My Sister and Big Boy the Dog



Note One:

And the idiot is—ME. When I wrote a tribute to sis that the funeral home posted, I thought I used the term gosh awful stroke, and when it turned out darn stroke in the tribute, I thought the funeral home had changed it, which was agitating, because as you will see below, it was supposed to be a personal tribute to sis.

In the second paragraph of the original story below I said that I wrote about sis’s stroke in the tribute with the preceding description of gosh awful stroke. Normally I check myself on any story, maybe even twice on people’s names and quotes, but I wrote the funeral home before I went back to check what I wrote in the tribute that the funeral home posted. I’d had a couple of rough days, but that’s no excuse for not getting it right. I had used gosh awful, but it was earlier in reference to my sis’s health issues over the years. Then I wrote about her darn stroke, probably thinking of all she’d had to put up with all these years, a confounded stroke came along at the end of her life. Death is never kind and pleasant, but does it really have to keep piling on?

Darby Funeral Home in Canton, Georgia was very patient in dealing with me. Earl Darby and Ashley Hamilton called and sent me e-mails. I realize much of what they do is routine, but occasionally they have to deal with the unroutine—ME. How people deal with me sometimes, I’m not quite sure, because I am a holy terror, much as sis was when she was in pursuit of anything. I think I thought what would sis have done, and I did it. Thanks again to Earl and Ashley. I hope me does not come along in their lives every day.

Original story below.

My sister died early Sunday morning. An accumulation of reasons. I’m the only one who remains of the seven of us. I’m kinda lonesome. Sure I have my family, my wife and daughter and son-in-law, and son and daughter-in-law and grand kids. But it’s not the same. They’re not the ones I grew up with.

I wrote something for her guest book that the funeral home has. I’m not sure who is in charge of the guest book entries, but I’m believing they must be Yankees, because they don’t understand good Southern expressions. When I wrote about her stroke that started the cascade of trouble that ensued, I said the stroke was gosh awful. Somebody changed it to darn. How many times did Doodle Bug and I use the term gosh awful when we were growing up? The gosh awful was a personal tribute to her that she and I recognized, and some idiot changed it.

Sis had a formal name, but I used it so seldom I almost forgot it. Her obit listed her nickname as Doodle. Actually as for me it was Doodle Bug. Don’t ask me where that name came from. She didn’t look like a doodle bug. She had red hair, and doodle bugs don’t have red hair.

She modeled some locally, and doodle bugs don’t model locally. She went up to New York to try and put a dent in the modeling world up there. Doodle bugs don’t go to New York. I don’t think they like the cold weather up there. They’re a Southern creature.

She didn’t have much luck up there, and finally took an ordinary job. Now if it had been me in NYC, after I didn’t do what I set out to do, I would have cleared out in about twenty minutes, proclaiming I couldn’t understand what those Yankee people were saying.

She stayed up there for years, I don’t remember the exact number. She met a Yankee fellow and got married. Nice fellow. I don’t think she could have done better, and when a Southerner like me says she done good on the marital front in marrying a Yankee, he must be super.

They came to visit from time to time, and it was like a homecoming. She didn’t exactly talk like a Yankee, which I was thankful for, then again she didn’t exactly talk like a Southerner either. But she talked Southern enough to where I could still understand her. If I concentrated enough, I could even understand her husband.

When he retired, they moved to an Atlanta suburb. Her husband adapted, well kinda. I’m not sure to this day he understands what the guys are saying out on the golf course. Looks like Georgia Tech or some college would have had a course in Southern 101, because I think a lotta Yankees live in Atlanta now, and probably struggle to understand Southerners. Of course most communication is by computer or texting or whatever, and I don’t think any of those modern gadgets know a single Southern word.

Here I’ve written all of this, and haven’t said a single word about Big Boy the dog. But then on the other hand, I thought you might want to know something about my sister, so I told you.

Sis and I were young, I was probably ten or eleven and she was four years older. Somebody gave her a Great Dane named Big Boy. I don’t know how big he was, but he was bigger than me. She was trying to adapt him to our way of life, and he hadn’t quite mastered the technique yet, so when she left me in charge of Big Boy while she went into East Point, she left him on a chain out in the yard, and told me to watch him.

I was watching him, and his five-gallon bucket of water. Although he had just eaten, he still looked hungry, so I went in the kitchen to see if there was anything that might appeal to him. There were seven or eight biscuits left over from breakfast, and I thought that was a possibility. I looked at the size of his mouth, and it looked like a biscuit might just about fit. I tossed it to him, he chomped on it about three or four times, and then swallowed it. After he had eaten all the biscuits, he looked at me, asking me if I had anything else at the present time.

Big Boy had walked around and gotten his metal chain all tangled up. It was anchored well at one end. It had to be, otherwise he would have gotten loose with the chain trailing behind him. But the chain had to be untangled, and I decided that he probably decided this household was a good source of food, and if I unchained him long enough to straighten out his chain, he would sit there. Wrong.

Greyhounds can run fast. Big Boy could gallop faster. I was just one step behind him, and I remained one step behind him as I reached for his collar. I chased him until I gave out, and he was still running at full speed. He disappeared, never to be seen again.

I knew Doodle Bug would be ticked when she got home, and considered the possibility of leaving Fulton County which is where I happened to be standing at the moment. Then I decided it might be best to leave the country, but with my limited funds, I thought I might only reach the city limits of East Point about two and a half miles away.

Doodle Bug came home, and looked at the empty chain. She really wasn’t that mad. I think what she didn’t tell me was that the people who had previously owned him told her about his proclivity (how do you like that word?) for taking off.

Doodle Bug, if you see Big Boy up there where you’re going, I hope you can catch him.

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