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Power of a Pup
Power of a Pup
For the first time in 52 years of marriage, we truly had an empty nest. No kids, no dog and no patience with each other

“I’M BACK!” MY HUSBAND, LYNN, ANnounced, shuffling into the kitchen that afternoon last September with his arms full of groceries.

“Sooner than I expected,” I said, without looking up from my computer screen. I’d finally hit my stride paying some bills and catching up on e-mail, and here he was, back home already!

“No hero’s welcome?” he asked, unloading the groceries on the counter right next to where I was working.

“Sorry. Just trying to get some things done.”

“I won’t interrupt,” he promised, putting away the cans and boxes in the kitchen cabinets. Then, as always, he left the doors wide open.

“Could you please close the cupboard doors?” I could hear the edge in my voice.

“Sure,” Lynn said, not looking at me as he banged the doors shut. Then he began loading the refrigerator at a glacial pace, making me crazy that he was leaving the fridge door open for so long, letting all the cold air out. What was it with him and doors?

I forced myself to hold my tongue and flipped my laptop closed. “I’ll go in the other room to finish up what I’m doing.”

“Sure,” he said again, his back still turned to me.

I headed down the hall to our bed room and some solitude. Sitting down, I gazed out the window and wondered why I was getting so nitpicky and worked up over such minor things these days. I appreciated that Lynn did some of the grocery shopping now that he was retired. But I got annoyed by things like his goofy wool hat that made him look like a Smurf or the way he sometimes shuffled his feet. No wonder he didn’t seem to enjoy my company just now either. Of course, marriage has its ups and downs, but after 52 years, it seemed as if we’d fallen into a cycle of mutual annoyance without even knowing how we’d gotten there. When did we stop looking at each other when we talked? When did we start watching television at dinnertime? This wasn’t the way I wanted to love Lynn or live out our lives. Something had to change.

LATER, WHEN I WAS CUTTING UP vegetables to make soup for dinner, our daughter, Lindsay, stopped by on her way to pick up the kids from school.

“Hi, Mom,” she said, leaning over the counter to grab a carrot. “Where’s Dad?”

“Downstairs in his office.”

“He’s always downstairs. And this house is too quiet these days,” she said, then grinned as if she’d just had the most wonderful idea in the world. “You and Dad should get another puppy.”

“You know we can’t do that again. We’re beyond that season. Especially the puppy season.”

“Of course you can,” she said. “You two have always been dog people, and dog people should have a dog. And there’s nothing like a puppy to shake things up and get you out of your own heads.”

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February 2020