A couple of weeks ago I received a wonderful letter from one of our very own - Bernice Compton. Having just turned ninety-three, she was raised in Cimarron County, near the Beaver River, and she wanted me to “keep my boots on” when traversing land where rattlesnakes roam (or should I say “sidle“). She related her own encounter with the native reptile, and shared some facts with me about the rattlesnake. It doesn't lay eggs, but births baby rattlers, and it goes through “blind days” when it sheds its skin. As the skin works its way off, it covers the snake's eyes and that is the time when it will strike at anything - or anyone!
Bernice's handwritten letter was also filled with encouragement and kind words, as well as a mention of Roscoe, her canine granddaughter, and Tommy, her milk-spilling cat. It was a very good letter! After I finished reading it, I sat there a minute, thinking how rare it is to receive a “real” letter these days - blue ink on white, lined stationary. With pen and paper, we can't edit our thoughts like we do when we zip an email to someone. Writing a letter is a deliberate action and in itself denotes careful thought, which adds to its meaningfulness. Thank you, Bernice! Not only for the words, but also for taking time to let me hear them!
Several weeks ago I told you all about meeting Kiotee, the newest member of my pack - the old dog with the soulful brown eyes. Well, this guy has gone from pitiful to plenteous, from skinny to svelte, from weary to wide-awake in that same period of time. And I must give Rusty Murdock, our vet, credit for much of Kiotee's transformation. Rusty performed a surgery that repaired a hernia which was making dear Kiotee's life pretty miserable. And with the success of the procedure, Rusty also gave Kiotee a new lease on life. This is one joyful, elderly canine now! He cavorts with Sweet Pea, he playfully nudges BlackJackTheCat, and he has even stood up to Shiloh on occasion. And all the while he has chomped, chomped, chomped his way through several bags of dog food! Each day Kiotee is getting stronger, and his demeanor is no longer downtrodden, but delightful! Our relationship is much like a human one I recently encountered. I met a stranger, but from the first exchange of words, it felt like we had known each other all our lives. It is that same instant connection I feel with Kiotee - and I'm now very glad that one rainy day Amy called me and said, “Aunt Shelley, you've got to come and see this dog!”
Mom and I went to the cemetery last Sunday to “visit” family and friends. As we wound our way along the road, we encountered a new headstone - or should I say, a sequaro cactus, standing tall and proud. This three-armed cactus is made of black granite, and it is so appropriate for the man it represents - Gunther Brandt. We had to smile, and I have a feeling Gunther would have smiled, too.
From the old monolithic stones in Kenton's cemetery to this new and shiny sequaro cactus, headstones are more than merely markers with names and dates. They are also reminders. Reminders of people we barely knew, and people we knew so well. Old families that settled this country in the 1800's, babies that lived on earth but for a moment, and dear family and friends who touched our hearts and lives, even as they walked beside us and blessed us with their love.
Yes, I do believe dear Gunther would have smiled!
Boise City News