#70 Watching Bonnie DiePosted: November 11, 2013
We got the news that my father was transferred from North Carolina and being sent out west to Washington State. Ever since I’ve lived again in the east, I’ve learned to say I’m from Washington State. Otherwise just Washington, means D.C..
Late summer of 1956 I was eight, nearly nine. My brother was eleven. We were about to leave our fifth house and third city. Movers would come and pack and load us onto a truck, again. Dad wasn’t starting us in school in the fall. Instead he was taking a long leave so we could have plenty of time driving south, then west and up the west coast. I looked forward to the move. However my mother broke devastating news to me, alone.
Our dog Bonnie was not going with us. Bonne was 13 years old. Were we leaving her behind? She had made all the moves with us. This beautiful happy black cocker spaniel had always been part of our young lives. Even though she had developed cataract and was blind, whenever we moved we kept furniture in place. Once she learned her way around, that was that. We just didn’t move the furniture again. But now Alice was telling me that Dad had decided that Bonnie wasn’t going to make the trip. She told me that he said, “no more dogs.” She portrayed him as the villain.
But that wasn’t all she had to pronounce. I was to go with her to take Bonnie to the vet to be put down, put to sleep. I took it in as I took in everything she would tell me, and that she would tell me to do. I said nothing. I was told not to cry and I didn’t. She let me know that since she had to go through this, I did too.
I remember putting Bonnie in the car, the old Jeep station wagon that also did not make the trip. I remember taking that dear dog and loyal friend, into a room with a metal table. Someone picked her up. Then I remember that she was limp and would not come home.
Our trip west was an adventure taking weeks, including many motels with swimming pools and then Disneyland. Perhaps my father meant it to make up for losing our dog. We arrived in Port Angeles, Washington on a beautiful mid October day. Then we started school.
As I wrote in #42 Back Again, North Carolina, my father had just learned that a man who was in love with my mother had had him transferred back again to North Carolina. He took us, or himself, as far away as possible. So I’ll never know what emotions were running our lives.
And I’ll never understand why my mother took her eight-year old daughter, and not her son, to see that precious dog die, or if Dad ever knew. I don’t believe that he did.