin strings! We’re just going to love you. COME OUT FROM UNDER THAT BED!!!”
Of course, I don’t speak cat, so she seems to remain confused. What’s a guy to do? Well, I plug along the best I can. I keep feeding her, and occasionally, when she’ll let me, I stroke her ears a bit. Who knows? She may come around.
And, all too often, here I hide, curled up in a tight little ball, under my bed, hissing and snarling at the One who loves me most. I tell Him, in ways both obvious and obtuse, “You’re not gonna get me. I’m staying under this bed ‘cause you are too big!” And that’s when He reminds me (He DOES speak human, you know) in a nice, soft, don’t-frighten- the-stupid -human voice, “Hey. I’m all for you, Kiddo. That’s why I rescued you in the first place. I’ve got everything you’ll ever need, and I want you to enjoy it. Just come out from under that bed.” Some days I hear him and stick out a paw. Some days I just stay curled up under here. But He keeps at me, thank God. Who knows! One day I may actually come all the way out and let Him really stroke my ears.
My Forgetful Bride
The picture was taken in the North Carolina mountains in May of 2017, about a year after our son Kappel died in a motorcycle accident. Tish and I had slowly begun to find our feet, and to breathe a bit, leaning into the “new normal” of waiting until Heaven to see our boy again. Our marriage seemed to be surviving the stress of losing a child, as we found comfort from God, each other, and those friends and family who surrounded us with love. But, in the midst of all that comfort, we were also trying to navigate Tish’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, and what it might mean for our future. I knew, in my head, that God had all things in His control, but still … I wondered if I really trusted Him for what might be next. And then … things with Tish began to quickly drift. She began to forget simple things, and then not-so-simple things. I often had to repent of my impatience with her.
In May of 2018 I planned a three week trip to Ireland. We would rent a car and wander the countryside. It would be a great escape, with no agenda and no pressure. On the second week of the trip, while we were driving up the stunning Western coast of Ireland, Tish looked at me and said “i’m not real sure who you are.” I pulled over and looked in her eyes. She was not joking. She did not remember that I was her husband. And that was the beginning of my new new normal. What would be next?
On one of our last days in Ireland I was asked to perform for a group of about 50 American and Irish Christian University students. I had met with their marvelous leaders earlier in the trip and shared my grief of losing my son in the blink of an eye and now, it seemed, losing my wife in slow motion. I performed one of my shows for them in the afternoon and was planning on performing another that night. Tish was tired and was already in bed before the evening performance. But, instead of a performance, the leaders asked me if I could just tell the students a bit of my recent story. I did. And then, the students asked if I would sit in the middle of the room while they surrounded me to pray for me. They prayed gently, but fervently. One of the leaders, who had also lost a grown son in an accident, prayed, thankfully, for the assurance and hope of Heaven, where “all will be made well”. Tears flowed. Then, a long silence. And then … then a young Irish woman prayed. She prayed simply. (I can still hear, in my head, the melodious timbre of her Irish accent) She prayed quietly, “Lord Jesus, you know what it’s like to have a forgetful bride.” And that was it. I laughed through my tears. This young Irish student had no idea how powerfully and how prophetically she had prayed. I was reminded, powerfully, in a flash, that Jesus knew, of course, better than me, what to do with a forgetful bride. Love her. I was reminded that I, with all my doubts and wondering, was His forgetful bride. And he … he simply loved me. He simply loves me.
It has been over a year since that Irish prayer. Tish’s dementia is getting steadily worse. Today, we celebrated our 35th anniversary at our cabin in the mountains of North Carolina. I reminded her this morning, as I do every morning, “I’m your husband, and I love you.” This afternoon, when we returned from a marvelous late lunch at a stream-side mountain restaurant, she looked at me quizzically and said, “You’re my dad, right?” I gave her my standard reply (she asks this often) of “Nope. Your Dad’s been dead for 10 years and I’m a whole lot better looking than your Dad ever was”. She laughed and went to pet the dog.
So … the days are getting very interesting for me. I wait, with great anticipation and joy, the soon birth of my first grand baby to our sweet Lily and her marvelous Ridge. God only knows what life with my forgetful bride will look like in the coming days. But, I know that as His forgetful bride, Jesus will keep on loving me. I will pray to do the same to all those dear to me, especially my bride.
