Monday, February 14, 2011
PATCHES FROM THE PAST
Patches & Friend, Emporia, KS
Was it just a very bizarre coincidence or a message from the past? I had just written and distributed a blog posting about a boyhood treasure box containing saved relics from my childhood in the 40’s and 50’s. One of those priceless treasures belonged to our childhood family dog that we had named Patches, due to the “Little Rascals” patches of color randomly positioned over his face and body. Patches’ bloodline read like a Heinz 57 Variety ingredients label which qualified him as the ultimate childhood companion. My older sister and I were town raised, compared to our farm bred parents. So, we immediately had a slightly differing view of animals. Patches' only purpose in life was to run with us whenever the mood struck and take long naps in the warm sunshine while we were attending school. And then there were all the smells around the old neighborhood that had to be investigated and reported to the authorities by way of the local canine network of barking code talkers.
As it turns out, my sister Carolyn had found a colorful desert sunset post card from California that she had mailed to Mr. Patches Davis while we were vacationing. It seems that Patches was recovering from a broken rear leg that he had sustained from a passing car shortly before we left. So he was convalescing at our grandparent’s house next door while we traveled that spring. Carolyn had inserted a note to “save the card for us” as we didn’t have a color camera at the time and it was a beautiful scene which most assuredly must have brightened Patches day when he received it back in Kansas.
About the exact same time Carolyn had found the saved California post card, I had rediscovered my small cigar treasure box at the back of a closet. At the very bottom of the box, I had found a long forgotten dog tax tag that my father had handed to me with Patches’ collar the afternoon he had succumbed to another more fatal automobile accident. We all ran free in those idyllic days, but it would appear that our trust worthy and unconditionally loving family dog wasn’t quite as observant as we were--at least most of the time. I remember dashing after one of my buddies between two parked cars one summer day and being frozen in time as an automobile came to a screeching stop just a foot or two from me. That was the first of many such life threatening events since then that have validated my belief in guardian angels. Mine have worked overtime. Patches was never so lucky and he got only one more chance to pay attention the next time, which didn’t happen.
Carolyn’s post card had a one cent George Washington stamp affixed to it and close inspection revealed a date stamp of APR 6, 1951. Patches’ dog tag I had found was dated 1951. Both were sixty years old, both had survived numerous moves and life events, both were possibly recovered at the exact same time, and both were linked to our treasured childhood companion and friend. And now we have the benefit of sixty years to reflect on the meaning of this. Perhaps the message on this Valentine’s Day in the year 2011 is that not even the passage of sixty years, or four hundred and twenty dog years, can erase the precious memory of any living being in this life that has deeply touched our hearts or minimize their eternal influence which has been indelibly inscribed on our ever developing character and soul.