Loving An Old Dog
It’s 4am, and I’m on the laundry room floor loving an old dog. It’s very different from loving a young dog, which—if I remember correctly from all those years ago—was a whole lot simpler, full of laughter and floppy cuddles, sparked by silliness and spunk and personality.
Loving an old dog is more complicated, and it comes with all the feels.
Loving an old dog like this wrinkly, wobbly gal means…
🤍 Wondering if in the process of forgetting where the steps are or how to find her water bowl or which way is the door, if she has forgotten you too.
🤍 Crying tears of thankfulness that she’s still here…and crying tears of dread for when she’s not.
🤍 Praying that when she passes, it’ll be painless, peaceful, in her sleep, curled up on a soft bed.
🤍 Hoping that you get a chance to say goodbye, even though you know that you’ll never be ready for it.
🤍 Mixing special food and inventing crazy concoctions, anything at all that might entice her to eat.
🤍 Making cushy beds in safe places, cozy and comfy, low enough that she can still climb in them, high enough to cradle her old bones.
🤍 Changing diapers and cleaning up accidents, trying your best to keep her clean, dry, and comfortable.
🤍 Worrying you’re not doing enough to retain her dignity or to honor all she’s given you.
🤍 Missing the companion she once was, back when time and inertia had yet to take their toll.
🤍 Respecting the sweet dog she’s grown into—kind and good hearted despite the frailty and discomfort of advanced age.
🤍 Wondering if you were grateful enough, present enough, or patient enough back then.
🤍 Wondering if you are grateful enough, present enough, or patient enough right now.
🤍 Seeing her struggles and feeling guilty for wanting her to stay a little longer.
🤍 Wishing you could turn back time and have her all over again from the very beginning.
14 years ago, it really didn’t occur to me that loving a young dog meant slowly letting go of an old dog. But it doesn’t matter, because I wouldn’t change a thing anyway. From young to old and every minute in between, she has been more than I anticipated and certainly more than I deserve. And one day, when she is no longer with me, I will want this exact moment back.
But, thankfully, today is not that day. She is still here, and I still have another chance to love her in real time. So, I’ll change another diaper, and after I do, I’ll sit on the floor beside her bed, and I’ll rub her back while she falls asleep. I’ll reflect for the millionth time on how God knew what He was doing when He made dogs, and I’ll thank Him for this exact one—the cute young pup turned beautiful old gal who continues to bring me so much joy.
If you’re lucky enough to still be caring for an old dog, I’m happy for you, and I’m sad for you, too. And I know that you, like me, wouldn’t trade the love—or the letting go—for anything.
Sleep tight, sweet Mabel baby.
I’m so glad you’re here. ❤️
It wasn't a 5K. It was a 5Year.
April 2017 /// How beautiful is my Mommy? She makes everything fun.
In the spring of 2017, I had all these great intentions of running races, and I started working toward that. I even had this one beautiful day, this one beautiful race. My mom and I signed up for a 5K hosted by the Methodist church in Rainelle. We didn’t have any chance of setting records, and we didn’t care in the least. We took our sweet time, laughed and took selfies, waved at cars passing by. Right behind us was the ambulance—and the EMTs happy honked and hung out the windows cheering us on. We were the last ones to finish, but we didn’t mind because it was a beautiful day and we looked so cute in our running clothes, which we reminded ourselves several times.
The shirts were all given out by the time we crossed the line, so the race director said he’d order more and mail ours. Mom and I took a few more selfies, patted ourselves on the back for a race well done, and headed home. It was the beginning of the end of something that should’ve been really incredible.
Fast forward a couple weeks, to the darkest time in my life, when everything changed forever and I didn’t even get to say goodbye. I was at my parents, and kind people were constantly stopping by with food and paper products and hugs and tears. I answered a knock, and there was the sweet race director, holding our tshirts, saying he happened to live nearby and it was just easier to drop them off. I froze, barely able to string words together. It was like someone from another universe stumbled into this one, speaking a different language, one I could no longer understand. If you’ve experienced profound loss, maybe you understand that there’s your old life, and there’s your new life. There’s who you used to be and who you are forced to become. Standing there, in that moment, as the person I was forced to become, it felt surreal to be handed tshirts from a beautiful day in a life I no longer recognized as my own.
