The Story of Mak (or Man’s Best Friend)

The year 2020 started off with a bang for me. I was suddenly about to be found swirling in a myriad of life choices, decisions, adjustments and COVID 19. To begin the year, my marriage of 30 years had fallen apart, and I was forced to look at myself in the mirror and take responsibility for my own share of grief and distance in a collaboration that had been failing for years. When I reflect upon our time together there is no question the rock my wife provided me in the midst of years of turmoil with a variety of addictions that helped unravel my world. I am fortunate on many different levels for her support not only in straightening out my own life, in her patience, and as well, our opportunity to share in the wealth of raising two wonderful children.

So the reader might ask, what does any of this have to do with a dog? One common denominator in our marriage was that we always had a dog. We had a cat for a lot of years as well, but that was a different story. We raised three Golden Retrievers from puppies over three decades, the last moving on with her true companion, my spouse. When we split there was no question she would travel on her journey with the companionship of the dog, albeit hers was an ownership I would never argue, given the nature of our circumstance. I began the first month of a separation without a dog and living in a home we had shared together raising our children and dogs for twenty years. There is no question the nights were long with memory and confusion. The one piece missing for me all the time was an animal, a dog to come and lay near me whether I was overwhelmed with tears, or simply wanting a companion to hang out with. The silence was deafening.

Then one day my daughter suggested I take her dog for a few days. She said she couldn’t stand to see me so alone without a dog after seeing us grow as  a dog family all these years. To be clear, I would have plenty of opportunity to see our present dog when time permitted, but being in the early throes of a separation it had been hard to imagine those times. So I gave my daughter an emphatic ‘yes’ and she brought her dog – a golden retriever – over that evening. My world changed in an instant and three days later as I was readying her return to my daughter, I had already begun scanning pages for rescue dogs. I knew I would get a dog eventually, I just didn’t know when I would be ready.

The answer to that question arrived one day in the story of Mak, a Bernese Mountain dog basically given to me out of the kindness of a colleague’s heart. It was immediate love.IMG_0313 Well, the first night Mak chose to lay twenty yards away from me all night, basically just keeping an eye on me, a complete stranger. That first night was a sleepless night for me, not knowing whether this dog would ever acclimate himself with me. Within 48 hours we were pretty inseparable, and that to me is the essence of seeing a man with his dog. This week I am on our last leg of a journey up to the north shore, morning looking at the vast waters of Lake Superior and then later on mini-hikes throughout the day. Mak is such a mellow dog, I was able to let go of the leash and just have him toddle along with me on the path, in fact many times he would take control of the walk by laying down in the middle of the path and giving me a look like, ‘there is no way you are making me keep up your pace’ – break time. Let me tell you it is a rather daunting ask to force a 120 pound animal to move forward until they are good and ready. The hikes were filled with smiles and laughs that serve as a preview for many walks in the future.

He is no question a hiker with a prowess, but right now around 16 months of big baby, so we will take our time readying ourselves for an all day hike – someday maybe, quite a feat, more for me than the dog, but he will push me forward. The last couple of days have been spent just watching the rain outside our window as the churned waves that would crash along the shoreline and then drift out to sea with shadows of mid-day sunlight moving them like surface shadows in a breeze. The magic of the lake was certainly not lost upon either of us throughout our hours together. Tomorrow we will return home.

IMG_0315I have found myself in recent weeks understanding more and more how special this animal is in my life. If I am having a bad morning, I only turn to see Mak’s doe-like eyes waiting for my glance and when we do connect his tail takes off. When in a lighter moment Mak wants to play he will plant his two front paws onto the carpet or wood floor or the grass outside and stretch his body all the way to his back paws and then land squarely on his butt and give me a look like, ‘c’mon man, let’s go!’ There really is something rather special in the affinity a man can feel with his dog. I’m writing this and if I look across the room, I will find Mak in a comfortable posture sleeping the night away. The moment I move a muscle his eyes will be upon me checking my next move. I can only be grateful to have this big guy by my side as we venture into this extraordinary time with COVID 19 starting our year with a pandemic, and now the remarkable early stages of social justice being finally recognized as a purposeful focus in our society. I can only imagine how torn I might be having to face the perils of a pandemic alone, how lost I might feel not having anyone to talk to about my feelings towards social unrest in the wake of George Floyd’s incredulous death. To Mak, it is simply another day, but one that will be spent giving me the confidence to know we both appreciate one another unconditionally.

So having met the end of Pink Floyd’s Animals, the twilight out my window as Lake Superior slaps the rocks nearby with a gentle breeze, it is time to retire for the night. I see his tail wagging as he caught my glance, knowing something is up. Ah, the sweet peace of a man and his dog as we venture forth in these our early days of summer.

IMG_0310


© Thom Amundsen 6/2020

summer on Lake Superior with Mak

The Edge of Reason

What stake have we in righteous turbulence,

perhaps is reason to submit, suggest,

offer and consider, compassion

might allow a progressive response

yet allowance of circumstance,

that told responsibility

a valuable lesson.