My Forgetful Bride
As many of you know, most mornings I sit, with my two fine dogs, outside of my local Starbucks. There we sip coffee, and greet the comers and the goers. We see old friends. Often, we meet new friends. I look forward to this. It is, frankly, often, the high point of my day.
Today was no exception. As I sat at my usual table, an older black man approached me, smiling. He had a gleaming gold tooth. He petted and complemented my dogs, which, of course, endeared him to me immediately. He spoke with a lilting, musical accent. He wore a crisp, black fedora. “I like your hat,” I told him. “Thank you,’ he said, still smiling. “In my home country, many men wore these kinds of hats. But, it’s harder to find them here. I saw a man wearing one the other day, and I asked him where he had bought it. ‘At the H & M Store’, he told me. So, I immediately went and bought the last one they had in the store. It’s a little big on me, but I like it.” “I like it too,” I said. “It looks good on you.” He beamed.
“What is your home country?” I asked him. “Guyana,” he said. “Do you know where that is?” “Yes,” I answered. “I hear it’s a beautiful country.” “Very beautiful.” “How long have you lived in the States?” I asked him. “Over forty years. I came first, like many people do, to New York City. Then I moved to New Jersey. Then, looking for warmer weather, I moved to Florida. Finally, four years ago, I retired to Georgia. My wife still works as a nurse.” “And, what was your occupation?” I asked him. “Heavy equipment operator,” he answered proudly. He then told me of the joy he found at the controls of a large machine. “Almost like playing a musical instrument, I imagine.” “Yes,” he said. “Exactly.” We spoke for a few more moments about the work he did.
He then produced a small piece of paper, bearing the name of a Premium Outlet Mall. “Do you know where this is?” he asked me. I gave him detailed directions. About that time, my phone rang, with a call from my wife. “Can I call you right back?” I asked her, as my new friend gave one last pat to my Springer Spaniel before he thanked me, and then turned and walked away. My small mutt jumped in my lap as I redialed my wife, telling her of the new friend I had just made. My wife and I spoke for a moment, and then I looked up to see my new friend approaching me again. “Let me call you back,” I told my wife.
He stood a few feet away, my new friend, looking at me curiously. And then, unprompted, he said, “When I was a young man, in New York City, I had a friend, an older white gentleman, who became a mentor to me. He used to tell me that if someone complemented me on something I had, I should think about giving it to them, because they might need it more than I do.” I said nothing. I just looked at him, with my mutt still on my lap. “When I went back to my car just now,” my new friend said, “I called my wife. I told her about our conversation. She asked me what I thought I should do with my hat.” Then, his gold tooth shining in the morning sun, he handed me his fedora. “I want to give you my hat,” he said.
I sat, speechless, for a moment. Then I reached for my wallet. “No, no!” he quickly said. “You don’t have to pay me for it.” I handed him my business card. “I’m not,” I said. “I want to stay in touch.” “I’d like that,” he said. “Me too. God bless you,” I called out to him, as he walked away. He turned and gave me one more gleaming smile.
And I thanked God for a new hat, and a new friend who so beautifully reminded me that this can be a delightfully small world, with new joys every morning and around every corner.
I was ten, walking home from school, following the meandering creek in Girard Park, when I caught a glimpse of something flashing in the afternoon sun. There, right on the edge of the creek, barely submerged, was shimmering treasure. Real treasure. Shiny quarters. At least four dollars worth, just scattered there, as if by some gleeful leprechaun. I was overwhelmed with my good fortune. And, after pocketing the wet quarters, I spent the next two hours (and every afternoon for the next month) walking up and down the creek, looking for more. I found none, but it didn’t matter. The fuse of possibility was lit. The added bonus from the first find was heightened expectancy for what might be next. This was no myth. It was real. Real treasure, just waiting to be discovered by a wide-eyed boy.
Jesus was dead. And then he wasn’t. Imagine that. We just got through celebrating the ultimate expression of “wasn’t”. Easter. Jesus, unleashed and not dead. Good stuff (and no myth). But here I am, a week or so after Easter, wondering what in the world all of that really has to do with me this week. I’m almost lulled into sleep walking,
and I don’t want that. I want, like those people who saw Jesus shimmering in mega-aliveness, to find myself walking around with the fuse of possibility brightly lit. I want to be overwhelmed with my good fortune: Jesus, the hope of glory, real treasure, in me. And, as added bonus, the heightened expectancy of his good and holy spirit, like some gleeful leprechaun. transforming me into a wide eyed child in a Kingdom of shimmering possibilities.
