Learning to Comfort from the Heart


The shadows were beginning to get long on the southeast side of our Klamath home. That’s where Goldie and I were at when things went horribly wrong.

With Goldie was her wire-haired terrier, Scotty. I had with me our next door neighbor’s Dalmatian, Daisy.

The neighbors were away for the week and had asked me to take care of her.  Aside from feeding Daisy, I also let her out of the back yard to let her run and play.

Goldie and I were talking when suddenly Daisy growled at Scotty. The next thing either of us knew — the two dogs were battling it out, teeth bared and howling in pain.

It seemed like minutes, but it was only seconds before my father broke the two apart, grabbing Scotty and sending me back to the neighbor’s to lock Daisy in her yard.

By the time I returned, Dad had Scotty laid out on the kitchen table, a large towel beneath his tiny battered frame. Dad, having trained security dogs for the U.S. Air Force, was examining the animal’s bleeding wounds.

Mom had ushered my sisters and brother outside onto the back patio. That’s where she sent me once I came in the front door.

Oddly, my siblings were very quiet, but Goldie was crying. I wanted to comfort her somehow because I felt certain that had I not let Daisy out of the yard, none of this would have happened.

But at 11 years old, I was too immature to react as I should have. It scared me to think that if I put my arms around Goldie and allowed her to cry on my shoulder it would only make things worse.

Jus’ as I was swallowing down my fright, Dad came out and announced that Mom had called Goldie’s folks and that they were on their way over. He also said the injuries were serious enough that Scotty needed to see a vet.

The moment passed and I missed an opportunity to behave as a young man should have in this situation. I took away a personal lesson from this, vowing never to forsake the chance if it ever arose again

Two years later as graduation from eighth graded loomed, our school suffered a shock as our basketball coach passed away unexpectedly. To honor his memory, our class dedicated our yearbook to him.

On the evening of our long-awaited exit from grade school, our classmate Lisa was to get up and read the dedication aloud to the gathered crowd of family and friends. Seconds after starting Lisa was crying so hard she could barely speak, so I stepped to the podium, put an arm around her waist and took up reading the dedication where she had left off.

Since I was having difficult time also, between Lisa’s sobs and the tears welling in my eyes, our soon-to-be former principal took over the reading. In coming to our rescue, and starting from the beginning , he allowed Lisa and I to take our seats.

In the end, I learned that a comforting hug is like a handshake — only in this case — it comes direct from the heart.

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