I grew up in a house that was near perfect just about 22 hours of the day. My Mother is a beautiful, graceful and formal woman. Our family home was a reflection of her as well as her desire for all things being in perfect order. I didn't realize this as we moved into our family residence in Fairfield when I was 2 years old. We only know that in which we are raised to be normal, therefore, in my mind, formality and perfection were the norm.
My Mother sold our home, two years ago and it was a difficult place to say goodbye to. Memories of a happy and carefree childhood, spoiled with love, generosity as well as the memory of my father, my grandparents and all those who I no longer have the opportunity to talk with, to laugh and cry with. I said goodbye to a house but once again to the people that I cherish.
I remember the day before we had to lock up the house. I spent the day in each room, absorbing the memories and reliving many moment, not all happy. One day stood out in my memory and continues to as the summer fades and the chill in the air reminds me that fall is coming, school will begin and summer is just about over. My father was nearing the end of his life. I used to drop off Christopher at preschool and take Giavanna with me to my parents house. I spent every day with my father for almost six months. I wanted to be near him, to inhale his words, his presence knowing that his breath would soon be taken away. I was heartbroken, he was quiet and we knew that this time together would be one of our last. It was a gorgeous day and he was not feeling well. Our pool was closed and all the furniture had been carefully placed away, again in the most pristine manner.
I begged him to sit outside with me, despite the chill in the air and lack of furniture. I put a chair outside near the pool and convinced him to come outside. My Father loved being outside by the pool and in fact, always used to joke around with me. He would tell me to sprinkle his ashes in the backyard. A part of him was joking and another part of him clearly adored the property and all of it's memories. His free time in the summer and fall was often spent outside reading by our pool with a cocktail in hand and his feet up. This of course, was if he was not at the Opera or on some fabulous trip, or enjoying his many friends.
I wanted him to enjoy one last day by the pool. I sat on the tile by the side of the pool as I looked up at him in that chair. I will never forget that day, it was beautiful and it was sad and the tears roll down my face as I write this. In that instance memories of childhood and life flashed before me. What I kept seeing however in my mind, was our giant Samoyed in the background. Her name was Tiffany and she was our beloved dog. She had gorgeous long white eyelashes and beautiful fur. The best part about her however was her smile. Samoyeds are known for their smile, and she had a big, happy and lovely smile. You could only smile yourself as she happily bounced toward you. We all loved her and she added an element to our family that only a dog could add.
Tiffany lived outside as did all of our animal. Having a mother who insisted on perfection, allowing animals into the house was unacceptable. Tiffany couldn't care a less and in fact slept out in the worst of snow storms. She was Siberian, it was simply in her blood. I loved her, she loved me and this was my first relationship with a dog. Until I decided to get one a year ago.
For those of you who know me, you know Achilles. He is my beautiful, protective black Giant Schnauzer who unexpectedly has delighted me much more than I anticipated. Giavanna wanted a dog, I always said no way, I will not live with a dog and I have enough on my plate. One day I woke up and I wanted a dog. I researched and decided to challenge myself with a dog who was strong not only physically but in intellect and wit. I found a breeder in Texas and the process began. I picked him out by a picture online. I became friendly with Debbie and anxiously awaited for the litter of puppies to be born. I chose number 8 with the help of my kids and 10 weeks later, Achilles would soon be in flight on his way to meet his new family.
It was love at first sight for me. He has added so much joy, laughter, challenge, work, happiness and beauty into our lives. I have a relationship that differs from the one he has with each of my children. I allow him into my house and he lives with us. He is not allowed upstairs but has full reign of the first floor and I often sleep in my "girl cave" which is on the first floor. He is the first member of my house to greet me in the morning and the connection that I have cultivated with him is tremendous. It is different than the one I had with Tiffany.
My Mother often says " you must really love that dog". She can't comprehend how I can let him into my kitchen and in my house. "He makes such a mess, how can you stand it she proclaims. I in fact can't imagine not having a dog living with me at this point. The mess, the destruction of "things" and the cost of Achilles is more than worth it.
He adds something to my life that I have not been able to pinpoint until now. It is his utter love and appreciation for what is. He is always content, happy to wake up and happy to go to sleep. His joy and his verve for living is no different than mine. We both enjoy life and are naturally positive spirits. He is fierce in protecting his family, as am I. He shares a love for my children and his property. He truly is my best friend and if he lived outside our relationship would be entirely different. I cherish the relationship more than the illusion of perfection. My Mother and I see this differently and in fact when I was 14, I told her that life is movement. Everything will be in perfect order when one is dead. I like my way better, the paw prints can be cleaned and will disappear but the relationship that I have with Achilles will forever be etched in my heart.