To read the previous tales of Bob the dog, CLICK HERE.
My mother was 96 and living in an assisted living center. Her heart was struggling, and she was having a hard time getting enough oxygen. She had gone into hospice care but often refused their help. I was on call in case they needed me for anything.
One morning, they rang and asked me to come down. I immediately left work and drove over. When I walked in, the nurse was suggesting some morphine to help Mom, but Mom was leery about it, as she seemed to be about most things at that point in her life.
“Joyce, it will help you relax and get more oxygen,” the nurse said.
“I don’t trust it or the doctor that prescribed it,” Mom said.
The nurse noticed me and asked me to convince Mom to take it. I shook my head. Even though I had power given to me to make decisions for her, I refused to go against her wishes.
“Is there anything else, maybe something milder, that you could give her?” I asked.
The nurse sighed. “Yes, but it is slow-acting and will take a half hour or more to have any real effect. She is so tense and combative because of lack of oxygen.”
I talked to Mom, and she agreed to take the milder medicine. The nurse nodded and gave it to her. Then she said, “Maybe you can find a way to calm her down. That will help her more than about anything.”
Mom knew she wasn’t doing well, so after the nurse left, she said, “Son, you’ve read a lot about what happens after a person dies. What will it be like?”
“From what I’ve read, those you love come to meet you.”
“Do you think your dad will be there?” she asked.
“Of course,” I replied.
“How about your brothers?”
I answered in the affirmative. Then she started naming others she hoped would meet her. There were her parents, her siblings, and some grandparents. As she talked about them, her tension appeared to melt away, and her breathing stabilized. She then started mentioning friends. Being 96, most of her friends were already gone, but she couldn’t remember names and grew anxious again. I named a few, but it didn’t help much. Then I thought of something.
“Mom, how about Bob?”
Mom spoke with a disgusted tone. “I don’t know anyone named Bob.”
“I’m talking about Bob, your dog.”
It took a moment, but suddenly she smiled. “Old Bob.”
She then turned to me and said, “Have I told you about the time he accidentally knocked me into the canal, then he nearly died himself saving me?”
Though I had heard the story many times, I simply said, “Tell me, Mom.”
She told me the story, then told me the one about the migrants stealing Bob and taking him thousands of miles from home, only to have him return. She told quite a few stories about him, then she leaned up on an elbow. “Son, do you really think dogs go to heaven?”
“There are some I have doubts about,” I replied. “But I feel what makes it heaven is being with those we love. I don’t think it would be heaven without the animals we care about.”
Mom smiled. “I don’t think so, either.” She then rested back on her pillow and said, “I think I’ll sleep now.”
She closed her eyes and spoke Bob’s name once more before her breathing became steady. The nurse came in and gasped. “What did you do?”
“It wasn’t me,” I said, “It was Bob.”
I explained it to her, and she smiled. It wasn’t too many days later that Mom left his life. I struggled a lot with my grief. However, when it would become overwhelming, I would think of those who would be there to greet her—Dad, my brothers, her family, and her friends.
But most of all, I would envision a small, bobtailed dog running joyfully to her, happy to welcome his friend home.