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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Stories of our loved ones who've passed on.

   
Author Topic: Stories of our loved ones who've passed on.
Derrell
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After my granparents divorced, my grandma went to school. She became a licensed practical nurse. She worked for Desert Samaritan Hospital until she her first bout with cancer.

Grandma was a survivor. She had breast cancer twice, diabetes, and congestive heart failure. We all figured she was too stubborn to die and might just outlive us all.

My grandmother found love again and remarried. Her second husband was a wonderful man. He died of Alzheimers.


Now I open this thread for others to share memories of those who've gone before.

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rivka
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My grandfather died just over a year ago.

He died while reading a book. Which makes perfect sense when you realize how much he loved books and knowledge.

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Stan the man
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My Grandmother (a wonderful woman who some may remember me talking about last November), finally died of her stroke. She met my grandfather back during WW2. Gramps couldn't go to war because of his vision, so he worked at one of the Chrysler plants. When my parent's went on vacation during the 80's to Aruba, they would watch my sister and me. Grandma was the best cook in the world...except when mom was cooking [Angst] . She was also never afraid to disipline. Although we never really needed it. Back in 1988 she suffered a major stroke. She never fully recovered. Grandpa took care of her everyday by being her personal nurse, even when he had back surgery and 3 heart attacks. Chrysler made him retire early to take care of her back in 1989ish (full retirement pension and benefits). Grandma was hit by several illnesses over the years. Pneumonia being one of them. Doc's gave 10% chance. They didn't know Grandma very well. All ya gotta do is shake that battery in the back and she back. Then one week she decided that nobody would shake that battery anymore. She ripped out her feeding tube and stopped eating solid food. She had had enough, and wanted the rest of us to continue on. We all knew she was going to go, we just didn't know when.

Now if you excuse me...

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cmc
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My Nana and Grandpaw…

I’ve never actually tried to put into words what they mean to me… It’s always been a thought that came into my mind and then instantaneously ran into a million memories and emotions that I’d simply let fly through while feeling something I couldn’t quite put words on. I’m going to try to put the words into place…

(side-note: i’ve divulged more on Hatrack in more emotional terms than most of my great Friends know…)

My Dad’s not my biological father. My Mom met him when I was two and life went on from there. I have no memories of him being anything other than my Dad. His Mom’s parent’s were the glue that held that side of the family together.

Growing up (and still) I had a lot of questions about religion. I was raised Catholic and simply could not GET all of the guilt. Crap, we only get a limited time on Earth, should I feel guilty for everything I may have done inadvertently or should I just LIVE with Faith that what I’ve done is good and what wasn’t I atone for. Should I spend the rest of my life trying to make it right or should I just move on humbly with a slightly better grasp of righteousness? Not long before my confirmation I had a conversation (the type 13 yr old girls have with their Mom’s) about it. She told me basically as long as I lived in her house... You know the rest. I went on to have a 34 minute confessional with the priest prior to the confirmation. It was one of the best times in my life.

I don’t know who’s Catholic, so forgive me if I’m being redundant, but you can either sit behind a screen or face the Brother (my parents switched to Franciscan as opposed to Roman) as you confess. I told him exactly what I felt and he dialogued with me. It was awesome. Honestly. I left there feeling like regardless of what any majority confirmed for I was doing it for the right reasons, especially because I had vocalized what I disagreed with and made it known.

My Family… is religious. Well, my Mom’s Family is religious. They’d never understand my thoughts because what’s said is right and what’s right is said. Thank God for my Dad and his Family. Because of them, my Mom allowed me to explore. As long as I was discovering something about the Divine, it was okay. I just needed to be able to talk about what I’d learned after the fact… It was on one of those days when I chose to go to a Friend’s church that I got the news.

I was in the shower. Mom, Dad and my lil bro Randy were about to head to St. Ann’s. Mom knocked on the bathroom door and I, in my teenageredness, yelled back at her. She told me that Nana had moved on earlier that morning and maybe I’d like to know before I headed to Worship. I did want to know. And I didn’t. I cried. So much. In those moments, I smelled the peanut butter sandwiches on wheat bread served with milk she made for me when the rest of the family had some way too far out meal. I tasted her famous banana cake and remembered when she taught me how to make it. I thought of that one Christmas they weren’t in Florida when she had on her hairnet that had multi-colored beads that fascinated me so well I asked my Dad if she had the Rainbow in her hair. I cried. I felt sad. I still miss her.

