There is one thing I still have to do, and I have been putting it off. Stinky Wink's collar and leash are still hanging on the hanger with my coat in the closet next to the front door. That seems the hardest thing to do--even more than picking up the toys, for some reason. He loved walkies SO much. I plan to use the leash for baby; that seems like a nice continuity. But Wink's collar will be retired, and put with the other things of his that I am keeping in a memory box. He only had one collar his entire adult life, so it is truly Wink-infused. The leash and the collar were never separated because he only wore the collar when we walked. He was never outside without me, and when he was outside it was either in our fenced yard or on walkies. He never showed any interest in leaving our yard on his own. Occasionally I would leave the back gate open when I was working in the vegetable garden. I think maybe twice he came through the gate and sat there to watch me. Mostly he would lie next to the picket fence by the vegetable garden, with his head lying on the bottom brace, watching me and enjoying the sun. If he had been the kind to take off, I would have made sure the collar was always on. The way it was, he associated the collar with going on an adventurous walk.

     I will have to take the collar off the leash and put it away--but not today. When Grandpa died, Grandma left his work shoes by the back door. A couple of years later, I asked her why they were still there. She said, simply, "That's where he left them." There was nothing especially sentimental in that response, but I knew it was the culmination of almost sixty years of marriage, and those shoes were infused with Grandpa. He died suddenly in his favorite chair while talking to my parents and my sister, who was home from California. Putting those shoes there may well have been the last thing he did. She wanted that reminder. Maybe I should put a hook on the closet wall and leave the collar there--just to remind me every time I open the closet door that the collar is a symbol of happy times and special events. Grandpa's shoes were a reminder of what he did every day when he came home. Wink's collar is a reminder of healthy and happy times, and of what we did together every day--something we both enjoyed and both needed. Of all the other interactions we had during the day, that was our special time. He snooped; I thought.

     I'm going to take a little more time to decide about the collar. It's not in the way, and there will be a couple of months before I need to think about using the leash. In the mean time, when I open the closet door I smile, remembering a life that was so entwined with my own. I remember our walkies, Winker, and how we both enjoyed them. I try to walk our routes myself, but it's not the same without you. Still, somehow I think that you are there, your spirit trotting along beside me, sticking your nose in the same bushes, marking the same spots that you marked every walk. You still make me smile, my besses puppo.

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Comment by Miranda~ Moses | Maya | Maverick on April 15, 2012 at 4:30pm
I went to the pet store and made an exact replica collar and nametag of Murphy's last collar. I have his old one with his old tags too. I'm making a shadow box with them and his leash, along with the agate (with rings in the shape of a heart) we found on our last walk together. I am keeping his original last collar on my rear view mirror so he can watch over me wherever I go. The story of your grampa's shoes is very touching; I had a hard time moving a lot of Murphy's things after he passed. Your blogs are filled with loving memories and your writing is beautiful. After one blog (and not even knowing yu), I can see how immense the love between Wink and you was. Don't worry about forgetting the little things either. Because you lived them together and they will always be in your heart. Your new little one will be a smart bundle of joy, and he or she will have the opportunity to bring new fun memories to add.
Comment by Tomi and Story on March 11, 2012 at 3:19pm
Hi Randy, I am so sorry for your loss. I completely understand about the collar, I still have collars and tags from my beloved shepherd and rott, and it's been 25 years and 7 years ago, respectively, since they crossed the rainbow bridge. They never, ever leave your heart. I also love the shadow box idea.
Comment by Jennifer Markley on March 10, 2012 at 8:31pm

We are in Kansas visiting my husbands grandmother.  We lost his grandfather last September, and the wounds are still pretty raw.   Whenever we came here, Andy and I always sat on one side of the table because we were left handed.  Last night, they had me sitting right in the middle on our side.  I had to scoot over, and when they asked me why, I said because Andy always sat there, and it didn't seem right to encroach on his space.  Like you said, a scar forms to heal the initial wound, but the damage will always be there.

I think that a shadow box is a wonderful idea.  

Comment by Alison Prasavath on March 10, 2012 at 4:36pm

When Noodles goes over to visit his Grammie and Gramps, he uses Schautzie's (our miniature Schnauzer that my parent's rescued) water dish. To this day, my parents have the different shirts and jackets Schautzie wore still sitting in the cabinet in the laundry room and Schautzie has been gone for 5.5 years. We still joke when someone sits in a certain chair that Schautz wouldn't be happy because that was her chair.

Your posts have really made me think how much my life would change if Noodles weren't around and I don't know if I could put away his things. There are just so many memories in the various things...toys, harness, leash, dishes, blankets and beds. I love the ideas on here about shadow boxes.

Comment by Gromit, Sparkle, and Doug on March 10, 2012 at 4:31pm

The collars from my late pals Watson & Tinsel hang just above my workbench in the garage.  The workbench is one of my favorite places and I like to be reminded of them when I'm out there puttering about and making or repairing things.

Comment by Sam, Gregg & Poopdeck on March 10, 2012 at 3:11pm

I had a Lhasa for 15 years, I hung his collar from the rear view mirror in my truck.  We traveled most of his life and it just seemed right.  When I sold the truck I moved the collar to the Jeep I drive now. The collar is still there after eleven years, that is my memorial to Schmoe.  I wouldn't put Wink's collar away right yet, there is no rush you will know when the time is right and will have the perfect place for it as well.

Comment by Rebecca Marie O'Bryan on March 10, 2012 at 2:35pm

it took me some time to put teddys collar, harnesses, and leashes away. along with his toys and many other things. i will not use teddys collar on our corgis we have now but i use the green harness on dollar and teddys old harness(when he was a puppy) on baden now. its keeps the memory's alive.

Comment by Andrea De Leo on March 10, 2012 at 2:15pm

When I lost my Ricco I made a box with his picture and his name out of sterling silver letters for the outside.

I put all his favorite things and his collar in it. It sits next to his ashes and a painting artist Jenna M. Smith created for me. I think doing all this was very healing for me and a wonderful tribute to a corgi that filled my life with MANY years of joy and happiness! I miss him dearly!!!I also think making a shadow box is an awesome idea!

Comment by Marcie on March 10, 2012 at 1:46pm

I kept Kramer's collar. It stayed on the kitchen table for a few weeks before I put it in a drawer. I haven't quite decided what to do with it. I also have a paw print impression that the vet did when he died. I like the shadow box idea.

Comment by Libby and Dyddy!! on March 10, 2012 at 1:31pm

This is so sad. I wouldn't put up the collar and leash. Maybe make a Shadow Box with Winks photo and the leash & collar inside, to hang by the door?  

At least you know you have the support of the corgi community. Prayers and thoughts for you.

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