Friday! At last. It felt like it would never get here.
Have a great, safe weekend everyone. More updates to come.
“Dudley!” My mom called out towards her and dad’s bedroom door one oddly warm October evening. “We need to check the kids candy before they eat it!”
Bobby and I had already plopped down onto the carpet in our livingroom and were dumping the contents of our orange, pumpkin buckets onto the floor. It was Halloween night, and Bobby and I had just gone trick-or-treating together. I was dressed up as a witch and Bobby was dressed up to look like freddie kreuger.
Bobby did great walking from door-to-door. Mom followed along beside us, her eyes riveted on Bobby and their gaze only interrupted when she’d look over at a fellow trick-or-treater and smile. His balance had gotten so good that he could virtually walk on his own; he had adopted his own, unique slant, and he kept it for the rest of his life.
“Ooooh, mommm,” Bobby cried from the floor, holding up a Hershey’s chocolate bar for her to see, “theyyy gaave mee a whooolee chocccklittt barrr!”
His speech was slurred, high-pitched, and it came out very slowly. To people who didn’t know Bobby, it seemed either very cute or very weird; for people who did know Bobby, it was just Bobby.
“I see,” mom smiled down at him, taking the Hershey bar from him and examining it closely.
We had a great time that night, sitting on the couch with mom and dad and watching Michael Myers slowly pursue his victims in the movie Halloween. We staying in our costumes and gorged ourselves on our favorite candies. I gave all of my sweet tarts and laffy taffy to Bobby, but chose to keep all of the Snickers, Hershey bars, Kit Kat bars, Crunch bars and lollipops for myself. Bobby and I fell asleep on the couch that night, and mom let me skip school the next day due to a debilitating tummy ache.
Grammy was no longer visiting with us, and life outside of school was sort of dreary without her, but one day, dad came home with some very exciting, and very unexpected news.
“Lucy?” he called as he entered the front door, carrying his coffee cup, keys and a hairnet in his hand. He saw me standing in the dining room and waved his fingers at me.
“Where’s your mom, Rosie Posie?”
“She’s in the bedroom,” I answered, smiling. I liked when dad was home. It didn’t seem like he was often enough.
I watched as he walked into the bedroom and closed the door behind him. I tip toed over to the door and listened in on their conversation, sneaky, like a fox.
I heard muffled sentences and words through the thin, wooden barrier.
“I think he’d like it,” dad’s voice said.
“Wow,” my mom exhaled. She sounded surprised. It might have been in a good way… or not.
“You.. it… how old again?”
I didn’t hear anything for a minute and pushed my ear closer.
“And its good protection…” my dad continued.
What on EARTH are they talking about! I was thrilled.
“..she said it’s potty trained and it…”
The voice trailed off.
I threw the door open and ran into the bedroom.
“ARE YOU GUYS ADOPTING A BABY?”
Mom and dad stared at me. Dad looked sort of irritated but he didn’t say anything; mom just looked confused. Suddenly, after a few seconds, they both started laughing.
“No, you silly billy,” my mom fell onto the bed, still laughing.
“Your dad,” she continued, with a playful tilt of the head, “was asking me if I thought that we should try getting you two kids a dog again.”
My eyes lit up.
“A dog?” I looked from mom to dad, and dad to mom.
“Really you guys? A dog?”
I couldn’t believe it. Dad raised his eyebrows at mom; apparently, she had just given her approval.
“Yeah!” Dad smiled, nodding his head in affirmation. “A dog.”
We had two dogs before this time. Their names were Hershey and Chocolate, but the arrangement didn’t work out. Our landlord made us keep them outside all of the time and my mom said that it wasn’t right to have dogs who you couldn’t take good care of. Just sticking your dogs outside, she said, wasn’t a “good quality of life” for them to have.
