December 18, 2022
This was a hard autumn. A friend my own age that I would chat with in the coffee shop and who’d lost his partner of 50 years in 2021, died in early October. I’d watched him get thinner and thinner, but expected him to hang in a while longer. But he didn’t.
On a brief visit to Toronto I found a close family member was dealing with long-term Covid symptoms, and needed help. While I was away, I was worried about my aging dog Victoria, who had been sick with heart and kidney problems all year, followed by complications in walking. She waited for me, though, and finally died on November 16. I took her to the vet to be put down that morning, because she could no longer stand to relieve herself, her back legs were so weakened. Weirdly, she died in my arms just as I carried her into the vet’s reception area, and I buried her that afternoon in the grave I had recently dug in the wilderness we euphemistically call ‘the garden.’ A mango tree was planted in the grave, as we’ve adopted a practice here of doing this for dogs who leave us.
Victoria, painted by my friend Lucero Milchorena.
Two women I used to hang out with in my early twenties, and whose subsequent careers I followed from time to time, died within a week or two of each other. I then learned of a male friend who had entered some kind of psychological break, and was behaving poorly while blaming other people for his plight. Finally, my other old dog, little Punky, whom I expected would die last year, began having severe mobility problems, and it’s become plain he won’t be with us much longer.
Punky in his prime, painted by Lucero Milchorena.
But there were bright spots, one being that I decided to acquire a new dog. Poor five-year-old Rem, who is still eminently healthy, had become bored with no other dog to play with while I was out. For a time I’d had Midori, a boisterous dog of immense strength (she could pull ne over when on the leash), but I finally had to give her up because she was unmanageable. She now lives at a friend’s house in Mexico City, apparently to the delight of an older man who looks after her, and lets her play the alpha among a pack of three mutts.
Anyway, I was told about a woman in the village who rescued street dogs, along with her husband. But the husband died recently, leaving her struggling emotionally and financially, and she needed to cut down on the dogs she had. She showed me two candidates when I went round, an elderly labrador that I guiltily rejected, and a small, white mix called Perlita (Little Pearl). Perly took one look at me, and planted her paws on the side of my leg, her tail wagging fast enough to fall off her. The decision wasn’t hard.
She has a wall-eye on the left side, but she’s definitely a party animal, regardless of that. She’s smaller than Rem, who now looks huge beside her, but she is a sweet-natured animal who took 48 hours to settle in, then decided to show us she knew how to break the rules. Rem pretends to be annoyed by her, but he has been more active since she showed up. Estela, the older lady currently living in this house took to her right away.
Perly didn’t take long to settle in. Painted portrait to follow … later.
So many losses in one year, with Punky (probably) to follow soon. I don’t usually get excited about the end of a year, since essentially calendars are somewhat arbitrary. But I’ll be glad to say goodbye to 2022, especially the second part of it.
Now for 2023. Thank you, but I don’t need to be warned that it could be worse than this year. In my seventies, I realise friends and relatives can leave the world at any moment. But it would be nice if there was a slight reduction in next year’s body count.