Thursday, August 23, 2007

When is a lie not a lie?????

Well, it is thundering and that means I am sitting in my chair with 3 – count them 3 dogs in the chair with me. Then how am I typing you ask, they are all use to me laying the laptop on top of them. Given the choice of having to stay in the floor 2 feet away from me or laying under the laptop they will choose the laptop every time. You are now shaking your head asking why I put up with this. Animals have always been a part of my life. When I was growing up I turned everything on the farm into a pet given half the chance. Once while I was out hunting big game in the woods around the farm in Alabama I spied a little baby fox. I have no idea how old he was but I decided he would follow me home. A couple of hours later and a piece of rope around his neck we arrived home – I swear he followed me! I named him Shipper. Dad felt he was a cross between a wild dog and a fox. Made no difference to me what he was I just needed a dog. At that point I was down a couple of dogs – only had 7 dogs and 21 cats. So, Skipper became my new best buddy. He was the smartest dog I had ever seen. Skipper could learn tricks must faster than Penny (one of my beagles). We spent many hours together hunting big game and swimming in the creek. He was allowed to sleep with me, which was a real treat. I had always had pets but none of them were allowed to sleep with me until Skipper followed me home.
Skipper had one bad habit – now remember I grew up in the COUNTRY – he would run in front of the fox hunter’s dogs. Every week on Thursday night the men would get together and have a fox hunt. My Dad did not hunt – thank goodness! Skipper would go and get the dogs to chase him and then run home, scratch on the back door and I would let him in. I had no idea what he had been up to. One morning Skipper did show up. I called his name for hours. Dad suggested that he had gone to visit his old friends for a few days. At the end of two weeks it was pretty clear that he was not coming back. Dad said he felt pretty sure he had gone back to join his fox family. As broken hearted as I was I could accept the fact that Skipper needed to be with his family just like I needed to be with mine.
Many years later I happen to walk up behind Dad, he was talking to some of his friends. Dad did not know that I was there. He was telling the guys about Skipper. It seems that the fox hunters got tired of Skipper messing up their hunts. They figured out where he crossed the road every night and one of the hunters sat and waited on him. Dad found his body the next morning when he went down the mountain to town. I walked away and did not let Dad know I had heard his conversation. I was broken hearted; it had been several years since Skipper went to join his family. Enough time had passed that the edge had worn off the grief. Now I needed to process the new information. Why had Dad not told me the truth? He lied to me. There was one thing you learned early on with Dad – you did not lie to him and he did not lie to you. Dad would not even teach me that there was a Santa Clause because he knew someday I would find out it was a lie. Now, my granddad – his dad – would lead a cow around the house every Christmas Eve and tell us it was the reindeer. So, I did believe in Santa, Dad just never helped predicate his existence. So, here I was – lost my dog and Dad had told me a lie.
Somewhere in the wisdom of my 12 year old mind I reasoned out that Dad did not really lie to me. Well, he did but not a bad lie. Really, just a story to save a little girl from the truth. Dad tried for many years to protect me from the lies of the world. I lived in a fairy tale world created by all those around me. I was the youngest of the cousins living on the mountain so I was treated like a little princess. The lies of the real world would have to be faced soon enough.
I would not take anything for my childhood in the country. I only wish kids now days had the chance to live where there are no tiny backyards with fence that you cannot venture out of. A place where you knew everybody and you were somebody. A place where you could have 7 dogs and 21 cats and nobody cared. (We had a big barn and crib so there were plenty of mice to eat) A place where the morning smelled like honeysuckles and the night was filled with fire flies.
Yes, I am talking about the “good ole days” and for me they truly were good.
I did not tell Dad that I overheard his conversation until I was 16. He knew and I knew it was O.K. and I appreciated what he did for me.
When is a lie not a lie – when someone you love loves you enough to make the story have a happy ending.
May all your stories have happy endings and may God send you honeysuckle scented mornings.

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