Thanksgiving, 2018


Dearest Readers:

I realize this is Thanksgiving week; however, I wanted to share a bit of a touching, sad story. This morning, Wednesday, November 21, 2018, we had to let our precious little 14-year-old+ mini schnauzer go to doggie heaven. Since Monday evening, he deteriorated rather quickly. He ate his dinner. Drank water, and on Tuesday morning, he could hardly walk. I lifted him gently, carried him outside and watched him struggling to stand  just to potty. His legs were like spaghetti. Although he wobbled to stand, he couldn’t.

I watched him all day, noticing he would not move. He lay in his urine, I cleaned him and did all I could. At dinner time, he turned his face away. Refusing to eat, even when I tried to hand feed him. He rested on his side. His breathing was labored and he was lethargic. This was not Mr. Hanks.  

All night long, I watched him. He hadn’t moved at all. I had his favorite pillow next to him. A blanket and a beach towel. No movement. Hank loved pillows and blankets! Early this morning, with no response and no movement, I made a phone call I prayed I would not have to make. I asked the receptionist if the vet would check him over. He would.

Arriving at the veterinary hospital, Hank was examined. His breathing was labored and short, like he had raced, or been on the treadmill with me. Yes, Mr. Hanks the Tank loved the treadmill. He would always jump on it before I could! Hanks truly had a delightful personality when he was happy, which was all of the time with us.

Prior to us adopting him, or maybe it was him adopting us, he lived a life of cruelty when his family member passed away, and the relatives did not want Hank, so they took him to a shelter to euthanize him. Fortunately, he was saved when Schnauzer Rescue of the Carolinas intercepted, saving his life. 

Hanks, the Tank…At Last, he has a happy home!

After we adopted Mr. Hanks, he was a bit reluctant to accept my husband. When I reviewed his papers, I realized his former owner and my husband had the same first name. That’s when I realized in Hank’s eyes, he was fearful of someone named “Phil.” It took us many months to get Hank to stop nipping and biting at Phil. I don’t recall him biting him in over two years. Sometimes, he would rush at him, I suppose to protect me, which he didn’t need to do, and he would place his mouth over Phil’s toe, or foot, growl and walk away. Obviously, he grew up in an abusive family; nevertheless, when I touched him, or moved away, he would grumble and follow me around the house. 

Mr. Hanks the Tank was a special needs schnauzer. All he really needed was for someone to reach him gently, touch and rub him and speak softly to him. In our home, he did not see abuse, only kindness, love, respect and acceptance.

Tomorrow at Thanksgiving, I will give thanks for God providing Mr. Hanks to come into our lives. While I write this, I am crying my heart out over losing him. It was one of the toughest and most heart breaking decisions I’ve made. My animals are my family!

Happy Thanksgiving in Heaven, Mr. Hanks, the Tank. I pray you are with Sir Shakespeare Hemingway, and Prince Marmaduke Shamus. Mommy loves all of you. I give thanks for God sharing our lives for only a while. I love and miss all of you.

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Thanksgiving 2015


THANKSGIVING, 2015: Three Pennies From Heaven

by

Barbie Perkins-Cooper

               The morning of Thanksgiving, 2015 began like most mornings for me. Awakening at 6:45 a.m., I stumbled out of bed, my body felt exhausted, as if a 25 lb. weight clung to my legs. The Cuisinart Grind and Brew groaned while brewing the delicious hot caffeine that would get this day going. Opening the fridge, I grabbed the turkey, celery, three onions, garlic, carrots and other vegetables I needed to cut and prep for the infamous dinner. I turned the oven on, placed the turkey in the roasting pan and sat down to enjoy a fresh, hot cup of coffee.

Thanksgiving, 2015 was here. This Thanksgiving will be so special since I have company coming – family! Sitting at the kitchen table, I glanced out the window, thanking God for this special day. Today, I have family sharing this special day with us. I am so blessed. Thank you, God.

