By Anne McKee / guest columnist
The Meridian Star
Yes, today is Momma’s birthday. I would like to dedicate this story to Helena Narlee Harrison Brooks and the amazing love she had for her favorite puppy, Lady Bird, and, also for all of the mommas and their puppies who will meet or have met once again at the Pearly Gates in the sweet-bye-and-bye.
Momma and Lady Bird
Lady Bird was our family’s version of Man’s Best Friend and indeed she was. We are not positive of her age. We were privileged to have her as a family member for 10 years.
You see, some insensitive person had thrown her out and she made her way to our back gate one rainy morning. From her debilitating condition, we thought a car had hit her. She could not stand and could only lie on her side and look at us pleadingly.
We noticed, too, her big fluffy tail ever so gently swayed back and forth, indicating a sweet puppy with friendly intentions even though by her look she seemed a little intimidating — a large dog with shaggy dark brown fur and black markings.
We began to determine her condition and with great care as we were not sure of the intenseness of her pain.We didn't want to receive any snarls or bites. But her spirit remained quiet and serene as her warm brown eyes conveyed immediate attachment to our family. And as we continued to appraise her condition, it became apparent she was suffering from tick fever.
My husband, assisted by my very concerned Momma, bathed her in a warm sudsy bath. They were able to rid her of the ticks. She became a happy puppy. Although I have described her as a puppy, she was obviously a young adult dog. She gleamed and glowed with happiness, as she became a dear part of our family.
After she had been with us for about a month, we noticed how she quickly she regained her weight loss, plus additional pounds. Momma said, “That dog is going to have puppies.”
My husband and I said, “Oh no, she’s just getting fat.”
You guessed it! She presented us with 11 beautiful and fuzzy puppies! We ran an ad in The Meridian Star and gave all of the pups away in one day! Momma actually interviewed each prospective family, just to make certain each pup received a good home. In our backyard we built Lady Bird a nice kennel with new doghouse. Momma positively doted on this dog!
At first my husband wanted to name her Lady. But I said, “There are thousands of dogs named Lady, and our puppy is so wonderful and special, I think she should be Lady Bird." I was thinking of Mrs. Lady Bird Johnson, former First Lady. So, Lady Bird it was and life began with this wonderful friend, who had arrived at our back gate one rainy morning.
Years went by and our Lady Bird continued to be a vital part of our family. I know on the day Momma fell, and her leg was seriously broken, Lady Bird felt her friend (and grandmother) was in pain. The pup’s expressive eyes looked with love as Momma was taken away in an ambulance.
Even as Momma convalesced from surgery in the rehabilitation center, her conversation was always inclusive of Lady Bird. “How is my puppy?” Momma would ask over and over. And when I gave her the good news that Lady Bird was coming for a visit, a brilliant smile consumed Momma’s entire being. She talked and talked to her friends about Lady Bird and the upcoming visit later that week. The entire facility was anxious to meet this lovable pet.
A few days later our entire family, including Lady Bird, made our visit. We met on the lovely front porch of the building, where the ceiling fans gently encouraged a nice breeze in time with the rocking of the big wooden rocking chairs. Momma called, and Lady Bird immediately went to her side and laid her large brown shaggy head on Momma’s knee, then she made a comfortable place on the cool concrete floor next to her wheelchair. As Lady Bird continued to gently wave her big fluffy tail, the residents gathered around my very proud Momma to exclaim the beauty of our family pet.
One lady said, “She is the prettiest dog that I ever did see!” Of course we knew her beauty was real, an inter-beauty of sweetness, love and dedication for our family.
I would count this day as one of the happiest of Momma’s entire life, even though she sat in a wheelchair recouping from serious surgery that resulted from the severely broken leg. Momma’s Lady Bird was once again by her side.
Several months later Lady Bird once again witnessed a sad family as we gathered to bury Momma, who never completely recovered from her fall. I can testify to actually feeling Lady Bird’s love for our entire family as we dealt with the loss of a dear, loved one.
This morning, once again, our family gathered to bury a love one, our Lady Bird. Through my memories, I can still see her large brown eyes that were always gentle with love for my family, especially Momma, and her tail waving ever so slightly showing how important we were to her world — how important my entire family was to her, our good friend, Lady Bird.
I know by my faith that this morning Momma stood just inside the Pearly Gates waiting for her puppy, her Lady Bird, and there was a glorious homecoming as the gates swung open and Momma welcomed her good and faithful friend home – finally home, her Lady Bird.
Anne B. McKee is a writer and storyteller. Visit her website at www.annemckee.net.