In memory of Khalua … and all the dogs who ever loved me.

Chatting with friends last evening and sharing stories on our four footed friends, I was reminded of the incredible story of Khalua as he breathed his last.

Doggy love

Khalua – or ‘the black one’ in Sinhalese – was a road dog.

I noticed him hanging around when I moved into my new home and thought he belonged to one of the other eight homes on a private street – but soon realised no one  ‘claimed’ him as their own.  I found out he had been adopted  by the workers on our construction site and left behind when then moved  on. Our street was his home and he would patrol the neighbourhood.  Everyone fed him.  There was  no routine and no regular diet but he was sturdy  (around 17 kg) and tough.

He was also an excellent watchdog.   Every time I reached home, he would come bounding in from wherever he was, jump over the boundary wall and carry out an recky (reconnoitre) of the premises, giving me a sort of ‘thumbs up, its safe for you to enter’.  I would open the gate and drive in but he never took the easy walk out but leaped over the wall again after I had closed the gate.  It was very comforting to have him around,  especially when I drove home alone, late at night.

I grew to love my security guard.  Others with evil intent did not.

They tried to poison him once and physically injured him another time.  I called the vet  – and he recovered from both incidents.  Then, the ‘would be intruders’ – I can’t imagine any other reason for wanting to injure the dog – had thrown something causing serious burns.  It was bad.

My living room was turned into a ward as the vet visited daily to administer a drip.  Dad took over as Matron in charge whilst I went to work.

One day, I had just reached office when Dad called to say Khalua had taken a turn for the worse. Dad figured corrected that I would want to be there.  I  attended to some urgent work and left for home. I was half way there when Dad called again to say there was no need to rush as Khalua had breathed his last.  Since I was in no mood to go back to work I decided I would continue as planned. I drove slowly for there was no rush. It may have taken me about 20 minutes to reach home  … and this is the incredible part that is seared in my memory.

When I entered the living room, the drip was off and Dad was standing by Khalua lying inert on the floor. Dad simply looked at me.  He loved animals and Khalua – there was no need for words.   I waited a few seconds to collect myself and then knelt by  Khaluas side and Khalua .. that beloved loyal dog that graced my life  .. lifted his head, licked my hand and then closed his eyes .. this time for good.

Again words failed us.  For twenty minutes or more,  he had held on to his last breath to say “Thank you”.  Khalu beautiful loving dog, it is I who have to say thank you to YOU,  for caring for me and taking over the job of security guard;  for making me feel safe when I returned home alone late at night; for loving me.

I love you too Khalu … enjoy eternal bliss with your creator.

And to all the dogs who have always loved unconditionally and who have gone ahead : Family dogs Spotty, Prince, Charky (Charcoal), Biscuit, Zippy, Chico , and my own dogs Scampy, Elsa, Misty, Rocky and Monster -King of the Road (whom I’ve written about) – thank you for loving me and caring for me.  I thank God for the blessings of all of you and am sorry for any neglect and lack of appreciation. You loved more than you were loved.  May you be loved unendingly and snuggled and live happy  in your heavenly abode

Image Credit : http://www.allthingsclipart.com/06/loving.dog.clipart.htm

Advertisements

Remembering my Dad ..

Today is my Dad’s birthday.  He would have been 95.

Mum and Dad

Dad with the love of his life – Mum !

I had started my memoirs when he was with us and had posted a few of the most vivid memories onto this blog,  but need to complete it so the next generation will know the wonderful legacy that he has left us.

Meanwhile ….this blog has been named after a cherished memory.  My very first post replicated below describes this.

Thank you my Darling Dad for leaving me with such a beautiful memory that has stayed with me from my infancy.  May the Angels play you sweet lullaby’s as you rest safe in the heart of your Maker, our God.

……..(My first post) ….

It’s been a long idyllic break since I left the confines of the commercial world and it is time to start my “ramblings”.

