During the last few years of my mother’s life, she lived in Story, a small town about twenty miles south of Sheridan, Wyoming, nestled at the foot of the Big Horn mountains. She and my father were divorced but still good friends. At the time, I was single, living in an apartment in Sheridan, working as an activities assistant at a nursing home, and volunteering at other facilities in the community that served senior citizens. Dad, Grandma, and I often drove to Story with Maud, Dad’s Irish setter, to visit Mother. Sometimes, she fixed us a meal, and at other times, we ate at a nearby restaurant. At Christmas after my brother’s first child was born, he and his family came from their home in Los Alamos, New Mexico. We spent the night in Story and had a traditional family Christmas complete with Santa’s usual nocturnal visit.
To get to Mother’s house, we drove to Story on a main highway. We then turned onto a dirt road that wound through the woods for about a mile. At the dirt road, Dad stopped and let Maud out so she could run alongside the car for the rest of the trip. This is described in more detail in the following poem from How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver.
The car turns onto the dirt road and stops.
The rear left passenger door opens.
Out jumps an Irish setter.
The door slams shut.
The car moves down the road at a moderate pace.
The dog runs alongside the car,
her red, floppy ears and mane blowing in the breeze,
the multi-colored kerchief around her neck visible in the sunlight.
She hesitates, sniffs something along the side of the road.
The car stops–Dad calls, “Come on, Maud.”
Maud turns toward the car–we’re off.
About a mile down the road,
the car turns into the driveway of a log cabin–
Mother hurries out to meet us.
Maud rushes up to her, tail wagging in frantic anticipation.
She strokes the dog’s shaggy neck–
Maud gives her a sloppy kiss.
She runs in joyous circles around the car,
as we alight and items are removed from the trunk.
It’s so good to be home!