She knew me better than a lot of humans did. She shared the love of her life with me. I took her spot in the car, and her side of the bed, and she still loved me. She comforted me when I was sad, protected me when I was alone, and happily greeted me when I came home. Smarter than a lot of people I know, and a fantastic problem solver, I wish she could have just spoken and shared her wisdom. Courageous, loyal, adventurous, loving.
She could remember where tennis balls were hidden long after we had forgotten. She jumped off cliffs at rivers and lakes that I myself would not have dared. A fellow mother, she had 7 babies on her own, with no one there to help her. Five she never saw grow up, but one became her best friend and the other an occasional visitor at family gatherings.
By the time our children entered the picture, she was in her elder years. She took a backseat, and watched while her playtime, space, and attention was taken up by two little boys. While she did get annoyed at this, I have no doubt that she would not have let a hair on their heads be harmed should they need protecting.
In her prime, she was quite an athlete. She could chase animals down, jump higher than I stand tall, and had an entertaining assortment of stunts. She was proof that the old adage “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is simply untrue. She didn’t learn to shake or speak until she was considered middle-aged.
She went to college, a minor league baseball game, intramural softball games, the drive-thru, spring break in Panama City Beach, canoe and camping trips, Busch Stadium, boating. She’s been sprayed by skunks, and hunted opossums, rabbits and squirrels (although the squirrel was the ever-elusive prey that got away). She was the most deadly mole hunter I ever saw. Moles were terrified to even put a toe in our yard after she hunted every one of them down and disposed of them. She loved to play in (and eat) the snow. There was one cat she loved: Dommy. She grew up with her and had many adventures with her, most of which consisted of her chewing on Dommy’s head.
She loved June-bugs, ice, and chocolate. Oh how she loved chocolate. She had her share of brownies, chocolate covered peanuts, cookies, and still managed to survive. She could sniff it out anywhere.
BALL! That’s all you had to say and you had her undivided attention. She would play until her sides were heaving, and her paws were bleeding. I think the only thing she loved more than that tennis ball was the person throwing it.
Her rescuer, provider, father, companion, master. She loved him above all. She loved me too, but no one ever compared to him. She waited for him to come home when he was gone, always found his clothes to lie on, and waited on the final word from him before obeying a command.
She showed up on his doorstep, alone, cut and bleeding, covered in motor oil. He took her in, cleaned her up, and gave her a home. He saved her. Someone had just hurt her and cast her aside, but he saved her. It was their loss, because what a treasure she turned out to be.
As much as it hurts to let her go, I can’t help but see the gift that she was. I think about what Stefan did for her and I see what Christ has done for us. He takes us in, cleans us up, provides a home, and gives us the most fulfilling and promising life we can imagine. If not for him, we would be alone, dirty, bleeding and starving. But, while what Stefan gave to Gretchen was beautiful, it is only a shadow of what God has given to us.
Although my heart is hurting, and I won’t stop crying for days, I will thank God for the joy that she was. I will rejoice in the gifts he has given me. I thank Him for the companionship of a loving, loyal friend, and praise him for his love for us.
Written 3/13/2013 when we lost our Gretchen.