So fast forward five years. And by fast forward, I mean slow crawl, one step forward three steps back, barely putting one foot in front of the other. Life has been hard, and sometimes navigating grief has felt like a struggle to survive with absolutely no expectation of thriving. But today, five years later, I got a little glimpse of thriving when I crossed the finish line of another 5K. I know it was just 3.1 miles, and my time was far from the top of the score sheet, but every single stride was hard earned. Finishing this race felt a little like hope, like reclaiming my soul, like personal pride for forward motion despite a long tunnel of sadness.
I don’t know where you are in your race for healing. But don’t let anyone — especially those who haven’t had to run it — rush you along. Your pace is your own, and you will cross that finish line. Don’t get me wrong, I am not cured of my grief. I will miss Josh every moment of every day for the rest of my life. Even just now, typing his name took my breath away. I will never, ever, ever be who I once was, and in the absence of such an important person, I wouldn’t want to be. But I can choose who I will become, and for today, I choose to be someone who does the hard things, finishes what she starts, and gives hope a chance. Today wasn't just a 5K...it was a 5Year, and regardless of my snail's pace and all the amazing people who finished before me, I won simply because I kept going.
Maryanne Tuck Grimmett
March 2022 /// Go me.
This is for the ones who are more excited about taking the tree down than they were about putting it up. It’s for the ones who dreaded the carols and holly jolly gatherings. It’s for the ones who were counting down to December 26. It’s for the ones trying to tamp down the tears and smile through the hurt.
Congratulations on making it through Christmas.
Whether you grieve the absence of a loved one or the end of a marriage, whether you’ve braved infertility or miscarriage, whether you’ve experienced the death of a mom or dad or brother or sister or grandma or grandpa, whether others are even aware of the pain you carry—whatever your heartache, you made it through Christmas.
It doesn’t matter that you felt simultaneously so grateful for the holidays, yet guilty for wishing them away.
It doesn’t matter that you loved every second with the family present but also ached for family absent.
It doesn’t matter that sometimes your body was there but your heart was not.
It doesn’t matter that you didn’t do all the things or keep up all the traditions.
It doesn’t matter that you kept your circle small and your checklist short.
It doesn’t matter that making it to Christmas left you with barely the strength to make it through Christmas.
It doesn’t matter that you had to conserve energy for the essentials, at the cost of saying no to all else.
It doesn’t matter that your Christmas cards didn’t make it to your shopping cart, much less your mailbox.
It doesn’t matter that you slept a little extra, ate a little extra, Netflixed a little extra.
It doesn’t matter that you cried in your car before you arrived and then laughed a little too hard once you did.
None of this matters. What matters is that you made it through Christmas. Just because the holidays are beautiful, it doesn’t mean they aren’t really, really hard for a whole lot of people. Sometimes the beautiful things are the ones that hurt the most, because they magnify all that’s lost. If you can relate, I hope you give yourself a little extra grace. If you can’t relate, I hope you give that grace to the ones who can.
Bottom line, you made it. Credit where credit is due, my friend…and it is certainly due.
Our 19th Christmas together. I thank God every single day for every single day with this guy.
I’ve been sitting on the idea of a blog for a long time now. I just didn’t know where to start or how to go about introducing myself...and I still don’t have a clue. But enough is enough, and done is better than perfect. So here I go. And by the way, hello, I’m Maryanne.
I’ve gotten to do some pretty cool things. Among them, I’ve rafted the Rio Pastaza, repelled down a 140’ waterfall, and hiked the rainforest in Ecuador. I’ve sailed the South China Sea to Corregidor Island, listened to my great aunties and great uncles reflect on Japanese occupation during WWII, walked our family’s rice fields, and celebrated Tapulao Fiesta in the Philippines. In Italy, I stood in awe of Michelangelo’s David, stared in silence at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, scaled 294 steps to the top of the Tower of Pisa, prowled around the Coliseum, and took a water taxi down Venice’s Grand Canal. I’ve cried at the Garden Tomb, prayed at the Western Wall, waded in the Jordan River, looked out over the Judean Desert, and stood in the Garden of Gethsemane. Most recently, we went to Alaska, were I was lucky enough to see the Northern Lights and Dawes Glacier, spot Bald Eagles at Tongass National Forest, watch salmon swim upstream in Skagway, and wander around Juneau eating popcorn from the drugstore. And lets not forget seeing the sweet babushkas of Ukraine with scarves covering their silver hair, sitting in the rain waiting for Old Faithful to erupt, riding horses in the Beartooth Mountains, being photobombed by moose while fishing in Shell Canyon, taking the train to Malaysia, staying at retro motels on Route 66, or watching daylight turn to dusk in Singapore’s Supertree Grove.
