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Some Kids I Have Known
Old Dog Tray

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 observed.

"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 approached.

"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.

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