Curated Leadership for Today's World

Carpe Dogum

Posted on 19 June 2014

[caption id="attachment_1417" align="alignleft" width="300"]Mr. Blue gives his last speech June 12, 2014. Mr. Blue gives his last speech June 12, 2014.[/caption]

Last week was a week filled with unbelievable highs and lows. I had three very important speeches. One was just me, one with our Chief Excitement Officer (CEO) Ruby Red, and one with our Chief Motivational Hound, Mr. Blue. In the middle of the week Mr. Blue had an oncology appointment to get another chemo treatment. Unfortunately the doctor determined that his blood count was too low and postponed the treatment to the following Monday. Mr. Blue never made it to that appointment.

Determined to fill his prior speaking engagement, Mr. Blue mustered up the strength the very next day to go and share with a group of tremendous seniors at the Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries’ Cumberland Crossings Senior Living Community, sharing pawsome hound wisdom such as Stop Playing Dead and Old Dogs Must Learn New Tricks.

As the senior citizen in the group, in his 90s by human years, Mr. Blue was received with great respect and warmth by this group of seasoned humans. They understood exactly where he was coming from. They were excited about continuing to hear, learn, and think new things, just like Mr. Blue! They spent time petting and talking with my soul dog despite the fact that he was not feeling his best and couldn’t dispense his world-famous kisses.

Growing up, my father, the late, great Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, told me upon crossing each milestone birthday that the current decade was far better than the previous one. And he didn’t just say it, he lived it. This is one of the main reasons that I embrace growing bolder, not older, and wiser with each passing day. After all, the more seasoning you have, the more you can flavor the earth.

Whenever someone would tell my father they had retired he would tell them “Don’t talk so stupid!” His reasoning was that if we are still on this earth, there’s a purpose we are meant to fulfill that goes way above and beyond a life lived solely for leisure.  I watched him on his hospice death bed, so frail from the ravages of cancer, yet scribbling notes for me to send to people and calling for friends to come and read to him. You see, we are all terminal, and if that doesn’t amp up your urgency to live life to the fullest, your spirit is already dead. We ought to go to our graves like prunes: spent, wrinkled, and shriveled.

So as I came down from the high of three amazing speeches, I ended the week with Mr. Blue taking a very pronounced and rapid turn for the worse. Friday night his legs gave out and by Saturday morning his breathing was labored and his awareness gone. And just like my father had done over five years ago, Mr. Blue finished the race strong, right up to the last minute. I held him in my arms for one last kiss, and he dispensed four of his powerful licks as if to say, “Thank you for finishing this with me!” before slipping away.

My father always told me he wanted to pass to Heaven while he was on the stage speaking. While the setting was different—a hospice bed and a cancer-ravaged shell of a body instead of a stage with a physical presence larger than life—what he was doing was not. He shared and enriched the lives of others right up to his last breath. And I am humbled and thankful, and not in the least bit surprised, that his granddog would triumphantly bound onto the other side just as victorious!

Carpe Diem; Carpe Dogum. Drink deeply from the water bowl of life right up until your last pant!

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4 comments

  • Judy Mohr: February 20, 2016

    What a wonderful tribute to your father and Mr. Blue

  • traceyjones: February 20, 2016

    Mark, and heartfelt condolences to you. I can only imagine the type of Godly man he was as evidenced by you. A prayer for grateful hearts and the perspective that there will be a time when all suffering and death will cease. We are truly blessed Mark. Praying for you during this time and thankful for the Christlike examples of truly finishing strong.

  • Mark Armstrong: February 20, 2016

    How very ironic, and, I think, poetic. I’m late extending my heartfelt condolences to you, because my dad died on June 18th. I’ve been away for two weeks.

    Dad was about 6 weeks shy of his 90th birthday. He had dementia, and spent the last few years of his life in care facilities. And like Mr. Blue, he inspired great love right up to the end.

    At his funeral mass, we thanked God for the gift of good example, and we prayed for grateful hearts and for an understanding of what is truly important in this world.

    Thanks for this wonderful post, Tracey, and for the great example set by you, your dad, and Mr. Blue. Life is good, we are blessed.

  • traceyjones: February 20, 2016

    Thanks so much Judy, thanks for being such a great friend and supporter!

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