Like I said—pretty cool things. But as amazing as those adventures were, if you twisted my arm and forced me to pick a favorite, I’m going with the time BJ and I spent two weeks in the summer of 2015 touring the western United States as nomads. We put a bright red camper top on his black ’96 Dodge Ram, named it the Red Roof Inn, and hit the open road. It was a long wheelbase, so we had room for a full-size air mattress, a couple hampers of clothes, and a cooler. We showered at truck stops, which horrified my mom, who initially assumed it was locker room style with only a cheap vinyl curtain separating me from a dozen burly truckers. (For the record--you get a very tidy private bathroom with clean towels and a door that locks.) We also learned a whole lot about where NOT to park overnight.
By virtue of the name, you’d think a rest area would be restful, but that was not the case. Strange characters (perhaps in actuality no stranger than two people sleeping in the back of a truck) came and went at all hours, so it was a bit unsettling. On the plus side, though, if we hadn’t been up guarding against invaders, we would’ve missed the spectacular lightning show in the Arizona night sky. Another night, we pulled our pickup behind a truck stop and nestled between two big rigs. We definitely felt safer, but a whole parking lot of tractor trailers with their engines running doesn’t exactly make for quiet slumber...or clean air. In yet another failed attempt at sleep, we parked the Red Roof Inn at the far corner of a Wal-Mart. It was absolutely perfect—until 3am when the parking lot sweeper came around. He swept within inches of us, rumbling so loudly that we wondered if there were earthquakes in Oklahoma.
But the most memorable night was when we tried out a hotel parking lot in Pocatello, Idaho. We pulled around the building and backed against the shrubbery. It was perfect—very quiet and with just enough street lighting that we weren’t fumbling for our toothbrushes in absolute darkness. The night air was cool and clean, so we opened the camper top windows and let the breeze whisper us to sleep. For a few hours, the universe mockingly allowed us to exult in our comfort, but we were eventually awaked in the middle of the night by water blasting us from both sides of the truck. It’s crazy what comes to your mind when you’re lying on an air mattress in the back of a truck in the middle of an impromptu monsoon. I wondered, Did someone turn a hose on us? Are we being carried away in a tidal wave? Can a case of water somehow spontaneously explode? It took me and BJ a solid fifteen seconds to gather our wits and slam the windows shut. By that point, water dripped from my hair, our sheets were soaked, and puddles were starting to form in the corners of the truck bed. It was then that we realized we had parked directly over the hotel’s sprinkler system, and we got the lion’s share of the water load.
Soggy adventures notwithstanding, what we lacked in sleep, we more than made up for in memories. On that trip, we saw the Grand Canyon for the very first time. It was, indeed, very grand. But perhaps just as majestic was Utah’s Zion National Park, which is still one of the most magical places I’ve ever beheld. In the super cool town of Cody, Wyoming, we ate burgers at the Irma Hotel and marveled at the beauty of a Plains Indians Grass Dance Competition. We followed the buffalo through Yellowstone and held our breath driving out the dizzying Dead Indian Pass. Further on down the road, South Dakota gave us the Badlands and Mount Rushmore and pecan rolls at Wall Drug. We talked about nothing and everything, and we followed up it up with the kind of laughter that shakes your soul free.
Whatever turns life takes from here on out, I will always have that trip. I’m waiting to see if anything ever tops it. To date, nothing has, and if that never changes, it’s fine by me.
Until next time...be safe, and see you on down the road!
Maryanne Tuck Grimmett
First time at the Grand Canyon! I've been lucky enough to go back at least three times since then. It never gets old.
BJ--My travel buddy, my friend, my favorite person in the world. I thank God for the gift of time with him.
Want to fall in love with life? Go to a Plains Indians Grass Dance Competition. I've always wished I could find the people in this photo again. They looked so happy and so intertwined. The joy on their faces was good for my soul.
Such colors! We were in awe. It was pure, unadulterated majesty from start to finish.
Art in motion. It was truly an honor to behold. I could've stayed in that moment forever.
Don't believe in magic? Clearly you've never been to Zion. If I'm ranking the National Parks I've been to, I'd definitely put Zion, Monument Valley, and Yellowstone at the top of the list. And speaking of visiting National Parks...save money and see more by getting an annual pass!
The colors! The textures! The layers! It's an artist's dream.
"Keep your face always toward the sunshine, and the shadows will fall behind you." - Walt Whitman (<--- What he said.)