I’m five hours on the road and call back to hear my wife’s voice. Heading out before the sun peeked over the horizon, I’d tried to slip out quietly. My watch tells me I’m calling during her morning coffee window.
“How are you doing this morning, babe?”
Road noise fills the background, unusual for this time of the day. Coffee is usually in the kitchen with newspapers.
A few words in, I recognize her voice is exploding like a pan of Jiffy Pop popcorn. I’m not sure what is happening, but the calendar says today is early August, not Christmas.
“You won’t believe what I have in the car,” she said.
Knowing she considers the local hardware store her playground, I toss out a few ideas. Plants or maybe a new rug, I suggest. She’s proven she can fit anything into her car.
“No, a puppy!”
The hot asphalt reminds me I’m far from the beach where we live.
“A what?” I said. “Like a puppy- puppy?”
I can’t recall the next few minutes of conversation, but I know if asked to pick colors out of a box of Crayons, her words would be the most vibrant shades in the box.
“She’s so excited she’s already climbed from the back of the car to the front seat with me,” she said. “She is so cute.”
I realize my world already is changing since pulling out of the driveway earlier in the morning. And believe it or not, I’m excited about this new chapter. Until now, we’ve been between dogs, our last passing two years ago. But one constant in our family is a dog as a member.
My wife’s heart is as big as the state she was born in, which is Texas. She’s raised two wonderful children into adults and continues to bring me along. The latter is a continuous work in progress, undoubtedly bringing up the rear.
Her covert trip across Houston to make a rescue only deepens my love for her.
Dogs accompanied our children from — literally — their first footsteps through leaving for college. I remember our son grabbing our dog’s black coarse coat, steadying himself and taking slow, cautious steps together.
And I remember how our daughter dressed our next dog in a gold-flaked cape, making him look like a four-legged version of Elvis in Las Vegas.
But the best part is how intertwined dogs are in our family history, finding a memory without our dogs in the background is nearly impossible. Like a single golden thread woven in a bolt of dark fabric, our family is only complete with a dog under the roof.
Love takes you to the highest peaks, and one day, to the lowest of valleys. But a life unlived and unloved is hardly worth living. And dogs, somehow, play an integral role in our family.
Like knowing our last chapter closed two years ago, I can’t wait to see where this new one takes us. We are again complete. Color me happy.