Rory texted me out of the blue:
Is Pa home???
I shot back:
And then he called.
Whats up Rory?
“Something kinda weird has happened. Pa’s not gonna be happy.”
My stomach knotted. I think the car is crashed, he is in the hospital about to go into surgery.....
“I got a puppy on Craig’s List.”
He played that well, I think. He knew I would go straight to something terrible in my mind. And then to find out it’s just a puppy? Just.
The problem then, of course, was that Rory was taking classes, and working full time, and living in a high rise apartment in Hollywood. An apartment for which our name was listed on the lease.
“So I was thinking,” he said, “I can’t leave her here alone.....so let’s not tell Pa - and when I come home with her - he will just fall in love with her, and all will be good.”
Ohhhhhh I don’t know Rory.... but he hung up. And FaceTimed me.
“Here Mom - look.”
And I fell in line. She was adorable. Her name was Blue.
The brothers, apparently, already knew about Blue. I brought it up out of ear shot to Shane.
What do you think Pa will do?
“Can I quote Pa?,” Shane asks.
Go ahead! I say.
“It’s going to be a shit show.” He replies.
Chris is not a dog person. He is a clean person. He dust-busts around us as we finish eating dinner. He scoops up our plates as we take a final bite, because only he knows how to properly clean a plate before it goes into the dishwasher.
“Sorry Mom...but Pa washes dishes before they go onto a dishwasher...he is not going to like having an untrained puppy home for two weeks!” Shane adds.
Blue is a white Husky/German Shepherd mix with one blue eye. When I FaceTime Rory every day before Christmas - because I have fallen in love with Blue - he is always rolling a tape thingy over his clothes, the couch, any surface....picking up Blue’s hair.
“It’s like snow in here, Mom!” he laughs.
Wow! I say. It’s gonna be a shit show, I think.
The kids never had a dog. We had critters you wouldn’t want to touch. Lizards, snails, hamsters - pets that no one really understood at cocktail parties. I carried no pictures of them on my phone like the dog people did. We mistakenly had reproducing parakeets at one point. After the population got to five, I would sneak eggs out of the cage and toss them. It was getting crowded in that bird cage.
Chris cleaned the cage daily. Vacuumed around it hourly.
The plan Rory came up with was to tell Chris we had to pick up his snowboard at the cargo terminal. And then Rory would go in and get Blue and just bring her out, what could Chris do?
It was a nasty cruel plan to agree to as a loving wife. But I was recklessly in love.
I have a Norman Rockwell calendar. My favorite illustration is a group of boys on a basketball court. In it, a little kid - maybe a little brother - is yelling at the top of his lungs at the tall boys around him. This kid is trying to get noticed. That’s all. That’s Rory.
Little brothers sometimes have it rough. Sometimes Rory forgets we are all standing there, arms wide open.
That Christmas, at the cargo terminal parking lot, Chris scooped up Blue and hugged Rory.
“She is awesome!” Chris laughed. Blue licked Chris’ face and just like that, he fell in line.
And Christmas went a little smoother that year. There was a new “little” in the family. Rory stood tall with his brothers, shared stories of taking care of something that he loved.
We all loved Blue. Chris loved having more to clean. The dog could do no wrong in his eyes. She could pee on us, throw up on the living room rug, chew an heirloom Santa, and we all scooped her up and kissed her face off.
She’s family now! We all told Rory. Arms wide open.