Dogs Love to Play

I turned 54 recently and my dog Jack, 14; that translates to 72 in human years. I am grateful we’ve had the last 14-years to spend together. He has brought an immense amount of joy to my life.

20170729_200806We are both growing older. Jack spends the majority of his time sleeping on the couch, rising and finding a different spot to sleep. We still go for walks but they have become briefer. Instead of inspecting the neighborhood and everything, and I mean everything in it; we cross the street where he does his business and returns home. Gone are the days where he would sit outside with me while I read or completed therapy notes on the laptop. He does remain excited about the “walk around the house” Sunday morning when we retrieve the morning paper.

It is a sad thought that at some point he will no longer greet me at the door with his nub tail wagging but we will all reach that point in our lives. Death is one thing which we will all encounter. What we are unaware of the when.

I have learned so much from Jack. He has been an amazing teacher. Like so many moments which take place every day, there are those pearls of wisdom to be gleaned from the sea of life. Too many of us choose not to take the opportunity to see them as lessons.

Jack has taught me and then reminded me of the importance of “taking it easy” and gratitude for the things which I have

Life has a tendency to slow down as we get older. The things which we once saw as being on the list of “need to do” are often relegated to “maybe.” We begin to review our priorities seeing what is truly important and what no longer matters or matters as much. As a therapist, I feel sad for the individuals I see on a  regular basis both in my practice and simply traveling through life who don’t take the opportunity to slow down and reflect. We use this excuse “I don’t have any time” too much. We’re all busy but are we actually accomplishing anything or are we just busy?

One of the greatest gifts we have received in life is time and since we don’t ever know what our expiration date is, it behooves us to take every day and the see the beauty which it beholds. This morning as I was making coffee and getting ready to leave for work, my wife in the shower and my daughter had left already, I heard my grandson say, “Play with me Popi.” He was sitting at his little table and chair playing with his play-doh. I poured my coffee into a thermos and took a seat next to him playing make-believe with his play-doh. This ranks as high for me as sitting outside the other night watching the Notre Dame game with my son while enjoying a cigar.

Make sure you make time for those things in your life which are truly important. You’ll regret it if you don’t and no one likes regrets. Oh yeah, don’t blame others for the time you feel you don’t have and the time you don’t take for yourself.

 

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Notre Dame Football

I have been waiting for this trip for the past twelve months. It’s Mecca for Stephen and myself. We make the trip to South Bend, Indiana every year to watch the Notre Dame football team go through their paces in an open practice. I think I enjoy walking the campus and seeing its beauty more than I enjoy the practice. Spending time with my son and enjoying the conversations we have is really what I look forward to.

 
We rose at 4:30 AM, showered and drove to Tim Hortons where I ordered an extra large black coffee. I love this time of day and woke easily.The smell of the coffee made me smile with anticipation. I drove to Erie, PA where I left the driving responsibilities to Stephen. This is difficult for me as I do not enjoy being out of control of my surroundings. As I settled into shotgun, I allowed our conversation, the music and my reading material to be my company.
 
We arrived in South Bend only twenty minutes before the start of the practice. We stopped first at the hotel where I found it necessary to change into long pants. I find as I grow older I am also less tolerant of colder temperatures; especially sitting in them. Meanwhile Stephen decided to remain in his shorts. We took the short drive to the campus,parked the car and enjoyed the walk to the stadium where we could hear cheers erupt. The Notre Dame fight song hung in the distance. A smile crossed my face and tears began to well up in my eyes.
 
Since the practice is general admission we had the opportunity to sit anywhere we liked. We decided a seat somewhere in the sun would be the best option as  the cool breeze quickly reminded us that the calendar still read April. The weather this year remained better than last years where we were pounded by incessant rain; a rain which removed the fun from the practice.
 
Once the practice finished we strode across the campus to the Hammes Bookstore, purchased the 2012 “shirt.” Anyone who has any amount of familiarity with Notre Dame and ND Football understands the importance of “the shirt.” We had heard that 20 thousand shirts had already been pre-ordered prior to the unveiling. The campus bookstore is one remarkable model of efficiency. An individual first entering this store and seeing the throngs of people as well as the line which snakes through the shelving would immediately turn around and leave probably mumbling under their breath, “There’s no way I’m going into that store.” The check out line which one would anticipate would take at the very least 60-90 minutes to navigate took less than 10. Success! We headed toward the Basillica and the Grotto where a prayer was said for our safe arrival and safe return. We headed back to the hotel to decided where dinner would be eaten.
 
After dinner at Five Guys we patted our full stomachs and returned to the hotel. I exited the shower to find Stephen snoring on his bed. I sat on the edge of mine and watched him sleep, much as I had when he was a baby. A baby he is no more. I wrote in my journal and thought of our conversation and pondered where the last 20 years had gone. I woke him briefly before my eye lids began to flutter with the weight of sleep closed for the night. We agreed to wake at 5:30 the next morning and take a 6-mile run to the Notre Dame campus. I couldn’t wait to show him the beauty and the solitude of the campus at this time of day. I knew it would remain unspoiled by the noise and busyness of the day..
 
We woke Sunday morning and ran toward the campus stopping briefly to take several photographs. As we entered the campus through the main road pass the cemetery in all of it’s eerie darkness and silence. as we continued down the main road aptly named “Notre Dame Avenue” the golden dome of the administration building came into view. We stopped, the dome lit like the beacon that it is. We walked for a few minutes and pondered the souls lucky enough to attend such a university. Stephen had applied two years earlier and despite his grades and awards had been rejected as a prospect. We continued our run in silence turning down one of the sidewalks which ran in the direction of Notre Dame Stadium. Touch Down Jesus was now in full view; it too lit like the icon it is. Minutes later we had exited the campus; the brilliance of the golden dome fading behind us. Conversation found us and we ran back to the hotel in anticipation of a hardy breakfast and a return to the campus for more photographs.
 
We enjoyed breakfast together. Stephen didn’t know I enjoyed his company and conversation more than I did the meal. We walked the campus a final time enjoying the warm sun as it rose higher into the spring sky. Stephen pointed out several vantage points for photographs of different buildings. He has an amazing eye and he sees more than most people his age. A brief stop for a coffee for the ride home and we were on our way.
 
Stephen confidently drove the entire distance home and as we drove through Cleveland we knew approaching Erie that Buffalo would be our final stop. The sky had changed from sunny to mottled grey to a damp, dark rainy grey. We pulled into the driveway, emptied the car and enjoyed dinner with our family.
 
Another trip was in the books. I was excited to edit the hundreds of photos I had taken and share them with Stephen.