Apparently, my mom and dad thought that things would go differently this time. The story was this: dad’s previous assistant bakery manager, Becky, had recently moved to northern South Carolina. She kept in touch with my dad and it turned out that she just couldn’t balance working full-time with taking care of her new, 6 month old Siberian Husky. She and her husband didn’t have any kids and neither of them were ever at home. They would come in the evenings, let Mariah (the dog) out of her cage, and the first thing she would do was walk into the bedroom, jump onto their bed and pee on their pillows.
“It’s not working out,” she sighed to dad over the phone. “She’s bitter. And I don’t blame her.. we aren’t the right home for her.”
My dad knew that huskies were beautiful, and my mom loved beautiful things; plus, the dog was free, and they wanted it to have a good home. Bobby was stuck at home all day, he was probably bored, and giving a dog another go would give him something to love on and get excited about. Something, perhaps, to make him smile.
My dad’s reasoning convinced my mom and as soon as he contacted Becky and told her that they were willing to take Riah in, she said that she would hop in her car the very next morning and bring the dog down to us.
I remember what it was like when Riah came to our house that day. She was big for her age – atleast 50 pounds – and she had the most gorgeous coloring: red and white all over. Her eyes were a crystal blue, her tail was fluffy and long, and her mask and gaze were penetrating. Becky had her on a leash and brought her over to where she was standing beside the gate to our backyard. Bobby and I were already waiting in the backyard, eager to meet our new pet. Becky smiled over at us as dad unlatched the gate. Riah came bolting over, and when I reached down to pet her, I felt a nip.
“She bit me!” I cried, looking over at my mom.
My mom opened her mouth to say something. I think the shock made her speechless.
“Oh,” Becky cut in quickly, “she’s just loving on you.”
Riah turned out to be a nightmare of a dog, and a part of our family for the next nine years.
Mom snuck her into our house in the late afternoons and let her sleep inside; our landlord, supposedly, never found out. Riah was possessive of her cage, her food, her toys… even her water. You couldn’t go within five feet of her when she had any of these things without her baring her teeth and staring you down. It was intimidating. For years, I had nightmares of Riah coming into my room during the night and killing me.
I was only severely bitten one time, and it happened just a few weeks after she had begun living with us.
I was eating a snack in the livingroom one afternoon, watching something on television. Dad, who was off from work that day, was moving between rooms, holding a conversation with my mom, who was cleaning up in the kitchen.
I was sitting on the couch, and Riah was sitting in front of me, staring at my sandwich. I was cross-legged, with the plate resting on my lap. I smiled at Riah and whispered:
“Do you want a bite, RyeRye?”
Mom had specifically told me, just five minutes before as I was walking from the kitchen to the livingroom, not to feed the dog.
“She doesn’t need to be having table scraps, Rose,” she warned me.
“And, she’s very food aggressive.”
“I know, mom,” I said, exasperated.
“Don’t tell anyone,” I whispered to the dog, tearing off a piece of bread and waving it in front of her face.
“Here you go, doggy!” I said sweetly, quickly dropping the bread onto the floor. Riah moved her head around, looking confused. I was disappointed.
“It’s right there, Riah,” I said, annoyed, and bent down to show her.
I had my finger pointing towards the piece of bread, and once she saw it, she must have thought that I was about to take it from her.
All I remember is instantly being in extreme pain.
Mom and dad came rushing into the livingroom right away.
“Rose, what’s wrong?”
While my mom tried to console me, my dad stood behind her and surveyed the situation: Riah, licking something from off of the floor; Rose, cross-legged with a plate on her lap, bleeding from the stomach and crying.
“Lucy, she fed the dog,” he stated while I continued sobbing.
”Oh Rose! I told you…” she stopped herself.
”Ohhh nevermind,” She fussed. “Here,” she handed the plate to my dad, “go throw this in the kitchen. I need to get some alcohol on this wound and bandage her up.”
I still have the scar. It’s about an inch long, an 1/8th of an inch wide, and located just beneath my left rib cage. It looks like I had stitches, but it actually healed on its own, making a strange line of scar tissue. Riah stayed a part of our family for a long time, and she will always have a place on me.