Shortly after the staring match above between 6 month old Elliott and our yellow lab Calypso, we decided to move to Virginia. We had already discovered there were going to be challenges managing the interactions between our dogs - we also had a black and chocolate lab - and our baby, but house hunting with room for 3 large dogs to run as the biggest parameter forced us to realize it was time to part ways with our canine friends.
Our dogs had been part of our lives for many years. Finding them the perfect homes was the only way parting with them wouldn't precede a life of regret. Although it took some time and searching to find a home for Tiger and Copie, we knew the instant we decided to give the dogs up where Calypso belonged.
Now is the right time to tell you a little bit about Calypso. When Katie and I got married there was only one dog in our lives - or maybe I should say, my life. Her name was Tiger. I'm not sure Katie has experienced a jealous moment in our marriage other than the jealousy she felt acknowledging that I had one dog who loved me, and she had zero. I give her credit, though, instead of succumbing to a jealous rage, she directed her emotions toward a solution. She filled me in on it while we were driving an hour east to Knoxville to pick up a 6-week old puppy she could call all her own - and name Calypso.
John Denver factors into that story somehow.
Calypso wasn't very old when we moved back to North Carolina to work at the camp where Katie and I had met a couple of years earlier. It's there where Calypso fell in love with Pop Bob. Pop worked for me as a night watch. He patrolled the grounds each night making sure all the kids were where they were supposed to be, and more importantly, weren't where they weren't supposed to be.
For Calypso it was love at first bite. She ran into Pop one night on his rounds. He gave her a bite of his sandwich, and from that night forward Calypso listened for Pop's truck to approach the front gate of the camp each and every night. When she heard it, she scratched the front door. That was my cue to open it, let her out, and expect to hear not another thing from her before sunrise, when Pop left.
When we moved to Virginia, giving Calypso to Pop was one of the easiest hard things we've ever had to do. I think a part of us knew Calypso secretly longed to live with Pop Bob all along. Nothing about that felt bad.
We've been gone from North Carolina and Calypso for nearly 7 years now. I'll be honest, our two boys and our new life have kept me too busy to think much about that old lab, or any of the dogs for that matter. I imagine Katie has thought about her dog a time or two. Probably while John Denver was playing in the background.
I was sitting in the parking lot of one of our local schools this week when my phone rang. It was Pop Bob. He was calling to let me know Calypso had passed on. I could hear the hurt in his voice as he told me what a wonderful friend she had been to him and his wife Patsy. He told me Patsy had been battling cancer over the last couple of years and that Calypso refused to leave her side through the entire ordeal. Bob said Calypso knew Patsy was sick, and she took it upon herself to be Patsy's personal caretaker.
I heard Bob's voice breaking and could feel the tears rolling down his cheek as he gave a thank you to me and Katie for letting Calypso be part of their lives these past 7 years.
Once again, a thank you reminds me how our lives are weaved together. Although a particular plot line appeared to end in our story, it was just beginning in someone else's. I don't think it's an accident that landing a role as the supporting cast in someone else's story is far more fulfilling than starring in my own.
It has been some time since I enjoyed a conversation as much as I enjoyed talking with Pop Bob in that parking lot. I felt bad that I hadn't called him over years. This endless access we have to each other through social media and other electronic communications can give us a false sense of connection to our friends. But I can't recall a Facebook post or an email that filled my heart any fuller than Bob did with his phone call.
I immediately saved Bob's number to my phone. Another 7 years will not pass between conversations with that incredibly good and decent man. I know dogs have the nickname of man's best friend. I have no interest in debating the merit of that. But Bob reminded me of the kind of friends we are all called to be to one another, and that it goes much deeper than the clicking sounds of fingers against keyboard.
Well done there Calypso. I always knew you had a little more going on than you were showing.