Take a moment to see beyond the pomp and flash of the Holiday.
All the usual glitter and pomp traditional to the holiday was on display at the Golden Hours Nursing home. Outside the eves flashed with multi-colored Christmas lights, blow up nativity scene, and Santa with reindeer on the roof.
Inside, the gas fireplace had resident names pinned to dollar store Christmas stockings on the mantel. The twelve foot fake tree put up every year glittered with tinsel, ornaments, and gaily wrapped empty packages under it. Grandma Spahr rolled her wheelchair far enough away from the blare of holiday music to be able to hear herself think. “Hello, dear. Thank you for coming to visit. I know how busy you are.”
Her daughter shook snow off her coat, shrugged out of it and lay it carelessly on a chair close enough to where it dripped cold water on her mother’s feet. “Mother. This has got to stop. They do not allow pets here. How am I supposed to manage your finances if you keep breaking the budget rules?”
“It didn’t cost a thing, dear. I volunteered and was accepted to keep this German Shephard puppy for training as a service dog. It needs to get used to people.” A little waggly tail waved back from under the old woman’s wheelchair.
“I can’t believe they let you keep it in your room. I bet it is too young to be house trained and what about feeding costs?” The frustration and anger in her daughter’s voice rose a notch then lowered as an aide poked her head in.
“Beddy by time, Missus Spahr. Time for your medication. Do you need help with Fido? Oh. I didn’t see you had company. This must be your daughter. She looks just like you. I’ll give you a few more minutes to say goodbye.” A wink, smile, and wave left the two alone once more.
The silence between them was broken by a puppy growl. “You are making her upset, dear. Get down on her level and make like friends.” The elder Spahr laughed softly at the scowl on her daughter’s face. “Remember? A pet in our home was a tradition in our family since you were a baby.”
“We are not home, mother.” Rather than kneel, Sherry grew rigid as a frozen statue. The glare in her eyes could have frozen the sun.
Helda Spahr laughed even more loudly. “This is my home now. You haven’t changed since you were in your terrible twos when you first learned to pout like that. What’s done is done. Fido is here to stay.” The laughter grew into outright mirth. "You have the traditional Spahr stubborn streak."
“By the way. I signed you up to take a dog training course. When Fido leaves after his people-friendly training you will be doing the next step teaching basic commands. I’ll help of course.”
That brought out a startled gasp. “What? I will not. You may have signed me up but I never agreed.” Sherry looked daggers at her mother and at the pup nibbling on the elder Spahr’s shoelaces.
“You need a friend, dear. You are entirely too wrapped up in your job. Joe agrees with me. Go home to your husband and get ready to share with your husband something besides an expensive shopping spree.”
“Done yet?” Joe appeared as if on cue. He still wore the Santa outfit he'd bought to use while doing Salvation Army bell ringing. He shook the moisture off Sherry’s coat and offered to help his wife put it back on. Grandmother Spahr got a nuzzle on the neck and a kiss on the cheek as Joe whispered in her ear. “I hope Fido does what you think she will do. I need all the help I can get training Sherry to loosen up.”
When he turned to take Sherry back to the car a miracle transition appeared before his eyes. It made him drop his wife's coat and stop in his tracks. “Babe?”
His wife was on her knees tugging at one end of her scarf. Fido had a mouth full of the other end. The two were in a playful game of tug-a-war. “Oh, all right.” There was a new softness in Sherry’s voice. “We’ll keep the tradition going, mom. But if I’m not mistaken the last ‘service dog’ we trained at home ended up being a life-long companion to me while I grew up. I didn’t think I had enough heart left after Spot died to take on another pet.”
Fido won the tug-of-war. Joe and Sherry were ushered out into the night. Grandmother Spahr slept with a smile on her face. Fido slept with the scent of Sherry’s scarf nestled close by in her dog bed that night.
There is a reason for family traditions. They aren’t just made up things like the glitter and pomp displayed from Stores, businesses, and yes, even nursing homes during the holiday season.