It’s been a lovely week. The weather has been astounding with redbud and dogwood popping out overnight in the warmth and humidity that has more in common with early June than March.
My brother, Zed, is visiting from Vermont. It’s been two years since I’ve seen him and five years since he’s been here in Virginia. He came accompanied by Mousse, his soul mate and loyal companion. A dachshund, right on the line between a mini and a standard size, Mousse’s silky long hair is the color of rich dark chocolate. His nose, paws, and rear end look as though they’ve been dipped in a bit of caramel. He is well-behaved and a total delight. Sam loves him and they’re happy together, racing around the house at top speed. After a few minutes they collapse, smiling, happy, and panting with long tongues hanging out. Mousse is very respectful of my cats, backing off and giving them lots of space as they try to figure out exactly what he is … a strange kind of cat or just another small, silly dog. Pepper glares at him but every now and then seems to want to rub up against him and welcome him into the pack. She thinks she is a small dog rather than a cat.
Mousse is unlike most dachshunds in that he is a Service Dog and he has made a huge difference in my brother’s life. He loves everyone and is the star of the show wherever he goes, because of his obvious attunement with all of the humans he meets. In a group of people sitting in a circle conversing, he hops from lap to lap checking out each individual’s mood, bringing heartfelt smiles from those who might be stressed from life’s deepest woes.
Zed struggles with ADD and like myself, has often had difficulty with severe anxiety. Mousse brings stability to Zed’s life, reminding him to breathe and filling the sometimes deep, dark shadows that follow him with love and comfort. With Mousse there is no high blood pressure, only the sweet softness of his kisses and the unconditional love that every one of us craves. Mousse and Zed have been together for two or three years and there is a world of difference in how Zed sees the world since his Service Dog arrived in his life. He is happy, calm, and with his small pal by his side, Zed is better able to deal with what at times are difficult social situations. Introductions are so much easier with Mousse taking the spotlight. Not being able to find the right words to greet someone he’s never met before is less of an issue since the beginning of most conversations are always about the huge presence of that sweet, little dog.
Terri Conti, a friend of Zed’s spent one night with us as well. A lovely, soft-spoken woman, Terri is a musical powerhouse. Sitting outside one evening listening to a recording of her playing the accordion, I was swept away to Greece, and a small Taverna where Bill and I enjoyed frosty glasses of white wine and servings of freshly prepared calamari in a spicy tomato sauce, as the sun set over the Aegean Sea. Later, on our piano, Terri played part of the latest piece she is working on, George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. And then she got us singing show tunes, all of us off-key to be sure, but having the time of our lives. It was a totally delightful weekend.
Having my brother here has been very special for me. We are the only ones left of our small clan and our time together this past week has been a time for reconnecting after years of being apart. We’ve been able to share memories about what it was like growing up with our parents and that helps to keep me inspired to continue writing my memoir. He heads back to Vermont tomorrow and I’ll miss him and Mousse terribly. As I grow older it’s hard to have him so far away.