I have a picture of my dad, Jack, age 2, holding his favorite chicken in the backyard of his grandmother’s house near Washington and Heights Boulevard in 1922. On January 23, 2021, he would’ve been 102 years of age. Dad died in 2015. His grandmother, Catharine Mary Emmott, the Mother of Memorial Park died in 1948. The grand home is gone too. But, the memory of my dad holding that chicken endures. It is somehow timeless.
Dad was stationed in Italy for five years in WWII. He talked to me about the beauty of Rome, Florence, and Milan. But like the Greatest Generation, he never talked about the war. Another thing he almost never did in my presence was cry.
I recall only two times I saw him cry. He wept in our living room when his bird dog, Pirate, died unexpectedly during the veterinarian’s attempt to kill heartworms before they ended up killing his beloved dog. Dad was so grief-stricken he did not even wipe the tears from his eyes and face.
The second time was when he had to put down Rudy, his black German Shepard, when the dog was so ill, he could no longer get up from the ground on his four legs. Dad petted Rudy’s forehead several times. Then, Dad loaded his WWII German Lugar 22 Caliber Pistol. With a trembling hand and broken heart, pulled the trigger and gave his dear pet, Rudy, a merciful ending to a life well-lived.
Don’t get me wrong. I am sure that Dad grieved for the loss of his wife, my mother Lucile, his parents, siblings, and close friends. But, openly crying in the sight of others was not something I ever witnessed except for Pirate and Rudy.
On Facebook, everyone sees and shares the grief which happens when their four-footed pet dog or cat becomes a memory of the past and another of God’s angel creatures in Heaven. I think the tears of my father and such sharing of grief on Facebook demonstrates just how much the relationship with our pets teaches us about the unconditional love of God. How great it would be if every one of us as God’s children could be as unconditionally loving as Pirate and Rudy were to Dad or as loving as your pets have been to you, my friends.
God has spoken to us in Scripture about what can be taught to us by our pets and uplifting words to heal our grief for the loss of them.
7 But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
8 or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.
9 Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the LORD has done this?
10 In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind.
4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new! Then he said, Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.
God, in prayer, we thank You for our beloved pets for through them You’ve taught us about Your unconditional, everlasting love.
God, in prayer, please help us to love one another as we are loved by Your creatures, great and small.
God, in prayer, please provide to each of us the comfort and care we need to heal the grieving for the loss of our pets.
God, in prayer, may we receive Your holy hope that one day we will be reunited in Heaven with our pets. That our barking and purring fur angels will be seen racing to greet us. That we may share with them in Heaven the love which lasts forever and ever. Amen
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Jack H. Emmott is a Senior Counsel of Gray, Reed & McGraw, LLP, a 145-lawyer full-service firm in Houston, Dallas, and Waco, Texas, a Board-Certified Family Law and Master Credentialed Collaborative Law Professional Divorce Attorney, Mediator, Author, Entrepreneur, and Inspirational Speaker. For more information about Jack or his latest book, Bending Angels: Living Messengers of God’s Love, go to www.BendingAngel.com website.