Here’s to Easter. Here’s to the week after. Here’s to Jesus. Here’s to the shimmering possibilities.
The Sparrow’s Liturgy
When the Preacher called for heads bowed in a moment of silence
And the church settled in,
Some in impatient resignation
And some with at least a breath of expectation,
Skeptical, yet dutifully, I closed my eyes
And waited for God to speak.
Then a sparrow, following some other liturgy,
Quietly at first, with only a chirp,
Then with full throated worship
She dared me open my eyes.
While all else obeyed, I watched.
From a ledge above the Rosetta window
To the ficus tree behind the pulpit she darted and dipped,
Quiet for only the few seconds in flight,
Concentrating on her sacred dance.
One more burst of unashamed song,
Then quiet again.
I slipped out of the back pew before heads were raised.
I’d had my church that day.
Tears in his bottle
I keep this little sliver of wood on my desk. It’s a piece of bark, actually, about the size of a silver dollar. My son Kappel gave it to me, ten years ago, when he was twenty-three. On the back of it, Kap, with a wood burner, had burned his strange signature and the date. On the front he had super-glued a tiny, colorful moth, and then burned the word “joy” just below the moth. The moth finally dried up and disintegrated, so now all I see on the front is “Joy”. I carried it in my pocket for awhile, but I was afraid I was going to lose it, so now it just sits in the ring box on my desk. I glance at it often.
But, on the days when I’m particularly missing my boy, who went home to be with Jesus four years ago … on those days, when my grief is raw, and I’m leaning hard toward sorrow … on those days, I pick it up and hold it for awhile. It’s a reminder. A reminder, from Kap … from God, that there’s something greater … much greater, beyond sorrow, beyond grief. There’s joy. I like that I can pick it up and lightly hold my thumb against the surface of it … the smooth surface of Joy.
There’s a line in a Psalm of David that says “You have kept count of my tossings, put my tears in your bottle”. David had a lot of those: tossings and tears. But maybe one of the reasons David is described as a “man after God’s own heart” is because he knew, somewhere deep in his gut, that there was One who kept count of his tossings, and bottled his tears, gathered for some … greater, beautiful purpose.
It’s a strange image, though: The God of the Universe, collecting tears like … souvenirs. Saving my tears, in a bottle. I wrote a duet scene about this, years ago, for an actress and myself to perform. And … it was alright. But, looking back, I realize now that I … I didn’t really know that much about grief or sorrow then. And maybe, because of that, I didn’t really … “get” this … this “tear bottle thing”.
I was talking about this the other day with my across-the-street neighbor, and good friend, Caleb Martin. He had just written a blog post on this, this Psalm, 56. I read it. it was a whole lot better than my duet scene. And, I think it may have answered my curiousity about what God’s gonna do with all those tears He’s been collecting.
Maybe, when it’s all said and done, when Jesus has made all things right, all things new … you know … Revelation 21: new Heaven, new Earth, tears dried, no sickness, no sorrow, no death … maybe, then … Jesus pulls out your bottle, my bottle, of tears, and just … starts painting a picture with ‘em. “Ah … yes,” says Jesus, “These … all of these tears were when you said goodbye to the one you loved.” And then, brush strokes of vibrant color. “And these,” he says, “that you cried, all those late nights, worried about your wife and your family.” And an amazing background is filled in. “Oh, I remember these, these anxious tears,” says Jesus, “when you were so fearful during those crazy months of that virus.” Subtle textures and contours appear. Tear by tear, Jesus completes this … stunning portrait of my life, in Him. And I realize, truly and finally, that all things really do work together for good for those who love him.
Maybe, if I can grab hold of this now, then somehow, I can, more and more, learn to simply look to Jesus, the One who nor only gathers my tears, but who also has cried my tears, and, who, for the joy set before him, has endured … my cross. Maybe, I can, more and more, become a man who has learned to trust that all is being garnered by my gracious Father. All … for some greater, glorious picture, painted by Jesus, who teaches me to lightly hold my life against his smooth surface of Joy.
