As I was sitting with my now college age nephew at IHOP, both of us eating breakfast for lunch because that is our tradition, I was thinking how special this was, how not many college kids would take time out of their busy social calendars to have lunch with their aunt. But then he is a special kid and this is nothing new. I would usually order my pancakes with hash browns so he can have them. It's a tradition. We have been cultivating traditions since he was a baby. I used to carry him around in my arms with him facing forward in what we termed "lap of luxury". Both of us were sad the day he outgrew that. His older brother and I have our own special time, but for the youngest and me it was always eating out. It is our time to catch up and share memories. In this case, we both were trying to remember the last time we were in this particular IHOP. We both thought it was after an awards night, but it could have been the morning before the fantasy football league draft day, of which we are both captains. Either way, both were good memories. We got caught up on his last year at school, classes he'll be taking in the fall. I gave him some advice on Econ, my major. Not that he really needs the advice but he took it anyway. We talked about politics, even though we are on different ends of the political spectrum we can have a very civil and intelligent debate. At the end of breakfast, as he drove away in his own car (when did move from being carried around in "lap of luxury" to driving his own car?), I thought how lucky I am to have such a wonderful nephew, such a nice, sweet, intelligent young man as my nephew. And I thought this with a tear or two in my eyes.
Marlowe arrived the weekend after my nephew went away to college. I knew my sister was going to be dealing with the empty nest syndrome now that both of her boys were away at college. I was so busy helping her and my nephew that I was not prepared for the sudden and overwhelming feeling of loneliness that I felt after saying goodbye to my nephew at his dorm and looking back at him in the mirror as I pulled away from the curb as I drove away. This was it. He really was at college. This was real. I had already signed the adoption papers for Marlowe, but had put off the actual bringing him home until we got my nephew settled into his dorm. I would be carrying some of my nephew's dorm stuff in my car, and with the long travel hours I didn't think it would be fair to Marlowe. Plus I had already planned a trip to Seattle following my nephew's move-in day. A lot going on. I wanted to be home and my home to be quiet for Marlowe's homecoming. I even took time off from work to be home with him.
I was able to get more of Marlowe's past history when the rescue/foster mom dropped him off. Marlowe had been rescued as a pup because he was thrown out of a car. His hip and legs have been checked. They are normal. He has been either returned to or reclaimed by the rescue agency on several occasions. Once because the owners couldn't take care of a puppy with their other dogs, once the owner did not pass the follow-up safety check, once Marlowe was herding a family of little kids and the mother objected. The ideal placement for Marlowe was a one person household with some who likes to hike, travel, and can provide plenty of affection. Well, I seem to fit the bill, she said. And I do. It has been a rewarding experience. I enjoy having someone to greet me when I come home. While there are times that I grumble about getting out of bed in the morning, I do like going for early morning walks when the air is crisp and cool. We go on hikes, like yesterday's picture of the trail in the Santa Rosa Mountains. We have gone so many places together.
He is sleeping now, nestled amongst his toys. His favorite is a chew toy he got from his nephew. It's ragged and beat-up, the stuffing taken out. But it still has the college school colors. In fact, Marlowe is using it as a pillow right now.
We can learn so many lessons from our dogs. Trust, living in the now, playfulness, each day I learn something new from Marlowe. And I when see the bond between my nephew's college toy and Marlowe I am reminded again how lucky I am, and I am not alone.