Bear with me here. I have a bit of a shaggy dog story to tell. But I have a bit of a shaggy dog — one whose designated birthday is today.
My UPS Angel
I’ve ranted against UPS and their canine insulin delivery before, and I don’t have much nice to say about UPS now either, since they are trying to charge me $147 for a delivery I already paid $88 for and which was 8 days late. (I should mention that the insulin was, once again, sent to me from Canada by the ever-generous Karen Friesecke of DoggieStylish.com.)
But there was a woman working for UPS named Patty who had my back. She called me every day to tell me about the status of the insulin. She assured me it was safe in a refrigerator in Louisville, although she could do nothing to hasten its egress from said refrigerator. She gave me various names and phone numbers of people to call at the FDA, the agency that was holding up the insulin.
I sent her a picture of Frankie (hey, all’s fair in love and procuring medicine). I’ll bet it’s on the wall in the UPS office in Louisville.
In one of our conversations — which preceded my sending her the picture of Frankie — Patty told me that she was an animal lover and that she had a German shepherd and a cat. She’d never liked cats, she said, and neither had her mother, but when her mother died, a cat showed up on Patty’s doorstep and refused to leave. Patty admitted, somewhat sheepishly, that she believes her mother’s spirit is in the cat.
She’s not the first person who has told me a story of a loved, departed relative returning as a pet.
What I have said in the past about my mother and Frankie
In the section of Am I Boring My Dog about the Rainbow Bridge, I wrote:
According to the story, every cherished pet that dies goes to live in a verdant meadow below the bridge, restored to youth and health, eating delicious food, and cavorting happily with other pets. The only thing missing from the picture is the beloved human companion: you. When you arrive, there is great celebration and then you cross over together to the other side.
I confess that I cry like a baby whenever I read this story. It’s only after I blow my nose that I start nitpicking the details–as I do with all strict delineations of the hereafter.
Meadows are all well and good, I think, but shouldn’t spilled garbage, a dog favorite through the ages, be involved, too? And pigs’ ears? If so, would pet pigs get a separate area to wait for their ascent to hog heaven, one where dogs won’t covet their hearing organs? And, as I mentioned in this book’s introduction, my mother feared all creatures great and small. Did she shed her animal anxieties when she left her body–or will I be forced to choose between hanging out with her or Frankie? (Don’t ask.)
As this might suggest, I’m not a big fan of the woo woo. The idea of my mother, who died more than 20 years ago (on July 2, 1991), being reincarnated as Frankie, who was born some 13 years ago, never occurred to me.
So why are you going there now?
I’ve been researching my mother’s family for my soon-to-be-launched new blog, Freud’s Butcher (please like it on Facebook), which has made me think about issues of mortality. And I designated Frankie’s birthday as the 4th of July because he’s my Frankie Doodle dandy.
He will be (theoretically) 13 tomorrow and I was going to give him a Bark Mitzvah, a ceremony for Jewish males when they are 13. (If you don’t think Frankie is Jewish, I would like you to recall that he is very circumcised). That didn’t work out but it added religion and Frankie to my preoccupation with mortality and my mother.
And then there was the woman at UPS who thought that her mother came back as a cat, even though her mother had never liked cats.
What my mother and Frankie have in common
- Skittishness. My mother was rather nervous and somewhat antisocial.
- Lack of forthrightness about the past. Frankie never talked about his past. Neither did my mother. I know my mother’s involved trauma; I’d bet Frankie’s did too.
- Shortness. Relative to the rest of their species, of course, not relative to each other.
- Dislike of the medical profession. My mother liked going to the doctor about as much as Frankie likes going to the vet.
- Conditional unconditional love for me. I have often mentioned that Frankie’s unconditional love is not constant. He loves me dearly — but on his own terms. My mother’s love was like that. She was critical of me and disapproving of many things that I did, but I never doubted her devotion.
- July 4 as a significant date. My mother was buried on July 4. It’s the date I chose for Frankie’s birthday.
Me neither. But it’s fun to speculate. And think about the karmic possibilities. I never had to take care of my mother in her old age, but I’m at the beck and call of my geriatric, diabetic dog.
So spill it. Do you think any of your relatives — or relatives of people you know — have returned as pets?
One more thing…
In case you’re wondering what I am doing about Frankie’s birthday: I am giving him the gift of not dressing him up in annoying red-white-and-blue streamers and cocktail napkin, as I did in the past so I could take the (admittedly worth it — at least to me) picture that you see here. And of course I am staying home with him so he won’t be alone and freaked out by the firecrackers and fireworks.
Oh yeah, and I am not subjecting him to a Bark Mitzvah.