The California Girl


I come from long lived people.
Well, not my mother’s father.  He died in his fifties of kidney disease, years before there was dialysis, or transplants.  I still don’t understand how healthy people suddenly get a malady, but I know it happens.  I believe that with my grandfather, he was probably exposed to solvents, because he was a metal recycler.  But who knows.

My mother died of lung cancer  in her mid forties. No mystery there.  She had smoked for  about 30 years.

My father’s father died  of leukemia in his mid seventies.  However, my grandmother lived into her early nineties, or so I believe.  My father cut her off for nastiness, and she never bothered to maintain a relationship with any of her grandchildren.  Her son, my father, is now  89.

Back on my mother’s side, her mother, my grandmother, lived into her mid nineties, even  surviving a bout of late onset breast cancer (in her  late eighties).  He sister also lived to her late eighties, although she chose to be an invalid for the last  twenty or so years of her life.  She really didn’t want to move or have physical therapy.  She just wanted to watch TV.

I mention all of this because I am now in my sixties, and I lost a dear friend just over a year ago, also in her early sixties. It happened so fast, and she knew it would.

Ch. Scenario Razzle Dazzle, JC as a young dog

Ch. Scenario Razzle Dazzle, JC as a young dog

We had met about  fifteen years earlier at the International Dog Show in Chicago—one of the last benched shows. I  was at the bench, with Dazzle, my Saluki, whom his breeder bemusedly told me I could show.  Janie also had a Saluki.  She was not showing  her dog, but we talked a little, and she  gave me her number and told me to call her if I wanted to get together.

I blogged about her last year.  I never thought she’d get her dog under control, as he was  quite lag and exuberant.  I don’t think Janie was even  five feet tall.  She had  grown up in California,  was a nurse, and had come to the Chicago area  because her husband had gotten a job.  Fred was her second husband.  She had married young, had a daughter, and the first husband ended up in jail.

Janie had had another  Saluki, Zephyr, and  she was just enchanted by the breed.  I am not sure how she found the breeder of the third and fourth Salukis (they were never healthy…never gained weight, and never got along), but  she was always trying to find a veterinarian who could find out  why  they never thrived.  I felt so bad for her, when first Reggie died.  She had

Reggie Wondergem, doing the scent articles at an obedience trial.

Reggie Wondergem, doing the scent articles at an obedience trial.

worked with him, to engage his brain, as well as to title him (he was probably the only Saluki attaining a U.D. in the last decade), then Khan, then Ivory.  But she planned next to get  a Saluki  from both obedience and conformation lines, and she got Ari.

Janie did dog boarding in her house, and some grooming as well.  She took on some tough cases: poorly bred  puppy mill dogs that people had bought or rescued.  She really educated herself about dog behavior, and helped a lot of her clients, and made a decent living.  I really admired her and how she ran her business and kept learning about dogs.  That’s what we had in common.  At one point, before we really knew each other,we were thinking of going into business together, but she didn’t trust the people I was buying the business from, and I understood. It was a stressful time for us, but we  got through it.

We had other interests.  Investing, lure coursing.  We both commiserated about trying to refinance our homes( being  independent contractors). Even though she had enough money to pay off her mortgage, no bank would lend to her because both she and her husband were self-employed.  Go figure (especially when they were financing people who clearly weren’t creditable!).

When she was diagnosed with lung cancer, I couldn’t believe it.  She hadn’t smoked in 30 years.   Nor could I believe she was having such a hard time getting treated.  Apparently, she was stage  four when she was diagnosed.  I wondered how that could be, that she had no symptoms for so long, then suddenly a small cough.  In less than six months, she was gone. She knew she might have a stroke, from the  medicines she was taking, and she did,and I am horrified that her last week on earth was so frightening.

Janie was  very disgusted with  the political system, and  has thinking of moving to Canada. As it was, her husband wanted to move back to California, and he did.

Janie did not have a funeral.  She was not religious.   I believe she was cremated, but she had so many friends.  They all asked about her when I  saw them at our dog training club.  I miss her very much. U guess that is the true memorial.

 

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