The services were rough. She is Native American. It was emotional. Listening to people speak about her made me hurt so deep I really don’t think there was room for breathing. With the help of my Uncle’s cobalt moon/star tissues, I made it through.

Fast forward… to last year or just over 8 years later. Grandpaw carried on until his body just had had too much on this Earth (almost 101! she was 96 and he swore he was shortly behind her). When I got the call one Tuesday, far too early in the morning for a social call, I just said ‘Oh’. I remember saying ‘I Love You’ after that and just hanging up the phone. I didn’t cry as much, I knew they were together again and a love like theirs needs nothing more than togetherness, but it still hurt.

I spoke at that funeral. Honestly, one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my entire Life. Ever. Unequivocally. I think I looked up once, realized that this wasn’t a speech, no need for eye contact, that there was no way I could look at their faces as I said what he had meant to me and kept my eyes on the mic from then on. I’m glad I did it but am not sure I could do it again.

They meant so much to me. They were the Glue of my Dad’s side of the Family and they did not question where I came from. They, even being from an older time, did not question who my Father was. They accepted me and welcomed me and made me part of their lineage in a way that blood cannot always do.

I miss them. Pretty much everyday. But I know they’re around, somewhere. In some random smile I smile to myself. In some hoot of an owl in the forest beyond my door. In some encouragement I try to give to someone else. So – I know they’re not here for me to go hug, but their hugs are around me always. And someday… They’ll welcome me into their arms for one last eternal hug.

But I still miss them now…

[ August 07, 2006, 02:36 AM: Message edited by: cmc ]

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MyrddinFyre
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*wipes eyes*

I do believe this is already one of my favoritest threads, ever. Thank you those who have already shared stories, and those who will.

The best honor we can do our dearly departed is to pass on stories of their lives, the world they lived in, their humanity.

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katdog42
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I have thouroughly enjoyed what others have written. I will add to this post, not stories so much as reflections on those I have loved. Sorry. It got longer than I expected. Feel free to skip this post if you're not into reading that much.

I will be forever blessed by the hands of those who loved me. I still remember the gentle hands that wiped the tears from my eyes, the sure hands holding my bike, the cool hands feeling my forehead when I was ill, the warm hands holding my own on a cold winter’s day. And there are some memories which come more strongly than others, some hands which I still feel, years later. These hands hold me when I need strength, touch me when I need comforting and hug me in my excitement. I sense the power of those hands even today, long after the physical sensation has been taken away.

When I was a child, my father worked on a dairy farm. I always wanted to see the enormous vats of milk as they constantly stirred and separated. I remember being held in my daddy’s strong hands as he lifted my small frame so that I could peer inside at the beautiful white liquid foaming and swirling. I have no memory of the room in which the milk was kept, nor do I even have a visual memory of what my father looked like. I have absolutely no other memories of my father who was taken from me before my fourth birthday. What I do remember is the feeling of security that I experienced in those loving hands. The world was an adventure to be lived when I was being held by my father. I had no fear of the height or of the gaping hole that opened into the milk’s container. I felt only the security and the affection of a father’s tender hands.

But the memory of my father’s hands is not the only one still with me. I remember Sr. Blandina’s hands, calloused from long years of manual labor, always searching for something else to do. She was never idle. When I visited her while she was cleaning tables in the dining room, she would take my hand and shove it in the soapy water or push the rag into it. In her German accent, she would tell me if I wanted to chat, I could clean, too. I remember her hands wrapped around mine during our frequent walks. Her hands shook quite badly and I sometimes felt as though she was actually trying to pull away. But no, when her hands shook the worst was when she was holding on tighter. Suddenly, my hands became the strong ones. I remember most of all her hands wrapped around me as we danced. Oh how she loved to dance! Anytime that we had music on at community celebrations, there was Sr. Blandina on the dance floor. How can I not smile at the memory of those old hands, still so full of youthful vigor?

Another set of hands has graced my life in a much different way. When I was preparing to enter religious life, I met with soon-to-be postulant director. In our first meeting together, she asked how I was feeling about entering. I simply could not describe the mixture of emotions welling up in me. Tess seemed to sense that and, rather than waiting for me to try to give a verbal answer, she reached out and took one of my hands. She had me place my right palm against her left one. She then instructed me to take my left hand, wrap it around our other two hands and rub up and down. It was the strangest sensation, totally beyond description. “Is this how you feel?” she asked. It was. She understood exactly. I still feel those gentle hands showing me that I did have the power to express myself, even without words.

