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A Home-Coming … Or Two

My trip to Alaska was sensationally phenomenal. . . if not phenomenally sensational. That state has so much to offer.

I know these columns are to be centered on nature-plus and positively never a travelogue. The paper has other writers for that. But I will have more in one of my columns for November and wouldn’t be too surprised to see references creeping into even more of my Musings.

The trip could not conceivably been better except for one thing. I was leaving Molly behind. Thirteen and one third, my golden retriever had recovered much of her childish enthusiam and vigor in her months with me. Still, as far as health was concerned, she had more things wrong than any “healthy” dog I’d known.

Sad of heart I departed quite aware there was a chance I might never see her again.

I hired a trustworthy and reliable housesitter. What a misnomer that is! I’d prefer to find the house still standing once home but it was the animals that concerned me. Gloria, my black biting cat, seemed quite capable of fending for herself. Declawed (ah, yes, the “good old days”!), she climbed trees with celerity and certainly caught a goodly number of toads, squirrels, chipmunks and, perhaps intending to surprise me, an occasional snake. None were presented with a promise of “deadness.” Healthy birds were safe from her clutches.

Then there was Molly.

I had left a full directive with my good veterinarian promising to cover any incurred expenses including needed treatments, even euthanasia and cremation. (I do not consider myself a pessimist. Chasing away negative thoughts is my mantra but I do mentally rehearse the what-ifs in an attempt to be ready for any eventuality.)

Doing all I could to assure myself this cruise wouldn’t be dampened by worry (I am that kind of person) and fully aware there was nothing I could do from afar, I cut off all bad (and good) news for the duration. I never checked my cellphone, actually forgetting after the first day that I even had it.

No way, however, did I want to walk into a dark — and empty — house.

I asked my Molly-sitter to call the marvelous friend who not only drove us to the airport but had agreed to come get us at that ungodly hour too close to midnight. If there were indeed bad tales to be told, let her relay the news once I was on the ground and headed home. Time enough then for tears and adjustment.

I did enjoy the trip and honestly don’t remember giving much thought to anyone or anything beyond my immediate pleasure. Alaska provided enough stimulation to keep me happy with a mind always full.

Well, not ALL the days. With parts of three days to be spent after arriving back in Seattle, I grew increasingly anxious. (Part of that is just me: I’ve always been great on traveling until headed home. Then hurry up please.) Trying to be nonchalant, I answered questions about the trip until I could wait no more. “Did you hear from my sitter?” “No.” I wanted that to be good news. But could I be sure?

There was only one light burning inside the house, none on the exterior. I gratefully accepted help lifting my two-ton suitcase (filled with so many clothes never worn) into the house and said my good nights with abundant expressions of gratitude for the rides.

Then alone. Alone in an absolutely still house.

“Molly! Molly!”

She came bounding out and would eagerly cover me with sloppy kisses as long as I continued to kneel. Who was happier?

It was obvious she’d had excellent loving care for she settled into our old routine much faster than I who faced newspapers and mail for days on end.

Unfortunately, this isn’t quite the end of my home-coming tale for, just four days later, I was unexpectedly whisked away.

Molly didn’t take to this absence at all. She moped steadily, refusing to get up to greet her longtime friend and had to be bribed with treats to get her outside.

I knew — as did everyone with whom I came in contact — that I needed to get home as quickly as possible. Three days later I was there.

Two lessons learned: I will not promise what I can’t keep (“I promise I’ll never leave you again.”) and I will take better (more wisely) care of myself so the first part can be true.

Right now Molly is doing better than ever. She couldn’t be happier

Me too.

Susan Crossett has lived outside Cassadaga for more than 20 years. A lifetime of writing led to these columns as well as two novels. “Her Reason for Being” was published in 2008 with “Love in Three Acts” following in 2014. Both novels are now available at Lakewood’s Off the Beaten Path bookstore. Information on all the Musings, her books and the author may be found at Susancrossett.com.

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