Olive Goes Walk-About With An Angel

Heather and I spent about a month between January and February 2015 in Sebring, Florida.  Her father, a Vietnam War Veteran, had acquired Parkinson’s Syndrome from exposure to Agent Orange during his three tours of duty. Heather’s father had reached the end stages of a horrible disease. The time we spent here was to support Heather’s mom (and her Dad as well) as the inevitable played out.

Due to our anticipated “extended stay” in Florida, we brought our Basset hound, Olive, with us so as to keep our expenses at a minimum. Walter, our cat, stayed at home and enjoyed visits from my friend Beth and her sons. There was no shortage of lovin’s for Walter in our absence. Beth and her family made sure of that.

Olive, not content to spend her days enjoying her relatively large playground (aka Heather’s parent’s backyard and covered patio), found an escape route where the fence converged with the neighbors.  I tried at least three or four different “fixes” for that gap…all of which were no match for a dog on a mission.

Several neighbors either put her back inside the fence or held onto her until we returned home for the evening.  However, upon our return one particular afternoon, she was nowhere to be found.  It’s very common for her breed to let their noses lead them astray and incapable of finding their way back home. 

So…Heather and I set out on foot scouring the neighborhood and asking anyone we came across if they had seen a stray Bassett hound. We were getting nothing but “sorry, haven’t seen one” pretty much across the board…that is until I came upon Olive’s angel.  

The following events have no natural explanation.

This first image shows the location of the family home.  Heather took a path in what would be a southwest direction in regards to the image’s alignment.  I took the northeastern direction upon reach Lakeview Drive.


As I began to make my way around the curve of Lakeview Drive visible in the above picture, a gentleman on a bicycle asked if I was looking for a dog.  I indicated that I was…and he then told me, “there’s one down there” (pointing in the direction of a very dense patch of trees and roots and directly to the right of where he had stopped).

This man had stopped at the section of sidewalk where you can see the “guardrail” installed.  As I was approaching where he had stopped, he made no adjustments to his bike, took no water breaks…nothing.  He appeared to be very athletically fit and was not huffing and puffing for air…unlike myself who was sucking the dirt off the road trying to breathe.img_0019

Why did he stop at the very place where Olive had chosen for safety? How on earth was he able to see through those trees, and into a dank root system, and locate a mostly black dog hiding beneath the tree roots? She wasn’t making a noise…therefore he couldn’t have heard her. She was literally “under” these mangrove roots…and invisible to someone who had just stopped and wasn’t making an effort to look for a dog.img_0015

As I reached the area and entered into the trees, I looked back to thank the gentleman…but he was gone.  I’m not talking up the street…I’m talking “gone”…period.  No site of him anywhere. If he truly was an angel, as I’m unquestionably convinced, his job was done once I located our beloved “fur baby”.  No, job is the wrong word…once his miraculous feat was complete…bringing a bit of peace and faith back to a daughter (Heather) already stressed to her limits…he was gone.  Just like that. img_0011

Once I returned to the effort of rescuing Olive from the root system and mud, I then realized why she had chosen this place as a refuge.  She was utterly terrified by the sound of passing cars.  Not having the leash (Heather had it on the other end of our search area), I tried my best to lead her out using her collar. Fail.  Then my silly worn-out self thought I’d try carrying her. Fail.  So, Olive and I took a seat in someone’s driveway as I made a call back to Mom’s home to leave a message where I was sitting and that we needed a ride.   img_0016

It really doesn’t matter whether readers of this post are skeptics or find the work of angels completely plausible. The manner in which Olive was rescued entails an extraordinary number of conditions operating outside what we might call “normal”.img_0022

Last year, Heather and I installed three wrought iron fence sections (from Lowe’s) where Olive “Houdini” Turner had performed her escape tricks. We also made some much needed “tweaking” of the front gate where the landscapers enter the backyard.  The chain-link fence gates have a “handle” on one side of the gate and a U-shaped lift on the other. The pipe in which the “handle” drops into to secure both sides of the dual gate had been run over way too many times by the landscapers, and rained upon for more years than I would are to fathom.  In addition, a rusted piece of steel (once recognized as a lock) had to be removed.  I located the pipe and then used a paddle-bit in my drill (running in reverse) to force all the packed sand out enough to enable the handle a renewed home. To finish the job correctly, the pipe needs to be pulled out of the ground about 2~3 inches.

Yeah…like you really cared about us fixing a gate after I’ve described a supernatural event. Probably lack of sleep or something.


Difficult Goodbyes

My children flew to Florida this past Sunday for my birthday and to hang out for a few days. Seeing those two standing at my door was simply overwhelming. It’s been over a year since I last saw them and gave them huge bear-hugs as they were coming and going from our home.

Drew (my eldest) had to head back on Wednesday evening in order to take care of a customer. He towers over me even more now (as I continue to shrink). I gave him a hug before he headed off to Tampa International…I don’t think he wanted to let go. I know I didn’t. Heather told me she didn’t realize it was a mutual father-son bond that has been somewhat ill for a few years.  He’s grown in so many ways.

I’m currently sitting in one of the procedure rooms at my surgeon’s office (stomach/digestive system surgery). The staples from my recent surgery are gone (thank you!!). I was forced to say goodbye to Lauren from here. Due to time constraints (and unpredictable clinic schedules), Heather left me here and took Lauren to the airport. I just received a message from Heather that she’s heading back this way. Not the way I wanted to see my daughter off. 

Having those kids (yes…I know they’re adults) made my year by coming to visit. It hurts to see them leave. I love and miss them so much. So much about their lives I’m not aware of…prompting the need for more reliable and meaningful conversations. How do I accomplish this? I’m not sure, yet.

Heather took a picture of Drew, Lauren, and myself as we stood out at the end of the Venice Pier. She says my smile in that picture has been missing for a very long time. She was happy to know it still exists. She made a note to let Drew and Lauren both know and understand just how much seeing them (even if for a short period of time) was affecting my life. I hope they know just how much they mean to me…and how much I want and need them in my life.

I think I’m just going to walk out of here. An appointment at 1:15pm for which I showed up thirty minutes early. It’s now 3:18pm and time to leave. My time is valuable as well. For those curious about the update article concerning the abdominal medical procedures that has me here today (for follow-up)…it’s still forthcoming. Editing posts on a cellphone really isn’t the most convenient method.

So many emotions. So many directions. So many unresolved issues. I’ve conquered so many demons in my life…yet daily I facing down an unrelenting army of them. So many memories and events still to be shared. God willing…I’ll be able to post more soon.

Until next time…