Ken and I had an odd relationship. He was the oldest best-friend, and I was the newest girl-friend. We had little in common. Except that we both loved my future husband to distraction. We each appreciated that the other could be trusted to act in his best interest. Period. That made us close, in a weird kinda way. That, and a fascination for bad movies.

Today I was ambushed while cleaning. First, there was the Christmas card from Ken's mother (which is proof there's a God because he's softened my heart enough that I allow her to live, and I don't say that lightly. There were days I could have choked the life from her with my bare hands and smiled as I watched the last breath drain from her body). Second, there was an article in the newspaper about Colin Farrell (the Irish actor). He was on the cover of the Parade section in the Sunday paper in October. I remember at the time stashing the article away on my desk, trying not to give it another thought. But there it was today, the picture. Ken looked just like him. Or, rather, he looks just like Ken. If I threw a handful of candid snapshots of the two on a table, you wouldn't be able to sort them out. Its a bit unnerving.

Maybe its the guilt that gets me this time of year. I'm failing one of his dieing requests, that I continue to get my husband the annual StarTrek ornament from Hallmark. Every year, Ken got him one. Never guessing that he liked them because they came from Ken versus some deep-seated need to have little space-ships on the tree. We have an entire branch of the tree dedicated to them. My husband asked me not to add to them, and so I don't. And Ken would understand, but still ... I look at them every year.

You know, Ken had a wicked sense of humor. The first year we were dating, they gave a Christmas party. (Ken and my husband were also roommates). I was there early helping them set-up, so he asked me to help him out by wrapping his Christmas gifts while he ran a last minute errand. When I had all the gifts wrapped, I noted that there was one gift that he hadn't specified who to make the tag out to. Later in the evening I found out he had, no kidding, asked me to wrap my own gift! (And I loved it, a stuffed silly green snake with a hysterical expression)

We got along great for years until he tried to kill me by forcing my car into on-coming traffic. That was about two months before they discovered the brain tumor. By that time it was as big as a grapefruit, which certainly explained his erratic behavior. I remember so much of that time in bizarre detail, while I'm relatively sure my husband remembers little or nothing of it. (We have different ways of coping. My brain seizes upon each detail searching for meaning, his brain simply says "no, I will not process this data". For example, I remember my nurses' eye-color and he doesn't remember which hospital I was in.) I'll skip the details. The part where his passive mother who couldn't be bothered to give him even a week of her time away from her "new" family actually gave legal "custody" to my husband (a virtual stranger to her) a few days after the accident when it became obvious that Ken would be incompetent for awhile. The part where he lived with us after the first surgery. The part where he married an exchange student (who was nice enough in her own way). The part where ...

This time of year especially, I remember what bothered him most. All he wanted was someone to love him. He wanted family that loved him, desperately. He wanted what we have. What we take for granted so often. He loved the holidays, I think because he got to show his friends that he loved them. Because they were the only ones that loved him. He had to know his biological family didn't love him, except as a way to gain sympathy for themselves. That was the worst. Ken knew his mother didn't love him. She didn't hate him, she was just completely indifferent to his existance. He was nothing to her. And now she gets to presume upon our love for him to gain some weird access to our sympathy? How twisted is that !?!

The good part is that Ken also knew that my husband loved him. In an odd way, Ken's illness gave him proof that he was loved. My husband never let him down. At each and every turn, my husband made sure Ken wasn't alone. Its not easy watching someone die (usually), but my husband didn't turn away or distance himself. He didn't smother Ken either, letting him lead as normal a life as possible. Preserving an illusion that Ken was his equal, giving him dignity where there was none.

I miss him. There's no one to watch the crazy Christmas specials with me. Ken would have loved them. Especially the one where Captain Kirk frees Santa from the evil computer.


It is a rare gift in life to have such a friend. Truly a blessing from God.


Leni | 12/06/2004 - 04:31 PM

Oh how I agree with Leni. A wonderful and rare treasure of a gift.

