This is “Petie”. I met him before, according to my good friend walking beside, but don’t remember doing so. Petie has one eye, is almost completely deaf, has no sense of balance due to bad hips, and is old. Other than those few inconveniences, life is good for him.
Daughter, the owner, is out of town, so “dad” is walking Petie down the isolated alley on this beautiful, sunny day. I had a few precious moments to stop by. My friend is an older gentleman who would dogsit for his daughter … while she moves about taking care of business out of state. He’s just that kind of a guy. A success and a survivor as well.
Petie takes the easy, slow road this day. I guess he has to. He’d topple over if urged by an overtug of the leash. The walk today seems to be a nice, gentle shuffle dance between my friend and Petie … held together by the silent music of the off-yellow rope leash binding the two together. There’s an understanding – “I won’t if you won’t” kind of thing going on.
You see, my dear friend is simply that: a dear friend. He is a pancreatic cancer survivor going on six years. He won’t admit we’re good friends because he’s goofy, and significantly older than I. But, I can admit such because I am a ….. mature adult … (pin drop).
“Hercules” (name changed, obviously) went through hell and back six years ago. He survived, but to do so required five back surgeries, multiple chemo treatments, …. and all the usuals. He lost – and maintains to this day – five inches in height and over fifty pounds. For an already smaller man, that’s not a small deal.
There is a back story as well. We met in 2007 and didn’t realize there was a musical connection until a conversation started over … yes … chili-mac and cheese at a local Doug’s Dawgs restaurant in Lakemont, oh so many years ago. He is a retired Army band member. My uncle John sang in the Army chorus (who are considered part of the Army band from what I can gather). They knew of each other. A large world suddenly shrank into a smaller, intimate world and a friendship began. My uncle John died in the summer of 2013, but he did have the chance to meet up with Hercules in 2010. What a neat circle of life moment.
My friend is very lucky. He doesn’t say “blessed” and I’m really cool with that. The survival rate, as we know, is ridiculously low for pancreatic cancer, so for him to be walking Petie six years after his diagnosis is quite fantastic.
I make every effort to irritate him as much as possible. I also take the time to tell him he is a special friend. Both are important to me.
Not surprising that he is walking Petie on this day. Both of them shuffling along, doing what they can with what life threw on their porch, … then rang their doorbell and ran like the coward it was.
I stopped by for a few minutes not knowing what I’d run into. I never do. Always like to stir the pot when I do because Hercules deserves a good ole’ change of pace sometimes. Today I find two older friends shuffling down an isolated alley – together – figuring out how to get through another day.
…. I was glad to be part of that – if only for a few minutes on a really nice sunny day. It was only Petie, Hercules, and I … that’s all we needed to make the inconveniences in our lives disappear – if ever so briefly.