74: My Life, The Country Song

The last few weeks have been crazy. I’ve been in the midst of a big project for work. My son had his First Communion – which meant 80 people in an out of the house on a rainy day. Mother’s Day. A little travel. Lots of sports. Writing, meetings, commitments. The usual flotsam and jetsam of suburban dad life.

But last week was particularly crazy – like, country song crazy.

It began with Penny. For the last couple of weeks, she’s been sick. She had a fever, was very lethargic. We’d boarded her for the First Communion weekend and she picked up a bug. Trips to the vet for fluids and antibiotics, long days laying in the sun near the front door – no energy. But last week, it got worse. She’d whine every time I touched her. She could hardly walk. Her legs were shaking. She had a hard time going from lying down to standing up and needed to be lifted into the car, up the stairs, onto the bed.

I had a trip and needed to leave Monday night. My wife, God love her, took care of Penny. Another trip to the vet, then to a specialist for a very expensive set of x-rays and a possible diagnosis of meningitis.


The trip was fine, but it’s always hard to be gone. I was particularly homesick this trip. We’d had a couple busy weekends – my in-laws in town – and I felt like I hadn’t had a lot of quality time with my family. I also had a book deadline come and go and the pressure was hanging over my head.

So, my dog was possibly dying, I was far from home, work was killing me and money was running dry. What else?

Well, I got home Wednesday night and had to leave again Friday morning because my dad was having heart surgery. It was a lot to worry about. I wanted nothing more than to drown my sorrows in cheap beer, lay in the back of a pick-up truck and stare up at the stars.

Country songs rarely end well. But, thankfully, last week did. Dad’s heart surgery went incredibly well, thanks to the amazing staff at the Cleveland Clinic and his own pluck. Penny was given medicine and, while she’s not out of the woods and still needs tests (including a spinal tap!), her energy is back and she’s the wiggling, jumping, licking puppy she was a month ago. I finished the book and made it home safe. And, yesterday, Dylan pitched two great innings and hit a double that broke his hitting slump. Molly, my beautiful daughter, nailed her tap dancing routine at her annual dance recital and I managed to sleep through my alarm, waking up refreshed for the first time in months.

Life, sometimes, is a country song. It can be overwhelming and there will be moments when you feel like you’re under water. But life can also be a broadway musical, a contemplative Bon Iver song and “Walking on Sunshine.” Sometimes you get to choose the track, but other times you can’t.

The challenge we all face is to try and enjoy the music while it plays.

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