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Morris trying out Santa’s chair
The three musketeers – Annie, Morris & Peanuts

Being Annie was difficult for a while. Christmas came and went. Guests arrived and left. Mom and Dad were planning a holiday and Morris and I was going to go with them. We were excited. We didn’t know exactly what it meant, but I didn’t care much if I was with Mom and Dad.

Morris had his theories about what a holiday is, but it sounded farfetched to me.

“We’re going to stay in a very beautiful houthe, with lotths of foodth and jutht thitting in the thun. And we’re going on long walkth on a very big thand pile with a biiiiggg thwimming pond. Mom ith going to feed uth Icecream every day!” He would give his coy sideways smile and nods knowingly. “I’m telling you, Annie!” He gave his nose a quick lick, and whispered: “Aaaand, I hear Mom is getting a babythitter for the Thchnauzerth….” By then I thought he had lost his marbles.

But it turns out that Morris was right. Mom and Dad were planning a beach holiday with Morris and me.

There was just one thing to be done before our trip. Dad had to go for a check-up because he lost a lot of weight and mom put her foot down and said Granny Rachel must go too. So off they went and came back with forms to fill in. Four days later they had to go back, and everyone came back looking sad. Mom came and explained to me and Morris that we might need to put our holiday on hold for a bit. Dad and Granny both had an illness called Cancer and Dad had to get an operation first.

Dad went to hospital the very next day and stayed away for a whole week. Mom played with us every day and told us how Dad was and reassured us he will be home soon. Mom said that the medicine he needs to get better was going to take a long time to give. She called the holiday place and cancelled our holiday. Morris was disappointed but agreed a holiday wouldn’t be nice without Dad.

And so, Dad came home, but still got thinner and thinner. Granny Rachel came to visit us in the Garden in a wheelchair. Morris wanted to bite the wheels, but then decided they are too big, and opted to rather try and pee on one. We had a nice afternoon. Mom, Dad, and Granny Rachel sat in the garden the entire afternoon telling stories and having a nice laugh. Mom made coffee for everyone, and Morris and I enjoyed having our people around us. The sun was shining, birds were singing in the trees and the water cobbling over the rocks in the pond made me very sleepy. I lay next to dad with his hand on my head. This is what is means to have a home, I thought to myself as I drifted off.

That night mom came to sing to us and for the first time in weeks she didn’t look sad. She kissed us goodnight and Morris and I went to sleep almost immediately.

We woke up in the middle of the night by a vehicle arriving in our driveway. It had lights swishing about and people got out and brought a bed on wheels to the house. I didn’t even bark. Morris and I just sat and waited. Mom spoke to the people. Then silence. After a short while they all came back out with Granny Rachel on the bed with wheels. They pushed her right into the big van and drove off with mom following them in her car.

We sat staring at the garden gate for a long while, waiting for mom to come back, but she didn’t. The next morning the sun came up, and still no mom. Then, way later than our breakfast time, mom arrived home with Granny George. Granny Rachel was still not with them. Mom came to give us our breakfast and told us that Granny Rachel was very ill. Peanuts came to stay, and bunked with Morris and I. This helped a bit as we had a mate to make the days waiting for mom a bit shorter. We love Peanuts.  A few days went past where mom was more at the hospital than at home. Then, one afternoon she came home very late. She told Morris and I that Granny Rachel went to live with Jesus. She was very sad. We all were. Even Peanuts.

As always, Morris had a big debate with himself when we went to bed, about what exactly happens when we go live at Jesus. “Mom thaid we are all going there thooner or later, but I’m not thure about that…” He babbled on for a good while and finally went to sleep.

The next few weeks was a busy time. Dad didn’t get any better and mom took him to hospital where he had to stay for a while. Mom was very worried about him, and was at his side most of the time, but she made time for me and Morris too. We helped her plant some new flowers in the garden, and she even got us a brand-new duvet and a pretty cover for our room.

One day a lot of people showed up, and mom was telling us that it was to say goodbye to Granny Rachel. We didn’t bark at anyone. We just sat and watched.

Days turned a bit cooler, and the leaves started falling off the trees. Dad came home and started feeling better. The medicine was working, and everyone was happy. We loved hanging out with Dad on his rest days after his medicine. He wouldn’t do much, just brought his pillows and a blanket and slept quietly on the couch outside at the fountain. Mom would make sure he’s always comfortable and brought him lots of drinks. They would chat for hours, until he falls asleep. Morris loved cuddling up to Dad, and I kept watch. But, as mom said, all our love and medicine put together just wasn’t enough. He died quietly on a Thursday morning.

Mom came every morning early to have her coffee with us outside on the steps and watched the sun rise. It was bitterly cold, but she did it. We watched as her tears dripped into her coffee cup. She would wipe them away and kiss our noses and would say what Dad used to say; “The show must go on!” She was rarely in the house, always outside. We loved it but didn’t know what to do to make her feel better.

We had a goodbye gathering for dad too. Morris and I just watched. Mom played dad’s music until late that night. Everyone left and mum sat outside with us for hours.

Then, one morning, we got the news that Granny Hazel went up to heaven too. I told mom it’s so Dad wouldn’t be alone until we get there. Weeks turned into months, and slowly thing returned to our new normal. I know it will never be the way it used to. Morris and I still talks about dad a lot, especially at bedtime.

Our busy season came. We had a lot of things going on. And before we knew it, it was Christmas Eve. Mom put up the Christmas tree a few days earlier and it looked as pretty as always. Morris and I helped her to leave some Milk and cookies next to the Santa chair, and Morris licked one when he thinks mom wasn’t looking. But she did see and gave the cookie to Morris to have and one for me too. Morris didn’t want to go to bed and sat most of the night on the porch waiting for Santa to arrive with our presents. He must have fallen asleep, because the next morning our presents was under the tree, the milk and cookies gone. And Morris didn’t see Santa. Morris is now convinced Santa is a magician.

And so, I have learned a valuable lesson. Life as we know it, will always change. But, for me and Morris, even though everything changed over the last six months, we still have a home and a mom who loves us. We had to adapt to our new life without dad and our grannies, but we are still here making the best of every day. I still sleep sitting up in the morning sun, and Morris still try to catch a lizard without its tail falling off.

Just before we drift off to sleep Morris says goodnight without fail. Mom says we call that love. And love can never die. We believe her.