 

In night air came a perpetual fire

taunted by winds, a breeze

so is a prevalent sky,

leading our lives into the storm

central to our being.

We spoke upon the a rail rise,

the L train, C, the longest nights

where time is not allowed

a sleeping giant

long after the last stop.

 

Yet further on

in the return home

spoke an entanglement,

on the threshold of a dream,

this reality

knock incessant patterns,

this discord

reveal a fantasy

rather beyond the norm.

 

When all else does bury logic

this value will settle cryptic.


© Thom Amundsen 2019

Watching Their World Begin

Sweet elegance is the certain beauty of love

two soul who find their journey will be one

 

So many possibilities, such wandering imagery

yet with time in eloquence Rose and Nick

 

will find a world to gather in such is a storm

as is the burden of the human condition alone.

 

The key to today in the sunlight of our autumn

is a young couple in love, together found as one.

 

The vows spectacular, the wedding court sublime

Tonight we waltzed toward this our only life.

 

What spectacular Grace is found in sweet matrimony

would we witness certain beauty in this love found.



for Nick & Rose – September 22nd, 2018 – their wedding day

Two Would Pass Together

(dedicated to the goodness of time, a friend and his family)

When in a moment we might reflect

upon the reason,

we could together share a memory,

the fleeting laughter,

we would do this together,

wouldn’t we create a scene,

a wonderful attribute,

of the years,

oh the many years,

the travels we knew

without ever having to leave our home.

 

In a sort of magical day dream,

we crossed so many paths as one,

and now today,

they celebrate a journey

oh for the love of our children

we do,

we will always,

we did for the span of a lifetime

hope and pray,

we might somehow find His way,

some way decide upon a natural course

of our lives

we would find

sweet serenity,

a mysterious energy,

one with love,

a compassion

we might give freely …

cherish the beauty of time.

 

For it is today,

we now togeteher

cross the sky

with a specacular

sunrise,

a setting moon,

in each adventure,

I might in the arctic

winter

share love as a soul mate

might find again,

discover the truth

was always within our dreams.

 

Peace be with the onlookers

for their journey just begun.

A Diamond

When thoughts of rocks,

come to play,

the mind is alluring,

easily left to sway

the doubts,

the indecisions,

the valued circumstance,

of shared precisions.

 

The cut of a diamond,

meant to draw blood,

perhaps never seen,

never heard,

yet known

by the fractured elements

of delight in an eye,

the beholder,

the judgment,

the reality of one,

becomes the circumstance

of another.

 

We stood inside a mini-mall

watched the world evolve,

we laughed

qualified are sanity

that lasts.

We knew our world

didn’t need the blood of a diamond,

for it is a world far beyond

the material norm.

 

Yet today, sitting in offices,

there seems aplenty,

of ignorance and entitlement.

 

The crush of a diamond,

the cut of a purity in glass,

the reality in the mirror,

won’t ever extinguish the glare.

When Your Hand I Held

We picked the music, walked together

while everyone smiled, glassy eyed,

to each of us we had chosen a path,

our favorites were the melodies we knew

to be such delightful reminders

of just that happiness we had chosen.

When your hand I held, and walked

the aisle while the violin played behind,

well it was then I knew I was innocent

of all the growth that lay ahead in our lives.

I do  listen to that music nearly every night,

only to recall the reason it holds the key

to whom we are today, to a sweet blend

a harmony to rest upon your true soul,

to allow me to understand the peace you give

my every day, my every heartfelt waking day

Truth is Beauty

That’s when I love you,

when I can know the beauty,

every day, so many worlds,

so often we see our truths,

and walk right by,

lives busy with that medley of forgotten

dreams, desires, notions.

~

That is when I want you,

when I can feel you near me,

beyond your lovely physicality,

yet in the mind where we always wonder,

always wandering, we wonder why,

our hearts feel the way we do,

when love has stepped away,

in the fastidious nature of time.

~

That is when I need you,

when the pain becomes real,

and I can’t forgive myself anymore,

knowing I let beauty walk away,

because my dreams failed to include,

that simple blend of love and, some call it,

truth.

~

I love you tonight because you are with me,

our world is together, creating that easy magic,

we once wondered if it had truly wandered away,

just another distant memory,

the truth is,

I still love your beauty beyond words,

in my veins, that if I were to pour wide open,

would spill their soul in grateful memory,

your beauty is my memory,

want to, want to keep that with me,

right now

beauty, yours, is …

right, with me.

Yesterday (Today)

I began my day hiding

Typical drill

Waiting for nothing to change

Unusual peace

Just out of reach

Every day my mind

Would react to a world

Out of sync

With my reality

We were wistful

In our love

We would whistle

Lovely whispers

We will win

Private hugs

Today

I stood outside

Smiled

Rejoiced in your arms

Together our eyes

Would appear beautiful

In such Grace

Quiet solace

Delight, Elegance, Passion

In our reality

We are wistful

Our love speaks

Whispers of love

Audible praise

We win with

Real love, law love

Tomorrow all of our discreet yesterdays

Begin to make allowances within our virtues.