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What a grand old man!

By Nancy A. Knox
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 23, 1998
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Arizona Daily Wildcat

Nancy A. Knox

He is getting old. He can't hear very well. Cataracts occlude his brown soft eyes. He moves with the slow gait of age. Often, he gets confused. He will wander and forget his way home. He sleeps most of the day, and keeps me awake at night due to his incessant banging into walls and chairs.

Where once, he took care of me, I now take care of him. He still can bring joy to my heart when he gives me that strange smile. His days of friskiness have long since passed, but he seems happy just to be around me.

He has been my constant companion for more than a decade and a half. I cannot imagine living without him, although someday, probably soon, I will have to face that reality.

I tell him my problems; he nods with an all-encompassing understanding. He is never judgmental. He unconditionally has shown love for me though all my trials and tribulations. I will always remain grateful for his company.

Sometimes I think he stays alive just to comfort me and keep me sane. He stays with me during my most desperate times and has shared with me my happiest moments as well. He has seen me off to the hospital in the throes of labor four times. He was always the first one to greet me when I returned home with that new "bundle of joy" that would inevitably grow to beg him for rides and pull at him. He has endured all the childish play that has surrounded him with grace and dignity. He is also the best baby sitter I have ever had.

When he was young, he had his wild times. He has had several brushes with the law, two of which resulted in incarceration. He had a reputation as a tough guy, getting into altercations, destroying property (especially car tires) and some pretty risquŽeacute; behavior with the opposite sex.

Once, he disappeared for three days. No one knows where he went, but he showed up at home, hungry and fatigued.

He sparked fear in any person or thing that dared to threaten his family. He garnered respect and admiration from those both great and small that have crossed his path. Many feel fortunate to have known him.

As he grew older and wiser, people pointed to him as a role model. His bravery and compassion were quite notable. He has become an old trusted friend to many. By virtue of his age alone, those who once feared him now respect him. His enduring presence alone is comforting and reassuring.

Those who have suffered the loss of a loved one seem especially comforted by his continued existence. His longevity is my soul food, often restoring my spirits in time of need. He appeals to both the very young and the very old in an almost magical fashion. To him there is no such thing as a generation gap, no inability to understand another. He is ageless.

I am taking this time to celebrate his life, while he is still drawing breath. He is old, and I am never sure how much longer he will be physically able to grace me with his presence. Sometimes, at night, I listen to him breathe and he seems very tired.

Before I drift off, I say a silent prayer for his life, somewhat selfishly not wanting to let him go. He is always the first thing I look for when I awaken or return from class or work. It pains me greatly to think the day will come when he will not be there to greet me. Although I have gone through many transitions and lived with many others, he has only known me as home.

I first saw you 16 years ago today Brownie, when you were born in a rainstorm, under a horse trailer. You have been my dog ever since. I love you, old boy. Happy birthday.

Nancy A. Knox is a political science and sociology senior and can be reached at Her column, Processed Cheese Food, appears every Wednesday.