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Reflections From the Front Porch: On Saying Goodbye

A Note From an Old Writer

As my time on HubPages comes to a 90% end, I am trying to bring to a close several series I have kept alive over the years, and this is one of them. I hope you find something worth reading and contemplating about your own life in my words.

The old house, today!

The old house, today!

The Porch

In 1953, when I was five, my parents purchased their first home, a modest, brick, post-war, three-bedroom structure located at 4022 North 18th Street, in the Proctor District of Tacoma, Washington. At the time of the purchase, that neighborhood was on the cusp of growing up, just as I was. The streets were still unpaved. The home we moved into had no yard to speak of, certainly no lawn, no landscaping, just stakes marking the property boundaries.

It looked, to my five-year old eyes, to be the outskirts of civilization, and I was not happy at all with my parents. I had left a neighborhood filled with friends, only to be transported to a dusty, barren city block where the unknown lurked around every corner.

To soothe their only son, Mom and Dad brought home, one day, a puppy, a wiggly, squiggly little bundle of fur, not more than five pounds, a Toy Terrier, black as my heart at that moment, pink tongue, and an instant love affair was born. I named her Pixie, and Pixie was my companion all during those tough childhood days, through my teen years, eighteen years total, until the day a stroke felled her and I said my final goodbyes to her in a sterile vet’s office.

Pixie and I spent countless hours and days sitting on the front porch of that home, she listening to my every word, sharing in my triumphs, comforting me during the darkest days, being everything a child could hope a loved pet would be, and when night would fall she would hop up on my bed, tuck herself between my feet, and protect me against all manner of nightmares.

Eleven years old, standing in our backyard

Eleven years old, standing in our backyard

Canine Love

If there is a more loyal, loving animal on the Earth, I don’t know what it would be. Dogs are remarkable that way, and Pixie was the embodiment of canine love. From that first introduction to the final farewell, Pixie’s only goal was to love me and make me happy. Period! End of discussion! When I was away at school, or off on a bike ride, I would come home to an avalanche of doggy-kisses. When I was sick I was treated to the warmth of her devotion, sending me “get well” looks, snuggling even tighter against my body, as though she was trying to absorb the illness, extract it from my body, make it her own.

I swear to the gods that dog knew when I was happy and when I was sad, knew when I needed to be left alone and knew when I needed her to be my life-preserver. And, when she was finally taken from me that last time, it felt as though my childhood had been ripped from my being, a part of me lost forever, and I wept every bit as hard as I had when my father died three years prior.

MEMORIES

I cannot think of those years without thinking of Pixie, and I suspect the same will be true when my current dogs, Maggie and Toby, are finally laid to rest.

I’m reminded of a television special I saw many years ago, “The Point,” by musician Harry Nilsson. One of the songs in that show was “Me and My Arrow,” and that’s what Pixie was for me, what Maggie and Toby are today, my arrows, always there, always providing a reminder that life is good, life is worth living, and life is love.

A Man’s Best Friend

I was one month shy of fourteen when I entered high school. I remember being terrified of that first day, hoping to God the high school students wouldn’t make fun of me, wouldn’t ignore me, and I could just make it through the day without vomiting. The rest of the day is a blur now, seen through memory’s eyes, but one moment stands out clearly, the moment I met Frank Zderic, equally shy, equally awkward.

We sat across the table from each other at lunch, learned that we both loved bowling, learned that we both adored playing baseball, and from that day forward, until two years ago when Frank lost his battle with cancer, he was my best human friend. He was with me for nine of the eighteen years I lived on North 18th Street, like Pixie a constant companion, like Pixie someone I could always count on, good times, bad times, always there.

He was with me the day we buried my father. He was with me the day I got married. And he was with me the day I took Pixie to the vet that last time.

Unshakeable! A constant presence, a constant force in my life, spending the night many times in that brick home, laughing more often than not, taking bike rides, playing ball, going out for pizza after movies, doing all the mundane, unremarkable things that friends do, being the anchor that we each needed.

I visited Frank three months before he died, him living in Oregon at the time with his wife, and on that final day, as I prepared to drive back home, I hugged him, told him I loved him, and thanked him for a lifetime of good memories, memories dating back fifty-eight years to simpler days when a tiny, five-pound dog could provide the strength a boy would need to navigate through childhood.

It's hard to imagine a better friend than Frank

It's hard to imagine a better friend than Frank

Look out for Old Men Reminiscing

I am an incredibly lucky human being. If my birth mother had kept me, I would have grown up in a drug-riddled home, a violent home, a home so far removed from the home of my adopted parents as to seem like another planet, and I feel fairly safe in stating that my life would have turned out drastically different.

But she did place me up for adoption, and I was adopted by loving parents, and I did have a dog named Pixie and a best friend named Frank, and today I am living my best life, seventy-three years old and remarkably happy, and in the end, the final analysis, that’s really all we can realistically hope for . . . to be happy and to be loved.

For me, the good memories began in that new home, on that barren street, dust blowing, stakes marking the property boundaries, and the arrival, several days later, of a four-legged bundle of unconditional love.

Pixie, wherever you are now, thank you!

Frank, wherever you are now, thank you!

Keep my seat warm on that porch, both of you. Tell my mom and dad I say howdy and give them my love.

A Final Note

Never say never, right? Who knows? I may get a wild hair and decide to write another article from the porch . . . or I may not. We just never know, you know?

But, just in case, I want to hug you, tell you all I love you, and thank you for being my writing friends all of these years.

Thanks so much for joining me. It’s always a pleasure when good friends stop by for a visit. Please, stay in touch. It would be a shame to lose any of you.

2022 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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