My oldest son’s childhood friend passed away a few days ago. Logan worked for that little golden puppy the whole summer of his fourteenth year. It was hard work and quite a bit of responsibility working at the kennel where she was born, but he didn’t mind at all. He passed the time making big plans and dreaming big dreams for the two of them.
Every hour that he put into cleaning kennels, he was also being mentored by the best dog trainer around. Oh, he learned how to muck a pen, for sure, but he also learned self discipline, patience and respect. As he followed that old trainer around and did his bidding day after day, Logan thought he was working for the price of a puppy, when he was really learning to be a man.
Once he brought that wiggly canine home, they were inseparable. They tromped through every field and swamp within walking distance, and when they got tired, they rode. The four wheeler, the ranger, the truck, the boat. Camma loved to ride. Logan would drive and she would sit up tall and smile.
One of his big plans was to make her a great duck hunting dog. She never actually cared much for jumping into icy water or holding feathery birds in her mouth. She was a good sport, though, and would do anything that Logan asked of her. Mice. Now that was something Camma got excited about. One little rodent darting through the grass or a scurry under a brush pile would turn that pudgy pup into a well honed weapon of mouse destruction. Once we all stopped trying to make her something she wasn’t, everyone was happier for it. She was some kind of mouser.
There was only one time in Camma’s twelve years that she and Logan had a true falling out. He had wanted a litter of puppies so badly. All of the arrangements were made and the whole family anticipated sweet puppy breath. The big day arrived in the middle of a horrid, storm-ridden cold snap. You can imagine the pandemonium that ensued when Logan found brand new puppies scattered all over the muddy kennel. Of course, Momma and the whole brood were immediately brought into the basement and made comfortable.
We grieved over the first pup that didn’t make it through the storm. We comforted the anxious mom when she laid on the second pup and it didn’t recover. When Logan happened upon her intentionally doing away with a third pup, I was afraid for her life. The remaining three pups were raised on a bottle, and Camma went back to doing what she did best, being a boy’s best friend.
Logan came through his teenage years with Camma at his side. It wasn’t uncommon to see them in a distant field, coming home from their latest adventure. Logan would be talking, and Camma would be listening. I’m sure she heard all of his woes about girls and siblings and being a Pastor’s kid.
1 Corinthians 13:11 says, “…when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Logan’s friendship with Camma must not have been childish. After he got married and moved out on his own, he would still come over every couple of weeks to visit his childhood friend. I would look out the window and see them coming through the field. Logan would be talking, and Camma would be listening. Often they would be riding the ranger. Logan would be driving, and Camma would be sitting up tall and smiling.
Yes, today there is sadness because of the freshly turned soil under the pine trees. Yet, there is also much thankfulness for the memories of a little yellow pup and how she helped to raise the big, strong man who lives down the road.
-Pat Vick (All Rights Reserved 9/16/16)