Written 5/15/06
(In memoriam series)

With yesterday being Mother’s Day, Greg drove west and I drove east.  I enjoy long drives by myself, somewhere less than 15-20 hours anyway.  It’s a good time to explore thoughts, uninterrupted.  It’s a good time to listen to the radio, too, when you forget the CD cassette for the vehicle.  On the way there, I found a good bluegrass channel.

Parker accompanied me for the trip.  He usually lies in the back seat and sleeps once we get onto the interstate, and if he had any catching up to do on naps, he had plenty of opportunity.  We left about 6:30, stopping for a visit with a very excited great neice whose black mare just had a loud paint baby.  This is her first horse, and she has had the mare for only a few months.  My nephew and his wife were picking up a car they had just bought.  I caught them as they were leaving, so we visited through the windows of our vehicles for a while.  This nephew was very bonded to my dad, and in visiting at length between the vehicles, it reminded me of when I was a kid.  More than once I was late for a horse show while Dad visited with one of his friends who drove up just as we were leaving.  I could see a familiar expression on my great neice as she waited, hostage to our conversation.  His wife decided to go on in the car with the other two kids.  Of course, there was a lot to visit about – gas prices, cars, recent tornados, vacations – there was no shortage of topics.  This characteristic was one that frustrated me about my dad when I was a kid, but one that I learned to appreciate as I grew up.  I later understood that it meant that he placed a lot of value on the person he was visiting with, and it was his way of extending love to that person.  My parents grew up in the early 1900’s.  Visiting was very important to them.  When someone came over for a visit, short (hours) or long (days or weeks,) it was a joyous time.  Some of my Mom’s favorite memories are of friends coming to visit.  She still talks about “Tankie and Maggie Powell,” a couple who came to stay with them after cotton harvests.  Maggie played a guitar, and my grandfather played a violin.  One of my grandfather’s tennant houses was used to hold dances to give the young people in the community some entertainment.

On the trip back, there was more to think about, more beautiful scenery to enjoy, and a good blues station.  When that expired, I skipped around for a little while then found a station that renewed my hope in good music.  Since The Planet was taken off at KC, I thought hope for finding quality on the radio was gone.  It wasn’t just in my area.  I enjoyed listening to something from Hootie, then another, and suddenly there was a “THUMP!” against the back of my seat.  That made my heart rush, but I quickly realized that Parker had fallen off the back seat and realized that he must have been sound asleep.  But then, he didn’t wake up.  He was lying in an awkward pile on the back floorboard, with his head behind the front console.  I touched him and talked to him.  A sudden new rush of fear swept over me, and I felt a slug of force in my heart.  How could something so sudden happen to a perfectly good Newfoundland?  I talked to him again, reached back and touched him, but he didn’t respond.  Fear escalated.  I looked at him in the rear view mirror, then turned and looked over my shoulder as I touched him, without response.  Then I saw a movement above his eyebrow.  I took a deep breath and relaxed, and laughed at myself and at Parker, who was beginning to awaken.

I have seen several of my Newfs sleeping at home when something happened that I thought should have awakened them, only to find that they were in a deep state of sleep.  Since humans have deep sleep levels, I don’t know why that should be surprising that Newfs or other animals do also, but they do seem easily awakened – usually.  This is the first time one of them has fallen so soundly asleep in a moving vehicle.  (and yes, the Rough Rider should have been on the dog instead of hanging in the grooming room)  Probably the rhythm of the road is hypnotic, like Parker’s snoring is to me when I am trying to work on the computer.

If I was beginning to become tired at that point, I was fully awake for the rest of the trip home.

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