The Romance Reviews

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Letting Go on Memory Lane

I was wandering down Memory Lane this afternoon. Maybe it’s because it’s almost the end of the year. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older (but still never going to admit to being a grown up, because that is a trap, plain and simple), or maybe it’s just because sometimes the past calls and beckons like a Siren on a rocky shoal. Then, again, maybe, the reason I took a leisurely stroll down Memory Lane was because of the WIP.

I found myself thinking about dogs that I’ve long since sent to the Rainbow Bridge, most with the last, tearful reminder that I will never forget them. I may forget the registered names, but I will never forget their call names. All of those dogs took a piece of my heart with them when they left—some just took a larger piece.

One I sent to the Bridge with the admonition not to wait for me, because his breeders had already gone before him. I told Boots not to wait on me, but to go find Fran and Herschel. As usual, Boots did things his way. I believe he found a way to come back to me. There are times that Vander scares me with just how much like Boots he acts.

And, I started to think about Lena the First.
Lena the First
(I had two beautiful tri bitches that I named Lena, both from Mary Murphy of Lil Murph Collies.) Lena the First was my reserve queen. If reserve points counted toward a championship, she would have been finished five times over. Lena was my first, real show dog. However, I didn’t own her. She owned me and it was my honor to be the human for that regal, arrogant animal. Lena liked people, but she never went over-board with displays of affection, as benefitted one of her stature. There was one, though that she loved beyond all reasoning, and it wasn’t me. I never doubted for a moment that she loved me. But, the person she loved the most was the young man I was supposed to marry. Whenever he came to the house, she turned into a black puddle of oozing, overwhelming fawning.

To this day, I think she blamed me when he was no longer a part of our lives. To a certain extent, she was right. When she went to the Rainbow Bridge, she truly took most of my heart with her. She was my friend, my companion, and some swore, my familiar. Meeting her eyes was looking into the eyes of a soul very old, very wise, and very, very self-assured. When she died, it took me years to even contemplate having another tri rough bitch at my house. And then, one night, after the annual Illiana Collie Fanciers show, I was at Mary Murphy’s house and she wanted me to look at her puppies. She had three separate litters. I looked at her puppies, and they were all beautiful. I stopped at the kennel run with the last litter in it.

There was a little tri rough bitch sitting in the corner. She wasn’t scared. She wasn’t intimidated by her litter mates. She just didn’t want to be climbed on and pushed around by them as they clamored for my attention. After a moment, she got up and walked through the mob of her litter mates and they parted for her as if they were giving way to royalty. Collie puppies are the happiest, friendliest puppies on the planet. Their tails never stop wagging.
Lena the Second

This little bitch climbed up on the fencing and looked me dead in the eye. Her tail was not wagging and she held herself with such dignity and arrogance that it took my breath away. The look on her face demanded that I pick her up, which I did. I looked into those eyes and started to cry. I knew that soul looking at me. I knew her from years before. The look I received as much as said, “Did you really think I wouldn’t find a way back to you?”

I carried her over to Mary and asked what she wanted for the puppy I held. Mary asked me why I wanted a pet puppy. I said I wanted her and what did she want so I could take her home. Mary told me her price, I said, “Done,” went and got my check book and wrote the check before Mary changed her mind. Almost an hour later, Mary realized I hadn’t been holding the pet puppy from the litter, but her pick of all three litters. I told her that was too bad, she gave me a price, I had written the check, she was mine. We came to an agreement on a co-ownership for that little tri bitch, and Lena the Second went home with me. She was registered as Lil Murph’s Grand Larceny and she became a champion before she was two years old.

And what do my collies who’ve gone to the Bridge have to do with the WIP? When I first conceived the idea behind Steel Hearts I knew that the hero had to be someone with a strong, protective background, someone unafraid to look death in the eye. So, naturally, the hero became a Navy SEAL (and, no matter how much the Marine Corps like to brag they’re the toughest, and as much as I respect those “jarheads” who are always first in and last out—they ain’t got nothing on the SEALs—sorry, gentlemen), and after he resigned his commission (because not only was he a SEAL, he was a graduate of USNA), he became a Federal Marshal working in the Federal Witness Security Program (commonly referred to as the Witness Protection Program).
Ariel view USNA 

I needed to talk to that young man Lena the First oozed all over because my recollections of his time at USNA were rather fuzzy. Over the years, in spite of a period of almost five years that we didn’t speak at all, we reconnected many years ago and have remained friends ever since. At least once a year, we talk on the phone. We converse via Facebook. But, for this, I needed a long conversation. Our conversation veered into other things—family, kids, grandkids, recollections of the time we dated. (And, in case that gentleman in question reads this blog, no, I do not own a bikini any more. I haven’t worn one in public in better than thirty years.)

I made the comment on Facebook while writing the WIP (which I guess isn’t accurate now that it’s a complete rough draft) that parts of this novel were cathartic. I won’t say what parts are cathartic. I won’t even verify which parts are if asked. But, by writing Steel Hearts, I finally let go of a lot of things. It’s a strange feeling.

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