A later experience of those hands also haunts me still. After the physical strength had disappeared from her hands, Tess’ hands even then had the same power. In my final meeting with her, only three months before her death, I was dealing with a particularly difficult issue. Tears flowed freely down my face and I was unable to speak. Again, those hands stretched out to me, this time to show me nothing more than that their owner cared. As she had many times before, Tess took my hand in hers. Except this time, she could not grip it as she often had. Instead she used one hand to hold and another to gently caress the top of my hand. Looking at the gesture, it appeared very awkward as her hands showed the wrath that the cancer had taken upon her body. And yet that almost juvenile pawing expressed the real inner strength. A hand does not have to work properly to be strong. I don’t think I will ever be able to forget the feel of Tess’ feeble hands.

My body holds many memories of many hands that have passed over it. I feel them as a blessing, as all those who have loved me and guided me and helped. All those hands from all those years come to me were give to me as gift. And the best part is, after all the years, those hands bless me still.

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sweetbaboo
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I woke up this morning to one of my kids making toast and it instantly transported me back to my childhood.

There were times I'd stay with my Grandpa and Grandma. Grandpa would have toast every morning. He used "two-fer" bread (you could get 2 loaves fer the price of one). I remember it was really wheaty and hearty. YUM! He would give me a slice with Grandma's homemade jam and a glass of milk in this tiny, brown plastic cup.

When they passed, I got that cup. I took a drink of milk from it this morning.

I really miss them acutely sometimes.

edit for spelling

[ August 09, 2006, 04:52 AM: Message edited by: sweetbaboo ]

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ketchupqueen
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Barney was my dad's college friend. We used to visit him and his wife with my dad sometimes. They had no kids and so were always kinda shocked by us-- in a good way, I mean.

One time my brother totally bowled Barney over telling him about halogen vs. sulfur lights. [Big Grin]

Barney did all kinds of cool things. He built those water sculptures that look like rain falling up. He built a huge one for a mall here in L.A. People still stand and stare at it in awe.

He also used to put on laser light shows. He used to do them special, just for me and my brother, in his garage. They were synched to music, really awesome stuff.

Barney died of stomach cancer. He laughed until the end, making jokes about how much he threw up from the last-shot chemo they were pretty sure wouldn't save him. He said he wasn't unhappy to die. He had loved and been loved in his life, and he felt lucky.

I'm sad that Barney and my dad will never again get together and tell stupid puns while I groan and groan. I'm sorry that he won't get to put on his light shows for my kids. But I'm glad to have known him.

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Allegra
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My aunt Judy died about 6 years ago from breast cancer. I am not sure I believe in soul mates, but her and her husband made a pretty convincing case.

During the funeral my aunt Amy spoke and told the story of the first time she realized how much in love these two were:

Judy brought Jose home for the first time to meet her family over Christmas one year. They arrived at the house late in the evening and Judy started making some hot chocolate in the kitchen for herself, my aunt Amy, and Jose.

Now Judy was a very put together woman. She always looked polished, and was not flustered by the most trying situations.

She finished making the hot chocolate and put a cup in front of Amy and Jose. Jose immediately took a gulp and grinned saying it was delicious. Amy took a sip and spit it across the room. Judy had put salt in instead of sugar.

Amy said that she knew then that they were meant for each other. He adored her enough to not say a word, and she was distracted by him enough to mix up salt and sugar.

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cmc
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This thread is seriously awesome to me. I’m sorry if I’m boring people, but it feels good to get this stuff out where people may read it.

The last time I saw Nana…

It was the day before she passed in her sleep. My Mom had been telling me repeatedly that I needed to get down to see her and I kept telling her I know and sort of blowing it off. Not because I didn’t want to see her, but because I was scared. Finally, one Saturday she told me that I really needed to go…

My Nana was cool as anything. Standing about 5 feet, her presence was more like 50. She had stark white hair and piercing blue eyes, one clouded by cataracts that only served to intensify her mystery. I’m not sure I ever heard a cruel word come out of her mouth and the soft touch of her hands was electric, but in a soothing and not shocking way. She *gasp* dated and married a younger man, was a flapper back in the day (imagine my surprise when Dad told me this!) and eventually became a great Mom, Grandmother and Nana. I guess I had a hard time bringing myself to go see her when I had to clue what to expect.

