All of our lives are filled with memories – some good, some not so good. Ones that give me an immediate “warm fuzzy” are those involving my pets.
Maybe that’s why most of last weekend’s pretty weather was spent designing the “Memory Garden” in the back yard.
I’ve never known a day that there wasn’t a dog in my life. My mother’s brother gave my folks a puppy, a collie mix, the year they got married. Nell was there by my side from the day I made my grand appearance.
Being an only child, she was my shadow – literally. If Willie B., the lady who kept me during the preschool days, and I walked to town, Nell was there, too. If I had an ice cream cone, Nell and I shared licks. If I had an Oreo cookie, Nell licked the inside and I ate the cookie.
It didn’t matter if I was happy, sad or indifferent; Nell loved me just the same. That loyalty to me by my pet was the basis for many friendships I have shared with other dogs, cats and horses during my lifetime.
When I was living at home, most of the pets were ours because my folks and I took care of them. It wasn’t until I moved to Tupelo that I had pets of my own. Sometimes the responsibilities get to be a lot, especially with horses, but I wouldn’t trade them for the world. Well, it does cross my mind when Poco runs me all over the pasture.
I’ve only lost one of my pets, my first horse, Gus. I had only had him a couple of months when he got sick and we had to put him down. It broke my heart.
Gus was buried in the far corner of our pasture, which isn’t really the place to sit back and think about a special pet, especially if the other horses are out running around.
So came the idea of the Memory Garden. I ordered a small headstone with Gus’ name and his years (1980-1994) and a corner area in the back yard was designated as a place to pull this special place together.
A small Japanese pine and a red maple are planted to the sides of this garden. Next to the maple is Gus’ headstone. My dad gathered up several buckets of large rocks from the farm to outline the front of the garden.
A mixed coloring of begonias are along the front, and some of the prettiest ones are around Gus’ marker.
It took a while to get the garden looking just right, especially as the begonias were being planted. A family of fire ants bedded down under a part of the black tarp gave a fight for their homestead but lost. Fire ants fall in the same category as snakes to me – neither give me a warm fuzzy.
With all the planting and several loads of mulch neatly spread around, it was getting there. Of course, as I was on my hands and knees trying to get everything finished, Princess, the golden retriever, decided that the garden was a great place to frolic.
Upon completion of the garden, Princess immediately dashed into the middle of it, knowing full well she wasn’t supposed to be there. After a couple of more dashes, the sprinkler was turned onto the garden to water our freshly planted trees and flowers. Princess then decided this was not the place to be.
One more item will be added to the garden – a small wooden bench at one corner so we can just sit back and enjoy the beauty and at the same time have warm memories of special times with the pets, past and present.
If you’re a true pet lover like me, you never really lose a pet. The Memory Garden was designed for Gus and to keep him alive in my heart.
Princess, Annie, B.C., Windsor and Poco give me warm fuzzies today so that all my tomorrows will be filled with precious memories.
Charlotte Wolfe is managing editor of the Daily Journal.