We met a little over 8 years ago. The wife and I were on our annual October vacation. I had just finished playing golf and he was walking next to the path on the way back to the club house. I stopped to say hello and in the course of a brief conversation learned he was homeless and living in a nearby shelter. I would normally have just kept on going about my business but there was something about his eyes. They were large and soft and seemed for just an instant to lock on mine and reach down deep inside to touch my heart. I spoke to my wife about it that evening. She was skeptical of course, but one of her best qualities has always been her ability to understand what’s most important to me. Even if she doesn’t always understand why.
She saw it too of course. Those deep beautiful eyes could beguile and enchant and soon she was also captivated. The hard times had left a mark on him but I made a promise that I would bring him home. It took time for him to trust us and us to trust him. He was fearful of being alone, cautious of new experiences. He began to first share our food and our home, then our lives and even our bed! Not that I minded so much, he always waited until I left to steal my pillow. He gave more than he ever took in any event, so difficult to long remain angry or distressed in his calm and gentle presence. He made the most simple and mundane events seem like major life events. Coming home from the grocery store, or a weekend away was cause for raucous celebration. We shared a special love for golf. Me for the joy to found in the simple beauty of the morning sun. He for the simple memento I would faithfully produce on my return.
Something changed, no good thing lasts forever. In the weeks recently past I could see something was troubling him. I tried to brush it off as nothing at first, perhaps a bit of upset or a passing bug. It became clear he needed help. It was in his eyes almost pleading with me to understand, he didn’t want to let me down. I promised I would bring him home. Last week I did for the last time. He’s resting now, quiet and still. On the shelf in my closet is a box, it’s just a square blue cardboard box. What’s inside fills my heart with memories and yes a bit of sorrow and pain. It’s worth it, like I said he gave me so much more than he ever took. Next October I’ll bring the box with me and I’ll play some golf in the warm autumn sun. Somewhere along the path where we first met I’ll make a small hole in the soft good earth. I’ll place a bit of his soft fur and a well chewed yellow golf ball and I’ll say my last goodbye to Buster. It won’t be easy, it isn’t now. But a promise is a promise and I’m going to bring Buster home!