It was March 2nd, 1984, a Friday afternoon. I had come back home from Largo Middle School to close out the week and was looking forward to the weekend, particularly taking a nap.
When I got home, I was greeted by some sad news from my mother, who told me that the family dog, Ginger, had passed away that morning or afternoon. I was going to spend the rest of the day over at my aunt’s house across town, while my father would bury Ginger meticulously in the back yard.
My parents let her roam free in the backyard of the house I grew up in, surrounded by a fence ever since I could remember. I’m told that she wasn’t the first pet the family owned, as a cat named Finnegan was the initial family pet, dying in an auto accident when I was too young to remember, thankfully. My classmates who lived nearby no doubt thought that Ginger was a force to be reckoned with. When someone came over to the house she didn’t recognize, boy did she make a fuss! WOOF, WOOF, WOOF!! Sometimes she would open the screen door and run around the neighborhood, and I’d be the one that would have to chase her down. She was too heavy and big to pick up, so I had to yank her home by the collar, pausing every now and then to keep her from choking.
The evening before I gave the pooch a long, tearful hug. I knew somehow that this was the end of the line for her. She had eaten a lizard and had gotten sick from it, and was now too sick to move, lying down in a hallway from the living room to the backyard.
She was a valued member of our family growing up, and did what she could to protect me as I grew. So as the 30th anniversary of her passing approaches on Sunday, I find myself thinking about her, which is not a bad thing.
As long as you remember, you never forget.