Unfortunately,  Rambling Rose,  my dad’s name for me, has been taken by many servers so I’ve settled instead for ‘wondering rose’ which is closely linked.  I ramble because I wonder and many are my ‘wonderings’.  I wonder about this and I wonder about that till I sometimes drive the family round the bend.   I am sure my Dad had no idea how I would turn out when he sang this lullaby to me, in a voice almost as glorious to me as Nat King Cole:

Ramblin’ rose, ramblin’ rose
Why you ramble, no one knows
Wild and wind-blown, that’s how you’ve grown
Who can cling to a ramblin’ rose?

Ramble on, ramble on
When your ramblin’ days are gone
Who will love you with a love true
When your ramblin’ days are through?

I can’t promise that anyone is going to love me or my ramblings but the Rose goes where it must – where the sun draws it …. and so too must I go … wherever The Son draws me.

Memories … pressed between the pages of my passport

The first thing that struck me when I pulled out my passports last week to complete a visa application, was how careless I have been with this document which is -literally and figuratively – a passport to the world.

My passport history was shocking.  I have had my passports stolen from my home when in Jamaica, and returnd by the police; stolen from my car in Sri Lanka and dumped in a nearby playground. Another time, my sister had  taken my passport to her office and I had to apply for a new one to travel as we could not find it in time.  Yet another passport had to be cancelled because ink had spilt on it.  And  …  the most heinous of all – I had lost my current passport,with all attached passports, in a place unknown.  Workmen found it many months later when digging the road outside my home.  My parents diligently tried to salvage what they could of the rain soaked passports by placing tissue paper amongst the wet pages for Visas are  – or should I say ‘were’ – a very precious commodity during the height of the civil war.  And I had numerous visas stamped between those pages.

Flipping through them last week, squinting at the faded print, tying to read a defaced page and figure out the country seal, brought back so many memories.  These were not just visas. This was in many ways the story of my life pressed between the pages of my passport.

The most number of “permitted to land” stamps were obviously from Sri-Lanka and Jamaica – my first and second homes.  Running close was the US for you cannot travel to and from Jamaica without going through either US or UK.  US was my preferred option.  It was the back yard – or should I be politically correct and say front yard of Jamaica – and the closest holiday and shopping destination.

And then there were the ‘stamps’  that reminded me of the crazy trips I did – like the time I had the brilliant idea of landing in Patmos, driving through the country and departing from Lanarca the next  day.  Unfortunately I had failed to do my homework. All hotels closed early.  The airport actually closed behind me!!  I managed to hail the last passing taxi and persuade him to drive me cross country to Larnaca.  Tensed during the whole drive in dense darkness, I lost all further interest in exploring, and spent the rest of the time at the airport.  So much for my desire to see Cyprus 🙂

That same trip was actually filled with adventure.  I had applied for my Israeli visa whilst in Spain as the Embassy in Jamaica could not handle my documents. (Since most travel to Sri Lanka touches Arab countries, the Israel passport is issued on a separate sheet of paper. Such is politics !!!)

I was grilled right royally before boarding the flight to Tel Aviv as to why a Sri Lankan, living in Jamaica, had travelled to Spain to get a visa for Israel and was returning through Cyprus.  To make matters worse, I had no hotel booking, no contact address, nothing. They made my plans of adventure and taking each day as it comes sound very sinister indeed.  Unknown to me, there was meeting scheduled between the Israeli and Palestine leaders so security was extra tight, and my circumstances, including travelling alone, were considered strange and highly suspect. A Sri Lankan girl, travelling alone, under these circumstances … we have to check this out.

They sent me to a waiting room where I soon realised (from the clothes on the ground in the half-screen changing room type chambers) that they were intent on doing a full body search!  I went cold.  Using all my female intuition and expediency … I burst into tears. They sent for an immigration officer who I remember knelt by my side to inquire why I was crying.  (Who wouldn’t?)  At least he was kind and concerned.  I told him I was not prepared to go through a body search and would just book an onward flight, forgetting about my pilgrimage as I had no desire to enter the Holy Land with such restrictions.

He “cleared”‘ me.

