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who am i to argue?
the best lesson from first grade
by joel j verdon
4.10.05
general

First grade. Sister Silene was my homeroom teacher at Holy Family School. “ROMAN Catholic,” she would say so firmly as though a catholic by any other name was somehow not a catholic.

Nobody was spared Sister Silene’s draconian methods employed to bring us closer to the Holy Trinity – The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. We were all sinners at Holy Family. She reminded us daily…through our various creative projects. Yes, we had art in catholic schools in 1969, but ‘creative’ isn’t a word I would associate with those classes.

We created our family tree.

I was quite proud of the giant Linden tree I had drawn and colored and filled with names of friends and family. On a branch very close to my own was Huckleberry – our family mutt. For most of those early years he was the best friend in the world when sharing a four bedroom house with six brothers and sisters.

Sr. Silene would have NONE-of-it!

[She really talked that way, BTW. A single word out of a sentence would receive undue significance as though she were making a point directly from the word-of-GOD! Shrill. If not for the all-black habit, her voice alone commanded your respect.]

“DOGS-do-not go to heaven, Mr. Verdon,” just remembering her voice makes me well-up with fear, “they have-no-SOUL!”

I was, even at the tender age of five, resolute in defending my convictions. I required complex logical reasoning and debate before I would bend.

“Why?” I said it quickly. I had not yet learned that there were consequences to be paid for dissent.

“Animals are not blessed with THE-HOLY-SPIRIT…” she said picking me up by my armpit and leading me to the coatroom where I spent the remainder of the afternoon. I had obviously sinned.

.....

Jumping ahead thirty-five years. Sister Silene had long since passed away, taking with her all of the answers to all of our questions – answers that only come in that one instant before death.

On a beautiful Sunday in May of 2004 I had invited a few friends over to say goodbye to another family mutt. My fourth best friend in the whole world – Bailey – would be euthanized the next day due to a grapefruit size tumor in her chest that had summarily dislocated her shoulder because of its size. I could feel Sister Silene picking me up by the armpit.

My vet would come by the next day to help Bailey die peacefully in my own home then be cremated. Only one of my invited guests asked why I would go to the expense, the trouble in arranging all of this.

I had only one defense.

“Dogs have a soul,” I said, “and no one has yet to prove otherwise.”

.....

This was written for Bailey:
What would you do for your last day on earth?

I would sit
ever
so
quietly
to feel for the first time
the tremendous wake
of Dawn.

The blue hour would give way to the fury of the desert sun
and I would relish the thirst that follows.

Life would wash over me
birds, smells, ants, and cool water.

As is the only truth I know,
the moon will follow its course to find me
still sitting,
absorbing, le premiere’.

The other truths of life that I have yearned to know
all these past days
would finally fill my soul and I would,
with thunderously silent knowledge come to understand
that
indeed
we are one
unto each other
and one
unto the earth.

And sleep would at last bring peace.






ABOUT JOEL J VERDON

On the surface - collected, reasonable, articulate and well travelled. If you stick around you'll experience the many meanings behind essence, balance, and passion.

more about joel j verdon




COMMENTS

stephen cook
4.11.05 @ 10:02p

My big brother and I crossed our dog Creampuff's paws as kids and invited God into her little heart. I will see that dog again because God is about love. It seems right. So even if it doesn't happen...let me feel good.

juli mccarthy
4.12.05 @ 12:13a

All dogs go to heaven. How can they not - they are not capable of sin, just unconditional love.

stephen cook
4.12.05 @ 12:36a

I like Juli.

joel verdon
4.12.05 @ 3:27a

So do I.



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