Janelle | 12/07/2004 - 10:10 AM

Take him to his potty spot, use your commands, sit in a chair and wait, prisae him when he does good. He can't potty in the house if you don't let him back in the house. I let my puppies go potty first and then I allow some play time in case all the potty isn't done and so they don't think they go potty and then right back in the crate. I use a crate* to potty train with, but only for potty training and then I break it down and store it. I put blankets and a small food and water dish in the crate. Dogs don't potty where they eat and sleep. When they are first little, I only expect them to hold their potty for 4 hours, and then 6 hours, then 8 hours and so on. So when they are first little, I set a timer or alarm clock to wake myself up at night to take them *out. I only allow my puppy in the bedroom* or the living room, only one room at a time. They have to graduate to more space. If I allow them to have full run of the house, it will overwhelm them. I take them out the same door each time. I tie a dinner bell to the door handle. Do not use a jingle bell as they could get their toe caught in it. So when they are little, I ring the bell for them, and then open the door to go *outside to potty. When they get bigger, I take their paw and whack the bell and open the door to go potty. Eventually getting to the place where the puppy will ring the bell and let me know when they need to go potty. Dogs want to please you, so it is your job to let them know what behaviors please you and what doesn't. So when my puppy goes potty, I give her a treat*, and clap, and make a fuss and prisae her. So she learns that going potty outside makes me happy. If she has an accident, make a disgust sound like “tsst” and take her out right away. I never yell* or spank* my puppies. Take them out when they first wake up, after they eat or drink, before nap, finish romping, when their activities change, or when they are sniffing around. Some puppies go pee right away, but may not go poop until 10 minutes later, so wait for the poop.. I have a little play time here, because sometimes I think they are done, and they are not. Puppies train at their own pace. While I may have a puppy that hasn't had an accident in several weeks, I don't let my guard down. I don't expect my puppies to be fully potty trained until one-year-old. If they have a setback, shake it off, and start over. I only have my puppies in the crate when I am not watching them. When I am sleeping, cooking, ironing, doing chores, basically when I am not watching her. All other times, she is out of the crate practicing being a big girl. This is the time I train her how to behave in the house. So we are practicing no barking , no biting , no jumping , and don't eat the furniture. I also have to practice playing inside so she doesn't knock over things. You must keep the puppy in sight when they are little because they don’t know the difference between newspaper and carpet, and you don’t want them sneaking off and getting into trouble. Some puppies can sleep through the night around 3-months-old, but their bladder is grown around 6-months-old. REVISIONS: *I use a CRATE to train with. It is the method I prefer, compared to other methods I have tried. I noticed that if they are in the crate, while I am doing chores, they are o.k., because the crate allows them to see me and be re-assured. The crate can also be a comfort when stored in the basement for dogs who live in areas where thunderstorms and tornados are an issue. . However, use the method that works best for you ..a laundry basket, a cardboard box, a woof-woof house, x-pen, child gates, whatever works for you. *OUTSIDE, pee pad, litter box, whichever method you are using. When the puppy is first little, keep the pee pad, litter box near the food and water dish, so the puppy can eat and drink, and then go potty. You can move it away as they get older. The pee pad has a scent that smells and initiates potty. Sometimes a pee pad makes a sound that scares some puppies, so you might want to use a litter box if that happens. The pee pad allows a puppy to walk around, but a litter box keeps the puppy in one place. *BEDROOMS, I use the bedroom and living room for training, because it works for me. Choose rooms that work for you, but watch for rooms that are damp, or drafty. While my puppies sleep in the bedroom during training, once they are trained, I let them sleep where they want to. They don't have to sleep in the bedroom forever. *TREATS. While I use treats for training, you don't have to. I like Charlee Bears for training (a little cracker for a little mouth,) I use them for training, but once they are trained, I cut back on them. *SOME PUPPIES will go potty in the same spot each time. Some puppies have to be told to go potty. A command like go out for pee, or go finish for poop, might work for you, keep saying “go finish” until the puppy poops. This is a good thing to train if you travel with your dogs. By using commands, the puppy won't get confused when you are visiting someone, on vacation with you, or when you get to a new home. The command will tell them what you want them to do in an unfamiliar place. You might also want to use a leash method, so the puppy doesn’t sneak off, or for strange places. *YELLING. It is not a good idea to yell or spank your puppy and then take them outside when they have an accident. They may get confused and think that going outside is punishment. While you want to correct them, if you are extreme, they may not want to go outside again. Shake it off, and resume your schedule. You have to keep it real. Puppies train at their own pace, but a puppy can only hold their potty for a few hours. A guide would be 1 hour for each month of age, plus 1 hour, so a three-month-old puppy should only be expected to hold their potty for 4 hours at most. SOURCE: These tips, tricks, and ideas were contributed from many brilliant minds. Thanks for your help!

Fawzi | 10/04/2012 - 02:22 PM

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