Almost every night before dinner my mom's mother would send her to the corner store for items like milk and bread and Chi Chi would joyfully follow her. About half way home he would routinely lie down on the sidewalk and cry to be carried home so mom would put the groceries down on the grass parking strip, pick Chi Chi up and tenderly carry him home and then go back for the groceries. Her mom said Chi Chi was getting old and was tired at age 12 but mom didn't understand and thought that 12 sounded pretty young; after all, her mother was 30; that was old.
Sometimes when my mom was sad and felt like no one in the world understood how she felt, Chi Chi would quietly sit by her on the same stairs where he waited patiently every night for her to come home from school and be the greatest comfort to her. When mom would cry because of some injustice that had been heaped on her Chi Chi would gently lick each tear from her face and snuggle close. Mom felt no embarrassment or judgment from her precious pet and would bury her face in his fur and unashamedly sob out all her pain and heartaches. Mom said that she felt that God had sent Chi Chi to her and felt that he must love her very much to have given her such a magnificent gift.
Then one day mom’s world was shattered and her faith in God was rocked. When she came home from school for lunch her dad told her that the bull dog belonging to the neighbors that gave Chi Chi to mom had bitten him in the eye and since he was so old the Veterinarian thought it was best to put him to sleep. Mom said everything turned white and that she could hardly stand up the shock was so great. When the tears came the loss was even more profound because there was no Chi Chi to comfort her at this hour of her greatest heartache and need. She asked her dad if he thought that Chi Chi was in heaven and her dad said that if there was a doggy heaven that surely Chi Chi would be there. That was some small comfort because her dad was a minister and he knew about these things.
That afternoon mom’s dad held a little funeral service for Chi Chi in the back yard. Her beloved pet was wrapped in a little blanket, put in a shoe box and buried under the lilac trees in the back yard. Mom made a little cross with her dads help, painted Chi Chi's name on it and put it on the freshly dug grave.
It is said that you never forget your first love; mom says hers has enriched her life forever.