It was almost dawn when I arrived and went to the hotel referred to me at the airport. For the first time in all my travels, I stayed in my room the entire day, nervous to venture out.  Finally in the evening I went to the reception and they informed me it was safe to go out, that the tight security is relaxed once you enter the country.  So I went out.  The ‘normalcy’ of everything around me – except the helicopters and soldiers patrolling the beach which I had not realised was at the hotel doorstep – wash like a splash of ice cold sea water.  I relaxed and prepared to explore Israel and the Holy City.

Memories rush to mind as I write.  How I found myself in a bus full of soldiers in the high security zone in the Gaza strip.  Seated in the last row, blocked by the high seats and absorbed in the scenery,  I had not noticed that the bus had emptied itself of civilians and had filled with soldiers. I was ‘discovered’ when someone ventured to the back, and was brought to the present moment by my awareness of a sudden ‘deafening’ silence:  a stillness and the feeling that people were staring at me.  They were!  A bus full of soldiers was staring at the alien invading their space.

A buzz of conversation followed when I looked up. The soldiers soon unraveled that the driver had forgotten to put me off at the stop I had indicated to him. So the driver had to had to turn back to drop me off at the nearest civilian point.  Again, at least they were kind and concerned  – or maybe the driver was more nervous  of his slip up.  Either way, I got off the firing line.

So many memories, pressed between the pages of my passport.  I am glad I saw the Daily Post prompt in the post Passport to Eternity today.   … and now I am going back to my memories.

P.S.  I went back to Israel again on a pilgrimage with a travel agent No drama like before.   But my first trip made an indelible stamp on ME … not just on my passport.

Next door Nana

Today we will lay Next door Nana to rest. She was 97 years old and a story book grandma – petite in build, silver hair, alert eyes and a slightly mischievous smile.

You could always see her at the big bay window … her face pressed against the pane as she waved at passers by.  She had her meals by that window – and the ‘walkers’ would pause to exchange a greeting.

Sometimes she would venture out to get ‘up close and personal’ 🙂

I think I first met her on one such occasion when, bored with standing there, she came to my doorway, curious to see what her neighbour was up to.

I was just about to invite her in when the helper appeared, alarmed that ‘nona’ (Sinhalese for Lady) had wandered over.  Assuring them I would take her back, I invited her in to watch me work in the garden.  I think she enjoyed the break.

It was the beginning of a few such encounters. In the beginning, she would wander over to keep me company whilst I did my chores.  I would put some music on and she would watch me or walk around around till it was time for lunch or someone came to fetch her.

The ‘someone’ was one of the many helpers hired by her daughter who lived in Australia but maintained a home here for her mother.  When she started getting on in age, Rosemarie and son-in law Mike would take turns with one spending time here whilst the other remained in Sydney with their children and grandchildren.  They would then ‘switch’ – meeting up in either country to be together a week or two before exchanging locations.  I have never seen such commitment from a daughter – or for that matter a son-in-law,  for Mike took on the role of the son that Nana lost at an early age.

When Mike passed on unexpectedly about five years ago, there was no one to ‘switch’ with Rosemarie.   Nana had longer spells of being alone.   But despite the financial toll, and pain of separation from her grand-children, Rosemarie would make two or three trips a year to be with her Mum (all because the Australian government just did not have the humanity in them to allow Nana to join her daughter.  Incredibly, they did not even grant her a holiday visa – such is the ‘heart’ of a big nation).

Rosemarie was due on 20th November.  Her Mum had been in reasonably good health when she was last here in August.  Nana had fallen a couple of times but had recovered and was not on any medication.  Rosemarie planned to spend Christmas with her mum.

Sadly, Nana took ill unexpectedly on Tuesday.  She joined her Maker early on Wednesday morning.

By the grace of God,  something nudged me to drop in on Monday.  Nana was watching TV.   She had developed a fever and was looking a bit under the weather.  At lunch time, we assisted her to the dining table. On an unexplained impulse – for I had not taken one with her before – I took a selfie.

Next door Nana

Next door Nana – the last picture.

Again, something,  I know not what, made me inform our priest that he should visit soon. House visitations are normally on Fridays but again providentially he said he would drop in next morning.

