my life in dog-years

Every few weeks, my computer or my phone pops up an image I took “on this day” over the last fifteen or twenty years. Sometimes it is a vacation picture taken with my wife – when we went to Ireland, or Zion National Park, or an outing with our children when they were young teens. It may be a dinner outing with friends in San Diego. Others reflect a hike with Dexter, or with Dexter and Comet.

To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.

Susan Sontag, author, d. 2004

For the last couple of years, many more are memories of Gramma and Pop-pop’s time with Zander and Serena. These images of Serena’s brother as a toddler, and now that he is more than twice that age, his sister’s toddler images are also aging. The grey in my hair and beard today belies that time can stand still as in these images.

During our twenty-three years of marriage we raised 3 boys into men, now Thirty-somethings, and five dogs and 3 cats (the dogs and all but 1 cat, have crossed the “rainbow bridge”). I can certainly agree with many who vouch that a companion dog, and even a cat, develops an independent and often self-centered young person into a more mindful and self-less adult. A furry companion enriches the years we spend leaving the house for work or school, and then returning to be welcomed wholeheartedly (or nonchalantly, in the case of a feline). Yet, it is becoming a parent and a couple decades later, a grandparent, that we learn that living to the full with our dogs, families, and friends should be lived as though we only have each other for eight, or twelve, or fifteen years. And then live like that again and again. Then our memories -and our impact on our children are much more than an image captures.

dexter, 2011

But time growing old teaches all things.



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