Helen was close to tears all the time. She knew that her beloved companion did not have many more days to live and she just couldn’t imagine her life without him. She worked at the library, only ten minutes away from her home and at lunchtime she would run back to see how he was doing and try to get some food into him. The last few weeks had been hard; he was now totally blind, eating very little, dizzy and unsteady, she had to put diapers on him and almost wished it would be over soon. She did not have the heart to bring him to the vet and have him put out of his misery.
“Oh, Giselle,” she breathed, “I love Pepper so much, how can I be the one to kill him? I just can’t see myself making that decision.”
I tried to make her feel a little better by telling her about my memories about pets.
“I understand. I lost a dog once, but it was different. Cindy was run over and I cried for six weeks until my seven year old boy insisted on getting another dog. I remember my father shooting his beloved cat Peter; he had him for an amazing twenty-one years, and Dad cried after he did it. He explained to me that he was being kind to Peter who was suffering and dying anyway. And, Helen, – you would be kind to Pepper. What kind of life is this for him? He suffers, Helen, and you don’t have to shoot him, the vet will give him a needle and he will gently fall asleep.”
It took a few more days before Helen did what had to be done.
It was about two months later that I ran into her in a Coffee Bar. She looked fine to me, – almost happy. Giving her a big hug I couldn’t help asking:
“Heh, you, – how are you doing? Did you get another dog? You seem like a new person to me!”
Pointing to the chair next to hers she offered me some Newton fig cookies but said:
“Here, have some date squares, – you want a coffee?”
Then she gave me the biggest smile:
“I am happy, Giselle, I really am! – You wouldn’t believe what I did! I’m embarrassed to talk about it… and I don’t want to ‘jinx’ it…”
“Oh, come on, – we have known each other long enough. What did you do? And, by the way, you are eating Newton fig cookies and not date squares…”
“Whatever. Okay, I’ll spill my beans but you must promise to keep my secret for now. I couldn’t stand living alone after Pepper was gone. One night I went online and checked out the dating sites. I figured it would be nice to have a human companion I could travel with instead of another dog who keeps me at home. You know, – I lived ten years with Pepper after my lousy divorce, convinced that ‘a dog is a woman’s best friend’ but I’m getting older and I want a bit more out of life now before it’s too late. Believe it or not, – I have about three dates a week! I found a dating site for seniors, with men looking for the same thing – companionship.”
Wow! I was dumb founded. I looked at her, I was incredulous, and by now she was very excited to tell me about it.
“I always meet them at this Coffee Bar, I want to be safe. They don’t need to know where I live. So far I have met most of them only once, I liked a few of the guys but none has even asked for a second date. But there is one, – Giselle, – I am going to see him again on Saturday. But I have another date this afternoon. I feel like a teenager again, – it’s cool, maybe you should try it!”
When I met her a couple of weeks later she couldn’t wait to tell me more about it.
Grinning, she confided:
“Remember that afternoon date I told you about over coffee? I was waiting for the new guy and lo and behold, all of a sudden the one I had a date with for Saturday stood in front of me. You can’t imagine my embarrassment! I felt the blood rushing to my face I wasn’t sure what to say, but he just sat down, smiled and complimented me on my healthy colouring…“
“Oh my God, Helen, what a situation! What did you do when the other guy turned up?”
“That’s the doozy, Giselle, he never did! It was this one I had the date with. I kept looking at the door until he asked me why I was so nervous. I took heart and told him about my mistake and we had a good laugh. That laugh settled it! We have been seeing each other quite a bit and even plan to go on a trip to the UK in August. So what do you say now?”
It was almost a year later when I worked alongside her at a volunteer function. When there was a bit of a lull she held her left hand in front of my face and looked at me expectantly. “My goodness”, I exclaimed, -“you got married?”
“Giselle, he is incredible. I had a broken shoulder and he cared for me while I lived with him for several months. He really proved himself. When he asked me to marry him I agreed wholeheartedly. My home is for sale and I will live with him. When I sold my car, he immediately had his transferred into both our names. I was so lucky for having met him and he thinks all the luck is on his side. We are so happy. Can you believe it? To have a new start like this in our ripe old age?”
“Helen, my congratulations! I remember the day when you introduced him to me. I told him you are a keeper! He seems to have taken it to heart. Please tell him that I am glad you are together for the rest of your life.”
“Bet ya, Giselle, I’ll do whatever it takes to keep him and myself healthy so that we still have many years together.”
Hope. There is always hope! The Internet, – canoodling while Googling?