Felicia was moving slower than usual as she
stepped from her car. Arthritis was a plague with which she lived and
there were some days she was able to move more easily than others. Today
the warm winter sun of Texas enticed her out to take care of the graves
of her family. It was close to Christmas and there would surely be out
of town visitors who would want to come leave flowers there. The bright
sun of the state was warm and gave her joints some relief.
When she reached down to pull the grass
away from her father's stone the woman with delicate health stopped a
moment, forgetting her disability while she smiled at the inscription
there. "Remember Old Dog Tray." How she missed her father and as she
cleaned and corrected the overgrown area she looked forward to the lunch
she had prepared. After spreading the blanket there by her father's
grave she took the little battery operated radio she had and set it on
the blanket. The country music wafted from the little box and she was
once again a small girl, free of the dreaded aches she now knew.
"Dad, I don't want you to think I'm
complaining in any way." "God has been good to us, you know." "The boys,
my boys, what a pleasure they have been." "We sure had fun" "They did
everything they were supposed to do." "We played and we worked
together." "I remember once Zeke was just stepping a little on to the
wrong side of things." "As I was turning the fried potatoes waiting for
him to take the rolls from the oven I said to him."
"You know Zeke, Dad always told me." "Old
dog Tray was a good old dog." "It was his friends that got him killed."
"Well, Dad," the older woman now spoke
only to the soft breezes of a warm Texas winter, "Dad, something about
that must have given him the meaning of what I said." "He straightened
right up, went on to get his education with no more worries."
"This other sorrow though, Dad, sure has
been hard." "I didn't ever think I'd ever have to give up one of my boys
to a freak car accident." Felicia pulled the soft handkerchief from her
pocket and wiped her eyes at first and then she didn't again. She let
the tears run down her cheeks, flowing off her face, dripping off her
nose, while her heart rested from the relief of having to hold back,
pent up grief.
That evening Felicia was setting across
the table from her husband and listened to him as he spoke about some of
the young men he knew. They were good boys, he said, but, "I am worried
about some of the company they are keeping." "Bar buddies who are too
free and foot loose." "It does worry me." The older man, wisely
"I was thinking about some of those times
today when I cleaned around the inscription on Dad's marker." "You know
the saying that goes, "Old Dog Tray was a good old dog, but it was his
friends that got him killed."
Felicia's husband smiled. "Oh yeah!" "How
I do remember your Dad saying just that very thing." "Something about it
always made me stop a minute and think!"
Felicia worked around the kitchen
cleaning and clearing the remnants of their meal away and as she was
doing so she was thinking. There were days when she was more than aware
of her own difficult progress. Slowly but with determination she reached
for the telephone book. As she turned the pages doing so with
concentration it was only her will directing her to the chore she now
"Mr. Mills, this is Felicia." "I told you
I would have to think about the inscription I wanted on my marker."
"Well, I have decided!" She stopped long enough to allow the gentleman
to reach for his every ready pencil and paper. "Yes, sir." "What I want
is this." "Will you have this put on my marker?"
"Old Dog Tray was a good old dog!" "Yes,
sir." "Yes, sir!" "I am sure." "Just that along with the particulars of
birthday and such." "Old Dog Tray was a good old Dog." She repeated.