Sam was an elderly gentleman who ventured out daily with ‘Oggie’ his cocker spaniel for daily walks along the promenade. As a widower, Sam devoted all his time to Oggie taking him everywhere. He was his best mate; he didn’t know what he would do without him. Since Sam’s wife Rose passed away Oggie seemed to fill a void in Sam’s life providing the companionship, cuddles and unconditional love he was so use to from Rose.
Oggie was a mere pup when he was given to Sam to cheer him up and keep him company to lighten the grief of losing his soulmate. Oggie would be waiting patiently at the bedroom door awaiting Sam to rise from his peaceful slumber. As soon as Oggie heard the bed squeak like an alarm clock Oggie would jump up and start wagging his tail vigorously anticipating seeing Sam come through the door. Sam put on his slippers and dressing gown to come out to greet Oggie who was bounding around excitedly in circles squealing with joy. Sam would smile, it was as if Oggie hadn’t seen Sam in years he was that excited. Sam would sleepily shuffle into the kitchen with Oggie zigzagging across the front of Sam’s feet almost sending Sam off balance. Oggie’s favourite biscuits were kept on the top shelf and Sam would reach up to bring down the box which rattled as if the biscuits were excited to be freed. The rattle would send Oggie into a frenzy with him jumping up begging for Sam to hurry up and sprinkle some biscuits into his bowl. The rattle of the biscuits on the tin bowl were music to Oggie’s ears and he hungrily scoffed them up within minutes. Sam was sure they hardly touched the sides of Oggie’s mouth as they were gulped down so fast as though Oggie hadn’t been fed in weeks. This daily morning ritual would always make Sam chuckle at Oggies enthusiasm for breakfast.
Sam made himself a cup of tea and toast with his favourite marmalade spread liberally which glistened in the sun as he sat on the balcony watching the waves and the seagulls dance their morning routine. The seagulls knew Sam’s morning ritual and would hover awaiting the crusts off the toast to be thrown in their direction. They often squawked with glee which seemed to be louder if some crusts had the remnants of marmalade on them. Sam sipped his tea and reminisced about the many years he and Rose would sit on the balcony enjoying breakfast together and think how lucky they were to live in such paradise then look at each other fondly and smile signalling their most precious gift was each other. Sam snapped himself out of his daydream memory wiping a tear from his cheek as he returned to his reality. At that point Oggie came running out onto the balcony hustling Sam to get a move on as he was eager to go for a walk.
Sam went to the bathroom and had his morning wash and shave donning his Sunday best including his hat as he always had on his daily walks with Rose. This ritual continued even though it was 10 years since Rose had passed, it somehow kept her memory alive for him continuing as though his old life with her was relived every day enjoying the memories they shared together. All set to go he grabbed the lead and struggled to get the lead onto Oggie who wouldn’t keep still through fevered excitement. As soon as the front door was opened Oggie shot out the door like the horses out the gates in the Melbourne Cup galloping to his front gate to be released onto the promenade. As it was a daily occurrence the locals got use to seeing Sam & Oggie venture out at 9am exactly every morning. Sam was such a classy gentleman, tipping his hat to the ladies as he walked along the promenade, nodding, smiling and often stopping for a chat with regular walkers.
As they walked the lead would sway in the breeze as ‘Oggie’ dutifully walked next to Sam with no intention of escaping. ‘Oggie’ loved Sam and there was no way he would leave his side. They both were seen as elderly ‘old boys’ strolling along the promenade for the past 10 years although their daily ritual had slowed in pace somewhat, but the pleasure they both endured could be seen on their faces. They would walk for miles with Oggie barking at the seagulls and pigeons who were scratching for food along the pathways as passers-by had dropped crumbs from their daily muffin and coffee. Stopping every now and then they would watch children playing on the beach fondly as Sam’s two boys had when they were young. Sam missed his sons who lived interstate and didn’t get the chance to visit much. Sam held onto the memories which were dear to him and relived those memories by seeing other families enjoying the beach. Every day the walk was like a time machine taking Sam to the by gone days when he, Rose and the boys would enjoy picnics, swimming and playing ball on the beach.
Then an hour later it was time to return to reality to go home and sit in solitude on his balcony watching the day go by. Sam loved to watch the planes land and the boats come and go picking up and dropping off their cargo at Botany Bay. He often would look through his telescope Rose had bought him for his birthday one year as she knew he loved to watch the planes and boat activity on the bay. Sam’s sight was not as good as it use to be but he could still see the activity of the pilot boats racing out to guide the ships into the harbour which always gave him a thrill. Oggie would lay by his side on the balcony and they would bask in the sunshine enjoying the ocean vista before them.
Days went by and people started to wonder where Sam and Oggie were as they hadn’t been seen at their usual time sauntering along the promenade offering salutations to passers-by. Many regulars would stop and ask each other if they had seen Sam as they started to get worried about him. Then one Saturday morning Sam wondered onto the promenade promptly at 9am, dishevelled, unshaven and grief stricken as he walked along pulling the empty lead along behind him. People stopped in their tracks, shocked and sad to see that Sam had lost his best mate Oggie but Sam continued to look ahead as if in a trance walking the steps once taken together with Oggie on a daily basis. This continued day after day, Sam walking the K9 ghost along the promenade as if in tribute. Never stopping, never smiling nor acknowledging the regular walkers who looked on in sympathy.
It was two months later and a commotion could be heard coming from Sam’s house, a puppy barking bouncing around the balcony around Sam’s legs. Sam was smiling, he was taking care of himself again and busied himself with the new member of the family. A neighbour stopped out the front and asked who this new little fella was and Sam said it is a young female cocker spaniel, her name is Rosie.
As if it was Groundhog Day the daily ritual Sam had with Oggie continued with Rosie and he could be seen dressed very smartly, clean shaven, with a big smile on his face as he acknowledged the other walkers. Sam’s routine had been restored, his love for little Rosie filled a void to provide the unconditional love, cuddles and companionship he longed for to fulfil his life again.
We all experience love and loss throughout our lives. It is important to appreciate the love we had, the love we can give others and find love again in many forms to fill our heart with joy again.
Author - Cheryl Duffy
Cheryl Duffy, Mediator, Divorce Coach & Author of The Divorce Tango