A few days after Herb's death, Mig dreamt about her father. She was sitting on the beach in front of her home in St. Criox when she saw the old man walking towards her. He was surrounded by dogs. This was not all that unusual. Herb was always a man who preferred the company of dogs over most people. He was a man who carried dog treats in his pockets, just in case.
It was no surprise that he would gather a crowd of Carribean beach mutts as he walked. Even in a dream, dogs meant the world to Grandpa Herb.
“Dad, Mom’s going to kill you when she sees all of these dogs”
Then Mig remembered, her father was gone. She looked closer at the dogs and began to recognize them.
“Dad, what’s going on?”
“They all came back to me. Each and everyone. Every dog I ever owned.” He paused, tossing a treat to the closest open mouth. Laughing he said to Mig,
“I’m going to keep walking, I’ll see you later.”
He walked away in the middle of the pack, cigar smoke trailing behind him.
Grandpa and I never really understood each other. Not the way my other brothers knew the man. While he held court in his little sitting room, smoking cigars and watching golf with my brothers, I was in the kitchen listening to Grandma talk politics and learning how to drink strong coffee.
But dogs…..he and I always had a way with dogs. We understood that part of each other, the part that could speak dog. It was our wordless bond. Some people have Bar Mitzvahs. My rite of passage into adulthood was when Gramps asked me to take care of Jo-Jo, an ornery mutt with the body of an over-fed Corgy and the face of a mustached Terrier. It was the highest compliment he ever gave me.The dream is likely an invention, but I’ll keep it. It is how I choose to remember Gramps.