When I went in to wait for him, Nana’s fever had unexpectedly taken a turn for the worse.  I held her hand and sang to her, hymns of comfort and the Our Father.  She smiled once at something in the distance and I thought she was slipping away but she continued to hold my hand.  My sister joined me.  Our priest Fr. Anton Saman annointed her and gave her Holy Communion.

The Doctors visited but she was too weak to respond to medication.  She was reunited with her Creator later that night.  A peaceful, serene death with no suffering nor pain except slight difficulty in breathing.  A grace-filled death for a graceful lady.

I am thankful for the mercy that sent me there, to allow me to get the priest and comfort her in some small way although I am sad that circumstances did not permit me to be with her in her final hours.

But I will cherish the time spent together and the memories of a lively, lovely gentle lady who was alert enough to remind me if I was being careless 🙂

I had the habit of dropping in ‘garage to garage‘ a couple of times for a quick hello and she would always offer me a cup of tea or persuade me to join her for  lunch.   One day, I said I would have to be quick as I had not locked up.   After that, she would check with me if anyone was home or if I had locked up.  I rarely did as these were impromptu visits so I used to tell her I would sit at her seat by the window and keep watch on the street.

She also always inquired about my mum – whether she was staying with me or my sister, and on at least two occasions berated me for parking my car on the road with a curious ‘Why don’t you put it in the garage?’  

That’s a good question Nana.  Why don’t I?  I said I would, but truth is, I need to get my garage door fixed!

When I used to take her to church some time back, she would always want the page turned and attempt to sing and follow the service  – or ‘pretend’ the way little children do 🙂   They,  the children just adored this picture book grandma.

Sadly she will not be around  for them or for the passers by on Lake Road.  It will take some time to get used to an empty window at 329/124.  But the big bay window will be a reminder to all that there once  was a little lady who, as our priest said, stood there and gave everyone what she could:  a cheery smile and a wave that brought joy to all.

Rest in eternal joy with your Maker, sweet and gentle lady – Madam Doreen Webster.

Note:   This post was begun on 7th November but I had another bereavement in the family … a beloved Uncle who was the same age 96!  It has been a melancholy two weeks with the loss of two wonderful nonagenarians – a gracious lady and a true gentleman and scholar about whom I can write volumes.  Maybe soon… 

Je t’aime Monster – King of the Road!


This post was in my draft box whilst I waited to get a video of Monster.  Sadly he passed away in December when I was overseas. The neighbours videoed the funeral service but I have not been able to look at it.  Too sad. 

I also feel sad that I have let him down by not telling his story and although it still hurts when I think about him, I feel he deserves to be introduced even though he is not with us. 

This post is thus in the present tense as originally written.  

Rest in peace Mon … I love you so  ~♥~

November, 2014

“Yesterday for the first time I thought I had given you a wrong name.  You are so loyal, faithful and loving … how can I keep calling you Monster?

True, it is shortened to ‘Mon’ most of the time … and Monster is only a name of love … but still it is not an endearment of love. So what shall I call you from now on for  I do love you so.

And I realised how much you love me too yesterday when you came running to me from your wanderings on the road the minute you heard my car start up.  You followed me from Romy’s home to my home, waited outside whilst I did some work, and then started to follow me back.  When I called to you that I had forgotten something and turned back, you turned back too – and waited patiently outside.  Then you saw me safely into Romany’s home and went back to your wanderings on the road.   Oh Monster … can anyone have a ‘road dog’ who is so loving and concerned, so loyal and faithful, so protective of me !!   You are the best, the very very best.   And I want all the world to know about you so here is your story.

Monster’s mother was a road dog.  When she littered near my garage,  I fed the little family but a monitor lizard devoured all but one little pup … so I took Mother and son into my garage for safety.  When the pup was big, he joined his mother on the road.

They looked after the neighbourhood. Everybody fed them. I would get the mobile vet for vaccines or treatment. Mother dog was so easy to manage – meek and patient. The little one … he was terrified and gave us such a difficult time with howls and yelps.  I think that was perhaps when I started calling him ‘Monster’.

The mother was run over one day and Monster was on his own so I started paying him more attention, talking to him whenever I saw him. He had an incredible attachment to me.  He would come running from wherever he was the minute he heard my gate click and follow me whether on foot or car. .  If I went to my sisters a few doors away, he’d follow me there.  If I went to a neighbour’s, Monster would come there too.