               My oldest sister Dolores, her daughter Vada, Vada’s husband Shon, their daughter Chelsea, her fiancé Cody, their baby girl, Kinsleigh, and Vada and Shon’s son, Timothy, were here. Soon everyone would awaken and come to the house for Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving 2015 will be one of the most precious holidays for me in at least 16 years. Today, Dad would not sit at our table since he died on July 6, 1999. Every Thanksgiving after his death, I stared at the empty chair where he always sat while I choked back tears. Thanksgiving Day for three was not a factor for us today. I reminisced, retrieving the sound of his voice. His theatrical laughter and fun we shared as a daughter and father, and I was so thankful that during the holidays of 1997, I was able to reconnect with Dolores and her family after locating their phone number again, only to share the sad news that our father was terminally ill. The holidays of 1997 were not shared with family, nor Dad. He remained in the hospital, fighting desperately to live. Esophageal cancer was slowly causing his body to melt away. Thanksgiving Day 1997 was a faint memory as I watched my beloved father slowly melting away from me.

Today is a new day, a new day of Thanksgiving. Please God, let it be a great day. After the death of Dad, I learned to let go of the past…to move forward with life…today was no exception.

I’ve always been told that our loved ones who have passed leave us signs when they are nearby again. Tuesday afternoon while vacuuming the rugs, I discovered three shiny pennies lying on the carpet in the guest bedroom where dad slept when visiting us. That’s strange. Just where did these pennies come from? I picked them up, placed them on a table, turning the vacuum on again. Pennies from Heaven. I laughed. God is giving me another sign. Three Pennies from Heaven – one representing our father. Another representing my sister and our reconnection, and the third penny – representing me. Although I cannot see my dad, I can feel his presence. Thank you, God. A coincidence? Perhaps. I fully believe the shiny pennies were a visual sign telling me Dad is still here with me, and he was so proud that Dolores and I were close, reconnected – like family should be connected.

While preparing dinner, I remembered the shiny pennies, although I did not mention them to anyone. All of my life I have had visions – signs to guide me along my path in life. After losing my grandmother to breast cancer, the signs increased. The night I met my husband a voice told me to go to the dance. Something special will happen to you tonight. Do not miss this dance. Reluctantly, I went to the dance, meeting my husband on the dance floor. A coincidence? I think not.

While my husband was in Vietnam, I had visions, only these were nightmares. In one nightmare, I was in Vietnam, walking in the muddy fields of Vietnam during Monsoon season, struggling to get closer to my husband, only to have something grab me, pulling me back from the fields of war. I forced myself to awaken, grabbed my calendar, circling the date. I turned the lamp by the bed on, and wrote a letter to him, telling him I knew he was in danger, but I was confident God would protect him. I mailed the letter the next day. Three weeks later, I got a reply from him, telling me my dream was real, although he could not elaborate with details. I knew the Tet Offensive was ‘hot and heavy’ now in Vietnam. I suspected I was becoming a witch!

I glanced at the shiny pennies again, thanking God for giving me a sign. Dad was here, and he knew that two of the four daughters he and my mother created were embracing life and each other again. I felt confident he was proud of us. If only the remaining estranged sisters would do their best to rebuild their lives again. Several attempts were made, only to have another disappointment and verbal attacks of jealousy slammed in our faces. Although I believe in ‘forgiving those who have offended or mistreated us,’ I refused to allow them to hurt me again. There comes a time in our life where we must move forward. We must stand tall and not let others destroy what we’ve built.

               At Thanksgiving dinner time, all nine of us sat at our dining room table. No cell phones sat on the table. This was a special time for family to sit together…eating the bounties of Thanksgiving dinner…and to chat with one another…the small talk of families enjoying such cherished times and laughter while we watched little Kinsleigh make silly faces like children do while growing into adulthood. Christmas dinnerware, silverware, and dinner napkins were anxiously awaiting all of us to gobble down the traditional meal of turkey with dressing, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce and more. Our plates were filled. I reached for Phil’s hand, and asked Cody, Chelsea’s future husband and the father of little Kinsleigh, to say grace. At first I thought I saw a bit of fear in his eyes since I had probably put him on the spot. He swallowed, reached for Chelsea’s hand, and said a most special prayer. Today, Thanksgiving 2015, new traditions were created. I’m certain our father is proud of us, especially on Thanksgiving. Although this tradition might not occur every Thanksgiving, I shall cherish the memories we built on this most special day. Maybe I will get those three pennies from the table and place them in a special place to remember the signs our dad shared. He is still here. Watching over us, occasionally leaving a sign as if he is saying, “Well done.”