Friday, July 6, 2012

Brothers, Balloons and Dogs

My brother is the best guy in the world. And the most fun. And the most imaginative. Whenever he's around, it's a the best way.

He's a dog-lover, and can never resist adopting strays that wander up to his house. He always has 4-5 dogs at a time. But they are the best-behaved of any animals you've ever seen.

Mick has a square patio that is flush with his lawn. When it's time for the pups to eat, he gives them the word and at once, each dog retreats to their assigned spot along the perimeter of the patio. Mick places their bowls before them, and then fills them in a specific order. No one twitches - whether their bowl has been filled or not. Then, at his command, they all dig in. Amazing.


Where I live, we have a big opening day event for our little girls' softball leagues. The girls dress up in their uniforms and are presented by teams to a huge crowd of fans. There are short speeches and a honorary first pitch thrown out by someone special in the community.

All the little girls -- perhaps two hundred of them -- are holding balloons. They wait patiently, which is hard for girls of these assorted young ages. When the official business is finished, someone gives a sign and each of the girls lets go of her balloon. Two hundred red balloons float lazily into the expansive blue sky. Every head turns upward watching their journey, watching them recede from sight.

One year, my young niece, Billie, asked her dad, "Where do all those balloons go?"

Without missing a single beat, my brother answered, "They go straight up to pet heaven and all the little doggies get to play with them."

Well. We fell in love with the idea. What a wonderful thought. What a perfect image. From that day on, a new tradition started in our family. Whenever a family pet dies, we bury our loved one and then gather solemnly 'round the grave. Each family member holds a balloon. We go around the circle and let each person tell something they remember about the pet, and then watch as he lets his balloon go.

It's a tender little ceremony that has sad moments and funny moments, wistful moments and bittersweet moments. Above all, it provides a welcome sense of closure for the children and the adults.

I just thought I'd share. My brother is the best. *smile*

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