20141023_172659 (2) RF

Monster waiting for me outside my neighbours home.

If I went to church at the end of the road, he’d come there and join the congregation.

This was OK whilst the church was being built and we had no formal arrangement downstairs. But when we completed our beautiful chapel upstairs, Monster would still join the congregation and sit under my pew. We could never get him to leave as long as I was there. I decided tough measures were called for when he came right into the sanctuary one day and sat there right next to me whilst I was making an announcement!  Nobody was listening to me; all eyes were on him!!  Our priest  took it in good spirits saying he was the only Catholic dog he has seen. But after that, I would try to inveigle Monster into the house and lock him in before we left for Church.

Not an easy task – and still achieved only 50% of the time for Monster knows without a doubt when Sunday evening draws near.  Nothing we can do will persuade him to enter the house.

Suspicious Sunday - steering clear of you today look. Also is the vet nearby look !!

Suspicious Sunday – steering clear of you today look. Also is the vet nearby look !!

He knows all our tricks now so it is difficult to trick him indoors.  If by chance we succeed, he hangs by the door and rushes  past us my mum when she steps out. There is high drama each Sunday for he has to go to church. There are people there who love him, talk to him and even buy him food.  The only good thing now is that he does not come inside the church (the new priest did not allow him) so he joins the fellowship outside after Mass.

Monster still leads us a dance when we have to get the vet.  He is not well now. He has got injured in a fight and has a touch of mange. I look at him and say “Mon will you let me get the vet?”  But unless we have a many pairs of strong hands and prepare ourselves for days, it is going to be really difficult.  He hates the vet or even mention of the name.  We have to resort to code language like “Canine caretaker”  or speak in Sinhalese  (the local language which he does not understand !) for on countless occasions, the vet has turned up, after we have secured Monster indoors, but has not been able to treat him. Somehow, Monster manages to escape. Once we had the whole neighbourhood looking for him because the Vet had drawn the injection.  We ended up paying for treatment not administered.

Now, we have to give him sleeping tablets before the Vet arrives.  It is not good for him, that’s why I hesitate and delay. The first time we gave him one tablet, he woke up when the vet touched him and ran away.  The next time, tablet plus muzzle.  He still jumped up and ran away.  The third time, tablet, plus muzzle plus both legs secured when he was drowsy. I hated such drastic treatment but felt the end justified the means.  He needed medical treatment. He still struggled so vet gave him a fast acting injection. He took so long to come out I was terrified it had gone wrong.

But Monster is a strong dog.

I think with wonder and undiluted thanks of the day that I ran over him.  Yes, I who loved him so, ran over him.

He had run out in front of the car for his usual ‘advance party’  but suddenly decided to roll over and scratch his body.  I was just inching the car forward when I heard a yelp and froze wondering which way to move. Monster dragged himself out from under the tire where I had run over his lower belly.  He was grumbling and whining and would not allow me to touch him.  I cried profusely, Monster I am sorry but he was in too much pain to heed my tears  and only grumbled at me – you had to hear it to believe!  Honest. That dog could almost speak.  He allowed my mum to hep him and this was only time we had no difficulty with the Vet for Monster knew he needed help.  Later, he allowed me to take care of him till he recovered.

I am still very nervous when Monster is on the road as he expects vehicles to move out of his way!   Just look at him below !! 

t nervous when driving home as Monster  takes over the whole road and forms a welcome brigade for me, prancing from side to side, till I reach my house. Many times, I just wait till the road is clear before driving on.

Monster… thank you for all the happiness you have brought me/us, and all who love you: your road friends (the ‘walkers’ 🙂 your church friends and your many admirers, including the baker who brings a bun for you each day.  Thank you for being so faithful and loyal and watching over me wherever I go.

I thank God for you and pray that I can keep you healthy and safe into your old age.

I love you Mon. ”

Postscript.

Sadly it was not to be.  But Monster taught me how to love unconditionally, faithfully and without expectation of anything in return.

“Love me for a reason and let the reason be love.”