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This Wonderful Life

January 8, 2009

This Wonderful Life

The lesson of loss The weekend after Christmas, we were visiting my brother and sisterin- law in their suburban Boston home. Posey and Bee had made the trip with us, but our grown-up son Xerxes stayed home so he could hang out with friends who were home from college, as well as watch after the house and the pets.



Saturday night, we had just finished supper when he called. Our Sheltie Sassy had gotten out, and he couldn’t find her. Now, it has happened before that the drafty front door of our mid-1800s house has blown open, and our dogs have taken themselves on a little walk. But they’re confirmed homebodies, so I fully expected her to show up on the doorstep any minute.



An hour later, he called again. A neighbor found Sassy. She had been hit by a car. She was gone.



Pets add so much to the life of a family. When I was growing up, we always had pets. My very earliest memories are of crawling across the kitchen floor with our marmalade tabby cat, inspecting the world from our shared vantage point.



We always had at least one dog and a couple cats to care for. As a parent, I’ve always thought it was important for my children to have pets.



Pets teach responsibility in a way that nothing else can, with the possible exception of children. They need you. They depend on you. They don’t eat if you don’t feed them. (Unless they can find their way into a tasty trash bag, that is.) And to be honest, pets can be a pain. They wake you up early with requests for food or walks or trips outdoors. They bark at menacing things such as chipmunks, passing cyclists and falling leaves and snow.

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This Wonderful Life
  • This Wonderful Life: I can say No, but I prefer Yes If popular culture is any indication, it seems women suffer from an epidemic inability to refuse additional responsibilities. Magazines, self-help books and therapists nationwide offer heaps of advice on how to assert oneself, draw boundaries and generally say No when asked to sign on for those things for which we have little time and less interest.

    November 25, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: I wish someone had told me Disclaimer: Because my son more or less demanded that I stop using him and his life as material for my column back when he was 12 or 13, I want to make it perfectly clear to all my readers (and any legal professionals who are now retained or may be retained at some future time by aforementioned son) that this column is not about him. It’s about me. The fact that he happened to turn 21 on Saturday is mere coincidence. So help me God.

    November 19, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: A view through bare branches Every morning, Bee and I stand at the end of the driveway waiting for her bus and we look up into the branches of the elm tree that arches over the drive.

    November 5, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: To Posey on her fourth So here we are, on the other side of 3-years-old, and it seems we both survived it intact. It wasn’t easy, but perhaps it made us both stronger.

    October 30, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: A Posey by any other name... A few weeks ago, Posey gave us all new names. Or, to be more accurate, Posey gave us all one new name. Rose.

    October 8, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: Are pork chops really that good? If it seems unlikely for a vegetarian (that would be me) to own a couple of table- bound pigs, it probably seems downright absurd that their names should be Tender and Delicious.

    October 2, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: I sssssseeeeeee you there The first thing you should know is that I used to suffer from a snake phobia. The operative word there is phobia. It wasn’t just a matter of disliking snakes. It wasn’t a fear of being bitten. It wasn’t a simple reluctance to touch their impossibly dry, nimble bodies.

    September 24, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: What’s so funny? My kids, I hope In my experience as a three-time parent, there is something absolutely, spiritually magical about the first time your child cracks a joke.

    September 17, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: Who are these little girls? There are two children in my house who bear a striking resemblance to my daughters. They are adorable, smart and energetic.

    September 10, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: A harvest that’s good for the soul Signs of harvest are all around. The afternoon sun glows amber over the fields and the farm stands are filled to overflowing with vegetables and fruit. We’re lucky to live in a place where we can have such an immediate connection to the food we eat.

    September 3, 2009