Her end was quick – she went from as sharp as anything to a skeleton in essentially no time. When I finally sucked it up and made the (solo and the longest drive ever by myself as I had recently gotten my license) trek to the Cape, I realized just how quick it was.

I pulled into the Nursing Home (one of her choosing, I’m pretty sure, and the staff was amazing both with her and my Grandpaw later), I parked, took a deep breath and walked in. Stepping up to the nurses’ desk, I asked where her room was. They told me and I psyched myself up all the way down the hall. I looked into the double room over-looking the garden… there was an empty bed near the door and some gaunt looking woman in a chair near the window. I looked at the names on the door, looked in again, looked at the names on the door, and walked back to the nurses’ station to tell them that she must not be in her room. (on the side – this is really hard to write) The nurse told me she was pretty sure she was and walked back with me. We got to the door and she said, there she is. I lost it. I mean, really. Lost it to where the nurse and another who appeared out of nowhere walked me to a sitting room. I couldn’t even talk. I just cried. Snots running down my nose, tears streaming down my face, breath all uneven and not even any other sounds coming out. The nurses tried to tell me it was okay, they know it must be hard, they could tell her I came… There was no way I wasn’t going in there to talk to her. So I, who knows from where, gathered the strength and carried on back to the room.

I walked in and sat on the edge of her bed. I hugged her just before I sat down, afraid I might break her, and told her I was there. Maybe the hardest part was that her eyes were just as sharp as they always were… I knew my Nana was in there and I hated the body she was trapped in. She couldn’t talk much, she just let me hold her hand, so I made up for it with my nervous and hurting babble. I told her I loved her, more times than I’ve ever said that phrase in that span of time. She had an oxygen tube up her nose and she kept trying to take it off. I kept saying, Nana, you need that but she kept on. One of the nurses came in and told me that it’s easier for people to talk without it in… I really don’t know what she said. I couldn’t understand it but I like to tell myself all the things she was saying to me… Things she might have said if her ready-to-rest body wasn’t impeding her… Things she made me believe even without plainly stating them… Things like…

Don’t take anything for granted. Love the people you Love and make sure they know. Learn how to make one recipe that just about any guest would enjoy. Never settle. Don’t ever stop learning. Never write someone off, you never know how they might surprise you if you don’t. Laughter cures just about anything and the things it doesn’t it at least helps. Discover something about yourself you enjoy and keep working on it. Life is a journey, not a task. And most importantly, that she Loves me.

I left a little bit broken. The next morning is the morning my Mom knocked on the bathroom door. I was the last person in the family that was close enough to go see her that had been there, the last hold out. My Grandpaw was there that night, but I was the last hesitant person to go. That’s tough. I’m glad I went to see her, but I still struggle with ‘did she hold on for all of us to get there and suffer because of my own selfishness’. Probably not, but I still wonder.

Her lessons in her life and her death were amazing. She impacted so many people. At the services, there were (I felt like) a million people. It seems to me like the older people get, sometimes the less people are at the funeral. For someone to have lived as long as she did and have so many people living come to celebrate her life just shows me how incredible it and she are. Long story short, I’m glad I went. Tears, Heartbreak, Lessons, Love and All.

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Derrell
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I want to thank all those who've shared their memories. We'll be leaving for the funeral at about 7:30 this morning. This thread has helped me a great deal.

Thank you, Hatrack. [Hail]

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rivka
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*hug*
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Derrell
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Grandma's journey home is complete. This morning her mortal remains were laid to rest beside those of my granpa.

I'd like to thank Hatrack for all the support and love. I hope peoplle will continue to use this thread to share stories and memories of those they've lost.

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cmc
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Glad Hatrack could be there for you.

Thanks again for starting this thread... I shared it with some of my family and we've all benefited from it. It is appreciated.

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cheiros do ender
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I wish it didn't hurt too much to talk about it, but it does.
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cmc
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I've got no special 'I remember when she told me...' story to tell.

All I've got is a memory of reading her books and feeling like her mind worked a little bit like mine.

And a sadness about not getting to learn more.

Octavia E. Butler.

I miss what you didn't get the chance to publish.

Hope you're having fun. See you when I do!

