I could tell that I wasn’t quite myself based on the number of business cards in my backpack.
There were dozens of those little cards left, staring back at me when I opened my pack. Cards that I should have given away to friends old and new at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla. The “normal” Joe would have been handing out those cards left and right. Instead, they were practically shouting their futility – after all, what good are they to me? I already know who I am.
It wasn’t the fact that I had been in a new place for the first time, seeing new faces (I’m well used to that scenario); it also wasn’t the fact that back home one of our 100+ year-old trees came down on our neighbors garage in a fierce storm, cleaving it nearly into two (no one was hurt, apart from the trees). The reason I wasn’t myself was that my teacher was dying.
My teacher was my dog, Sam. He passed away while I was at the conference (if you were in attendance and I appeared out of it or seemed dismissive, please understand that it wasn’t you, it was most definitely me).
Sam was pretty sprightly for a guy in his 80s (people years, of course), still weighing in at 85 lbs. of mostly muscle. Still fairly strong, too (he had once accidentally broken my left hand when we were out for a run). Stubborn, too – in fact, I used to joke that I could sum up Sam’s thoughts in one sentence (“Hey guys – this is what I want to do now”).
Our experience with Sam was more Marley and Me than Lassie – he had a penchant for stealing bread, licking the icing off of cakes on the kitchen counter, eating through metal cans of dog food, and practically destroying the house during thunderstorms. BUT… he was one of the sweetest souls I’ve ever known.
Sam taught me a lot about how to really appreciate wine (yes, I’m serious – read the post). But his greatest lessons were in teaching me compassion and patience – the latter being something that I’ve often cited as the ‘secret sauce’ of wine blogging (and life in general, really; yes, I’m serious – watch the vid).
My only real regret is not that I wasn’t there to say goodbye when Sammy passed – it’s that I wasn’t the quickest study when it came to fully grasping all of those lessons in compassion and patience that Sammy tried to teach me.
Here’s to a friend, a sweet soul, an old teacher – long may his lessons be remembered.