Childhood memories are some of my fondest. My greatest of those are before school when I spent entire days with my mother. Going to school changed that dramatically. And of course growing up and following other ventures certainly put those days in the past. But there are many great memories left from my early days with mom. One of them was named “Lady.” She was probably part beagle and part collie, an odd assortment. But she was the most loving dog I may have ever known. She was owned by the Ballestreri’s one block over on 16th street. But she was really a neighborhood dog because she was free to roam the neighborhood every day. And that’s what she did. My most vivid memories of her are seeing her play in the 4 to 5 acre overgrown field behind our row of houses. She loved chasing birds and rabbits. And everyday she would make her way to our back porch and scratch the aluminum screen door. Mom and I would always give her bits of bologna and milk – and Lady was always so appreciative. It’s like her eyes were alive with love and friendship – and though it’s impossible – I seem to remember her face always smiling. But then I got older and into my own things, going to school, working, and chasing girls constantly. I would see Lady less and less. Not because she wasn’t there. But because I wasn’t. Then one day while I was in high school, and busier than I’d probably ever been, I saw her in the back field chasing a rabbit. She was a little slower, and much less agile, but inside those eyes was still the Lady I knew. I gave her some meat and milk, patted her head, and off she went. I never saw her again. I changed her owner’s name in the poem below because Ballestreri is frightfully hard to rhyme.
Lady, Dear Lady
Her name was Lady,
owned by O’grady.
She roamed the neighborhood each day.
For a bit of bologna
or cheese and macaroni
She’d stop and smile as if to say:
I really like you friend
and I will to the end,
even after we’ve gone our own way.
And I would pat her little head as soft as I could,
then she’d return to roam the neighborhood,
until one day I never saw her again.
Lady, dear Lady, I’ll love you to the end.
I’ll save some bologna for that day when
We’ll roam the stars together…..
© 2014 John Allen Richter