(Avatar Magic, by Gerald Franquemont, is on Kindle and can be downloaded onto most computers or reading devices.)

I didn’t have much but my best intentions and youth. Naively, I meandered through my early twenties trying to earn a foothold for a future, balancing foolish spending habits with little to no income. I’d left a 3 ½ year completed effort in Gettysburg College to play guitar for several years in the NYC area but, heck, all that stuff is for a whole other blog.

The point here is that music led me to Florida where I began to sing for a musical agent who literally not only charged his bands an arm and leg for his services but who also had only one arm for real. It was a rockin’ time, bouncing thru gigs, short stop jobs, women and flop here homes. I wouldn’t have had it go any other way-no way on that.

Finally, as it often happens, a special person appeared, almost as a vision to me, and I began in earnest to try to  prove myself worthy of what has been to this day a life long love affair. But put those crying towels away. I’m not gonna get like a gravy mash potato dish and ooze on about the sparkling fire of early, young, real Love. I’m not going there.

When you don’t have much, anything can seem a lot. We cooked onions for dinner because the smell helped us feel full; wooden telephone wire spindles served as tables while supporting colorful candle drippings; mattresses on the floors were firm; one thousand cockroaches helped heat the place: all these trappings combined to add up to be a home as we knew it.

As far as having vision goes, if Life had been a truck it would have run me over, backed up and done it again, perhaps even several times. I wasn’t blindsided by life,  it was just that I couldn’t see much past, well, yesterday back then. But happily I was accompanied in this huge vat of shaken but not stirred motivations by a vast array of people much like myself. There, in this vat, we bumped upon each others laughter’s and nearsightedness as routinely as the afternoon sun shadowed us as we awoke.

I do have to say that George thought we should put our money (though we had none at the time) together and buy land in a place called Boone, North Carolina.  Land there was only $300 per acre back then.  I remember we couldn’t stop laughing at the name, Boone? Now an acre there is worth close to 30 thousand dollars-good call George, er, sorry about that.

It was about then Fate in its full blown sense of humor ushered in a young, pure bred, papered, Irish Setter to us- Patty MacDougall by name. How quickly this dog became the pride of our relationship!

Mac, as we called him, was to become a friend for life but that’s not to say he wasn’t as crazy as any pure breed dog can be: he had a bark like a lion but was afraid of our pet rabbit; I found him one day, now a 45 lb dog of some size, precariously balanced upon an inside window ledge of our home for no particular reason?; he crunched up one side of his face in the presence of any questioning circumstance; one day  he took a flying leap across our fully set dining table clearing the dishes, turkey, veggies, mashed potatoes, fork, spoons, knives, completely everything, all about the room.And I don’t even want to talk about his skin conditions which most vets thought it proper we sell our lives for in order to cure. But dogs don’t live forever, not like we do.

Many years later it was near Mac’s time to leave us. He lived a full Life and he had defended our travels, home and children well. I remember afternoons of playing hide-n-seek with him in our house, he played it quite well and fairly too. He could catch a Frisbee in air no matter how far I threw it, always bringing it back as he might have a duck to a hunter. But now, really, with his back legs failing and his out look bleak, it was time to call the Vet-one who had helped us so many times over the years gone by.

I dug a hole. I dug as fine a hole as I could in honor of the great Life I knew as Mac. The Vet came late, perhaps on purpose, and allowed us all to pet and speak our goodbyes to his eyes which, even then, seemed to be so far away. I had to carry him to the hole site and lay him down along beside it.

The Vet took out his needle and asked to me watch my dog’s chest, seemingly so I could know when he stopped breathing. But that’s not exactly all that happened. What happened then, as I watched my good Dog pass away, is bizarre.  I saw a wisp of smoke like substance rise in the air from his chest as he expelled his last breath. It startled me almost as much as the Vet who said at the same moment: “Did you see it? Did you see that?” I said I had while realizing I wasn’t dreaming this moment-we both had seen the same thing at the same time! We both had seen what best can be described as looking like a spirit rise from my dog’s body as he died.

The moment ended as quickly as it had happened. The Vet told me he’d seen this before but not always: not in every instance of every dog’s or animal’s death did he see the wisp of smoke. He didn’t know what to make of the entire event.

Many years later, I think of this vision of a spirit as a last gift given to me from a very best friend. Mac gave me the truth. Dogs don’t live forever? You can think that. But I think, now, that they do. Dogs are just like us. “HERE BOY!” And thanks Mac-you are the best.