She came to us pre-named. Pippa. My conjecture is that her previous family was infatuated with Pippa Middleton, the sister of the royal who was getting married around that time. Her previous family was a single mom with a young autistic son. It turns out that Pippa, then about a year old, was a bit too much for the young lad, so the mom gave Pippa up to English Springer Rescue. We had lost Katie, our Springer Spaniel, several months before. I was convinced that I would never have another dog as perfect as Katie. But, Pippa looked good in the photos on the Rescue website, and I was not ready to be a man without a dog. (After all, who in their right mind wants to be a man without a dog?) Tish and I drove from our home in Atlanta to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where Pippa was lodging temporarily in a foster home. I knew, at first sight, that the long drive was worth it. Pippa was beautiful. Katie, our previous fine dog was a “Bench Springer” with a docked tail and a rather stocky body. Pippa was a “Field Springer” with a long beautifully feathered tail, feathers on her legs and a sleek, lithe, athletic body, attuned to the hunt. But, most impressive to me was Pippa’s personality. She was enthusiastic (hence the challenge with the previous family) but calmed quickly, and she was very eager to please. It was a delight to bring her home.
It became quickly clear to me that Pippa was not going to be “our dog”. Pippa was to be, in no uncertain terms, “my dog”. My dog. Over the last nine years she and I have been inseparable. We’ve hiked many, many miles on trails near our cabin in North Carolina. Pip swam with me in Lake Nantahala and dove off our dock, in pursuit of pesky ducks. Every morning she romped in the woods near our house in suburban Atlanta, chasing rabbits and the occasional deer. She was always quick in pursuit, but she was even quicker coming back to me. All I need do was call out, “Come, Pippa!” and she appeared, panting and pleased. As the years wore on, I shortened her call to simply “Um, Pip!”. “Um, Pip!” and she was there. Then we’d get in the car and drive to our local coffee spot. There we sat, on the porch, greeting all comers, with Pippa gently charming old and young alike.
And, it was there, last Friday, at Maple Street Biscuits, that it became clear to me that something was terribly wrong. Pip had been low on energy for a week or two and our Vet had prescribed antibiotics, which perked her up a bit. But, last Friday morning she struggled simply to walk with me in the woods. Then, when we sat, greeting the locals (including the wonderful folks at Maple Street, who were always eager to sneak a piece of bacon to my gal) Pip struggled to even hold up her head. A trip back to our Vet, who did a couple of x-rays and tests, brought the bad news. My fine dog had cancer of the snout. She was, by then, struggling to even breathe. My daughter and son-in-law rushed out and we said our tearful good-byes to Pippa. She had been so eager to please me, and to be my companion that morning, that she simply followed me, in pain, on our last walk.
I’ve been a very fortunate man to have had many fine four-legged companions in my sixty-six years. But, this dog, Pippa, was the best. She was my unquestioning constant. She lay at my feet while I wrote at my desk, occasionally nuzzling me with her snout as I stroked her velvet ears. For the last five years, she seemed to know to stay close to me, while I wandered aimlessly in the woods, grieving the death of my son. For the last year or so, she’s cheered me as I’ve said the slow good—bye to my wife, who’s quickly drowning in dementia. Pip’s been gentle with my young grand-daughter who has not yet learned to be gentle with her. Pip’s made me laugh, time and time again, as she’s chased, and sometimes caught squirrels and chipmunks in our back yard. She’s been … well … my fine Pip.
I’m not sure how the After-Life works. I have faith that there is one, that all around me will be made new, that all will, some fine day, be made right. I believe that because I am convinced, somewhere deep in my soul, that there is One who has gone before me to do that. To make all things new, and well and right. I have faith in that, and in Him. That gives me hope. But, I’m not sure how that works with dogs. Some might tell you that, like in the cheesy movie, that “all dogs go to Heaven”. I don’t know. But I DO know, I DO believe that Jesus loves me. And, although I can’t quote you chapter and verse on this, I believe that Jesus loves his world, and my world, which, for the last nine years, has, thankfully, been filled with a dog named Pippa. And I want to believe that some fine day, Jesus will call me, and on that day, all who have gone before will be caught up in the wonder of all made right. And I’ll greet my boy, and I’ll hug my bride, and I’ll call my fine dog, “Um, Pip!” Lord, haste the day.