Family Tragedy Becomes a Fun Family Tradition

My father retired from the Army in 1987, so my family moved from Germany to Alabama.  We bought a house in East Limestone and after living there only one week the house caught on fire.  It also happened to be on Halloween.

The roof collapsed and the house sustained major water damage in several areas.  We spent the next three months in a rental home, while our house was being rebuilt.

Every Halloween, we would talk about the fire of ’87.  We would reminisce about the amount of damage done by the fire, about how lucky we were that nobody was hurt, and about how so many people helped us during our time of need.

Over the years, the emotional sting diminished and we started to do fun things to commemorate the day.  Sometimes, we go out to eat at Firehouse Subs or Smokey’s BBQ.  Sometimes, we roast marshmallows.

That’s how a family tragedy became a fun family tradition.

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Lazy Puppy Syndrome

Ben was only six months old, but he would collapse during a walk.  He had to be carried home.  Our much older dogs were able to complete the walk, so I assumed something was wrong with my poor little puppy.

I took Ben to the local veterinarian, but they could not determine what was going on with him.  The doctor thought it could be a genetic heart condition.

Ben was sent to the animal cardiologist in Birmingham, Alabama.  We were sitting in the waiting room and Ben fell asleep.  When our named was called, I had a hard time getting Ben to stand up, so I started to slide him across the floor.  Eventually, Ben stood up and walked into the examining room.

The doctor wanted to do an ultrasound of Ben’s heart.  Several workers came in to help get Ben ready for the test.  Even though Ben was only six months old, he was already close to 70 pounds and picking him up was a chore.

The workers picked up Ben, flipped him upside-down, and put him into a v-shaped brace.  Then they put the jelly stuff on his chest and started the ultrasound.  I expected a puppy to resist or at least have something to say about all this.  However, Ben just stretched out and went to sleep.

After all the test were completed and the doctor reviewed the results she told me, “Ben is a very sweet and handsome boy, but he appears to suffer from LPS (Lazy Puppy Syndrome).  There is nothing wrong with Ben, but he is the laziest dog I have ever seen.”

Today is Ben’s 4th birthday, so I thought it would be appropriate to share pictures of Ben participating in his favorite activity.

Let Me Die a Youngman’s Death by Roger McGough

Let me die a youngman’s death

not a clean and inbetween

the sheets holywater death

not a famous-last-words

peaceful out of breath death

When I’m 73

and in constant good tumour

may I be mown down at dawn

by a bright red sports car

on my way home

from an allnight party

Or when I’m 91

with silver hair

and sitting in a barber’s chair

may rival gangsters

with hamfisted tommyguns burst in

and give me a short back and insides

Or when I’m 104

and banned from the Cavern

may my mistress

catching me in bed with her daughter

and fearing for her son

cut me up into little pieces

and throw away every piece but one

Let me die a youngman’s death

not a free from sin tiptoe in

candle wax and waning death

not a curtains drawn by angels borne

‘what a nice way to go’ death 

Roger McGough

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