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cmc
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It’s hard to imagine loving someone without ever even setting eyes on them. I’m tough with love. I’m pretty sure I feel it more than I share that I’ve felt it. If you asked me why, I’d have to get back to you. I dig on some James Taylor – Shower the People… I guess it’s just not 100% me yet.

I met someone in (i think) May of last year who I Love. And… I’ll never even get the chance to lay eyes upon him.

His name is Miles Levin. I can’t really think of words to tell about him, to me what he is goes beyond the words I know now. I just know he was a guy, who lived, shared his life… and is missed.

His story’s worth telling, though. So for that, I’m adding his name to this thread for stories of our loved ones who’ve passed on…

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Cashew
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This is a lovely thread. Thank you.
My mother died 11 months ago, aged 87, after a fall in which she broke her hip. That kind of injury is very serious in the elderly and she developed an infection and pneumonia, and slipped away very peacefully 3 days later. I have the most wonderful memory of being with her the day before she died when she was in hospital, in some discomfort but okay otherwise. I remember looking back towards her as I got up to go to the window and seeing her looking at me with a look of the purest love on her face. It's a lovely memory.
She was a remarkable woman who went through a huge amount of adversity in her life. When she was three she put her eye out by stabbing herself in the eye while trying to dig a piece of gum from under a table with a nail file. That almost killed her but she came through. Her beloved brother was killed in the Pacific in WW2. Her first son, my older brother was born intellectually handicapped after she was given an overdose of a drug in the maternity home she gave birth in, and she struggled hugely with all the issues surrounding caring for him, including having to give him up for placement in an institution when I was born ten years later (he would have seriously injured or killed me without meaning to, he was extremely strong and could be very destructive).
My father died when she was 53, and she remarried to a lovely man 3 years later. She lost her (11 years) younger sister, who she was very close to, to a brain tumour 9 years ago.
She was an extremely intelligent woman, largely self educated. She had a photographic memory, could read 2 books a day with ease, and had a very wide ranging interest in the world, and a wonderful sense of humour.
She gave me her love of history, of reading, of language, of animals, my memory, my sense of humour. She joined the LDS church when she was 39, when I was 4, and raised me in the church, so gave me that as well.
I feel very privileged to have known her.

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Cashew
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As an addition, several years ago over a period of about a year, I sat down with Mum and recorded about seven hours of her remniniscences of her life, her family, all sorts. I'd recommend it. One of the most important and most fascinating things I've ever done.
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Kwea
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I would also like to thank everyone for sharing these memories with us. It brings back memories of my own.

Perhaps I will write them down later...perhaps not. But either way, thank you for sharing with me.

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brojack17
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Louie was a former racing dog that I adopted from Greyhound Pets of America/Oklahoma. When researching dogs, I said I wanted a male that was brindle in color. I planned to rename him to Lou or Louie after my favorite circus clown, Lou Jacobs.

When I went to the showing at PetSmart, I walked up to the group of dogs. This big brindle male walked over to me and leaned up against me. He looked up at me with his big brown eyes and I was hooked. I asked his name and the volunteer said, "Louie".

I couldn't believe it. I filled out the form and paid the donation that day. I got him about two weeks later. He was an amazing dog that was very gentle with kids and loved to play. He really enjoyed running at full speed in my large backyard.

Louie and I ran into some rough times when I got divorced. Times were tough for me but Louie was always there to cheer me up. There were many times when he would lay on his side and I would lay on him using his chest as a pillow while we watched TV.

Eventually we fell in love with another woman and he had another playmate. Both of us had human kids and he was extremely gentle with the toddlers. He never snapped at them when they stepped on him or pulled his ears or tail.

Louie moved with us to Texas and started developing a limp. The vet said it was arthritis and prescribed pills. This worked for a period of time but eventually he had a large lump on one of his back knees. A second vet said it was a tumor and the cancer had spread throughout his whole body. We had to put him down that day. I was with him when he took his last breath. I laid in the floor with him like we did on countless nights watching TV. I was crying and he was silent.

It has been five years since Louie died and I still think about him all the time. I carry his dog tag on my key chain as a reminder of him.

He picked me that day at PetSmart and I tried to make sure he never regretted that decision.

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Cashew
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Brojack, I do the same with my dog Cashew's dogtag. He died 10 years ago, of cancer. I still think about him all the time too. A really sweet little dog.
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brojack17
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I've never had an animal impact my life that way. Maybe it was because we went through the divorce together. I think it was because we were meant to be together.
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